Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Festival no longer free

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IMG_7208-FMB-2008-Sand-Sculpting-CompetitionThis is the 23rd year of the Sand Sculpting Festival on Fort Myers Beach here in Lee County, Florida. It is also the year that unemployment in Lee County has climbed to within spitting distance of 14% and may rise well beyond that by year end. So, naturally it makes perfect sense that this is the year that Fort Myers Beach decided to levy a per-head charge of $3-$5 on spectators.

IMG_7212-FMB-2008-Sand-Sculpting-Competition Because, you see, they aren’t going to pay enough for the outrageously over priced hot dogs, burgers and ice cream cones to feed their kids. And they’re certainly not going to make any purchases at the vast open air market, nor are any of them going to belly up to any number of pool bars and fork over ten bucks for something fruity with a little pink umbrella thrown in. And hey, the people who come and cheer and support this festival can certainly make that unemployment check stretch just a wee bit further, so that they can get beyond the barriers that FMB allows the hotels to put in place at the tide line – even though NO ONE OWNS THE BEACHES, DAMMIT.

The whole thing just kind of made me ill, so I skipped it this year. Here are some pics from last year that I never quite got around to publishing. You will note there is a red water sprayer in the first picture, qualifying this post for Ruby Tuesday, where I’m sure Mary will chuckle in appreciation of my righteous indignation. The artists do an amazing job; standing there to watch them, even in the hot sun, is a real treat. Last year, each sculptor had their immediate work area roped off but otherwise, spectators could walk around freely between sites and get as close as perhaps 6-10 feet to any given sculpture.

It’s a damned shame that the people had to PAY to get this close to the sculptures this year. I bet I’m not the only one who stayed away. Fort Myers Beach, in this of all years, you should have figured out another way.

Click the photos to see if a larger version is available in Flickr
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11 thoughts on “Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Festival no longer free”

  1. I wouldn’t pay to see sand art either. It is beautiful and the artists are talented, but aren’t they using public sand? Doesn’t seem like they can charge you to see your own sand no matter if they make it into a sculpture or roll around in it wet. Unless, of course, it is the hotel’s sand, and in that case they can keep it all! 🙂 It’s a shame you (and so many others) will be missing out this year.

  2. You and I know that governments haven’t learned the obvious fact: if you raise the price you get fewer takers. If you tax more, you get less revenue. Too bad, keeping costs low gets more and more people in, and despite the economy, they might buy an overpriced burger…Nice sculptures and are very topical subjects these days!

  3. There’s a show like that here in Korea but its free of charge! The government pays for the artists actually..

    Please come and find out what our little fashionista has to say.

  4. Yes, we, too stayed away and will continue to do so as long as they are roping off the FREE beaches. After our 2008 visit, we had planned to actually stay at one of the hotels to better enjoy the festival. However, I found the charge offensive and refused to support the festival promoters. I hope for the sake of both the artists and the spectators they re-think their decision going forward.

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