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What is planned to be the first annual sandcastle-building event in St. Helens will take place Aug. 13-15.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF ST. HELENS - A sand sculpture by Wade and Brittany LappOrdinarily, you would have to make a trek to the Oregon Coast to enjoy a sandcastle competition.

But if you want to experience the fun of building sandcastles, yet stay closer inland, you are invited to Sand Island this summer where the first annual Sand Island Sandcastle Competition takes place Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15.

According to Tina Curry, St. Helens' event coordinator, world-class sand carvers like Wade Lapp and his wife, Brittany, are members of a professional carving team helping to coordinate the first-ever event.

Curry noted that, recently, the Lapps were part of a professional team that carved ice sculptures in Alaska. The pair designed a piece that featured Aladdin and the Genie, from Disney's animated film "Aladdin."

The Lapps have won multiple awards for their creations and are constantly planning their next build, Curry said.

Sand Island is a scenic park location and home to a new campground that was established in 2018. It is a small man-made island located in the middle of the Columbia River.

Sand Island is an especially well-suited location for this competition, because there won't be ocean tides that can wash out a newly completed sand structure.

Curry is looking forward to the event.

"We're just trying to utilize our natural resources and things people have a lot of interest in," Curry said. "It seems like sandcastle-building is something people really enjoy. It's relaxing, and a good thing is that it's right here on Sand Island."

Curry continued, "The island is now being used in more creative ways than it has been in the past, of course, with the campground that is there and all the various accoutrements that they now offer to their guests."

The idea is to provide offerings for area residents as well as for those from the Portland area, who traditionally have to drive over an hour to get to a coastal sandcastle event.

The result of dredging the Columbia River, Sand Island is pristine, according to Curry.

"Up until now, it really hasn't been used as much as it is now," she said. "For Fourth of July, it was just absolutely packed. I think the locals are now using it more than it's ever been used, because it was off-limits unless you had a boat."

The city is providing a shuttle to and from Sand Island during the sandcastle competition. It's free for anyone with tickets.

Curry is hoping the August sandcastle event at Sand Island will continue in the years ahead.

"Hopefully, a lot of people come and they enjoy something that's new that we have to offer," Curry said. "Everybody talks about Halloween, but we want to encourage guests throughout the whole year. This is one of the things we're going to give a try. Hopefully, it will be a great success and we'll be doing it next year, too."

For more information on the event, visit discovercolumbiacounty.com.


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