THE high-profile sand sculpting exhibition that lured millions of visitors to Frankston is moving back to the Mornington Peninsula.
The annual sand sculpting exhibition, hosted at the Frankston waterfront for the past decade, will not return next summer.
Failed negotiations between commercial event organiser Sandstorm Events and Frankston Council about making the sculptures exhibition an all-year round event are believed to be partly behind the decision for the event to leave Frankston.
Sandstorm Events did not return calls from The News before publication but council did confirm the sand sculpting exhibition’s exit.
“The end of the major event contract with council coincided with a change in management structure, which unfortunately means that the exhibition as we know it is not returning to Frankston next summer,” council stated on the Frankston & Peninsula District Ratepayers Page & Regional Political Forum page on Facebook, where news of the event’s exit first appeared.
The statement was made by “Frank Stone”, a council Facebook account verified by The News as being legitimate, and it also said: “We worked collaboratively with Sandstorm Events over the past three years to support their bid for a year-round permanent attraction, which unfortunately was not able to be realised.
“Council appreciates the great attraction they brought to our waterfront every year. The sand sculpting exhibition was hugely popular and over the 11 years that Frankston’s waterfront was the home of sand sculpting over 1.2 million visitors enjoyed their magnificent and detailed carved artworks.”
An announcement on Sand Sculpting Australia’s website says Boneo Maze near Rye will be “the new home of Sand Sculpting Australia” from December this year.
The move to Fingal on the southern peninsula is a return home of sorts for the sand sculpting exhibition.
Frankston snared the event from Rye 11 years ago.
Former federal Dunkley Liberal MP Bruce Billson announced in February 2016 that a $750,000 federal grant would go towards building “a weatherproof structure” including a roof to potentially make the sand sculpting exhibition an all-year round event at Frankston.
However, the grant was dependent on matched “like for like” funding.
Sandstorm Events managing director Sharon Redmond at the time said the company would match the funding bringing the total to $1.5 million.
Frankston Council stated any structure at the waterfront site would need to comply with planning regulations.
Council last week said it remains “committed to supporting unique events and tourism experiences which attract visitors to our city”.
A Food Truck Park festival at the waterfront in October was announced as part of the 2018-19 tourism attraction program and Australian Beach Games will also be held at the waterfront in March next year.
Full details of tourism events can be found at visitfrankston.com online.