Despite rain, kids make the most of Frisco Bay Marina sandcastle competition |

Despite rain, kids make the most of Frisco Bay Marina sandcastle competition

Competitors and their parents get to work building sandcastles during the ninth annual Frisco Bay Marina sandcastle competition Saturday, Aug. 10.
Deepan Dutta /

FRISCO — A wet summer morning did little to dampen spirits during the ninth annual Frisco Bay Marina kid’s sandcastle competition Saturday. The contest, which had kids racing to build tiny fortresses out of nothing but sand and boundless imagination, showcased the marina’s newly expanded beachfront that has boosted visitor numbers this summer.

More than 60 kids ranging from toddlers to 12-year-olds used buckets and shovels to craft their sand creations during the free “rain or shine” event. Through rain that ranged from a light misting to torrential downpour, the kids made their castles in plots outlined by yellow rope.

Some kids got very creative with their work, using action figures (including Ariel, the Little Mermaid), pinecones, rocks and anything else they could think of to adorn the castles. One castle had a tiny football field complete with field goal posts, another featured a tall fortress with a moat, while others had sand art shaped like a turtle and a tiny labyrinthine compound.

A sandcastle entry featuring the Little Mermaid, Ariel, at the ninth annual Frisco Bay Marina kids’ sandcastle competition Saturday.
Deepan Dutta /

The competition was divided into groups with kids ages 1 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 9 and 10 to 12. Some of the younger children contented themselves by rummaging around in the sand, digging holes and drawing smiley faces.

Marina guest services manager Jenn Shimp, who oversees the competition, said it is her favorite event of the year.

“It’s a really great event that really gets people out here on the beach,” Shimp said. “Having the extra space really helps to spread out the kids so they can make bigger castles because we have more space to make bigger plots.”

Shimp said the newly expanded beach — which was created as part of the first phase of the town of Frisco’s multiyear, multimillion dollar master plan for the marina — has drawn more visitors this summer than last, with hundreds enjoying sun and sand at the town’s newest amenity.

The marina features kayak, paddleboard and boat rentals, which make up the vast majority of its operating revenue. The beach has added a new dimension to the marina, adding to the resort experience in the mountains.

“The beach expansion has really facilitated more water and shoreline usage,” Shimp said. “A lot of people are now experiencing a beach here that they couldn’t get to unless you took a long trip somewhere.”

Aside from the fine creations from the kids, the competition also featured special celebrity judges from the Summit County Rescue Group.

Jenn Shimp, Frisco Bay Marina guest services manager, helps Summit County Rescue Group avalanche dogs Keena, left, and Greco, right, judge a sandcastle featuring a football field. The castle was built as part of the ninth annual Frisco Bay Marina kids sandcastle competition Saturday, Aug. 10.
Deepan Dutta /

After time was up for building, a panel of three four-legged avalanche rescue dogs named Greco, Race and Keena were gracious enough to lend their expertise on sandcastle architecture.

With Shimp guiding them along, lead judge Greco, a golden retriever, indicated his approval of each creation with a series of barks and paw scratches. Shimp said that some competitors have gotten wise and placed dog treats into their castles to curry favor from the canine evaluators.

“Bribing the judges is highly encouraged,” Shimp said.

While most others in attendance were unable to decipher the special dog code, Shimp carefully noted reactions to each castle and used them to rank winners in each age group.

Each age group had first-, second- and third-place winners, with every ranked winner getting a trophy and every participant getting a flowery lei.

Team King and Queen Castle — with sibling competitors Nolan, top left, and Adalyn, top right — poses with marina guest services manager Jenn Shimp and avalanche rescue dog/judge Greco after the ninth annual Frisco Bay Marina sandcastle competition Saturday, Aug. 10.
Deepan Dutta /

The overall grand champion this year was team King and Queen Castle, with visiting sibling team members Adalyn and Nolan taking the biggest trophy back home with them to Mexico.

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