Run completely by volunteers and a dedicated Board of Directors, this popular invitational event draws tens of thousands of visitors to watch Master Sculptors from around the globe turn tons of sand into beautiful works of art. Advanced
sculptors show their talents and Amateurs compete for covetted bragging rights.
Texas SandFest Began in 1997
Texas SandFest began in 1997 as a play-on-the-beach day, when Sharon Schaefer and Elleece Calvert sat in folding chairs around a card table so they could watch and help children build sand castles — or whatever they wanted to create
— in the sand.
with Port Aransas Community Theatre
A few years later, the event had developed into a 3-day festival. Dee McElroy, who had experience as a contestant at sand sculpting festivals, joined the team. She recognized that if the event was to grow, it needed to be under the
umbrella of a nonprofit organization. She brought the idea to the Port Aransas Community Theatre (PACT) board of directors; she suggested that they conduct Texas SandFest business under the 501(c)3 umbrella of the theatre and make it a fundraiser for the theatre.
PACT would receive all profits for each year’s event.
It was decided to always schedule the festival in a shoulder season, meaning when very few tourists were in town. SandFest dates would be selected by the predicted tide charts, using the lowest tides as the scheduled dates. The
event is held annually in April.
As the event progressed, it brought thousands of people to the island — filling rooms and providing business for restaurants, shops and local merchants.
Early in 2006, the PACT board was approached with the request to release the festival to stand alone as a nonprofit group. PACT had just built its new theatre after a number of years of fund raising. The community was not anxious
to donate more to the theatre group, but might be more responsive to an event that could spread profits to other nonprofit groups in the community. The theatre board of directors agreed, with the understanding that their group could always be a partner in
the work of the event and share in the profits.
Texas SandFest filed and received its 501(c)4 nonprofit status, and began work under a selected board of directors. The organization was later redesignated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3.
Texas SandFest Gives Back
Texas SandFest gave more than $200,000 back to the community in 2017. Here is a list of recipients
- Helping Hands Food Pantry
- Port Aransas Art Center
- Port Aransas Community Theatre
- Friends of the Library
- VFW Post 8967
- Keep Port Aransas Beautiful
- PAISD Nurse's Fund
- Port Aransas Education Foundation
- Port Aransas Youth Soccer League
- Bikers Against Child Abuse
- Animal Friends of Port Aransas
- Port Aransas Police Foundation
- Multiple scholarships to graduating Port Aransas High School seniors