Advanced Amateur Division is a place where an advanced amateur sculptor can prove their abilities and get one step closer to being accepted as a Master Sculptor. If they have the abilities they could be invited back the following year to compete in the Masters Level. The big question on everyone's mind is, will one of the local Michigan sculptors become the 2018; Michigan State Champion or will it be a sculptor from another state.

To qualify as an Advanced Amateur a sand sculptor must have placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in several amateur contests but, can not be a professional sand sculptor.The big difference: typically an amateur sculptor has about 1-3 tons of sand and only 3-6 hours sculpting time. An Advanced Amateur competition is held over 2-3 days, the sculptor has about 9 tons of sand with about 20 hours sculpting time. The Advanced Amateur Division is by invitation only.


Casey Bain

Growing up in northern Michigan, Casey played on the beaches as a kid, but it wasn’t until spring break of 2000 as an adult with a family that the- spark to build sand sculptures ignited. Creating a large block “S” on the day of the NCAA championship game to support MSU, the Spartans pulled out a win, and that sealed it.  From then on, creating in the sand became an exciting hobby. For 13 years, on spring break in Orange Beach, the Alabama beach was Casey’s playground on which she built something new each day. She finally received a sand box for her birthday about 8 years ago, which enabled her to practice her hobby in the backyard when she couldn’t get to a beach. A school teacher by trade, Casey’s told her students for years that “When I grow up, I want to be a Sand Sculptor,” but she never knew about the competitions in Michigan until a few years ago. After trying out the Frankfort and Caseville contests and coming out a “winner,” it was finally time to try the Port Huron Sand Fest and Grand Haven in 2017. Having always been a hand-stacker, building many flat creations, she’s thinking that rising up to forms will be a huge challenge.  She’s looking forward to learning from her peers and hoping to discover how to build “bigger.” 

LISA FewlEss

Lisa has had a lifelong interest in art and has explored many artistic mediums over the years. She has a Degree in Graphic and Commercial Art, and has spent the past ten years working at an embroidery and screen printing shop, creating designs for clothing. Lisa first took an interest in sand sculpting about five years ago when she saw photos of sand sculpting events in Florida. Her fascination lead to volunteering to work at a Sandbash event that same year. Lisa was excited about what she saw and learned there. She entered her first sand sculpting competition in 2013. The past two years, Lisa has been teaching young children, and even a few adults, the basics of sand sculpting at Blue Water Sandfest. Several of her students have gone on to compete and win medals in the Amateur Division contests. 

Bruce Peck

Bruce Peck was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri (Go Redbirds!). His freshman year of college studying architecture (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) scared him far away from the arts, into a lifelong career as a CPA. His career allowed him to travel extensively and live in such beautiful places as Halifax, Nova Scotia, Portland, Oregon (Go Ducks!), and Sacramento, California. When an opportunity arose to relocate once again, it wasn’t by accident that he ended up on the Gulf Coast of Florida (Go Bolts!) near several of the best beaches in the United States (#1, #3, and #4 according to Trip Advisor). By then he had stumbled upon a passion for sand sculpting during family beach vacations. His family and friends had no idea where the hidden talent had come from, but they encouraged him to enter his first amateur competition in 2014. The camaraderie and festival atmosphere have kept him coming back ever since! 

Conny Melchi

Conny Melchi

I started playing in the sand when camping on the beach in North Carolina. Making a few creations in the sand not even knowing I had this talent. Even had someone stop and ask if I was practicing for the sand sculpture contest. I had no idea they actually had contests! Years later I found out about a sandsculpture contest in Grand Haven. I entered my first contest in 2003 and got placed first! I was hooked! I placed every year after that except one. I only get to the beach 2 times a year but look forward to it! I love to play in the sand!


Born and raised near Waterloo Ontario, no where near a beach, I didn't find out about sand sculpting until I was 34,  and for the next 9 years we got to the beach 4-5 times a summer.  We moved to Southampton 4 years ago so I get to "play" in the sand twice a week or so now. I am an aesthetician,  a school bus driver, and a sand sculpting enthusiast. My first year (3rd sculpture) was an entry in Sauble Beaches Sandfest, and I placed 3rd. I met a wonderful lady, Sandi Sterling who I took some lessons from, and eventually met more great people thru. I hope to grow my hobby and learn from more amazing sculptors.

