By Mackenzie Ferreira
Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 29, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON BEACH -- The Master Sand Sculpting Competition has been taking place for the past 10 years and in that decade Hampton Beach has benefited immensely from the annual competitions.
BJ "Doc" Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, sees the benefit of the income of tourists every year during competition time.
"Thousands come to see (the competition), it lasts until the end of the month," he said.
John Kane, director of marketing for the beach, said that "because it's a longer event, we get around 200,000 people coming down."
Fred Welch, Hampton's town manager, said the town supports the competition by providing police security when needed and other items, such as traffic control and temporary fencing to keep the many viewers out of the sculptors' way.
Although so many people come to see the sculptors create incredible masterpieces out of merely sand and water, their impact is mostly seen in just Hampton Beach, not as much in the town of Hampton and other surrounding areas.
"They don't travel so much into Hampton; the majority by far stay in Hampton Beach," Noel said.
Some visitors who are staying on longer vacations will trickle into the surrounding towns to take a peek at what Seacoast New Hampshire has to offer.
"Go to a market in Hampton on a Saturday, typically moms will go shopping, Kane said.
However, day trippers tend to spend their time basking in the sun on Hampton Beach where they can keep a close eye on the latest details being added to the sculptures.
There really is no need to travel once in Hampton Beach, though, Noel said, noting there are lodging, activities, and restaurants for visitors to go to and enjoy all within walking distance of each other.
As long as the weather cooperates, Noel said, tourists and residents alike come out to view the unfolding competition.
"The (amount of business) increases incredibly because of (the competition), Noel said. "Weather permitting, of course."
Not only does the competition aid local businesses, but it also helps the reputation of Hampton Beach.
"There is no doubt this event gives a good reputation to Hampton Beach," Noel said.
"People come up here to see the event, and then they decide to come back because it's such a family oriented event," Kane said.
"This is the only place on the East Coast that people can qualify for the national competition. That's being held in Washington state this year," Noel said.
Kane also said with the introduction of Dan Belcher this year, the level of competition will be kicked up a notch this year.
"This year's event will be the most competitive competition we've had so far," he said.
Not only followers of sand sculpting competitions were able to become aware of this fact, though. Hampton Beach was spoken about on the radio, in commercial advertisements, and it was even noted on the Travel Channel for the competition, Noel said.
"This is a major event that attracts tons of people," he said.
Welch added that the financial components for the competition are provided by the Chamber of Commerce, the Hampton Beach Village District and the state parks.
Though funds are used to bring the high caliber artistic talents to Hampton Beach, they are easily returned to the area by local tourists the event attracts.
The sculptures will remain in place until tomorrow, June 30.