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Sauble Beach makes room for dogs, hippos and a giant seagull

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Sauble Beach was crowded and hot at Sandfest on Saturday.

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Perfect beach weather attracted thousands of people who basked in the muggy weather and cooled off in the lake.

Many visitors turned out to see prizes presented to the winners in the annual sand sculpture awards, including Garrett Schultz and Paige Simpson of Toronto.

“This is the busiest I’ve ever seen it,” said Simpson, a 23-year-old who works in commercial banking. “Oh, last weekend was busier, I think,” Schultz, 24, told a commercial insurance broker.

They had their picture taken with Sunny the Seagull, Sauble’s mascot, while they waited to see who won. They both loved one of a group of seven dogs carved out of sand. Carved on the back was “No dogs allowed,” with a cat beside it.

That was one of the expert-made sculptures, but the ones made by ordinary folks were impressive too.

Garrett Schultz and Paige Simpson of Toronto got a quick picture with Sunny the Seagull at Sauble Beach Sandfest on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022 in Sauble Beach, Ont.  (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)
Garrett Schultz and Paige Simpson of Toronto got a quick picture with Sunny the Seagull at Sauble Beach Sandfest on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022 in Sauble Beach, Ont. (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)

The winner was of a mother and baby hippopotamus by Everett Chilian, 13, of Simcoe, and his uncle Eric Freitag, of Burlington. Freitag has been entering a sand sculptures at Sauble every year the event was offered since 2006, but never won.

His sons are grown and so he recruited Chilian as his “ringer,” whose idea was to make a hippo. Freitag added the baby. They kept the sculpture intact by spraying water on it every 15 minutes.

There was more than one octopus, a couple of sharks biting into surf boards and surfers, a gnome riding a motorcycle and an underwater scene, among a few others.

The sand sculptures are cordoned off to protect them and will remain on the beach for viewing at least for Sunday, weather permitting.

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“It’s wonderful to see the crowds come back,” said expert carver Gerald Guenkel, who made the motorcycle gnome, “just to see people enjoying themselves on the beach. And this just adds a little bit of pleasure to their walk on the beach.”

Guenkel, from Southampton, said he hopes kids will be inspired to try sand sculpting after seeing the work at Sauble.

A bylaw enforcement officer was seen questioning people on the beach and later doing the same on 3rd Street North. With so many people coming to Sauble, the town has written more tickets already this year than all of 2021, the vast majority for drinking alcohol on the beach.

To deal with visitor issues, South Bruce Peninsula council recently voted to make a “visit responsibly” video which will be available on the town’s website.

It will address “alternative access routes, parking locations, signage, helping with congestion in Sauble,” draft minutes of the Aug. 2 council meeting say. It’s to be ready for next summer.

Council also decided to add security cameras at Sauble’s town square and at the 6th Street Washrooms and it will be adding more by law enforcement officers.

Sauble had 1.44 million visits in 2021, up from 1.1 million in 2020 and 1.24 million in 2019, a report to council said. Visitors are needed and welcomed “whole heartedly,” it said.

But the mayor has said she doesn’t want Sauble to gain a reputation as a “party beach.”

Freitag, a software developer when he’s not carving sand sculptures, said he has noticed a change at Sauble over the past five or six years.

“It’s becoming more like Wasaga type of thing. The kids coming up for the day. I always thought it was too far to come up for the day. And setting up barbecues in the dunes and stuff like that, which is disappointing.”

Frietag likes the video idea. “I think it’s a good idea. I think the problem is that the offenders won’t watch it. To be honest, they don’t watch anything but TikTok. So if you put it out on TikTok, they may see it.”

Everett Chilian, 13, left, and Eric Freitag won top prize in the annual Sandfest sand sculpture contest at Sauble Beach, Ont.  on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)
Everett Chilian, 13, left, and Eric Freitag won top prize in the annual Sandfest sand sculpture contest at Sauble Beach, Ont. on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (Scott Dunn/The Sun Times/Postmedia Network)

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