Carol Vig

This roundup of news around Dallas comes replete with quantity, there are many items, the question is, are they quality items? There's a drop in violent crime. A proposal to turn one-way streets into two-way streets. There are grants for women, and parks for seniors. There's a meet-up with an author, a late night at the DMA, and a fancy new fountain at a downtown park.

Here's what happened in Dallas this week:

Violent crime drop
Violent crime has dropped in Dallas, following a Violent Crime Reduction Strategic Plan implemented by the Dallas Police Department in 2021. In the first year, overall violent street crime (murders, robbery, nonfamily violence aggravated assault) is down 12 percent citywide. Violent crime in Dallas had been on the rise in the three years leading up to the Crime Plan implementation, and it still is in many large U.S. cities.

The Crime Reduction Plan was developed by the Dallas Police Department, University of Texas-San Antonio criminology and criminal justice professors Drs. Michael Smith and Rob Tillyer, and the City of Dallas. According to a release from the DPD, it uses evidence-based strategies including hot spot policing, placed network investigations and focused deterrence. DPD Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement that there is still work to be done but the numbers show positive results.

Klyde Warren Park fountain
A new water feature called the Nancy Best Fountain has opened at Klyde Warren Park, between Olive and Pearl streets. The design features three stainless-steel "trees," 14 "rosebud" bubblers, and 106 small nozzles that create giant leaves, plus a 5,000-square foot splash pad that can accommodate hundreds of children at a time. At sunset, it'll display a 30- to 45-minute choreographed light and music show. Guests are allowed to play in the water even during the show, which a release says is unique. The fountain is powered by recirculated water, which goes through a continuous, four-step filtration and sanitizing process.

Two way streets
Dallas City Council member Jesse Moreno is requesting an evaluation for a possible two-way street conversion of three streets in East Dallas that include Peak Street, Haskell Avenue, and Graham Avenue. The rationale is that two-way street conversions can enhance mobility, accessibility, and safety. There's been a trend recently to transform one-way streets, most recently one in Oak Cliff.

Parks for seniors
WellMed Charitable Foundation presented Dallas with $150,000 to give senior citizens free access to recreation programs. Dallas Park and Recreation will use the gift to waive annual and monthly fees at city recreation centers for adults 60 and older. Since the first donation was announced in March 2017, more than 29,500 adults have enrolled at a City of Dallas recreation center. WCF is the philanthropic partner of WellMed and USMD Health System.

Grants for women
The Texas Women’s Foundation has distributed $7.1 million in grants to 223 nonprofits and $2.1 million in programs to build more equitable communities to address the pressing needs of the women and girls and their families. The Foundation raises funding from a broad base of donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. For a complete list of grantees, visit txwf.org/grants.

Shady doc
Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., a 59-year-old anesthesiologist, has been charged with injecting nerve blocking agents and other drugs into patient IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas. According to a release from the US Attorney's office, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a fellow doctor at the facility, died from a lethal dose of bipuvacaine, found in an IV bag she used. Ortiz was the only person caught on camera handling IV bags that resulted in her death as well as multiple cardiac emergencies.

DMA Late Night
Creative Arts Center of Dallas is partnering with the Dallas Museum of Art on Late Night, taking place September 16 from 5-11 pm, hey that's tonight, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the life and work of Mexican American artist Octavio Medellín. There'll be music, artist demonstrations, curator talks, a poetry workshop led by Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez, film screenings, tours of the exhibition Octavio Medellín: Spirit and Form, a Texas art scavenger hunt, and a live painting of the Mexican flag on a monumental scale.

Meet the author
Author Alex Temblador will make an appearance at Half Price Books at 5803 E. Northwest Hwy. on Sunday, September 18 at 1 pm. According to the Lake Highlands Advocate, Temblador won the 2019 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Young Adult Fiction Award, and Kirkus Reviews' Best of YA Books 2018. Her newest book is an adult novel called Half Outlaw, about a woman's quest to find a better future while wrestling with a rocky past. She'll sign books, then join fellow author Samantha Mabry (Tigers, Not Daughters), in a discussion about culture moderated by Half Price Books' Becky Gomez, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. RSVP here.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar

New cat cafe prowls into this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This Week's Hot Headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. New cat cafe will prowl into East Dallas from kitty rescue group. A well-known Dallas cat rescue organization is expanding its reach with a new cat cafe. Called the Cat Café, it's from nonprofit A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), and will provide a home for rescued cats, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and a place for abandoned cats to get access to veterinary care.

2. Dallas hot rod king Richard Rawlings is clearing out Gas Monkey Garage. There was a double dose of news about Dallas hot rodder Richard Rawlings this week. First came news that the Fast N' Loud reality show star and owner of Gas Monkey Garage was selling off a slew of classic cars — nearly his entire collection. Then came word that he's gearing up to open another bar-restaurant mega-venue in Dallas-Fort Worth.

