Sand castle sculptors get dirty on the beach

The “King Turtle” gazes out toward the water as builders Evan and Jeff Daley, Victor and Owen Yeasting and John Yeasting pose for a victory lap.  - John Yeasting/Courtesy photo
The “King Turtle” gazes out toward the water as builders Evan and Jeff Daley, Victor and Owen Yeasting and John Yeasting pose for a victory lap.
— image credit: John Yeasting/Courtesy photo

INDIANOLA — Dozens of sandcastles sprung from the ground on the Indianola beach Saturday during the annual sand castle building competition.

The competition, which is part of Indianola Days, drew locals and out-of-towners alike to witness the sand-slinging build-off.

Castle builders began mounding piles of sand at 7:30 a.m., July 24, working furiously for more than three hours in the early morning heat.

Not all teams started working at the same time. Jeff Daley said the team he was on, “The Daley and Yeasting Boys,” started shoveling sand about half an hour after the competition began.

“There’s no real pressure,” Daley said. “(The sandcastle competition) is low-key.”

Teams this year had less time than previous years because of the changes in the tide. Miller Bay resident and sandcastle competitor Eric Finlon said his team had about two hours less than last year.

“It was really down to the wire this year,” Finlon said. “Luckily the judge got to our castle near the end.”

Other beach activities, like the kids races and tug-of-war competition, happened throughout the day. The castles served as the main attraction.

As the tide goes out in the morning, teams have free rein of the beach. Location is important when building a sandcastle.

“There were a couple groups out on the beach by 7 a.m.,” Daley said. “You have to stake your claim early.”

Daley has attended Indianola Days since 1985 after marrying his wife, who inherited a cabin in Indianola from her parents. Currently Daley lives in West Seattle but visits the cabin throughout the year, especially to compete in the castle competition.

Daley and friend John Yeasting, along with their kids, teamed up this year to form a bigger building team. With a larger team, they were able to construct a more advanced castle; a castle which won first place in the “intricate” division of the competition.

Before the competition began, teams chose what category of castle they would compete in: intricate, humorous, creature, mystery or kids.

The night before the competition, Daley said his oldest son, Ryan, came up with the idea to combine Daley’s traditional sandcastle structures with Yeasting’s creature structures. The result, “King Turtle,” was a castle on the back of a giant turtle.

Coming up with sand castle ideas before the competition can be just as fun as the build-off itself, Finlon said.

Finlon and his team got together the night before to plan out their design over a few beers. Around 2 a.m. the day of the competition, Finlon said his cousin came up with the winning idea: a corn-dog.

“The year before we got second place for building a potato sitting on a couch,” Finlon said. “We tried to stick with the same theme this year.”

The corn-dog was a monstrous half-ear of corn combined with the front half of a dog. The castle took the team less than three hours to build and earned a first-place win in the “creature” category.

The majority of the teams used basic tools such as shovels and buckets to construct their castles and a few people could be seen with rakes as they added texture on or around their castle.

“We’re just professional wannabes,” Daley said, referring to the professional castle builders in Port Angeles.

One technique Daley uses in building castles is combining crushed shells with the sand, which he said gives contrast to the castles.

“If you just try different things you can really make the castles pop,” Daley said.

While teams will have to wait another year to compete again, Finlon said it is something to look forward to in this area.

“It’s a lot of fun and as far as Indianola goes, this is the big thing.” Finlon said.

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