Between six local organizations, Midland University ended up taking first place at the “Sand Sculptures on Main” in Fremont last weekend.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Katy Jones, professor of art and design at Midland. “This could not have been a better opportunity for our arts students.”
Midland won with a sculpture of its mascot, “Magnus,” a Nordic warrior. Don Peterson and Associates took second place and First National Bank of Omaha took third.
The event, which was held by MainStreet of Fremont, also had Fremont Methodist Health, Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and S2 Roll-offs and Refuse participating. The public was allowed to vote for their favorite sculpture.
The event was sponsored by Christensen Lumber, Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fremont Area Community Foundation, Dodge County Realty and First State Bank and Trust.
MainStreet Executive Director Cortney Schaefer said all of the teams involved enjoyed taking part in the competition.
“Despite the weather and being cold out there, they all worked together as teams in building, and I think they all had a great time,” she said. “When it came down to it, they were all pretty pooped by the end of it, but they all said they enjoyed it and can’t wait to do it next year.”
Jones said after Midland became involved in the competition, she started the recruitment process, which included any art students, faculty or staff who were interested in taking part.
“We could only have about 10 on the plot at the same time, but all of my classes got involved, so we had upwards of 120 people rotating in and out to make this possible,” she said.
The mascot was chosen as the team’s design to celebrate Midland’s 100th year in Fremont, Jones said.
“We wanted to do something that was important to us, but also important within the community,” she said. “Just because we do have a good community partnership, we wanted to do something that represented both of us and meant something to both of us and celebrating that 100-year partnership.”
Jones said the sculpting process was “long and intensive.” The team received help from Shawn Nelson, director of facilities management at Midland, and Willie Sapp, a Lincoln art teacher who helped the teams with the finer details.
The team started building up forms, with one at the base and seven or eight on top, making it into a pyramid shape, Jones said.
After establishing the base, the team used field tamps from a local softball field for the next steps last week on Wednesday.
“It started off with a real painstaking process, just to make sure it was really packed,” Jones said. “We were mixing base sand by hand in five-gallon buckets and pouring it in and then tamping it down.”
Once the team had built it up, they let it sit for the night before starting the sculpting process on Thursday.
While Midland’s sculpture held up, others, like the Chamber of Commerce and S2, had structural problems.
“A lot of that was due to the compaction,” Schaefer said. “They did a great job carving, but it wasn’t compacted to hold the top weight.”
Being fairly new to Midland, Jones said the experience was a great way for her to interact and see what the Fremont community is all about.
“If we had come away not winning the competition, it would have been wonderful just for the camaraderie and the experience that we had in the community,” she said. “Because we do enjoy those partnerships and it’s helped us form some relationships, and we’re looking to get out there and help in any way that we can.”
Schaefer said she enjoyed the public’s response to the sculptures and looks forward to having the teams compete again next year.
The event allowed for a “brilliant team effort” and let Midland students feel pride for their school, Jones said.
“We’re just super excited to be able to work out in the community and the students got to show what they could do,” she said. “It was just really awesome.”