Imperial Beach Sandcastle Competition Canceled

Organizers of the event cite increasing costs, lack of resources and volunteers as the reason

Organizers of the annual sandcastle competition in Imperial Beach announced Wednesday the festival will not be held this year.

The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition has been a summer tradition in Imperial Beach since 1980.

"This is the event to draw Imperial Beach to the map, this is where people hear what Imperial Beach is all about," said 2011 winner Shirley Nakawatase.

Nakawatase was devastated when she heard the news Wednesday.

Competition directors said increasing costs as well as a lack of volunteers, committee members and resources make the event impossible to continue.

The two-day festival draws hundreds of thousands of onlookers every year with no admission fee.

Street closures and congested roads surround the stretch of beach where participants from all over the country build elaborate castles, statues, animals and other designs.

"It's not just an event, just one day of sitting out here and building a sand castle, this is a huge family and community event," said Nakawatase.

A group of sand carvers known as "IB Posse" won the $5,000 grand prize last summer for their design of two birds sitting atop a Chrysler Plymouth.

In a release sent to media outlets early Wednesday, Imperial Beach Mayor Jim Janney thanked the volunteers who worked to put on the event.

"Sandcastle has had a long, successful history and has put Imperial Beach on the map," Janney said. "It’s been a tremendous amount of work for a group of volunteers and I wish to thank them all – recent volunteers and volunteers over the 31 years--for a job well done.”

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