How else can one describe this event any other way than with an experience? With a world-class venue, talent, and prize purse, Neptune's International Sandsculpting Championship has distinguished itself as a premier event unlike any other. From the gallery feel and extended viewing hours, your sandsculpting fill can be quelled with a single visit.

It's been the signature event of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival since its inception, and has grown to the most prestigious event of its kind in the nation. With an international field of sculptors representing 11 countries from around the world, watch the professionals turn grains of sand into works of art in just 3 days!


32 of the world's most talented sculptors will be in Virginia Beach creating incredible works of art for our viewing pleasure.

Click here to view photos from the 2018 Int'l Sandsculpting Championship


A huge tent, almost as large as a football field, will house 22 sculptures created by 12 solo and 10 doubles teams! Sculptors will compete for the largest prize purse awarded in the country.

  • Viewing time of 10 days
  • Walkways and viewing areas providing an intimate view of the process and artwork
  • Lighting for viewing into the evening hours
  • Protection from wind and rain, providing an entertainment option no matter the weather!
  • Unique photo opportunities
  • Live "QuickSand" competitions (These sculptors are quick on their feet!)
  • Meet and Greet opportunities with the extremely talented pool of sculptors!


Friday, 9/27: 9 am - 11 pm
Saturday, 9/28: 9 am - 11 pm
Sunday, 9/29: 9 am - 9 pm
Monday - Sunday: 9/30 - 10/6: 10 am - 6 pm

Admission: $5 per person. 12 and under is free while accompanied by adult.
BOGO Free lunch coupon with admission ticket.

Tent is wheelchair and stroller accessible. NO ANIMALS allowed in the tent.

Entrance to the tent is located at 7th Street


Master Sculptor, John Gowdy, will hold teaching clinics on the beach for your chance to learn from a pro! Join classes with your friends, classmates, or coworkers for a once in a lifetime, hands-on learning experience.

Saturday, September 28 | On the beach at 8th Street
9:00am - 11:00am: Sandcastle Building 101
3:00pm - 5:00pm: The Art of Sculpting a Dolphin in Sand

All sand, water, and tools provided
No reservations
Arrive before class times to participate
Space is limited

2018 Sculptors


JOHN GOWDY, Italy | KRISTS ZARINS, Latvia | ZSOLT TOTH, Hungary | JORIS KIVITS, Netherlands



Peter Vogelaar | Canada
Vogelaar is a very versatile artist, working in many media. He has been drawing and painting over 40 years, and snow sculpting for 20. About 10 years ago he was introduced to sand sculpture, and has really taken to it. With his friend and teammate, David Ducharme, he has won 2 World Championships and numerous international contests. Solo, he won the Canadian Open for 4 years in a row and the 2009 North American Championship in Virginia Beach. He is known for his cheerful energy and ability to convey life-like emotions and features in his sand work.

Brian Wigglesworth | USA-FL
A multi-media artist from Sarasota, Florida, whose home beach, Siesta Key, was just named #1 Beach in the United States for the second time. Siesta Key is a crystal white sand beach where Brian operates a Professional Sand sculpting company called Sandventure, and has created and oversees a master sand sculpting competition, appropriately named, The Siesta Key Crystal Classic, held the second week in November. After art school, Brian worked in many different art mediums but never got too involved with sand until about ten years ago, but it quickly became his favorite form for expressing his talents. He quickly moved up in the competition world until he was competing against incredibly gifted sculptors from around the world, though competing may be a generous description. He found himself trying to learn as much style and technique as he could from these artists that might better be described as his mentors. Brian was a commercial designer, illustrator and muralist for many years in Minneapolis, MN before retiring to Florida to spend time in the surf and sand. In competitions, he tends to take a graphic approach, attempting to create sculptures that please the crowds rather than express inner soulful, artistic imagery. “I love competing at the Neptune Festival, the largest sand sculpting competition in the country and my personal favorite.” He says it's due to the great people who put it on, the community who gets involved and the company of quality, creative sculptors who enjoy coming together to create and have a great time. Brian was proud to take third place in 2016 with his tribute to Prince, artist from his childhood home of Minneapolis.

