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13 Jun 2022
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What’s one of the best things to do while at the beach?  Why, to make a sandcastle, of course!

And come to think of it, it doesn’t have to be a castle.  It could be a giant loggerhead turtle… or an octopus… or an American flag, or a fighter jet. The possibilities are endless!

To help spark your imagination and get some creative ideas, check this out…

The Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Competition

The Isle of Palms hosts a really fun, quintessentially beachy event each year. It’s part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which happens each May/June and runs along with its big sister, Spoleto Festival USA.

The Piccolo Spoleto Sandsculpting Competition is an IOP must-do, or at least must-see. The 33rd edition of it happened on Saturday, June 11th, 2022. And this year’s field definitely did not disappoint. Folks got really creative with the themes!

How the Contest Works

The competition takes place on the sands of IOP’s Front Beach.  Organizers mark off large sections for each entrant or team of up to four people. Official rules state that you can only use sand from within your delineated area, and you can’t use any wheeled device to transport it. You are welcome to use hand tools like hand shovels, trowels, shaping tools and buckets. Organizers have small beach shovels on hand, or you can bring your own.

Folks start building their masterpieces at about 9:00 a.m. Judging happens from 10:30 for the little ones up till 1:00 p.m for the top prize. 

This is an ideal family-friendly event, and folks of all ages are encouraged to enter. They have six different categories to encourage just that  - Children, Young Adults, Family, Adults, Most Creative, and Best Architectural. 

And of course they also judge Best of Show, for ultimate bragging rights. Prizes include special gift buckets with beach goodies and swag, a really spiffy beach cruiser bike, as well as a custom painted  “33rd Anniversary Piccolo Spoleto Sandsculpting” corn hole set.

While the contest has been going on for 33 years, the IOP Rec Department has been at the helm of it for the last 23. This year’s judge included Rob Fowler, News 2’s Chief Meteorologist. 

The Scene from the Sand

Your intrepid blogger checked out the scene with her trusty dog Periwinkle and camera in hand. It was a huge turnout, both of sand sculptors hard at work, and spectators cheering them on and admiring their handiwork.

Some of the highlights…

  • A giant wave rising out of the sand, with dolphins leading the way.  On the back it reads, “Surfing with Porpoise;”
  • A gigantic drip castle handcrafted by a team of very busy guys;
  • A mashup of three themes  -  a Top Gun jet that landed on a Minion and features a Ukranian flag;
  • Two friends who sculpted the sofa and coffee table from Central Perk in the TV show “Friends,” complete with Central Perk coffee cups and plant;
  • A massive American flag, huge loggerhead turtle (“IOP is Turtley Awesome!”), a sprawled out cat on Lazy Days, as well as a giant toad with the words, “Beware of the Undertoad;”
  • A depiction of The Holy City in sand and shells, complete with Ravenel Bridge;
  • An Isle of Police Department badge/shield featuring the Lens Program (Law Enforcement Neighborhood Support);
  • A Fish-Tank with the message, “Respect the Beach,”
  • A big ice cream cone with the message “BEACHILL,”
  • And something we can all relate to, a huge gas pump with dollar signs and the message, “Pain in the Gas.”

And the winners are…

The judges looked long and hard at all the many creations (and listened to observers’ comments) before declaring with the winners. 

Overall Best of Show

Site 19 – Pain in the Gas

Children (ages 14 and under)

1.    Site Q – To Brighten Your Day

2.    Site S – Caught in the Wave

3.    Site P – IOP is Turtley Awesome

Young Adults (ages 15 to 20)

1.    Site K – Cristina

Charlie Peberdy Memorial Award: Best of Family

1.    Site Y – Beware of the Undertoad

2.    Site 30 – Baby Fin Friends

3.    Site W – Lazy Days


1.    Site 17 – Danger Zone

2.    Site 18 – LENS Program

3.    Site 21 – Put a Little Luv in Your Heart

Best Architectural

1.    Site 7 – Dripapotamus

2.    Site 14 – Holy City

3.    Site 20 – Fish Tank

Most Creative

1.    Site 11 – Surfin’ with Porpoise

2.    Site 22 – Beachill

3.    Site 10 – Friends

Plan now for 2023…

If you missed it this year, it’s not too early to start planning for the 34th Annual Piccolo Spoleto Sandsculpting Competition next June. Call us at EP to get on the calendar. 

And in the meantime… start practicing in the sand! 

Just a quick note  -  please fill in any large holes in the beach before leaving for the day, since they can interfere with loggerhead turtles nesting, and cause someone to injure a leg in the dark.  And avoid the dunes of course.  Other than that, sand sculpt to your heart’s content.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger