Located on the north end of Mustang Island, Port Aransas’s miles of beautiful beaches, variety of outdoor activities, and family-friendly community events make it one of Texas’s top beach destinations. Whether you’re looking to charter a boat and find one of the area’s world-class fishing spots or stopping by Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club to golf 18 holes, the city has something for everyone. Port A is also home to a variety of restaurants, specializing in locally caught seafood. A couple of can’t miss options include Irie’s Island Food and Shell’s Pasta & Seafood.
Texas SandFest has been one of the top family-friendly events in the Port Aransas community since it began two decades ago, and it will take place April 27-29. Patrons will encounter one of the top sand sculpting showcases in the Nation. This year's event will feature 18 master sculptors and five advanced amateur sculptors from across the world. Patrons can watch the artists as they create their sand masterpieces and interact after to learn about their motivations and techniques. Patrons can also participate in an Amateur Competition which includes about 100 amateur sculptors (all ages and skill levels welcomed). The vendor area will consist of more than 100 vendors selling arts, crafts, clothing, furniture, and more. Attendees in search of a bite to eat will find a variety of favorite local dining favorites, and a beer tent will serve libations and beer to those of age. Families can participate in a variety of games and rides for all ages including a four-story giant slide and a bungee jump. Regional musicians including Panic Stricken, Passing Strangers, and Two Tons of Steel will perform live throughout the event. The event annually donates to a variety of local causes, and last year it gave more than $200,000 to causes around the community. ResortsandLodges.com interviewed Event Coordinator, Lisa Shelton, to learn more about this remarkable celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
LS: Texas SandFest began in 1997.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
LS: The number of sculptors has steadily grown over the years. We will have 18 master and five amateur sculptors this year. We also host an amateur competition (100 competitors on average) on Saturday where anyone can show-off their skills in a competition among their peers.
As for guests that enjoy the festival, the number has grown exponentially over the past six years. We don’t have exact numbers, but the conservative estimate is 50,000.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
LS: This is a family-friendly event that welcomes people from around the world.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
LS: Texas SandFest is one of the most significant professional sand sculpting events in the U.S. We believe that it’s the largest event of its type that uses sand native to its area.
The eye of Hurricane Harvey hit less than a mile from Port Aransas, and our community suffered severe destruction. TXSF will be the first major local event since the hurricane. Many of our local hotels and condos were stricken during the storm, so we ask attendees to try to book locally to support our businesses. If visitors can’t find lodging here, please check-out North Padre, Corpus Christi, and surrounding areas. We promise it will be worth the effort! Port A needs your support!
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
LS: The Masters Gallery opens daily at 9:00 am, where guests can watch the sculptors transform tons of sand into beautiful works of art. Guests are invited to show their talent in the Amateur Contest on Saturday. There are two rides for the young and young at heart, a four-story super slide which depending on the temperature, might turn into a wet slide! Also, there will be a bungee jump that allows riders to soar high into the air.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
LS: So far we have regional favorites including Panic Stricken, Passing Strangers and Two Tons of Steel. We will add additional acts as the event approaches.
RAL: What will attendees find for dining options?
LS: We have a variety of food vendors selling numerous types of meals and treats to satisfy any craving. There is also a beer tent for adult beverages.
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
LS: This is a family-friendly, rain or shine, event! We strive to make the experience fun for everyone. We try our hardest to provide things for all ages to enjoy. This year we are staying open an extra hour on Friday and Saturday evenings to allow guests more time to get the full experience of Texas SandFest.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
LS: I suggest checking out our local chamber of commerce for lodging options.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
LS: Last year’s economic impact was (conservatively) over $12 million. We are hoping for that again or even higher! We hope guests realize that Port Aransas suffered greatly from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and are willing to help support our amazing community.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
LS: The mission of Texas SandFest is to give back to the community. In fact, over the past six years, we’ve donated more than $500,000! We have a few charities that we support annually, and then the Board determines other groups that it wants to support. In 2017, TXSF gave $203,000 to Port Aransas High School scholarships, Port Aransas Art Center, Port Aransas Community Theatre, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and more. We are hoping that we can keep that momentum going in 2018 and beyond.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
LS: The community of Port Aransas welcomes visitors with warm smiles and open arms. From the moment you arrive, you'll feel the pride of the citizens as we share our community.
For more information about the Texas SandFest, please visit the event website.