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Downtown Market hosts Summer Sand Fest

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From August 19-21, 2016, professional sand carvers will create larger-than-life sand sculptures, there will be an amateur competition and kids will be encouraged to try their hand at sandcarving in a giant sand box.
Sand carving from Greg Butauski

Sand carving from Greg Butauski /Courtesy of the Downtown Market

Underwriting support from:
Sand carving from Greg Butauski

Sand carving from Greg Butauski /Courtesy of the Downtown Market

Sand carving from Greg Butauski

Sand carving from Greg Butauski /Courtesy of the Downtown Market

This summer, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market brings the beach to you!

Friday through Sunday, August 19-21, 2016, the Downtown Market hosts Sand Rapids, their first ever Summer Sand Festival. The free three-day event is open to all, and takes place outside in the Market Shed. Over the course of the weekend, professional sand carvers will create larger-than-life sand sculptures for the public, who can watch the whole process take shape in front of their eyes.

“We’re excited to bring a new, free event to the Market and invite the community out to watch something they may have never seen before," said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market. “The Market aims to be a vibrant gathering place for all, which is why we love hosting events that take advantage of our unique outdoor space in the summer.”

Sand Carver Greg Butauski, owner of Rock on Ice, said his team will bring in about 30 tons of sand for the weekend. At least three sand carvers, or artists, will create the sculptures and help judge the amateur competition, which takes place on Friday, August 19.

The amateur competition will start with four pre-packed sculptures, each one  4’x4’x4’. Carvers will come from local organizations that sponsored the event or from Downtown Market community partner organizations. The professional carvers will judge that portion of the competition, and award a trophy to the winning team.

To get the little ones involved, a giant sand box will also be on site to give kids a place to play and create their own sculpture art with shovels, buckets and other tools to help them become master sand artists. For bigger kids, various yard games will be set up around the Market Shed.

Butauski has been carving sand (and ice!) for 25 years. He started ice carving in college as part of his school’s culinary program, and started his business right out of college with two friends. Based in the Midwest, he’s traveled the world to carve ice and sand sculptures, including Japan, Germany, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

For the Sand Rapids event, Butauski said his team will be creating sculpture designs geared towards the artists’ strengths as well as the themes of the Downtown Market.

“We try to create designs for each artist, related to whatever they enjoy carving the most,” said Butauski. “If they are passionate about what they are doing, it makes the end product even better.”

For those who can’t make it to the Market next weekend, he said the sculptures won’t be removed right away.

“The sculptures should get another week of viewing afterwards,” said Butauski. “They’re pretty durable when they are under a shelter.”

For more information on the event, visit:

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