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Cannon Beach Sandcastle Fest This Coming Weekend: N. Oregon Coast Favorite Returns

Published 06/03/23 at 7:20 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Fest This Coming Weekend: N. Oregon Coast Favorite Returns

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Just a year shy of 60 years, the famed and much-loved Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest returns on Saturday, June 10 for more celebratory creations on the north Oregon coast's most popular beaches. Another year of intense and intricate constructs, whimsical to divine inspirations, wonders carved from grains and delightful surprises from creative brains around the country. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection unless otherwise noted)

This is the 59th year of the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, also bringing the Singing Sands 5K Fun Run/Walk on the following day, Sunday, June 11. But wait – as the informercials say - there's more.

The contest itself begins at 10 a.m., as artists take to the sands at low tide. At 3:30 p.m., judging begins. By 4:30 p.m., all cars must be off the beach. Then, however, there's an event on the beach at the west end of 2nd St. featuring bonfire, s'mores and music. All of it is free.

The Singing Sands 5K Fun Run/Walk begins at 9 a.m. Those involved with the walk or the contest can get their information at

As always, there's various divisions for the various levels: Sand Fleas, Juniors, Teens, Small Group, Large Group, and Masters. There's no themes to follow: just tread your creative path however you will. The results are always some of the most striking images the Oregon coast comes up with this time of year. Each group or individual is given their own plot of beach, and they may not remove or add any sand. The rules are simple: use only stuff found on the beach such as rocks, sticks, shells, seaweed, etc. Nothing artificial can be added, such as paint or adhesives.

The fanciful creations are left on the sands throughout the evening for viewing as the tide slowly washes them away.

As the mega-popular Oregon coast event marked its 50th year back in 2014, it was recognized as an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. Just under 30 events / festivals around the state have achieved that.

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Fest in the '60s, photo courtesy Oregon State Archives

How the contest began is a curious and somewhat tragic tale, beginning with the tsunami of 1964 that washed out the bridge and main access to Highway 101. Once the bridge was rebuilt, Cannon Beach discovered many visitors were ignoring the town. The first contest was mainly locals, publicized only slightly in an experimental effort to see what could get tourists coming back. See the full story: N. Oregon Coast History: Tsunami Tragedy Started Cannon Beach's Sandcastle Festival.

Where to find a place to stay in Cannon Beach? That will be a challenge, but you may you have some luck trying these spots in town or in nearby towns of Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Seaside or Astoria: Cannon Beach Hotels / Lodging.

Day-trippers should plan on arriving early. The Sandcastle Contest is the only day of the year when the beach is used for parking to accommodate the large crowds, but cars must be off the beach by 4:30 pm to avoid potential issues with the incoming tide. For information on the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest or information on how to participate, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at (503) 436-2623. For lodging information, visit ---- Cannon Beach Hotels / Lodging for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour



The festival after the tide has initally washed the sculputures away

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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