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U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition hits beaches Aug. 7-8

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A classic event in classic southern California is returning for its 30th year in Imperial Beach. The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition digs its heels into the sand as the largest sandcastle-building competition in the United States as it returns Aug. 7 and 8.

“We are excited to celebrate this 30th milestone and be able to return to the classic ideals that inspired the competition,” said committee chairwoman Debbie Longley. “We’d like to introduce the competition to a new generation of sandcastle builders in Imperial Beach, welcome returning participants that have made USOSC a tradition in their families and invite new attendees to experience classic Southern California. It’s not just a day at the beach.”

The event begins on Friday, Aug. 6, with a community breakfast and a 21-and-older dance that evening.

For a minimal sign-up fee, kids 12 and younger can participate on teams in the Kids-N-Kastles competition and be eligible to win prizes. Three categories make up this competition: Castles, Best Sculpture and Creatures of the Sea. Registered teams can build from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and winners are announced at 4 p.m. No need to worry about artistic ability, creativity and coloring outside the lines are encouraged.

The sand masters show up Sunday, Aug. 8. Amateurs and professionals take to the sand between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to create life-size masterpieces in an attempt to claim their share of more than $21,000 in cash prizes. Professional teams compete in the Masters category, which is divided between three- and 10-person teams. Amateur teams compete in an open competition divided into several categories including an all- new category, Classic California. Exclusive to the 30th anniversary year, this category calls for sand creations that capture all things representative of that classic California beach feel. Participants are encouraged to build castles inspired by the memorable moments, significant landmarks or ideals of Southern California seen over the past 30 years.

Make sure to check out all sculptures throughout the weekend before 4 p.m., when the tide comes in and washes the hard work away.

For those looking to take a break from the sand, the street fair on Seacoast Drive offers spectators the opportunity to check out more than 140 vendors featuring food, non-alcoholic beverages, art, jewelry and clothing, to name a few. On Pier Plaza stage, local bands will provide entertainment throughout the weekend. The street fair will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

In order to preserve a safe, family-friendly environment, the USOSC reserves the right to deny access to the event. Prohibited items included alcoholic beverages, bicycles and skateboards, or any wheeled devices except for strollers and wheelchairs, and all pets (except service animals).

Admission to the festival is free. The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition is a nonprofit event with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Imperial Beach.

The event that started out with 30,000 attendees has grown to attract 325,000 over the three-day weekend. The competition began in 1980, when a group of Imperial Beach residents decided to form a committee and host the first event after being inspired by a similar competition in their sister city of White Rock, British Columbia. For more information, visit usopensandcastle.com.

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