MarK Wilson

I've lived in Florida for nearly my entire life but, I never really liked the beach. Then, in June 2011, I discovered sand sculpting. Finally! A reason to go to the beach! For a few hours I'm able to set aside everything and focus on carving sand. Each time I pound up, I try to extend my skills. Sometimes I push a little too far but, that's good, too. I entered the amateur contest in Ft. Myers Beach in November, 2011, and placed third. Since then I’ve participated in numerous contests throughout Florida and one in Michigan. High points include 2nd place in Quicksand at the 2012 Florida State Championships, 1st place Advanced Amateur at the inaugural Lake Worth Beach Sand Sculpting and Seafood Festival in 2014 and Judges Choice at the 42nd Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest. While awards are nice, the best parts of contests is meeting others with the same affliction, the opportunity rub elbows with the masters and visiting with the folks who come out to see our work.

Paul Warren

Paul Warren has always loved design and loved the beach, and finds that sand sculpting is the perfect combination of these passions. He grew up loving long days by the ocean and, as his daughters were growing up, entertained them with sand sculptures of alligators, turtles, castles and cartoon characters. In 2009, after realizing he couldn’t use his now-grown daughters as an excuse to play in the sand anymore. Inspired by the works of art he witnessed at Revere and Hampton Beaches, he entered his first amateur competition in South Padre, Texas in 2009. He enjoys competing at both the amateur and advanced amateur levels nationally. In, 2015, his competing has resulted in third place Advanced Amateur awards at the Blue Water Sand Fest, American Championships of Sand Sculpting, and a first place Pro-Am award at the Wildwood Crest Beach NJ Sand Fest He spends as much time as he can practicing on beaches in New England, Aruba and elsewhere. He also competes in the annual snow sculpting events in Jackson, NH and Camden, ME Winterfest, and competed in the 2016 United States National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, WI.

Dale Andrews

Two persistent nieces dragged Dale out reluctantly to a local sandcastle competition in 2008 where the family team took home 2nd place. Dale took home a new love for 2014, he ventured on his own competing in across North America. Recently Dale's work has
been seen on an episode of The Amazing Race Canada where he helped producers design a sandsculpting challenge. He also created a castle for a segment on YTV’s “The Zone”. In 2016, Dale placed 3rd at the US National Championships in Fort Myers Beach. His goal is to make the audience think, smile and see the story behind every detail in his sculptures. When he isn’t sculpting sand, his work can be seen on the silver screen as a film Executive Producer.

Bob May

Bob's lifelong interest in building scratch built Great Lake freighters has led to his start up of the paper model boat kit company, Lake Freighter Minis, where he is able to use his creative and designing skills. He and his wife attended the 2014 Blue Water SandFest and enjoyed seeing all the amazing sand sculptures. After watching the Masters, receiving pointers from an Advanced Amateur and the "you can do this" support from his wife, he entered and won first place in the 2014 and 2015 Amateur Division and is the reigning Michigan State Champion for the Amateur Divsion. He is looking forward to competing in this Advanced Amateur Competition this year!

Sara Lloyd

Sara first learned to sand sculpt when she was 13, and living on South Padre Island, TX, where there is a great community of sand sculptors.  She competed a couple times in the Sand Castle Days competition on South Padre Island; once in team youth division, getting third place, and once in the adult team division.  Since moving to Michigan, Sara has continued to make sculptures on various beaches around Michigan and Canada, and has met some more amazing sculptors.  Sara competed last year in the Blue Water Sand Fest amateur division and won first place. 





Bill and Marianne found their love for sand sculpting about 17 years ago when they began competing in amateur contests. After winning several medals they became professional sculptors in 2006. Their company "The Sand Lovers" not only specializes in creating wonderful works of art from piles of sand, they also manage some the largest sand sculpting events in the U.S. In the past few years Bill and Marianne have managed 22 major sand sculpting events reaching well over a million people. Bill and Marianne will be organizing/managing this year’s event, along with hosting "Quick Sand" and providing sand sculpting demonstrations during the event.

Go to the beach, Play in the Sand, Have FUN and LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS!



As Member of the The Sand Lovers team Dennis assists in event management. He has been involved in sand sculpting and event mangement, working with the Sand Lovers on a regular basis for many years. We are thankful to have him as a part of our team.



April Boomer

As a member of the The Sand Lovers team, April will be providing "hands-on" lessons in the Kids Zone. April began sand sculpting at a young age helping her Mom and Dad (The Sand Lovers) on professional jobs. While April currently lives in Michigan she travels back to Florida as often as she can, especially if there is a beach involved.



Tony joins the Team Sand Lovers this year to assist with sand sculpting instruction and all around sand support. When Tony’s not on the sand he works as a computer designer in the automotive industry here in Michigan.