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Washington Coast's Ocean Shores Hosts Glass Float Drop and Beachcombing Expo

Published 2/25/24 at 8:15 p.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Ocean Shores, Washington) – Since the '80s, it's been around in one form or another, entertaining and enthralling folks of all ages, doing so for at least two generations on the Washington coast. Glass floats now – just as then – have been the bomb for both the Oregon coast and Washington side, growing by leaps and bounds in mass popularity. (Photo John Shaw / Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo)

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A lot of beach towns in the region have their own slant on this, and Ocean Shores has its Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo happening this coming weekend, March 2 and 3, at the Ocean Shores Convention Center. (Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 10-3. Admission is $5/couple, $3/single and children under 12 are free.) The focus in a lot of ways is the original Japanese glass float balls, and it turns out they've been dropping them on Ocean Shores beaches for the last couple of weekends for people to find. Folks then report these on the group's Facebook page.

Oceans Shores Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo has a lot of sides to it, however. Yes, there's this glass float drop-and-hunt, but the event takes on all kinds of beachcombing, with tables featuring experts, advice, glass floats for sale, other intriguing beach objects being sold, and notable groups like NOAA and Washington CoastSavers (a version of Oregon coast's SOLVE and CoastWatch combined). Various museums will be there too.

The Oceans Shores event hasn't been as quite well known in all circles as those on the Oregon coast, but last year's event dragged out nearly 4,000 souls over the weekend. Then, according to John Shaw, one of the organizers, this past week's glass float hunt drew some astounding 3,000 more followers to their Facebook group.

At one point over the decades, Shaw said, it became a for-profit event when it moved to the Oregon Shores Convention Center. Alan Rammer had been there since the beginning, and when the professional organizer began to drop the show because of health reasons back in 2021, Rammer, Shaw and a couple of others took up the reigns, formed the nonprofit group Beachcombers Heritage, and it was saved.


Photo Keith Glein: group member Glein finds some glass floats in Japan

Shaw is also part of the famed Japanese glass float drop in Westport every January.

“So we do that in Westport from October to April, and we decided to carry that across because Ocean Shores and Westport are very, very close, kind of kindred cities,” Shaw told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “So we are doing it in Ocean Shores, but it's only for the couple weekends up to the show.”

Their “float wranglers” drop them from crab boats just offshore, so they strand rather naturally. Those drops end on March 2, first day of the show – so you still have time this week.

All the reports on Facebook get thrown into a drawing for a number of really large collectible floats.


Photo Beachcombers Expo / Claudia Lucas

Then there's the beach treasures judging segment of the famed Washington coast event. You enter your beach find from anywhere on Pacific Northwest beaches and it gets judged. It's like a pie contest – but it's often just some random beach junk. Or maybe you created it out of debris. Maybe it's even a photograph you took. Art, driftwood, floats, rocks, shells: it's fairly wide open. Just check the Exhibit Rules pdf on the Facebook page.

“For years the show has had people bring in stuff, and so we'll have probably several dozen tables of things that people bring in and and put on display,” Shaw said. “There's a judging: they leave them up for the weekend. You can see an otter made out of disposed crab rope, or you can see a collection of things, you know... different kind of floats people put together. You can see photography. There's a bunch of different classes.”

They have recently added the “masters” category to the contest to prevent professionals from coming and cleaning up the wins.

Various groups are there sharing a lot of beachcombing information, such as etiquette and suggestions for cleaning the beach as you beachcomb. There are photography exhibits, displays about plastics and lots of ways to ask questions about regional beaches.

“It's kind of everything that has to do with beachcombing,” Shaw said.

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Photo Beachcombers Expo / Sue Lowatchie

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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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