The weather played nice as thousands filled Cadboro-Gyro Park Sunday to celebrate Cadboro Bay Festival under brilliant blue skies after it had rained Saturday in the Greater Victoria for the first time in nearly two months.
“I think any event planner is checking the forecast hourly, and we were lucky that we missed by probably a couple of hours,” said Rob Phillips, special events coordinator with the District of Saanich. “So we were very fortunate.”
So Saanich in a way received the best of both worlds: much-needed rain before the start of the popular event and blue skies during it, notwithstanding the sometimes blustery wind that blew through the various booths. It certainly did not keep the crowds away as organizers expected some 4,000 visitors.
While this number represents about half of the crowd that turned out for Strawberry Festival last month, Phillips expects that it Cadboro Bay Festival will eventually surpass Strawberry Festival.
“Strawberry Festival is a bit larger than this event, but with the sand-sculptures that we’ve got on display today and the beautiful park that we are in today, I think this is an event that will continue to grow. We are always looking for other sponsors to come on board, and in my opinion I think this event will be bigger than Strawberry Festival.”
As in years past, Pepper’s and Cadboro Bay Village Business Improvement Association served as primary sponsors.
One likely reason for the festival’s continued growth will be its location. “It is probably my favourite part of Saanich, and I think lot of people will say the same thing,” said Phillips. “It is just a beautiful location, with the beach and the water. So families can come down, and take part in a wide range of things. You can spend a couple of hours at the beach [and] take part in the activities. It is just kind of the location, where you can spend your whole day and probably one of Saanich’s busiest parks.”
It will also remain — at least for a while — a gallery for the creativity of area residents in the medium of sand.As it was the case in previous years, the event featured the works of local sand sculptors led by Victoria’s Fred Dobbs, one of the world’s leading sand-sculpting artist, who has worked across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Dobbs still remembers his first sand-sculpture. “When I was five years old, my father buried me in sand up to my mid-body,” he said. “And he preceded to carve me into a convertible sand-car. I was on the inside in the car on the driver’s seat, and my first sculpture was doing the steering wheel in the car.”
Decades later, Dobbs sits underneath a 50-ton sand sculpture that looks like the stylized Maple Leaf on Dobbs’ Canada 150 T-shirt. A beaver drapes itself over one of leaf tips, giving the piece a whimsical yet pleasing touch.
“A lot of people can identify with sand-sculpting,” he said. “They have probably tried it once or twice and it is kind of cool to see it bumped up to the next level in terms of quality and detail.”
Overall, it took Dobbs and his team three days to work on the piece. “The first day was bringing in all the sand and packing it,” he said. “The second day was a major sculpting day and here we here on festival day, we finishing up all the fine details.”
The piece, said Dobbs, will remain in place until the elements say otherwise. And if the current forecast is correct, Saanich residents will be able to check out the work under blue skies for the foreseeable future.