Beach sand sculpting champion Michel Lepire dies

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
January 12. 2018 12:20AM
Michel Lepire, 70, of Quebec, was a master sculptor who was beloved in the Hampton Beach community. He won the People's Choice Award many times during the annual sand sculpting competition. (Courtesy)

HAMPTON — The sculpting community is mourning the loss of a popular artist who won multiple awards at Hampton Beach’s Master Sand Sculpting Competition.

Michel Lepire, 70, of Quebec, participated in the competition every year since it began 17 years ago. According to organizer Greg Grady, the annual event took place at the same time as Lepire’s birthday, and was often a family affair.

“He looked forward to coming to Hampton Beach every year,” Grady said. “He will be sorely missed here. Our hearts go out to his family.”

Lepire was the first-place winner of the Master Sand Sculpting Competition in 2003 and 2011.

In June, Lepire won $500 and the People’s Choice Award for his 2017 entry, “Seduction.” It featured two peacocks in love, according to Hamptonbeach.org.

Grady said Lepire won the People’s Choice Award many times over the years.

Grady said Lepire worked with ice as well. He was the man behind many of the elaborate ice palaces at Quebec City’s annual Carnaval.

“In the world of sculpting, especially master sculptors, we all know each other and the name Lepire is known throughout the world,” Grady said Thursday.

Lepire’s daughter told The Canadian Press that her father started sculpting with snow at the age of 14 for a neighborhood contest linked to the Carnaval. In 1994, his hobby became his life’s work and he founded a company that used ice, snow and wood to make sculptures.

Lepire’s son, Marc Lepire, worked on finishing the Carnaval mascot Bonhomme’s palace this week. Carnaval de Quebec runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 11.

Grady said Marc Lepire also competed in Hampton Beach, and even though Michel Lepire planned to retire from the summertime event, he wanted to travel to New Hampshire to watch Marc sculpt.

Every year, thousands of people travel to Hampton Beach to see the artists create their entries using 200 tons of imported sand. The sculptures remain up in a sectioned-off area near Sea Shell Stage for two weeks.

This year’s competition will take place June 14 to 16.


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