The San Diego Unified Port District is set to put up $40,000 in seed money toward reviving Imperial Beach's U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, which was washed out last year, ending a 31-year tradition that drew hundreds of thousands of spectators and sculptors from all over the world.
The contest, which highlighted an intense rivalry between the I.B. Posse and Orange County based Archisand, collapsed just before the 2012 event.
”It had a lot of budget and logistical challenges," said Jim Hutzelman, a manager of community services for the port. "But there's a lot of interest in reviving the event — the city identifies with sandcastles — it's their brand."
Hutzelman said the port and city recently held a meeting looking for volunteers to run the event.
We had 60 people at the first meeting and we definitely got volunteer interest, but we'd love to find more," Hutzelman said.
Leonard Gonzalez, from the I.B. Posse, said there's strong community interest in the event, but there were a couple of ideas that stirred concern for people at the meeting.
"They're talking about having the event in late September or early October and they're talking about charging for admission," Gonzalez said. "A lot of people see it as a full summer event and it's always been free — that makes it better for families....
"I'd like to see this event somehow return to IB,” said Gonzalez. “I want to see our town thriving and having things like this that keep us on the map in a way that reflects the town's character so we don't fall into sleepy land and we don't lose our town's identity."
Hutzelman said the port sees their investment as seed money to get the event started again, with the long-term goal of making it self-sufficient.
"We think we've found a producer to run it — Gordon Summer and Kent Trollen, the people who did the B Street Pier sandcastle event," said Hutzelman. "At this point, we're still working on developing interest and would love to hear from other volunteers."
Contact Hutzelman at [email protected] for more information or to volunteer.