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Imperial Beach Hosts US Open Sandcastle Competition This Weekend

The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition is expected to draw more than 350,000 people to the shores of Imperial Beach this weekend.

The event, now in its 30th annual year, is the largest of its kind in the nation and attracts the country's best amateur and professional sand sculptors.

The competition began in 1980 after a group of Imperial Beach residents were inspired by a similar event held in White Rock, British Columbia. The first U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition attracted about 30,000 attendees.


"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," said Debbie Longley, who chairs the committee that organizes the competition.

"It's not just a day at the beach," she added.

The U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition features two days of castle-building competitions.

Tomorrow's festivities focus on those 12 and under with a "Kids'N'Kastles" competition. There will also be a street fair, featuring more than 140 vendors, food and live music on the Pier Plaza Stage.

The official U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition gets under way on Sunday, when amateur and professional sand carving teams from around the country will vie for $21,000 in cash prizes.


Teams will create life-size sculptures in several categories, including "Creative Castles" and "Classic California."

Sunday's competition begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m. An awards ceremony will follow.

Organizers cautioned spectators to check our the sculptures before 4 p.m., when the tide will wash them away.

Admission to the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition and street fair is free. The street fair runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.