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Sand Sculptures a Must See Before Arts Fest Wraps

by on July 15, 2012 8:21 AM

A little bit of the beach comes all the way from sunny California to downtown State College for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts every year thanks to Greg Glenn.

Glenn, who was originally a land surveyor, began competing in sand sculpture competitions on the beaches of Southern California. These experiences are what led him to begin working as a sculptor for the Disney Company and eventually hold a large part in several World Sand Sculpting Championships as well as other various national, international and regional sand sculpture titles.

Glenn shows off these award-winning talents when a 25-ton pile of sand transforms into various animals, human figures and characters in Sidney Friedman Park every July. Spectators watch in awe as he uses an array of intricate tools, shovels and rakes to get the results he wants.

“Sand is sand and it doesn’t always obey,” Glenn said. “You never know how it’s going to turn out. There’s definitely relief at the end of each project.”

Each year’s piece is an original, with the theme of this year’s project being sea life. Glenn says that no matter the piece, each project requires a lot of time management, as the sculpture is perfectly timed out to be completed sometime on Saturday afternoon before the festival closes.

“Sometimes it just seems impossible,” he said. “Even when it turns out, there’s still a bit of tension.”

Glenn and his wife Brandi began to experiment in professional sand sculpture in 1986 and quit their original professions within the same year to begin as full-time professional sand sculptors. Greg became a full-time sand sculptor the following year and began performing at hundreds of events and festivals around the world.

Greg and Brandi went on to form the Sandscapes Company in Southern California in 1991. Today, Sandscapes operates from offices in San Luis Obispo in California. The company consists of various teams of sculptors across the nation and prides itself on having extremely experienced sculptors.

The Sandscapes group has been coming to Arts Fest for about 12 years and has earned 12 separate World Sand Sculpting Championships titles as well as multiple national, international, and regional sand sculpture titles.

Glenn is only on his second trip to downtown State College and said that while he does go to a lot of festivals every year across the country, Arts Fest sticks out as one of his favorites.

“This is a really great festival,” he said. “It’s truly a friendly place.”

Kerri Glunt of Bellefonte said that she’s been coming to Arts Fest for about 15 years and that the sand sculpture is always a must-see.

“I just love the detail of it,” she said. “He’s an artist.”

Arts Fest, as well as the People's Choice arts festival, conclude Sunday.

Sunday Schedule

Allen Street Stage

  • Tussey Mountain Moonshiners, 12:30 p.m.
  • Pure Cane Sugar, 2:30 p.m.
  • Matt Cermanski Band, 4:30 p.m.

Festival Shell Stage

  • Penn State Taiji Club, noon.
  • JT and The Denicats, 1:30 p.m.
  • The Earthtones, 3:30 p.m.

Sidney Friedman Park Stage

  • Bellefonte Community Band, 1:30 p.m.


Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a student at Penn State and an intern for StateCollege.com covering local news and events.
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