The inaugural Wisconsin Sand Sculpting Festival held at Manitowoc’s Red Arrow Park and Beach July 14-16, 2023 has been deemed a huge success by organizers.  

The Manitowoc Sunrise Rotary and Visit Manitowoc partnered together with The Sand Lovers to bring this brand-new event to the community. Sponsor support, in-kind donations, and over 70 volunteers contributed to the success of this first-time event.

Over the course of the weekend, 8,000 attendees came to watch the competitive semi-pro and amateur sculptors in action. This number surpassed the estimated first-time figure of 6,000 visitors based on similar sand sculpting events in Michigan and Indiana. This high amount of traffic to the area meant hotel occupancy was at 96% on Saturday night – the highest Manitowoc has seen so far this summer. 

“Manitowoc shined to thousands as we hosted the inaugural Wisconsin Sand Sculpting Festival. The event showcased Red Arrow Park and Beach to both visitors and residents and proved that this area can become the site for other exciting events in summers to come. Plus, after attending the festival, visitors spent money at our restaurants, stores and hotels, making this entire weekend an economic booster for the Manitowoc area,” said Courtney Hansen, Director of Visit Manitowoc. “We can’t wait to bring this event back to Manitowoc’s beautiful lakefront in 2024 and are confident it’s going to be even bigger and better!”

“Manitowoc Sunrise Rotary is very pleased with the event and will be using the profits to continue their efforts to support childhood literacy by purchasing books for 4 K children and ongoing education through college scholarships to UW-Green Bay Manitowoc Campus and Lakeshore Technical College as well as scholarships to The World Affairs seminar in Milwaukee,” said Kathy Bernhart, Manitowoc Sunrise Rotary President.

The weekend consisted of hands-on lessons, sand sculpting demonstrations, a kids area, live music, food and drinks, and vendors. Results of the 2023 Wisconsin Sand Sculpting Festival competitions are as follows:


Semi-Pro Sand Sculpting Wisconsin State Championship awards:

First Place, People’s Choice, and Sculptor’s Choice – “Leonardo Pre-Ninja” by Bob May

Second Place – “Sleeping Bear Dune” by John Martinez

Third Place – “Drink Me” by Dottie Willison

Judging panel for the above included the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Cabinet Secretary Anne Sayers, Mayor Justin Nickels, Council President Eric Sitkiewitz, and Rahr-West Art Museum Director Greg Vadney.

Amateur Sand Sculpting Wisconsin State Championship awards:

Adult Solo

First Place – “Sand Castle” by Ryan Metzner

Second Place – “Hogwarts” by Shauna Clemens


First Place – “Octopus Garden” by Team VanThiel

Second Place – “Octopus Attack” by Autumn Farrell
Third Place – “Freedom” by Lori Lex and Family


“Green Bay” by Christian Wiley

Semi-Pro Quick Sand Speed Sculpting Wisconsin State Champion:

“Baby Yoda” by Jim Ford


For the announcement of 2024 dates, please follow Wisconsin Sand Sculpting Festival and Visit Manitowoc on Facebook.