Winners named in annual sand sculpting contest

Temperatures were moderate and pleasant Saturday at Walnut Beach, bringing out hundreds of people to create and view this year's entries in the annual Milford Fine Arts Sand Sculpting contest.

“I think this is more than we've ever seen,” said the Rev. Ken Fellenbaum, who was walking along the beach to view the sculptures.

Fine Arts officials confirmed that this year brought a good turnout, bringing sand artists from Milford and beyond to create turtles, castles, mythical creatures and more.

“It was a perfect weather day with hundreds of spectators and over 50 competitors,” said Richard Stephen, who chaired the contest. “Several competitors came from out of state and many of our sculptors were ones that return year after year. And, there were plenty of new faces and young faces with children, as young as five, making their own creative artwork in the sand.”

Steven Picano, who won for best in show, came from Colchester to build his sand sculpture — a sandcastle with detailed walls and intricate spirals. He’s been making sandcastles about five years, starting the hobby as something do with his daughter at the beach. This is the first year he entered the annual Milford competition.

Scott Swett of Shelton said he’s stuck on pirates after building a pirate ship on wheels to pull his grandchildren in at the city’s 375th anniversary pirate parade earlier this year. So for the sand sculpting contest, he and has family created Skull Island.

Ed Snyder came from Springfield, Mass., to make his sand sculpture, which was based on a song, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. And if anyone asked, Snyder was more than willing to sing it to help explain the footed sandal, cork and salt shaker that made up his creation.

“I blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop-top, cut my heel had to cruise on back home,” he sang, adding, “Wastin' away again in Margaritaville, searching for my lost shaker of salt.”

Snyder heard about the competition from a friend, who also entered the contest. He figured he should create something with a beach theme, and that’s when the song popped into his mind.

Ron and Steve Warzel of Milford enter the contest every year, sometimes individually and sometimes as a team. They usually win, as they did last year with their sculpture of Poseidon.

“This year we’re going head to head,” Ron said as he worked on a mystical dragon made of sand. Next to him, Steve created Hercules.

In the end, they both took home prizes in this year’s contest. Ron took first place in the adult category, and Steve took third.

Greg Chapin of Milford sculpted a whale and a book, a design he called “Easy and Breezy.”

“I’m just having some fun,” Chapin said.

Organizers said it was the volunteers that made the event a success: Dolores Hannon, a Fine Arts co-president, and her husband, Jay; Sandy Morgan, the other co-president, plus Sandy Kline, PJ Peabody, Lois Barr, Ellen Brodell and Stu Foster.

The judges were Dr. Iván Tirado-Cordero, an international contemporary artist and Milford resident; Ben Casiano, an artist and graphic designer who exhibits in galleries in New York and throughout New England, and Christina Pritchard, the owner of Scoot & Paddle .

The winners by category are as follows:

Ages 10 and Under: First place went to Phoebe Fiore for Sea Monster; second, Sierra Wood and Eva Kenny for Octopus Kingdom; and third, Kody Jalbert for Pokemon.

Ages 11-16: First place, Chloe Budzinski with Cat and Mouse; second place, Sydney Oliveras for Sun and Moon, and third place went to Cassie Harrington for her untitled creation.

Ages 17 and Over: First place went to Ron Warzel for Dragon Anchor; second went to Gary Cook for Seahorse, and third place went to Steve Warzel for Hercules.

Families: First place went to the McCarvill Family for Dead Men Tell No Tales; second place, the Lankowski Family for Aloha Milford, and third place, Katie and Izzy Rogers for World Cup.

Friends: First place went to Chris Mastriano and friends for Dragon; second place was awarded to Ron Baldwin and friends for Trip to the Dentist, and third went to Melissa Uhrynowski and friends for Olaf.

Steven Picano won best in show for his sandcastle, which he called Castle.

The People's Choice award went to the McCarvill family for Dead Men Tell No Tales.