Abram Waterman | Canada
Abe Waterman is the rootin'-tootin' son of a cold water plunge in psychedelia and a volcanic explosion of hot gooey marshmallow fudge. Born and raised on the outskirts of the outskirts of the most erroneously wayward side of the tracks, he has forged a reckless path through the mythologies of modern times, leaving behind him a wake of enough scrap thoughts, pixelated debris and discarded jargon to fill nearly 24 life size replicas of the south side of Manhattan. Riding a crescent moon of spinach ravioli consciousness, he is bringing his travel sized, six stringed, pea shooter on his hell fire, brimstone and lollipop journey to Virginia Beach, so pull up your socks, polish your Sunday shoes and get ready to dance Virginia, as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

Aleksei Rybak | Russia
Aleksei was born in Moscow Sept. 30, 1976. He is a 1995 graduate of the Moscow Art College of Applied Art. He received a diploma from the Stroganov Moscow Art University in 2002. He has participated in the Creative Soyuz of the Artists of Russia and International Federation of the Artists in 2002, sculpture category. A section of a sculpture. He became a member of the Moscow Union of the Artists in 2004, sculpture category.

Karlis Ile | Latvia
Karlis, a professional sculptor since 1999, creates sculptures from various materials - bronze, stainless steel, granite, wood and other. In recent years he has worked mostly with ice, snow, fire and sand, because he likes how the primeval force of these natural materials, along with the magic of the moment, is like live music that makes energy to vibrate. A graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia he holds a master's degree in art and humanities and has improved his knowledge at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). Karlis completed a figural sculpture Master workshop and continues to operate successfully in the field of figurative sculpture. A sculptor believes that the human figure never loses its relevance in art because it is like a mirror of the human soul and can always be created following the spirit of the age. Proof is in the numerous awards from international festivals in many European countries, Canada and the USA.

Mélineige Beauregard | Canada

From Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Melineige began sculpting ice and snow in 1998, followed by sand sculpting in 2001. Some believe sand sculpting is art, some believe it’s a sport. Others, like Melineige, believe it’s a spiritual experience. “When my hands touch the material, when my heart opens to give life, when my head is illuminated by light, I become co-creator of the universe. An artist is one who spiritualizes matter,” said Melineige. Art is in her blood. Her father is internationally renowned sculptor Guy Beauregard. In 2004 the father-daughter duo won the World Championship, she has since won more than 30 individual awards including the 2013 Grand Champion of the 1st All Woman World Championship. She, and partner Jonathan Bouchard, won the 2014 World Cup Champion. In 2016 she won Taiwan's World Championship of Sand Sculpting. "For me, art is a means of communication, a way to transmit the energy of life, to affirm its vastness and its beauty.”

Karen Fralich | Canada
In 1994, a professional sand sculptor hired Karen to help him on a small sand sculpture in a local mall. Karen was immediately addicted and spent the next 4 years learning the rudiments of sand sculpting while still working full-time time in restaurants, clothing sales and mascot costume construction. In 1998, she entered her first international sand sculpting contest and by 2001 she was working full time as a free-lance sculptor. Her work takes her around the world, collaborating with sand sculpture companies in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Italy, Holland, England, Spain, China, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. She loves collaborating with her large extended family of wonderful sand sculptor friends! To date, Karen has competed in over 115 Masters Level International sand sculpture contests, winning 25 First Place Titles. She is a 5-time World Champion and 5-time North American Champion. Karen’s first time in the Neptune Festival was 1998, this is her 14th year of participation!

Bruce Phillips | Florida
Bruce Phillips has been involved in the art of sand sculpting for over 25 years. He is known throughout the world, from Tokyo to Amsterdam. He creates amazing works of art at festivals and competitions, and does corporate and private events as well. In addition to sand, Bruce has fabricated sculptures from small to very large scale in a wide variety of other media.

