A physically-distanced version of the 26th Annual Sand Sculpture Festival will be taking place during the entire month of July! During the Dispersed Sand Sculpture Festival, teams are invited to create sandy masterpieces on local beaches, send photos of their sand sculptures to Friends of the Dunes, post creations on social media, vote for their favorites, and be entered to win exciting prizes. Plan to make a date with a sandy stretch of beach and get creative with your family and friends this July!

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2020 People's Choice: Built by Team Making Waves
with their sculpture titled "Siren's Song." 
Photo Credit: L. Boles Photography

To view entries and to vote for your favorite sand sculpture, visit our online gallery! 


1. Pick your team members and a team name. With special consideration to safety guidelines, we recommend teaming with people in your immediate social groups. Masks are encouraged to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Choose a day in July and a local Humboldt County Beach to build your masterpiece on. Make sure you check the tides for optimal sculpture building conditions. 

3. With "Sand Sculpture Festival" in the subject line, email an image of your sculpture to, along with the following information:

  • Team name and team captain contact information.

  • Sculpture title.

  • Date of when the sculpture was made.

  • Location of sculpture. 

  • Include the name of the business partner that your team is representing if applicable. 

  • Additional images of the sculpture, team members, and progress pictures. This is optional, but encouraged! Make sure images are in color, are not blurry, or too far away.

4. Post your masterpiece on social media with the hashtags #SandSculptureFestival2021  #FriendsoftheDunes, and tag @friendsofthedunes. Please include the location of your sculpture.

For example: Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, north from the Wildberries Trail

Posting to social media is optional, but it helps us to share with others.

*One entry per team.

*Humboldt County only.


Every team that participates has a chance to win some of the following prizes:​​

  • People's Choice: $100 cash prize for the sculpture with the most votes from you! Vote here. 

  • Golden Shovel: Only available to teams representing a business partner.

Teams can also win bragging rights and a free Friends of the Dunes membership when competing for the title of:

  • Best of Show

  • Best Youth Sculpture

  • Most Dedicated Diggers

  • Most Photogenic

  • Most Imaginative

  • Staff Pick



As entries are submitted, we will upload them to the online gallery. You can also view sculptures on social media by searching the hashtags #SandSculptureFestival2021 and #FriendsoftheDunes.

If you would like to view the sculptures in person, see the location and time details in the gallery. Please note that the sculptures may not last long with high tide and weather conditions. 


We all love the beach, and it is up to us to keep it clean and healthy! Here are some ways you can help:

  • Enjoy wildlife at a distance. Avoid areas that have special wildlife concerns, such as endangered Western Snowy Plover habitat.  Humboldt County beaches to avoid include Stone Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and South Spit. For more information regarding Western Snowy Plovers, click here

Western Snowy Plover nests blend in with the sand, and are difficult to spot. Do your part to aid in their recovery by avoiding the areas in which they are known to nest. Click the image to learn more. 

Western Snowy Plover nest. Image courtesy of California State Parks.

  • Plan ahead and prepare. Know and follow the regulations and special concerns of the beach that you plan to visit.

  • Leave the beach cleaner than you found it. Bring a bag to pack out trash.

  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.

  • Review the tides, and never turn your back on the ocean. 


The key to making a sculpture stand is compaction. All too often, folks build sculptures that start to dry out and blow away before sculptures are complete.

Dig a hole close to the high tide mark; dig until you hit water. Prepare your medium by mixing the sand and water, really dig deep, pulling the compact sand up, and thoroughly mixing it with water. Big, wet, soupy handfuls of sand are what you need.


Use tools! You can carve your sand using a variety of tools. A pastry knife works for carving windows, doors, faces, etc. A soft-bristled brush can erase knife strokes, and plastic tubing or a drinking straw can be used to gently blow away loose sand.

Bring a spray bottle to wet and touch up sand as needed. 


Sand Sculpture Festival 2020 photos and winners click here.

Click here for photos from our 2019

Click here for a full archive of our past sculptures.


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Welcome to the Dispersed