Tacoma newspaper prints shameful article on Northwest Sand Festival | Letters
September 1, 2012 · Updated 10:34 AM
Dear Mr. Steve Maynard, staff writer for The News Tribune,
My friends and family read your negative headline and article "Attendance down for latest sand festival in Federal Way."
After reading the article, we wondered why it was written at all. Couldn't something more positive have been in the headline, such as "World class sculptors create amazing works of art in sand in Federal Way?" Don't you see that a positive headline would intrigue people to attend?
Together, we have attended the sand event all three years. We also travel to attend many of the beach contests up and down the West Coast where the crowds never see such highly technical sculpting.
We are grateful that we did not have to fly to Florida or Europe to see the master sculptors' creations. All we do for the Federal Way contest is drive to the mall, park for free, pay a mere $7 and enjoy the day taking photos and creating memories.
There are rows and rows of amazing sculptures, which your article did not show, which would have intrigued The News Tribune's readers. Through visiting with the master sculptors each year, we were told there are many high-caliber competitions in Italy, Belgium, China and in other parts of the world and many of the sculptors have competed in them. We are amazed each year as to the talent of each sculptor.
Maybe the writer is unaware of the education and time involved in learning this art form. We have talked with many of the sculptors to find out they have art degrees, and many have master's degrees in their art specialty.
Many of the European sculptors attend or have attended the Utrecht University in the Netherlands and studied art and sculpture for six years minimum.
Almost all of the master solo sculptors competing in Federal Way have placed in the world championship, which was held for 21 years in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., and had a yearly attendance of about 150,000.
Carl Jara, who took first place in the solos, created the woman inside the beautiful butterfly wings. Carl works for the Ohio Art Museum full time creating sculptures. He has also placed more than a dozen times in either first, second or third in the world championship.
Dr. Michael Velling, a Federal Way dentist, is one of two sculptors in the world who has placed first in solo, doubles and team categories at the world championship and has won more than three dozen medals for his sculptures.
The organizer of the event, Charlie Beaulieu, has also placed in the world championship many, many times. Each sculptor has their own photos and a story of their fame. The second group of sculptors, which created the smaller sculptures, are novice sculptors but did a very good job at their level of expertise. The logo pile of sand, with highlights of the Pacific Northwest, was also created by all the masters.
What did the writer of The News Tribune article gain by bringing up the sand event's tight budget and change of name for the event? Does the public really care if the budget is tight? Was the writer trying to embarrass the city of Federal Way or the organizers?
Federal Way has brought in international swimmers for competitions at the aquatic center, and now the city is bringing in international sculptors for a world class event. These events are very important for our community.
We were told the city approved funds for a banner across South 320th Street, but did not approve the funds to hang the banner, so it never happened. When a big event comes to a city, there is always a banner in the main part of town. How else will people know about it?
The event has been advertised on TV and in our local paper, but few people read that paper. Maybe the city needs to get rid of some of the politics and learn how to put on successful city events. There are downfalls, but shouldn't we give them a pat on the back and show support instead of knocking them down and kicking them in the pants, as the article did?
In our current economy, it would have been far more interesting to your readers and helpful to the event if the writer had promoted the event, saying it is an experience of a lifetime — and be sure to take your camera, children will love the sandbox filled with toys and enjoy the entertainment and refreshments.
We all know a positive article would help attendance, the event's budget, and families would enjoy the day together. It is uncalled for to report the event in a negative way when this event gives those that attend extreme pleasure.
We have met people who flew in to the event from Hawaii, Florida and states in between.
A number of people who attend create scrapbooks of each year's sculptures to share with others. One woman we met carried her six large scrapbooks of photos from the past two years with her to the event. She sat at a picnic table and showed her books to people so everyone could enjoy them. She knows each sculptor's name, where they are from and their story.
Maybe the writer does not have an understanding of art? We don't know what his problem was or why he even bothered to write the negative article. It was not appreciated by any of your readers that we know and my guess is that we could probably include the city of Federal Way.
It does not matter who I am other than a 25-year resident of Federal Way and one who appreciates art. It is an honor to everyone in the Pacific Northwest to have these highly skilled world class sculptors come to Federal Way.
Are you willing to either publish my letter or rewrite a positive review of the event, letting everyone know what a great time they will have when they attend?
You owe it to the event and the city, along with an apology.
Joyce, Sue, Jean, Tom, Michelle, Lester, Ethyl, Shirley, Richard, Miriya, Roy, Diane, Charles, Donna, Jeff, Bob, Mark, Lee, Margaret, Anne