Sand-sculpting guru Andy Daily captures first place in Maine while networking with his peers, recruiting Crystal Classic participants
By John Morton
It’s a bit amusing to think of someone like Andy Daily heading to the beach when they head out of town.
After all, the professional Siesta Key sand sculptor lives and breathes all things sand. His friends even call him “Sandy Andy.”
But for Daily, taking in a handful of sculpting competitions each year is in some ways part of the job – especially when you’re the director of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival. This November, he’ll be running the event for the third straight year.
“Yes, I do recruit others while I’m on the circuit,” said Daily. “I’m always looking for new talent.” An example is finding Amanda Bolduc last year when he participated in the Clamfest Sandfest in Yarmouth, Maine, where he took second place. A fellow competitor, Daily invited Bolduc to Siesta Key last year to compete and he did the same when he was in Maine in July. She’ll be among the 24 participants again this year.
“I’ve recruited others while I was out on the road at competitions,” Daily said, “and I’ve brought in some phenomenal talent as a result. The guys this year are no exception.
“I tell people about our sand and how it’s 99 percent quartz crystal. I tell them you can really go vertical with it, which a lot of sculptors like. I’ve gone 16 to 18 feet high on Siesta Key.
“And best of all, I tell them the sand doesn’t get hot. That’s the first thing I’m reminded of whenever I go somewhere else in the summer. I love Siesta Key sand.”
By the way, while in Maine this year Daily just so happened to capture first place. His sculpture depicted an old-timer fisherman with his best friend in the form of a lobster.
It’s the third time Daily has received top honors – in 2019 he won the Texas Sandfest in Port Aransas and in 2021 the prestigious Virginia Beach Neptune Festival’s competition.
But celebrations in the sand are not what motivates him to compete.
“Actually, I’m really not competitive,” Daily said. “What I like most about the trips are seeing people who have become such good friends. I truly enjoy being with them.”
How has Daily fared at his home event, the Crystal Classic?
“You know what, I’ve never competed in it,” Daily said. “Until I became in charge, I was always the No. 2 manager” assisting former director Brian Wigelsworth, who started the event and will once again be competing this year.
That’s OK with Daily, who learned early that competitions weren’t the way to survive once he turned professional in 2011.
“I thought competitions at festivals were all there was to sand. The more I got involved, the more I learned it was a real job – you need clients, you need to create sculptures for corporate events, things like that.”
In fact, he just recently participated in creating a sculpture for Yamaha. And with Wigelsworth he runs the local SandVenture business where his crew members give sand-sculpting lessons on the beach.
“I only got involved in this because at the time I was trying to impress my now-wife,” Daily said with a laugh. “Sand sculpting was her thing.
“And look at me now.”