John Gowdy | Italy/USA-NJ
John is a professional sculptor and performance painter. He is an American who has relocated to Castelfranco, Italy near Venice to pursue his interest in art. He sculpts sand, marble, and paints for audiences around the world. Born in Atlantic City, NJ he served 27 years as a firefighter earning the rank of captain before retiring in 2006. In his younger years he was a beach lifeguard for 7 years in Atlantic City. John majored in both Fine Art and Physics at Stockton State College (now Stockton University) and has been sculpting sand professionally for over 25 years. He has a sand sculpture company “Sand Sculptures by John Gowdy & Company LLC” that manages amateur and professional sand events around the world. John has earned many international sand sculpting titles. Too many to mention here. He considers Virginia Beach to be a second home having been a competitor here at The Neptune Festival for 25 years or more. “The Neptune Festival, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of sand sculpting competitions around the world. The friendly management here seeks out and finds the most talented sand sculptors on the planet for your viewing pleasure. It is an honor to be among them. Enjoy the show!”

Krists Zarins | Latvia
Krists began sculpting in 1994 while studying in Riga Art College, since then he has made hundreds of sculptures in various materials, shapes and sizes. For the past 11 years sand and snow sculpture has been his primary occupation taking him to events in various countries from his homeland Latvia to the nearby countries of Finland, Russia and Switzerland, and to more distant countries like Canada and Taiwan. Apart from sculpting Krists enjoys good music and travel.

Zsolt Toth | Hungary
Born and bred in Budapest, Zsolt finished studies as a ceramic maker. He worked in sculpture and architectural sculpture as well as set design for companies in these fields while also running his own little ceramic workshop in his early years. Remaining open to new materials led him to ice in 1998 for which he soon developed a great liking and pursued a direction gaining skills and knowledge of the medium. He started off on a self-taught note by pioneering at making ice sculptures for events within Hungary. Time and experience fueled his chance to take part in ice events and competitions abroad, first in Graz, Austria in 2002, then onto Belgium, Finland, Italy, a first place in London in the years following, and to gain further experience by working for an ice sculpture company in Florida between 2004 and 2007. Zsolt made his first sand sculpture in Hungary in 2003; received second place on the International Sand Sculpture Competition in Enonkoski, Finland in 2013 and in 2016 received first place from the judges in European Sand Sculpture Competition, Enonkoski, Finland.

Joris Kivits | Netherlands
Before Joris started carving sand in 2006 he worked as a freelancer in several activities: Graphic design, Art direction (and other positions in an art-department) for movies and television, Photography, making illustrations, wall-paintings and designing and technical supporting of presentations (in Power Point and Keynote) at congresses. Although still working in those other industries, making sand sculptures has become one of his main jobs. In 2006 he participated in hisfirst sand project in Belgium. The following year He had the chance to do more projects and meet more sand-carvers. Through those artists and exposure he had the opportunity to take part in other competitions/exhibitions and was employed by several sand sculpture companies for commercial sand jobs. He also helped organize a sand competition, “Garderen 2009”, in the Netherlands which gave him great pleasure and hopes to organize more in the future. Still amazed by the relatively small amount of time that is needed to make the sandsculptures and the transience and beauty of the material, Joris says he will continue to create my mind and thoughts in sand. Making sand sculptures for me is like a theatre-act; you can enjoy it until the curtain comes down, or in this case, as long as the sand stands, until what remains, for the viewer and artist, are memories and photographs.

Jonathan Bouchard | Canada
By profession, Jonathan is a graphic designer and drum major. He is also a painter and a wood, fruit and snow carver (expositions and live performing). His favorite expression: “A coeur vaillant, rien n’est impossible”. “Everything is possible for those who work and believe.”

Jacinthe Trudel | Canada
A clothes designer by profession, Jacinthe is also a natural product maker: soaps, creams, etc. She also paints and does clay sculpture. Her aspiration is “creating, creating…and living from it.” She loves working with natural elements. Jacinthe says “de fil en aiguille,” meaning one thing brings you to another.

Edith van de Wetering | Netherlands
“When I was young I hated sand between my toes, but now I could not live without it. I started sculpting sand through my architecture education at the Technical University. Participating in the sand sculpture festival in Scheveningen started as a hobby, but got out of control very fast. I have been traveling around the world to build sand, snow and ice sculptures for over 15 years.”

