The sandbar at Penfield Beach became a museum of sorts for several hours Sunday, housing a fragile art collection of sculptures carved from its sand by hundreds of adults and children in the 13th annual Sand Sculpture Contest, sponsored by the Fairfield Police Athletic League.

Forty nine teams, ranging from individuals to a group of four families, created grainy, three-dimensional artwork. A panel of judges awarded prizes in four categories: Most Artistic, Most Original, Most Realistic, and Best Castle.

"It's the one time when you really get to do stuff with sand and you can make some cool creations," said Jack DeBek, 14, of Fairfield, whose large face that resembled an archaeological sculpture from Easter Island, placed third in the Most Artistic category.

Teams were given two hours to complete their work, and that's all the weather would allow between the tide that came in shortly after noon to begin eroding the sand masterpieces, and dark clouds rolled in with claps of thunder that prompted an announcement for people to leave the water and move away from the wet sand.

The simple to elaborate sculptures includes castles, animals, flowers and inanimate objects like the Swanson family's first-place gumball machine and a rubber duck made by one faction of the Roca family that took third place in the Most Original category. The other Roca team of sisters and cousins won second place for their kayak with dolphins.

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KINGS OF THE SANDCASTLES Following is a list of the prizes awarded in the annual Sand Sculpture Contest sponsored Sunday by the Fairfield Police Athletic League: • MOST ARTISTIC First place: Shark Attack by Marty Daniels, Patrick Daniels, and Joanne Fabry Second place: Cupcake by Katy Saladin, Dani Corrigan, Emily Erikson, and Alyssa Colleran Third place: Big Face by Jack Debek and Todd Debek • MOST ORIGINAL First place: Gumball Machine by the Swanson family: Vicki, Dave, Sam, Charlie, and Maggie Second place: Twin Towers by the Frillici family Third Place: Rubber Duck by Isabella Roca • MOST REALISTIC First place: Motor Boat with Tube by Molly Doherty, Jack Doherty, Maddy Markham, Cole Markham, and Chase Markham Second place: Kayak with Dolphins by Ariana Roca, Natasha Roca, and Mikaela Roca Third place: Turtle With Shell by Katherine Neely, Haley Neely, and Mason Neely • BEST CASTLE First place: Penfield Moat by Kassi Barton, Phill Ferdinand, and Vehera Alexandrora Second place: D.C. Museum Row by Rebecca Newman, Jacob Newman, Becca Fink, Max Fink, and Daniele Miller Third place: Vampire Island by Matt Deutch and Lance Dengelegi

"We did (this competition) last year and it was a lot of fun, and then we stay at the beach after the competition," said Emma Roca, 12, of Trumbull, who made the kayak with cousins Mikaela Roca, 12, and Natasha Roca, 7, of Port Chester, N.Y. Emma's twin sister Rachel was on the rubber duck team.

Many of the sculptures had sea themes, and several of those involved sea turtles and sharks. Patrick Daniels, 16, of Durham, his brother Marty Daniels, 14, and their grandmother JoAnne Fabry, of Fairfield, were awarded first place in the Most Original for their panicked swimmer surrounded by shark fins.

"This was their original idea. I'm glad we brought the dead hanging plant because we used that for hair," said Fabry, who lent some brown sea glass to the team next to theirs.

The Saviano, Guillen and Ault families, all of Southport, fashioned a large dog using a red shovel for the tongue, shells for the whites of its eyes and Fabry's sea glass for the irises. It was 2-year-old Julia Ault who came up with the idea for the dog.

"First it was a lighthouse and then it turned into a cupcake and then a dog. It transformed," said Stephanie Saviano, 11.

Carla Artone and Linda Wallimann invited the Logue family, of Fairfield, to help make their giant flower blossom. "These women have been so kind and inviting to my children, and so patient," said Elona Logue.

"We're making a humongous sunflower," said Rachel Logue, 7. She and her brother Noah, 5, helped to shape the petals and then sprayed water and food coloring on their finished sculpture.

Vicki Swanson, of Fairfield, said she came up with the gumball machine that her three children created with minimal help from mom and dad Dave. "The kids made all the gumballs," she said. "It's such a cool event. Families can come out and enjoy the beach together and have some fun," she said.

"Building with kids is so much fun. No matter how young or old you are you can build a sandcastle," said Eric Newman, of Fairfield, who teamed up with three other families to create a sand complex of the world's museums including the Louvre and the Smithsonian Institution.

Bob Seirup, the event chairman and PAL secretary, said last year's competition attracted 77 teams, the most in the event's history. The early tide and the threat of severe thunderstorms may have chased some people away. "We're tied to the tide," he said.

KINGS OF THE SANDCASTLES

Following is a list of the prizes awarded in the annual Sand Sculpture Contest sponsored Sunday by the Fairfield Police Athletic League:

- MOST ARTISTIC

First place: Shark Attack by Marty Daniels, Patrick Daniels, and Joanne Fabry

Second place: Cupcake by Katy Saladin, Dani Corrigan, Emily Erikson, and Alyssa Colleran

Third place: Big Face by Jack Debek and Todd Debek

- MOST ORIGINAL

First place: Gumball Machine by the Swanson family: Vicki, Dave, Sam, Charlie, and Maggie

Second place: Twin Towers by the Frillici family

Third Place: Rubber Duck by Isabella Roca

- MOST REALISTIC

First place: Motor Boat with Tube by Molly Doherty, Jack Doherty, Maddy Markham, Cole Markham, and Chase Markham

Second place: Kayak with Dolphins by Ariana Roca, Natasha Roca, and Mikaela Roca

Third place: Turtle With Shell by Katherine Neely, Haley Neely, and Mason Neely

- BEST CASTLE

First place: Penfield Moat by Kassi Barton, Phill Ferdinand, and Vehera Alexandrora

Second place: D.C. Museum Row by Rebecca Newman, Jacob Newman, Becca Fink, Max Fink, and Daniele Miller

Third place: Vampire Island by Matt Deutch and Lance Dengelegi