HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. — Sand sculptors from across Canada and the United States are preparing to get their hands dirty at New Hampshire’s 15th annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Master Competition.

The competition runs from Thursday, June 18, through Saturday, June 20, with an awards ceremony Saturday night, followed by fireworks.

The artists have 21 hours to shape a 10-ton pile of sand into a masterpiece worthy of claiming a portion of the $15,000 in prize money and bragging rights. There is also the highly-coveted “People’s Choice Award.”

The sculptures will remain on display through July 5 and will be lit for night viewing.

The sculptors will also collaborate on a massive, 150-ton work on Thursday, June 17.

“These artists have an extremely high degree of skill,” said event coordinator and master sculptor Greg Grady. “They are continually pushing themselves to the next level.”

Past creations have included mermaids and other mythical creatures, knitting grandmothers, fairy tale characters, giant cats, pirates and hockey goalies.

Guy-Oliver Deveau, of Quebec, won last year’s competition and will return for his seventh competition.

Visitors can sign up for free sand carving lessons on Friday and Saturday.

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