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N. Oregon Coast Big Fave Returns in Person: Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest

Published 05/12/22 at 7:46 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

N. Oregon Coast's Fave Returns in Person: Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – [UPDATED] A mammoth and famous favorite Oregon coast event is coming up, with another go around on June 11. The Annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest returns in full form as an in-person event, this time nearing 60 years old with its 58th-year installment. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

It's been a long two years of not quite being the same much-loved festival it has normally been, forced to go largely digital during the pandemic and held all summer long.

Now, the general public is invited back to the sands in front of Haystack Rock.

“We’re excited to be back to the beach,” said Jim Paino, Executive Director of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Divisions for the contest will be Sand Fleas, Juniors, Teens, Small Group, Large Group and the wowing Masters. Building begins at 2 p.m. with final judging taking place at 7 p.m.

Contest rules are extremely simple and no themes are mandated for the contest. The Cannon Beach Chamber said this often results in statements on current times that are colorful and creative.

Each team is assigned a plot of sand and a viewing area. They are not allowed to remove or add sand. Only natural items found on the beach may be used, including sticks, rocks, shells or even seaweed. Paints, flours, sugar or any other substance brought in will not be allowed.

Sandcastle Day is also the only day out of the year that cars will be allowed to park on the beach. Cost this year will be $5 for parking, with passes available for purchase at this link.

The Master's Division is by invitation only. Contact Paino by email at or call 503-436-2623.

There are events the day before and after the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest. This year, on Friday, June 11 there's a bonfire with music and S'mores at the beach off 2nd St. It starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, June 11, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest gets underway at 2 p.m., with final judging at 7 p.m. Click here for registration.

On Sunday, June 12, the Singing Sands 5K Fun Run/Walk starts at 9 a.m. Registration is here.

Each year of this north Oregon coast happenin' features a different poster image done by a different artist. This year's limited edition posters and other goodies will be available for purchase online or at the Information Center.

The entire tradition of the sandcastle contest goes back to 1964, just after the tsunami in March that took out the bridge to and from Cannon Beach. It left locals cut off and a little stir crazy for a time, and in the midst of that they held a sandcastle contest to buoy everyone's spirits.

By that summer, they needed something to bring tourists back to town, so the first real Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest was held thenr. However, it was not well publicized nor well attended.

In 1965, the second annual contest was held in July and had more media attention. The prize that year was $10. After that, the Sandcastle Day Festival was usually planned around days with the lowest tides, which would happen in May, June or July. By the ‘80s it had grown to national and international fame, even featured on Good Morning America.

In 2014 it became an Oregon Heritage Tradition, designated so by Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, making it one of just 26 events statewide to achieve such an honor. It typically draws thousands of people each year.

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