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‘Piggy Banker’ deposits top honors at American SandSculpting event

By Staff | Nov 7, 2011

Master sculptor Brian Turnbough banked on a political message to describe his winning sculpture at the American SandSculpting Competition and Beach Festival at GullWing and Pointe Estero resorts this weekend.

The Joliet, Ill. resident carved his No. 1 masterpiece “Piggy Banker,” by focusing on recent national economic hardships. Sue McGrew placed second among the 16 master sculptors with “Venus;” Jootteng Tan took third with “Get The Ball Rolling;” Edith Van DeWetering place fourth with “Do You See What I See;” Lucinda Wierenga took fifth with “Specimen;” and Michel Lepire captured the People’s Choice award with “Fall Celebration.”

“The main concept of my piece is that throughout the whole collapse of the economy that our country has faced in the last few years, the richest 1 percent has not taken a hit, yet there is record unemployment and record foreclosures on homes. We, the 99 percent, are facing a lot more serious issues,” said Turnbough. “I feel that it was my responsibility as an artist to say how I felt about this.”

Turbough, who received $1,500 for top honors among the “show-up money,” gave a shout out to all the professional sculptors from the winners to those who didn’t place. Top prize money has recently been reduced due to each sculptor receiving compensation for a finished piece.

“The sand sculpture competitions in the last 10 years have gotten to a point where only the finest sculptors are invited. Everyone here is at the absolute tops of their game,” he said. “They are all professional sculptors to the highest degree. Even the person that loses works just as hard as I do. My hat goes off to all of them.”

The 25th annual event began on Wednesday with a Group Carve, continued with competition days from Friday through Sunday and culminated with the results ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday. The Beach festival, which experienced 80-degree weather on Sunday, provided a family fun atmosphere with activities as well as food and craft vendors at the Sand Vendor Village on the beachfront that poured into the GullWing parking lot for a Party on the Pavement.

“We were very fortunate with the weather this weekend, and the crowd seemed to be very happy,” said FMB Chamber President John Albion.

“It was truly a fantastic event and a memorable time just like our other 24 have been. It was a great weekend for Fort Myers Beach, and the layout at GullWing worked very well. All the organizers did a terrific job.”

A “Tribute to the Soldiers” was the theme of this year’s American Sand-Sculpting Competition. Off-site events such as Friday’s Luau Beach Fest at Junkanoo on the Beach and The Red Coconut RV Resort and Saturday’s all-day Sand Fest Street Party at Nervous Nellie’s Crazy Waterfront Eatery generated more than $1,700 in revenues for providing calling cards for soldiers.

“We’re going to have a lot of soldiers calling home during the holidays,” said Event Chairman Andrew Cochrane, who has organized the event for six straight years.

“We are really happy about that.”

Before the professional competition results were announced, the top three spots in three amateur divisions were broadcast.