Wilfred Stijger | Netherlands
“I started sculpting sand on the beach of Katwijk, where I was born after reading a book by Pieter Wiersma. His work impressed me a lot. After receiving many good reactions from the people passing by I joined the sandsculpture festival in Scheveningen. Here I met Gerry Kirk, sculptor, and he invited me to work with him. Through his network I was invited to festivals and competitions. Now I travel around the world to give people beautiful sculptures in sand, snow and ice. One day I hope to organize my own festival.”

Meredith Corson-Doubleday | USA-FL
Meredith has been sculpting sand for 32 years. In 1985 she volunteered to help on a Guinness record breaking sand sculpture and got hooked. “I have no formal art training but I have always worked with my hands. Sand was a natural fit for me”. “How lucky am I, that I found a way to make my passion, my profession? I have fun at work every day and you are standing in my office”.

Dan Doubleday | USA-FL
To me, life is an adventure. In my younger years I followed my wanderlust. I made a living in many occupations over the years. A welder, well driller, computer operator, seafood cannery plant manager, commercial fisherman, lumber mill worker, general contractor and woodworker. I started sculpting sand on the beaches of Santa Cruz, CA in 1995 and stuck with that. I met Meredith at a competition in 1996. We have been traveling the world creating sculptures ever since.

Andrius Petkus | Lithuania
Petkus holds BA and MA degrees in sculpture from Vilnius Academy of Arts. He has had personal exhibitions in Lithuania and won many competitions in Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Italy, Finland, China, Australia, and the USA. He has participated in art events and festivals in Lithuania, Latvia, France, Holland, Hungary, Finland, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Australia, China, USA, and Germany. Petkus has also organized many international sculpture symposiums and festivals in Lithuania (stone, wood, steel welding, pumpkin carving, fire sculptures and concrete). “I am working, enjoying, and …. winning!” says Petkus.

Dmintry Klimenko | Russia
In 2004 Dmitry graduated from the Saint Petersburg State Academy of Art and immediately began ice carving. He entered the sand world in 2005 plunging deeper and deeper into sand carving with it’s never ending possibility to grow. He won medals in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and has since carved sand in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, and Russia. He also works in wood and bronze.

Dan Belcher | USA-MO
Dan has been creating professional sand sculptures across the continent and around the globe since 1990. He is honored to have learned from many pioneers of the art form, and now to get the privilege of collaborating with, and learning from a family of many of the best and most talented sand sculptors from around the World. During this time he has competed in scores of contests and hundreds of professional projects around the world. Dan is also a professional brewer at a microbrewery close to home, and a Licensed Landscape Architect with a degree from Kansas State University.

Helena Bangert | Holland
Prior to becoming involved in the world of sand sculpting, Helena Bangert studied at the Rietveld Art Academy in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) graduating in 1998 with a major in sculpting/installation art. Over time, sand sculpting has become one of her major activities. Helena designs and carves sand sculptures both commercially and competitively. She has won awards in many competitions including the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach. Since 2004, ice sculpting has been added to her activities and achievements, winning awards in Italy’s International Snow Sculpting Competition.

David Ducharme | Canada
Ducharme lives in British-Columbia and grew up in Montreal Canada. He started sculpting sand, ice and snow in 2003 taking part in a few competitions, then on to participating in sculpting events in different countries where he tries to never miss a chance to learn from the many great sculptors in the community. “I am still amazed at what can be done with sand…people keep pushing ideas, finding their form and voice.” David co-owns a sand, snow and ice sculpting company called Ephemeral Arts Ltd.

Wiaczeslaw Borecki | Poland
Slava is a graduate of National Art College in Kharkov (Ukraine) and Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan (Poland). After studies he worked as an Assistant in the Department of Sculpture. Since 1996 Slava has participated in sand and ice festival and competitions all over the world and won many awards?. He also works with polyester, bronze and stone. His works have been shown in individual and collective exhibitions in many European countries

Kirk Rademaker | California
Kirk is from Santa Cruz, California. He has a background in construction and drafting design. He has been carving sand for 20 years, his most recent projects were in Slovakia and Taiwan.