3. Dallas designer serves up new sustainable loungewear brand inspired by Juicy Couture. Dallas-born designer Monica Millington is launching a new loungewear brand that, she hopes, will provide an ethical alternative to fast fashion while playing on millennial nostalgia. Called Sette, it's a line of sustainable, unisex loungewear officially launching online Saturday, August 27.

4. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with ultra-hot happy hours. Fall has (almost) arrived, and if there's one thing that a change in seasons always brings to mind, it's happy hours. This August edition of Where to Drink rounds up five new candidates with exciting happy hour programs, some with great drink specials, some with food and drink, and one that's really just all about a cheap martini at lunch.

5. Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Christmas show makes Dallas debut for 2022 holidays. 'Twas four months before Christmas and all through Dallas-Fort Worth, holidayeventnews was stirring — and now comes a Cirque. Cirque du Soleil’s inaugural Christmas show, "‘Twas the Night Before…" will make its North Texas debut at Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie during the 2022 holiday season.

A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.

Kitten Shower
Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar
A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.

Drought uncovers ancient dinosaur tracks at park in Glen Rose Texas

Dinosaur News

Ancient dinosaur tracks were uncovered in a famous Texas park: The tracks, dating back approximately 113 million years, were discovered in a dried-out riverbed at Dinosaur Valley State Park, 75 miles southwest of Dallas, on August 18.

The tracks were revealed due to the drought. Under normal weather conditions, they would have remained hidden underwater, as they have for these many decades. But thanks to climate change, patches of the Paluxy River, which runs through the park, dried out completely. According to park officials, it brought the tracks to light.

Sadly for dino fans, it's fleeting: With the rains crossing Texas this week, the tracks are anticipated to soon (maybe already) be buried again.

"While these newer dinosaur tracks were visible for a brief amount of time, it brought about the wonder and excitement about finding new dinosaur tracks at the park," said a park spokesperson in a statement. "Dinosaur Valley State Park will continue to protect these 113-million year-old tracks not only for present, but future generations."

The tracks are believed to belong to the Acrocanthosaurus, a dinosaur that would stand about 15 feet tall and weigh nearly seven tons. The other species found at the park is the Sauroposeidon, a much larger dinosaur at 60 feet tall and weighing about 44 tons.

Park rangers at Dinosaur Valley State Park caution that the visibility of any dinosaur tracks depends on how much rain the area receives. If you go there, you may not see these tracks. You probably won't see these tracks.

The tracks have made international news, after a group called the Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park posted photos showing a clean-up of the space. The discovery has been covered by CNN, the BBC, and major networks. Everyone loves dinosaurs.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar

New cat cafe will prowl into East Dallas from kitty rescue group

Cat News

A well known Dallas cat rescue organization is expanding its reach with a new cat cafe. Called the Cat Café, it's from nonprofit A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), and will provide a home for rescued cats, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and a place for abandoned cats to get access to veterinary care.

The cafe will open side by side with an adoption center and luxury boarding near Garland and Peavy.

AVAP president Caroline Stovall, who has worked with a number of rescues in Dallas, and her husband Rob have purchased two buildings: 1211 Casa Vale, which will be home to the cat café and adoption area; and 10320 Garland Rd., which will be home to the boarding facility.

According to a release, these buildings are being renovated with a planned opening later this year.

"Our team, along with volunteers, will run the cat café and adoption center," Stovall says. "We will run it like a business with a coffee shop where people can work. We see the coffee shop as a means of funding our non-for-profit organization, too."

AVAP will do treatments such as spay/neuter, medications, and baths, as well as provide a place for cats to become socialized around people and other animals. Having a place where people can visit cats ready for adoption will be a huge benefit to AVAP.

"Cats generally receive less attention than dogs when it comes to shelters," Stovall says. "Creating a center and cafe that focuses specifically on cats and kittens will help the community meet them and find their forever homes."

Nancy Stephenson, AVAP's original founder and well known for her cat rescue work in Dallas, relocated to Oregon in July, but is still involved in operations, fundraising, and marketing, while Stovall handles day-to-day operations.

Board members also involved include Libby Cooley, Shelley Dai, and Dr. Gail Bushur-Irwin (Medical Director), who are all East Dallas residents.

Volunteers are welcome, as are donations, at avoiceforallpaws.com.

The organization offers these tips if you see stray cats:

  • If you see kittens, leave them alone. Moms have to leave to go to eat. They rarely abandon kittens.
  • Don't give cats away without getting them spayed or neutered.
  • Fees for cat adoptions are higher because cats often require more medical needs than dogs. Cats have a more difficult time regulating body temperature (hypothermia), and they can have hypoglycemia.

