Think outside the SpongeBob SquarePants box.
That's the advice given to anyone who might enter the fourth annual Sand Sculpture Contest at Hunting Island State Park on July 28.
"We want people to use their imaginations," said Jenny Rone, who with her husband, J.W. Rone, will judge the contest for their fourth time.
Held the first Saturday following the Beaufort Water Festival, the contest has attracted more than 100 people each year.
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Many people from across the United States are now scheduling their vacations around the event, according to J.W. Rone, director of the Arts Council of Beaufort County.
"This is one of those days for you to let your creativity run wild," he said.
In the past, participants have transformed beach sand into various scenes -- from an Alabama farm landscape to the Great Pyramids. They've built oversized sea creatures, such as turtles and sharks. And, of course, they've constructed a number of SpongeBob SquarePants. The Rones said they were impressed in a previous year by a sea lion that had the head of a lion and the body of a sea creature.
"It is a very cool and creative thing for families and kids to do together," said Jenny Rone. "It is amazing what they come up with."
During the two-hour competition, the Rones will take a tour of the works in progress to find out the stories and motivation behind each project.
The contest will be held on the beach at the foot of the 153-year-old lighthouse, where the four-piece band, Side Street Walkers, will play Lowcountry and beach music.
If you are a pro at sand sculpting, or maybe a cast member of the Travel channel's reality show "Sand Masters," don't bother registering. Nancy Grimaldi of Beaufort, event chairwoman for the fourth year, said park officials want to limit the contest to amateurs.
"We want to keep it as a low-key, family-fun contest," Grimaldi said.
Part of the reason for the contest is to educate people about the environment.
When the judging is over and with the high tide, expected at 4:41 p.m. July 28, there'll be even more fun to be had.
All of the sculptures must be knocked down and all holes filled to make way for nesting sea turtles.
"We have to leave the beach the way we found it," Grimaldi said. "I think the kids have as much fun jumping on creations, and knocking them down than anything."
"The great thing is that it starts with a clean beach and ends with a clean beach," J.W. Rone said. "It is an amazing thing after a long day of people working so hard to create these things, and in an instant they are destroyed."
Registration is 12:30-1 p.m. July 28 at Hunting Island's North Beach, in front of the lighthouse. Judging starts at 3 p.m. The awards ceremony is at 3:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in five categories. Registration is free.
Park admission is $5 for adults, $3.25 for S.C. senior citizens, $3 for ages 6-15 and free for age 5 and younger.
Tips for building a sand sculpture