Main art

Team members of Catey Williams Dentistry pose with their creation, titled “5 o’clock somewhere,” which won the People’s Choice award in 2015. Fifteen teams will compete Saturday at the Marion Splash House for this year’s grand prize, with voting starting at 3 p.m.

More than 7 tons of sand will transform into an elaborate field of creative sculptures Saturday at the Splash House as part of the annual fund drive for CASA of Grant County.

At least 15 teams will work for five hours starting at 10 a.m. in order to bring their intricate and colorful creations to life. The public will get their chance to choose the winner starting at 3 p.m., and awards will follow at 4 p.m.

“It’s impressive to see it in person for the first time,” CASA of Grant County Executive Director Leslie Hendricks said. “Just the creativity of our community members and just the sheer volume of sand out there that gets sculpted into these various things is just an unusual thing for us to have here in Indiana. For someone who has never witnessed it before, it’s very impressive to see in our little community.”

The event is free to the public, but any proceeds raised from the event will stay within Grant County to help children in need and help local court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers work toward their organization’s mission.

“We are the only entity that is representing the children’s best interest while their family system is in the court process. For that reason alone, we are critically important to the lives of these children,” Hendricks explained. “We are the only agency that does what we do. At any given time, there are roughly 300 children in Grant County whose families are a part of the court system due to abuse or neglect, and CASA is appointed by the court system to represent the best interest to the judge of what these children need in every aspect of their lives. If we do not serve them in that way, there is no one having the watchful eye for the child without us present.”

Hendricks said the public’s support of this fundraiser helps keep the program going since the local organization is fully funded through donations and grants. In order to get enough grant money, she said public participation is crucial.

“It’s absolutely essential to the existence of our agency in this community,” Hendricks said. “This event shows our funders that we are also working in the best interest of children and that the community sees our value. This money helps grant funders understand that we do what we say we are going to do in the community but also that we have the support of the community.”

There are still a few spots left for any businesses who want to build sand sculptures, Hendricks said. Companies can reserve a space by donating either $250 or $500, but same day registration must be paid with a check.

Hendricks said anyone in the public who wants to support their cause can visit to donate.

After the pandemic forced the organization to hold the annual event over the course of several weeks, Hendricks said everyone is happy to be back at the Splash House, located at 2601 S. Adams St. in Marion.

“This is our highlight each year – to really be out there in the community,” she said. “What we do is highly confidential so we just don’t have that opportunity to connect with the community on a basis with our cases because we can’t talk about those things, but this is just an opportunity to get members of our community having fun. It’s something anyone can be involved in, so we are excited to be back in person and having so many teams.”

Hendricks hopes the event is a way to allow kids and families to experience a sand sculpture competition you might see in California or Florida right in their backyard.

“Certainly if you go to an event like that on a beach you’re going to expect to see that, but here in landlocked Indiana, we don’t get those opportunities,” she said. “A lot of first timers over the years said I had no idea that people could create these things and get the opportunity to see something like this when we live nowhere near a beach or water like that.”

The event is free, and a lot of fun, Hendricks said.

“Thank you to the Grant County community for their consistent support of our mission,” Hendricks added. “We just really hope to have a huge crowd of people coming out to support us this Saturday.”

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