Sue McGrew | USA-WA
Exploding onto the professional sand sculpting scene in early 2009, Sue McGrew has enjoyed a meteoric rise to international prominence. She has participated in over three dozen sand sculpting festivals, and dozens more sand sculpting competitions, winning a host of honors for her efforts. Sue costarred on the TV show Sand Masters, which followed a cast of artists on their international adventures in sand sculpting. A 2014 achievement was breaking the Guinness World Record for Tallest Sand Castle with Sand Guys International. Sue employs a truly unique style which places a heavy emphasis on flowing organic shapes, her pieces often centering on stylized renditions of the nude human body in a style reminiscent of art deco coupled with her own flourishes to make each piece truly memorable. Sue attended the University of Southern California for a BFA in Theatrical Stage Management but found herself enamored by the romantically impermanent sand medium and instead chose to follow her love of sand, sun, and travel. Sharing the magic of sand sculpting with the world – and growing as an artist of many mediums – Sue plans to devote herself to a gypsy lifestyle in sand, ice and snow until she tires of living out of a gritty suitcase.

Matthew Deibert | USA-NJ
Born and raised in Atlantic City and living close to the beaches, Deibert spent many days playing in the sand, a medium readily available and affordable, building sandcastles, walls, tunnels and motes. A firefighter since 1992 he was promoted to Captain in 2004. He is married and has 6 children. After the birth of his first son trips to the beach renewed his interest in sand. Enjoyment transformed into passion after studying the art and discovering Atlantic City’s history of sand sculpture. Competing since 1999, Deibert and his son captured 1st place on the 2011 Travel Channel’s “Sand Wars“. Free time is usually spent with family and friends on the New Jersey shore. He also enjoys playing golf…one place he tries to stay out of the sand.

Ian Deibert | USA-NJ

Artistry and the beach have been two constants in Ian's life. Born and raised in Southern New Jersey, Ian spent his childhood playing on the shores observing his father, Matt, sculpting. For Ian, following in his father's footsteps, sandsculpting was a natural choice. He easily transitioned between amateur and professional, gaining experience and honing his skillset from his father and other professional sand sculptors. Ian now travels the United States and the world. Like his father, in his early years, Ian was a lifeguard on the beaches of Ventnor City, NJ. In 2013 he earned a BA in Graphic Design from Liberty University. The father-son duo competed on the Travel Channel Competition Sand Wars in 2013, winning 1st place, which led to an invitation to return in 2018. Ian is now married and the father of two. He looks forward to carrying on the tradition of teaching his children the wonderful art form of sandsculpting.

Bagrat Stepanian | Russia
Stepanian, renowned sculptor of sand, snow and ice, is a 2004 graduate of the Moscow State University of Art. “I´ve been interested in sand and ice from my childhood when I played with other children and created little sand castles on the beach in summer and made snowmen during winters in Moscow. At first it was just my hobby, later becoming the occupation of my life,” says Stepanian. His career began in 1998 and includes four international 1st and 2nd place wins in sand and three in ice and snow. He was part of the creative team which directed the “Great Roman Empire,” a Moscow sand project, and is an artistic director for the indoor ice museum in Moscow.

Andrey Vazhynskyy | Ukraine
Andrey was born in September, 1975 in Kharkov, one of the biggest cities of Ukraine. After completing art school in 1996, he then entered the University – Kharkov Academy of Design and Art. In 2001 he successfully graduated as a Master of Arts in sculpture. Since 2003 he has been a participant in numerous Ukrainian republican exhibitions. In 2004 he become a member of the Artists Union of Ukraine and participated in his first festival of sand and ice sculpture and has since been involved in many events each year. He likes to work with many different kinds of material including sand, bronze, marble, wood and ice.

Jan Zelinka | Czech Republic
Jan was born March 20, 1981. He started sculpting sand as a hobby in 2005 on the beaches of south Spain. In 2009 he participated in FIESA, an international sand sculpture festival in Portugal. He now participates in sand sculpture festivals and contests around the world.

Jakub Zimacek | Czech Republic

Jakub began sand sculpting on the beaches of South Spain in 2003. He participated in his first international sand sculpting festival in Portugal in 2005. Since then he has sculpted sand all around the world and has won several prizes in competitions, notables include Australia, Latvia, South America and Switzerland. He decided 2018 was a good time to come to America. When not sculpting he enjoys being home with his family enjoying his town and mountains.