Tiger cub found in home during arrest of mediocre Dallas rapper Trapboy Freddy

Animal News

A baby tiger cub was found on August 17 in the Dallas home of a mediocre rapper named Trapboy Freddy, real name Devarius Dontez Moore.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Marshals took the 30-year-old into custody on Wednesday on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and found the baby tiger in a cage.

It's illegal to have a tiger as a pet in Dallas. It's also cruel to keep a wild animal in a cage.

Dallas Animal Services was summoned and took possession of the animal which is now in the custody of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

His initial appearance is slated for Friday August 19 at 10 am before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan.

Fox 4 notes that the rapper has a criminal history including unlawful carry of a firearm, assault, drug possession, and multiple probation violations. His Instagram page is loaded with typical thug images such as him sitting at a table with piles of cash.

According to NBC DFW, Moore lives at 2700 block of Meadow Gate Lane, in southern Oak Cliff near Highway 67 and Interstate 20.

He's not listed on DCAD as a homeowner, so that means he's a renter. All that money and doesn't even own his own home. Based on DCAD records, it looks like the home he's renting is owned by Huang Rong Sheng Lin & Li Qi Hong, who reside at 5806 Ray St in El Cerrito, California — out-of-state investors with no current ties or commitment to the area.

One Instagram photo shows him with what would seem to be the tiger cub on a leash. The photo tags an Instagram page called Cool Money Kennels, which breeds all your thug favorites — "Frenchies, bullies, bulldogs, stud/pups." The CEO is listed as, surprise surprise, Trapboy Freddy.

He seems to like to show his "manhood" by dominating animals; his Facebook page has photos of him holding a huge cobra snake.

Dallas swarms to No. 1 spot in ranking of buggiest cities in the U.S.

Creepy crawlies

There’s some buzz going around Texas: Dallas is the buggiest city — yes, even buggier than Houston.

Thumbtack, a home management app that connects owners with service providers, took note of its bug-related service requests, and ranked Dallas the No. 1 buggiest city in the United States.

Austin hooked No. 4, and Houston crawled in at No. 5.

A quick note about methodology: This data came entirely from consumers on Thumbtack, requesting “pest control, pest inspection, bed bug extermination, and outdoor pesticide application.” Those numbers were adjusted for population and ranked across an unspecified number of states. (If one city has fewer bugs than another, it just wants to get rid of them more.)

Thumbtack calculated a national average of $50-200 per household on extermination services, but before spending that, residents can consider cheap, nontoxic solutions like diatomaceous earth (fossilized plankton) and neem oil. Be gentle on spiders and pollinators — which includes lots of flying insects that aren’t bees — and don’t panic when the heat sends a few more buggies into your air-conditioned home.

“Keep bugs out all summer by turning on a dehumidifier, eliminating standing water in your yard and garden and by keeping screenless windows shut,” said Thumbtack home expert David Steckel in a press release. Bug control doesn’t always mean waging war, either. “Hiring a bug control professional can help identify areas for improvement and provide you with regular maintenance to avoid problems down the line.”

The Top 10 Buggiest Cities in the U.S., according to Thumbtack, are:

1. Dallas
2. Atlanta
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Austin
5. Houston
6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
7. West Palm Beach, Florida
8. Baltimore
9. Orlando, Florida
10. Tampa, Florida

Texas towns are slightly outnumbered by those in Florida on the list, yet Texas still fell far below Florida on a CNBC list of best places to live, where the Lone Star State ranked second-to-last.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

On the tails of the holiday weekend, several events return by this week’s end. A gourmet Italian grocer will celebrate an Italian holiday; one of the longest running food festivals in town kicks off on Friday; and a wine tasting event themed after a hit movie takes place on Saturday. Get outdoors and pair a craft pint with a leisurely paddleboard tour. Or sip margaritas poolside after a refreshing yoga class at a top Dallas hotel.

Friday, June 2

Sunset Paddle & A Pint
DFW Surf Frisco kicks off its Friday night guided standup paddle tour of Hidden Cove Park and Marina with an extra incentive: beer. At the halfway point of the two-mile trek, participants stop for a sunset beer toast provided by 3 Nations Brewing. Board lamps, head lamps, and glow sticks provide light for the evening paddle back to shore. Tickets are $60 and the tour will run from 7:30- 9 pm.

All You Can Eataly
The Italian marketplace at NorthPark will close to the public and open to ticketholders for a Festa della Repubblica party featuring more than two dozen food stations, 50-plus Italian wines, 25-plus beers, and multiple cocktails bars featuring Italian libations. There’ll also be chef demos, DJ sets, photo booths, and live music with a dance band. Tickets start at $125, or pay $195 for VIP and get early entry, premium tastings, and a dedicated lounge. The party will run from 7-10 pm, with VIP early entry at 6 pm.

