History of Texas SandFest

Run completely by volunteers, the popular invitational event draws participants and visitors from around the globe.

Texas SandFest Began in 1997

Texas SandFest began in 1997 as a play-on-the-beach day, when Sharon Schaefer and Elleece Calvert sat in folding chairs around a card table so they could watch and help children build sand castles — or whatever they wanted to create — in the sand.

2002 SandFest from the airPartnership with Port Aransas Community Theatre

A few years later, the event had developed into a 3-day festival. Dee McElroy, who had experience as a contestant at sand sculpting festivals, joined the team. She recognized that if the event was to grow, it needed to be under a the umbrella of a nonprofit organization. She brought the idea to the Port Aransas Community Theatre (PACT) board of directors; she suggested that they conduct Texas SandFest business under the 501(c)3 umbrella of the theatre and make it a fundraiser for the theatre. PACT would receive all profits for each year’s event.

It was decided to always schedule the festival in a shoulder tourist season, meaning when very few tourists were in town. SandFest dates would be selected by the predicted tide charts, using the lowest tides as the scheduled dates.

As the event progressed, it brought thousands of people to the island — filling rooms and providing business for restaurants, shops and local merchants.

Early in 2006, Dee approached the PACT board with the request to release the festival to stand alone as a nonprofit group. PACT had just built its new theatre after a number of years of fund raising. The community was not anxious to donate more to the theatre group, but might be more responsive to an event that could spread profits to other nonprofit groups in the community. The theatre board of directors agreed, with the understanding that their group could always be a partner in the work of the event and share in the profits.

Nonprofit Designation

Texas SandFest filed and received its 501(c)3 nonprofit status, and began work under a selected board of directors.

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