Almost 26 years ago, Alan Matsumoto was an engineer for RCPL Consulting in Vancouver, and he and his co-workers placed third in a big sand castle competition, behind two very professional sand sculpting teams.
“Years later, I found pictures of this castle that we did and it was the ugliest castle,” Matsumoto said. “It was unimaginative; it was something that an engineer would build.”
The third place finish with his engineer friends, however, encouraged him: “It made me think that I was good enough to keep at it.”
So for the next four years, Matsumoto drove every weekend, sometimes thousands of miles, with buckets and plywood forms and shovels in tow, to sand sculpting competitions.
As a side note, he also professionally carved pumpkins, too, once carving a three and a half foot diameter pumpkin for the then-vice-presidential couple Al and Tipper Gore’s Halloween party.
“I stayed with it until I got better and until somebody actually wanted to pay me for it,” he said. Matsumoto now lives in Roanoke and works for SandScapes, a company based out of San Luis Obispo, California and manages multiple teams of sculptors across North America.
Matsumoto met his wife, Robin Kindfvatter, when he was in Roanoke working on sand sculptures in the Valley View Mall a little over 10 years ago, and he moved here because of her.
He’s excited to work on a job that’s within car-commuting-distance, he said.
50 tons of pre-packed sand along with plywood forms will be hauled to the Salem Civic Center’s exhibitor hall on Thursday, June 28, and Matsumoto will begin carving and sculpting it into … well, he doesn’t know yet.
“That will be a surprise for me, too, because we’ll have to work out some of the concepts with Carey Harveycutter,” he said. The project will take him roughly 100-120 hours, he estimated, and it will definitely have something to do to commemorate the Salem Fair’s 25th anniversary.
“I’m envisioning cartoonish fair animals doing things at the fair, riding rides, playing arcade games,” he said, since the Salem Fair started out with more of an agricultural tilt. He’ll be looking for inspiration on the midway, he said, as he grabs his once-a-year-Salem-Fair-corndog.
For more information about SandScapes, visit their website at www.sandscapes.com
For more on the Salem Fair, visit their website at www.salemfair.com or follow them on Twitter @SalemFair or find their Facebook page