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Virginia Beach's Neptune Festival returns at Oceanfront for its 47th year

Festival organizers said the events draw hundreds of thousands of people. It also generates millions of dollars for Virginia Beach.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — "It is my favorite event to come to," Brian Wigelsworth, a sand sculptor said.

"It's really exciting that this is happening this year," Sue McGrew, another sand sculptor said.

The Neptune Festival is an event that organizers said draws nearly 400,000 people to Virginia Beach. It brings about $23 million to the city. This year, 26 sand sculptors from around the world spent long hours crafting these large pieces.

"We actually took some text from this English poet, writer and artist," McGrew said. "Doors of Perception, the doors of perception is what we're calling it."

Chess pieces, castles and other animals all carved in sand but they weren't easy to make. Brian Wigelsworth and Andrew Daily watched their Tom Sawyer-inspired piece crumble.

"I walked around the back and I thought this is a little risky," Wiglesworth said. 

He was right. He recorded the moment half of their work fell to the ground.

"When the sculpture fell, my first thought was 'Oh my gosh we are out of this. It's over for us,'" Daily said.

Wigelsworth had more optimism.

"When we redid it, it came back better than it was before," he said. "So, it was kind of a blessing in disguise."

Despite the big fall, they walked away with first place. Daily said it's not the prize they're searching for, it's the chance to reunite with other sculptors and make art.

"I already know a lot of these people," he said. "So it's amazing when we come back together after being in different parts of the world. It's a true kinship. It's a family, a sand family."

You can catch the sand sculptures from 6th Street to 8th Street. Tickets are $5.

The Oceanfront will also be filled with food, entertainment, and an 8K run. The Neptune Festival ends Sunday.