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Dragons, castles and mermaids, oh my.

These are just a few of the sand sculptures created at this year’s Siesta Key Crystal Classic, an annual sand sculpting competition presented by Margaritaville® and made possible by the Siesta Beach Festival Board.

Sculptors from all around the world, including Canada, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines and the Czech Republic, gathered to compete for first, second and third place, as well as sculptors’ choice and people’s choice awards.

The competition took place Friday, Nov. 14 and lasted through Tuesday, Nov. 18. The 11 teams of two competitors each had a total of 5-hours to compact their sand and another 26-hours to sculpt. Visitors were welcome to sit back and watch the competitors create masterpieces from start to finish. 

This year’s winners are:

  • First Place ($5,000): “Keyless” sculpted by Morgan Rudluff and Abe Waterman

                    KeylessKeyless 2

  • Second Place ($4,000): “Crysaline” sculpted by Delayne Corbett and Fergus Mulvany


  • Third Place ($2,000): “Mother of Dragons” sculpted by Dan Belcher and Karen Fralich


  • Sculptors’ Choice: ($2,000): “The Big Splash” sculpted by Melineige Beauregard and Greg Grady


  • People's Choice ($2,000): "Miracle of Life" sculpted by John Gowdy and Jan Zelinka.


Dan Belcher and Karen Fralich won two awards for their sculpture titled, “Keyless,” which pokes fun at the difference between men and women. It features an angular man and smoothly carved women. There is also a contrast of cats vs. dogs and squares vs. circles. The concept embodies the old saying of “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.”

“I’ve been sculpting sand for 7 years. It all started because I met a guy who wanted help sculpting and I took the job. He really took me under his wing and I learned that I just loved it and wanted to keep at it and get better and better. Sculpting is the perfect mix of life. It allows me to embrace my child-like curiosity and it brings out my creativity as an artist,” Fralich said.

Fergus Mulvany and Delayne Corbett won second prize for their sculpture titled, “Crystaline."

Corbett was raised in Canada, where there is no shortage of raw materials such as stone, wood, sand, ice and snow. It was the abundance of these materials that led to his creative path. He began sculpting wood at the early age of 19 and quickly grew a passion for the art of sculpting.

Now, his talents flow with the seasons. In summer he sculpts sand, in spring and fall he concentrates on stone and in winter, he carves snow and ice.

“I started sculpting because I was bored and needed something to do with my hands. After I made my first piece, which was made from wood, I became drawn to stone, and that was it,” Corbett said.

“I learned that I really had a passion for it, because there are 3 different conflicts or themes in life; man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. self. For me, sculpting incorporates all of these. The physical demand is man vs. self, man vs. man is the competition and man vs. nature is all the different variables like the sun beating down on you or the hot sand.”

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic was founded in 2010 after a Siesta Key resident and master sand sculpture, Brian Wigelsworth, shared his passion with representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Mote Marine Laboratory and Visit Sarasota County.

Event proceeds support sea turtle conservation and research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

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