Sand sculptor shares talents at PigOut

  • By Tanya Sampson / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, June 15, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Most people build sandcastles at the beach for fun.

Russ Leno, an Everett resident, takes the common summertime activity to another level.

Leno, a world-champion sand sculptor, carves anything he can get his hands on.

Pumpkins, ice and wood are a few of the mediums he works with regularly. Apples, watermelons and Spam are a few of the rarer mediums he’s carved.

He’s carved pumpkins for Jay Leno (no relation) on the Tonight Show, on Martha Stewart’s show and for the former Vice President Al Gore and wife Tipper’s annual Halloween party.

Leno’s long list of accomplishments could intimidate any ambitious amateur looking to build a masterpiece in the sand.

But this weekend, Leno, his son Jake and fellow master sculptor Rob Cross will assist participants in an amateur sand-sculpting competition new at this year’s PigOut on the Farm, a Marysville Strawberry Festival event.

Leno said anybody interested in sand sculpting should give it a try.

“It’s kind of the first event of its kind in the area,” Leno said. “Those people who would like to come out and compete can do so.”

Individuals and teams are invited to try their hand at sand sculpting on Saturday and Sunday. Judges will award the top three creations on Sunday afternoon.

In addition to assisting competitors, Leno said he and his team will build a 6- to 8-foot-tall sculpture incorporating the PigOut on the Farm and the Marysville Strawberry Festival in the design using five to six cubic yards of sand.

“We’re going to build a sandcastle and try to incorporate some strawberries and some pigs,” he said.

In addition to the sand-sculpting area, five other areas at the farm offer visitors to the 17th annual event plenty of family activities.

A play land brings children a five-sided “Strawberry Mountain” slide, puppet shows, a playhouse and castle maze. A 28-foot rock-climbing wall will also be set up. Clowns and the “Giant Strawberry” ride round out the fun.

The Deadwood Ranch features barnyard animals, pony rides and old-fashioned games such as gunny-sack races, baby crawl races and mini-tractor races. Farm implements, a large tee-pee and a 25-foot high “Goat Bridge” also add to the fun.

The Northshore Chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsors a free fishing pond for children from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Children age 16 and younger and accompanied by an adult can fish in the pond stocked with trout by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Families looking to pig out can feast on roast pig, corn on the cob, Kettle Korn and the event’s signature “pig trough” strawberry shortcake dessert.

Organizers of the berry festival said berries are ripe for the plucking. Visitors can ride out to the u-pick berry patch at the farm on the farm’s trolley. The fields are filled with ripe strawberries, raspberries and tayberries.

Or for convenience, berry lovers can purchase pre-picked fruits by the flat or containers filled with sliced and sugared strawberries.

For those who want to watch the PigOut’s sand-sculpting competition to determine if it’s something they’re interested in, another open sculpting competition takes place the following weekend in Ocean Shores.

A sample of Russ Leno’s sand sculpting.

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