The City of St. Helens is utilizing nearby Sand Island for local events, the latest to include a sandcastle competition and adventure ride.

Sand Building Contest

The first annual Sandcastle Competition takes place on Sand Island Friday, Aug. 13 through Sunday, Aug. 15.

Sand Island is a small man-made island situated in the middle of the Columbia River just east of the Old Town District in St. Helens that offers a unique park location. It is home to a new campground established in 2018 with a five-star rating among campers.

The island was most recently used for the city's 4th of July fireworks display.

According to a release from the city, world-class sand carvers Wadd Lapp and his wife Brittany are members of a professional carving team helping to coordinate this first ever sandcastle competition on Sand Island. Typically, sand carvers are up against the clock and tide as they scramble to complete their creations.

“Sand Island will allow us to not be worried our work is washed out just minutes after completion like at ocean carving sites,” Brittany Lapp said. “It’s going to be the optimal carving experience as there aren’t tides to worry about on the island. We’ll be able to prepare unlike we never have before, and I know guests will benefit from that. Our creation will be able to last from Friday through Sunday with the benefit of watering techniques we use to keep the carvings healthy and happy.”

Wadd and Brittany are part of a professional team that most recently carved award winning ice sculptures in Alaska.

Sand varies in texture and sediment depending on the location which changes what can be formed. On Sand Island, sand will be moved for optimal results, according to the city release.

As sand sculpture design work is being finalized by the Lapp family, St. Helens tourism is finalizing the details for a one-of-a-kind guest experience. A river shuttle to the island starts the day.

“When you have a natural resource like Sand Island, you want to utilize it for the community and travelers, too,” St. Helens Event Coordinator Tina Curry said. “A sandcastle competition just seemed like a natural activity and one that would encourage people to visit that don’t want to drive to the coast.

Curry said tickets are required to attend the event but she stated they are family priced "and allow for a wonderful worry-free day on a gorgeous island while you experience the world of sand carving.”

In addition to enjoying the large sand carvings, guests can also view smaller creations made in the style of a quick carving competition. Guests that want to get involved can take a class from these experts either day.

“You never know how a first event is going to turn out,” Curry said. “But we feel like we’ve got the components and natural resources to make this a complete home run for families to enjoy a carefree day. If they bring a sense of adventure and fun, they’re going to have a great time. We’re also hosting a scavenger hunt for those that want to explore the island further.”

The first annual Sandcastle Competition takes place on Sand Island Friday, Aug.13 through Sunday, Aug. 15.

To find out more about the Sand Island Adventure Ride, visit

Event details and ticket information for the Sand Island Sandcastle Competition may be found online at


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