The Plattsburgh City Beach had some interesting visitors Wednesday.
A psychedelic turtle, a big bad wolf, several pigs, a video game character and a legendary bloodsucker were just some of the strange sunbathers kicking back by Lake Champlain.
It's not a strange fantasy beach, just some of the creations in the 26th-annual Press-Republican Sand Sculpture Contest.
Beginner and veteran sculptors came down to the lakefront and displayed their creativity, and they went far beyond making the average, everyday sand castle.
"I'm really impressed with the creativity and ideas this year," said City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak, who participated as one of contest's judges.
"Past years, they have been kind of the same. This year, they seem to have put some thought into them."
Kasprzak said he is happy to see many young people coming down and spending their time at the City Beach.
Sculptors of all ages harnessed their inner Michelangelo while wearing bathing suits.
One of the grandest creations at the contest was a re-creation of the "Three Little Pigs," which took Bosco McKinney and his family around three hours to complete.
"We wanted to do something meaningful, so we decided to do a fairy-tale theme," said McKinney, 46, of Plattsburgh.
The family's sculpture depicts a massive, fierce-looking wolf creeping behind the titular pigs, as if he was about to pounce on them.
The McKinneys have been no stranger to the animal theme, the contest or winning — with this year's contest being the sixth for them.
"The first year we won — we had Champy eating a couple of water skiers," McKinney said.
The Three Little Pigs may be an old inspiration, but Mark Tiffer, Kurtis LaPage and the rest of their group decided to use more modern fictional characters in their creation.
"We did Mario-Kart because we want to appeal to the younger audiences, and it was something they would recognize," said Tiffer, 26, of Plattsburgh.
Tiffer said the team debated over what theme they were going to create until the last minute and decided to use the popular Nintendo game as their inspiration.
"We thought it was something creative to make," said LaPage, 25, of Plattsburgh.
When it came to completing the four-hour sculpture, LaPage said one skill is crucial: "It takes patience, lots of patience." Mikaela Frechette and Bradley Cech, both 14, also gave some tips about successfully building a sand sculpture.
"You have to keep it wet," said Frechette.
"Also start with a good foundation," added Cech.
The pair decided to make Count Dracula in a coffin as their sculpture because they thought it would get people's attention.
"We were thinking of making something popular, and we thought vampires because of 'Twilight,'" Frechette said.
In previous years, they have made sculptures of a turtle, a hippo and Winnie the Pooh, but they said the essence of the event is a lot more simple than creating sculptures.
"It's just the joy of going out of the house and being at the beach," Cech said.
Steve Gainer, 36, of Peru also uses the event as a motivation for his kids.
"It gets the kids out here and gets them off the video games."
Gainer, along with his fiance and children, built a realistic-looking lighthouse with very detailed steps.
Gainer said his method of creating ideas for sculptures is not very complex.
"Sometimes I just throw dirt on the ground and see what it looks like. It's like looking at shapes in the clouds."
Tasha LaFountain and Jenna Gillespie said their idea came from a suggestion from their kids.
"The kids choose it; they were saying terrapin turtle all morning," said LaFountain, 29, of Plattsburgh.
The terrapin turtle comes from a Grateful Dead song, so the team decided to incorporate the band's theme into the sculpture, putting the symbolic lightning bolt on its shell.
"Music and art goes hand and hand. We thought it would spread a little piece of happiness," LaFountain said.
Families were not the only ones who participated in the contest.
A team consisting of the beach's lifeguards also decided to compete, and they chose to use their kayak as inspiration, which was being chomped by Champy.
"It (the kayak) was a good model until we actually had to use it," said Tess Jones-White, 17, of Plattsburgh.
Lisa Cech, 37, and Mandi Bordeau, 32, both of Plattsburgh, said the contest is tradition with their family.
"We've been coming since they were teenagers. Unless it's rained out, we've been here," said Cech.
Now mothers, Cech brought her 5-year-old son, Matthew, and Bordeau had her 6-year-old son, Benjamin, who together made a sculpture of Hamm, the piggy-bank character from the "Toy Story" movies.
"It's a family day," Bordeau said. "You get to enjoy the beach, the nice weather, and it's free."