Taste Addison
The popular family-friendly festival kicks off Friday night at Addison Circle Park for two days of local restaurant dishes, wine and spirit tastings, music acts, and more. Participating restaurants include Asian Mint, Taqueria La Ventana, Thai Orchid, Ron’s Place, Lupe Tortilla, and at least two dozen others. General admission is $15, or $5 for kids 6-12. Or go VIP and pay $60 for two beverage tokens, two Taste Bite vouchers, and access to the main stage viewing deck and private VIP lounge. Taste Addison runs from 6 pm -midnight on Friday and 2 pm-midnight on Saturday.

Saturday, June 3

Catalina Canned Wine Mixer at Truck Yard Dallas
The Truck Yard hosts a “bro-down” party themed after the 2008 hit movie Step Brothers. Wear your best tuxedo t-shirt and enjoy a wine tasting, photo ops, food trucks, and a Step Brothers cover band. Admission is free, but a $15 wine tasting from 7-9 pm offers six wine samples and a souvenir glass filled with frose. Costume contests will be held at 5 pm and 10 pm.

Sunday, June 4

Yogarita at The Stoneleigh
Move over, beer yoga. The Stoneleigh is leveling up boozy yoga classes with the launch of Yogarita, a Sunday morning yoga session paired with a margarita. The one-hour class includes a Casamigos margaritas and a fish taco from the hotel’s Perle on Maple restaurant. Bonus: participants also get a lounge chair for the day at The Stoneleigh pool. Tickets are $40 and yoga mats are provided. Class begins at 10:30 am.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Class at Dallas Arboretum
This seated class will take participants through the art of pairing wine with artisanal cheeses and will be led by a cheese expert from the Mozzarella Company and wine expert from Two Wine Guys. The class is $89 (or $79 for Arboretum members) and will run from 1-3 pm.

Monday, June 5

Lakewood Brewery Dinner at Urban Crust
The Plano wood-fired pizza kitchen hosts a four-course beer pairing featuring local Lakewood Brewery. The dinner will come with four different Lakewood brews. The event is $49.99, plus tax and gratuity, and will begin at 6:30 pm.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus navigates marriage pitfalls in You Hurt My Feelings

Movie Review

Anybody who’s been married or in a long-term relationship knows that it’s almost impossible to be completely honest with his or her partner. There are always going to be moments – whether for the sake of expediency, in a show of support, or other reasons – when one person withholds their true opinion so as not to hurt the other person’s feelings.

That idea is the central tension point of You Hurt My Feelings, which follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a writer/teacher, and her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), a therapist. Beth is in the middle of trying to get her first fiction book published, a process that is causing her unceasing anxiety. Don sees a series of patients, including a constantly-bickering couple (played by real-life husband and wife David Cross and Amber Tamblyn), and a few lapses cause him to question his commitment to the profession.

When Beth and her sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), accidentally overhear Don telling his brother-in-law, Mark (Arian Moayed), that he doesn’t like Sarah’s new book and is exhausted having to tell her otherwise, it sends Beth into an emotional spiral. The aftermath winds up pulling in not just the two couples, but also Beth and Don’s son, Eliot (Owen Teague), dredging up feelings that all of them normally try to keep hidden.

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, the film is a funny and genuine look at how even the best couples can run into pitfalls. By most measures, Beth and Don get along fantastically well, supporting each other unwaveringly and showing their love in a variety of ways. When the story puts them at odds with each other, there’s never a question that they belong together, as even their arguments are tinged with exasperation instead of anger.

Holofcener complements the story of Beth and Don with a nice variety of side plots, including Eliot trying to start his own writing career while working at a weed store; Beth and Sarah’s mom, Georgia (Jeannie Berlin), offering up support and criticism in equal measures; and more. Don’s patients and Beth’s students offer an opportunity to expand the two characters’ personalities outside of their marriage while also adding a few other funny roles.

While perhaps not the most insightful film about marriage that’s ever been made, it is still highly enjoyable thanks to Holofcener’s writing and the strong performances. Filmed in New York City, the particular feel of that urban landscape and the way it affects the lives of the characters also plays a big part in the success of the film.

Louis-Dreyfus, as always, is a delight to watch. A kind of spiritual sequel to her previous collaboration with Holofcener, 2013’s Enough Said, the film gives her plenty of room to show off both her comedic and dramatic skills. Menzies makes for a steady presence, showing good chemistry with Louis-Dreyfus and a preternatural calm in therapy sessions. Watkins, Moayed, Teague, and Berlin all fit in seamlessly.

You Hurt My Feelings is not a world-changing kind of movie, but rather a solidly-told story about how relationships can be complicated. With actors who are easy to like and Holofcener’s reliably great filmmaking, it’s a movie for adults that’s nice counter-programming to the glut of summer blockbusters.


You Hurt My Feelings is now playing in theaters.

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings

Photo courtesy of A24

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”