It's time for the artistic -- and plain folks of all ages who just love the beach -- to get out their shovels, pails and imaginations for the 12th annual Castles in the Sand contest.

The sand-sculpting competition is planned for Saturday, May 11, at Compo Beach and gets under way at noon. Entry fees benefit Homes With Hope, a Westport nonprofit that provides shelter and supportive services to the homeless.

Although the event has "castle" in its name, organizers said sand creations can take any shape at all. At past events, they've included a wide variety of creatures, structures, objects -- even people.

Teams of varying sizes can purchase 10-foot-by-10-foot plots of beach for $100 each. Plots measuring 20-by-20 are $300. On the day of the event, Compo Beach parking fees will be waived for participants.

Contest judges will award prizes to top sculptures, organizers said.

Teams may register for plots online, and payment is by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover cards.

More Information

What: Sand-sculpture team contest.
When: Saturday, May 11, starting at noon.
Where: Compo Beach, Westport.
Cost: $100 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot plot; $300 for a 20-by-20 plot. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards accepted.
Benefits: Homes With Hope shelters and services for the homeless.
Register: At

Teams traditionally have comprised families, friends, organizations and coworkers.

"We are thrilled to be hosting this event for its 12th year," Jeffrey Wieser, Homes with Hope president, said in a news release. "It's a great way to spend the day on the beach with friends and supporters looking to help our mission and have fun at the same time."

Proceeds will benefit various Homes With Hope programs, including the Gillespie Center and Hoskins' Place emergency shelters for single men and women; the Bacharach Community Shelter for women and children; and permanent-supportive housing in the Westport and Norwalk areas.

To register for Castles in the Sand or for more information, visit the Homes with Hope website,