Oregon Coast Sandcastle Festival Among Biggest in World
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Ornate and intricate sculptures made of sand will be the center of celebration in Cannon Beach, with the 45th Annual Sandcastle day Festival taking over the town on June 13. The event cajoles amateurs, families, professionals and people of all ages to participate in this wildly imaginative festival, with hundreds of sculptures, figures, scenarios and creatures carved out of the sand near Haystack Rock.
Thousands hit the beach in the morning at low tide, to either sculpt these jaw-dropping masterpieces or to watch them being created. Participants compete in various categories, some by age or skill level and some by how members are in the group.
In the 45 years since Sandcastle Day began, it has become an arena for some of the finest sand sculpting in the world and one the largest such events on the west coast. Each year approximately 1,000 participants and approximately 8000 spectators attend the event.
It all begins at 6:30 a.m. with registration and building at the large entrance just north of Haystack Rock (by the Wayfarer Restaurant). Cars are then allowed to enter the beach.
Master teams will begin building on the beach at 9 a.m. All other teams will begin at 10 a.m.
There will be a wide array of contestants this year, ranging from the Professional Master’s division to the Large Group Category. The Sand Fleas category is for those who are under six years of age. Awards will be given in all six divisions (Masters, Large Group, Small Group, Sand Teens, Sand Juniors, & Sand Fleas). Viewing is between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Judging is ongoing throughout the event with staggered end times that correspond to the age groups. Judging will be complete by 2 p.m. Cars will need to be off the beach by 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
This year a sandcastle building class will be held on the beach, Friday, June 12. Frances and Michael Velling will teach the class. The Vellings are three-time world Sandcastle Champions and this year celebrate their 20th year of competing in the Cannon Beach Sandcastle competition. There is no fee for the class.
Also participating in the event include is the American Legion, which will be hosting a scholarship fundraising breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Legion on Hemlock Street, adjacent to the event ($7 adults $5 children). The Cannon Beach Children’s Center will have a food court on the beach (breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, coffee and treats).
The Sandcastle Day Festival began in 1964, not long after a tsunami washed out the bridge between town and Highway 101. That scared off many tourists, and once the bridge was rebuilt, Cannon Beach held the first Sandcastle Day Festival to help get them to return to town.
The first one was a low-key event featuring mostly local sand sculptors, put together by Margaret Atherton and now-gallery owner Bill Steidel. It was designed specifically for kids and families, and one of several efforts to draw tourists back to town. It was usually planned around days with the lowest tides, and would happen in May, June or July.
Since then, it has grown to enormous proportions and become one of the pivotal events of summer on the Oregon coast. It still is based on lowest tides, scheduled around that occurrence in May, June or July – although it has generally happened in June in recent years.
The Cannon Beach Chamber says traffic isn’t as much a problem these days, but finding lodging is. “They used to be booked up six months in advance, but that’s not so much a problem anymore,” said a chamber spokesman. “But most lodgings report being full a month or two weeks ahead of the event, so be sure to make your reservations early if you want to stay in town.”
Nearby towns like Manzanita, Nehalem and Seaside should be able to provide lodging the night before as well, the chamber said.
To register, or for general rules and regulations go to www.cannonbeach.org, or call (503) 436-2623 ext 3.
For more about Cannon Beach lodging....
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