Clarksville Residents Upset About Lakefest Sculpture Vandalism

Clarksville, VA -The 36th annual Lakefest drew 60,000 people last weekend, but the tradition of a sculptor create a work of art in the sand was ruined.

That signature sand sculpture was vandalized just after it was finished, and a lot of people in town are outraged, saying it put a damper on what was otherwise a great festival.

Lakefest is always filled with music, food and fun on the lake. But this year, it ended in heartbreak for those who look forward to watching the town's summer centerpiece evolve.

Shortly after a fireworks show Sunday night, someone vandalized the sculpture - damaging a mermaid and a manatee that were part of the "Go Fish" themed piece.

"It's heartbreaking because this usually stays up until September," said Shelia Cuykendall, executive director of the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce.

"Honestly, this was on my bucket list. I loved to work with a professional sand sculptor and the opportunity presented itself," said Holly Burnette.

Burnette was one of the volunteers that helped Roanoke sand sculptor Alan Matsumoto create the masterpiece. She says the work they put into it makes it much more than just a pile of sand.

"It's kind of a staple of Lakefest and it's tradition, and I think it should be respected and the artist should be respected for the time and effort that goes into it," said Burnette.

Cameras on a building across the street were not recording at the time, but after an outpouring of comments on Facebook and outrage in the community, police are now investigating.

While this incident was a major disappointment, Burnette says she doesn't think this will hinder their tradition.

"That's not going to deter them - the people that truly do this for the art; That's what it's all about.

The artist could not be reached, but organizers say he and his wife were in Clarksville three days working on the piece. This was his first year as sand sculptor for the event. In previous years, the town has gone with a sculptor from North Carolina.

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