Michigan City fest mixes music, food, sand | Michigan City News

MICHIGAN CITY — This weekend’s Oktoberfest at Washington Park offers live music at one end of the festival, sand sculpting lessons at the other end and vendors in between.

The sand sculpting lessons are an echo of the city’s inaugural Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival three months ago.

Professional sculptor Janet Moore Schrader, owner of Sand Pirate in Lakeside, Michigan, talked about her lessons while working on a dragon she named Doug on Saturday.

Normally she charges $300 for a two-hour lesson, she said, but the city paid her to offer free lessons at the festival.

“I’ve been teaching sand sculpting for about 17 years,” Schrader said, mostly between Warren Dunes in Southwest Michigan and Indiana Dunes.

Prior to COVID-19, that was her full-time job. “I teach multi-generations how to play together,” she said.

If you think kids are her primary customers, think again. “I’ve taught more adults than I’ve taught kids,” she said. “They want to be king and queen of the sandcastles and impress their grandchildren.”

“Some of my favorite carving tools are cake spatulas and spoons,” she said. A paintbrush also comes in handy.

MC fest mixes music, food, sand

Professional sand sculptor Janet Moore Schroder, of Lakeside, Michigan, works on a dragon sculpture during Oktoberfest at Michigan City’s Washington Park.

Schrader demonstrated how to use a toy shovel to make a staircase, one step at a time.

She launched her business after being diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I looked like a pirate. I had an eye patch, I was bald, my throat was cut open.” That’s how Sand Pirate became her company’s name.

“I tried the business with all the other unplugged activities,” Schrader said, but sand sculpting was the most popular. “2006 was the first time I got paid for playing in the sand.”

“I actually teach how to storm a castle at the end of the two-hour lesson. That’s the best part of building a sandcastle,” she said.

Chris Goodin, of Walled Lake, Michigan, has worked the carnival circuit in all 50 states. He now operates his own carnival business, with everyone winning a prize regardless of whether they’re strong enough to ring the bell with his sledgehammer.

Kayla Ware, of LaPorte, helped her friend Sara Noé, also of LaPorte, sell Noé’s books and drawings.

“She’s the talent, I’m the charisma,” Ware joked.

“Miss Noé here is a two-time award-winning science fiction author,” Ware proudly said. Noé is working on the third book of her seven-book series featuring Cato as the only half-human, half-ghost hybrid in her books.

Noé dressed as Cato to promote her books at the festival.

“When they find out I’m a local author and a local artist, they get kind of excited,” Noé said.

MC fest mixes music, food, sand

Rodney Dumas, of Michigan City, opened his business, Hot Rod Snow Cones, in June and has been visiting festivals since then. Blue raspberry and tiger blood are the most popular flavors, he said.

Randy Dumas, of Michigan City, opened Hot Rod Snow Cones in June and has been hitting the festival circuit since then. Blue raspberry and tiger blood are the most popular snow cone flavors, he said.

“We have nothing but a great reception,” he said.

Sofa King Revolution drummer Scott Engwert, of Michigan City, performed at the festival with fellow band mates Lee Scott and Joe Covington. The rock-and-roll band formed five years ago. All three are old friends from high school.

Patrick and Chantiel Thornton, of LaPorte, enjoyed people-watching and free live music Saturday. “You see funny things out of funny people,” he said.

Kasia and Jon Dietz, of Melrose Park, Illinois, brought their pet birds Edward, a Moluccan cockatoo; Ruby, a green-winged macaw; and Coolek, an umbrella cockatoo. “We travel with them everywhere because they need love, they need attention,” he said.

“They enjoy being outside,” he said. All three birds are rescue pets.

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