LONG BEACH - The 22nd annual SandSations sand sculpture contest takes place this Saturday, July 22, at the Bolstad beach approach in downtown Long Beach. And this year, there will be more than just work songs being sung.

The biggest addition to this year's event is that of the Oscar Mayer "Weinermobile" - essentially a giant sausage on wheels - on hand to hold auditions by youngsters who'd like to sing the company jingle, "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner," for possible use in a television commercial. One such local group is a dozen kids from the Peninsula Church Center Daycare, seen pictured at left.

"I think it brings a whole other layer of tourism to this event that otherwise might not have come, because they're interested in their children auditioning," said event co-chairperson Susan Hofeldt of the Weinermobile. "So the point of bringing it here is so that more families find Long Beach."

Of course, at the heart of the event is the sand sculpture contest. There will be three masters class teams competing again this year and pre-regisitrations for the event are taken from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday - sand sculpting lessons are offered from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. that evening. Hofledt noted however that late registrations would likely be taken Saturday morning as well.

The event starts the next morning at 11 a.m. with team check-in and plot assignments, with construction beginning at 12:15 p.m. The later start than usual is due to the tide - high tide that day will be at 10:59 a.m. with a low tide at 5:03 p.m. Judging of the sculptures will take place throughout the day. All construction must be finished by 5:15 p.m., with winners announced at 6 p.m. The prizes for winners are as follows:

Masters: $1,500 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third

Intermediate: $500 for first, $400 for second and $300 for third.

Novice: $300 for first, $200 for second and $150 for third.

Family: $100 for first, a sand castle basket for second and a "sand bucket surprise" for third.

The annoucement of the winers will be followed by a beach bonfire at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night - instead of the customary Friday night slot. Also, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday there will be the annual Sand Flea Pet Parade. Free hot dogs are offered by the Kiwanis club (donations are welcome and appreciated).

"This year's event is going to be bigger and better than ever. I think a lot of people will become annual visitors after this year," Hofeldt concluded.

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