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Cannon Beach to Host 50th Annual Sandcastle Contest in June
Published: 09/23/2013
Participants apply the finishing touches to a large sculpture at the 2013 Sandcastle Contest in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Participants apply the finishing touches to a large sculpture at the 2013 Sandcastle Contest in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Photo by Gary Hayes

The oldest running sandcastle contest in the Northwest celebrates its 50th anniversary this June in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Cannon Beach, Oregon will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its annual Sandcastle Contest Saturday, June 21, 2014. The event is the oldest sandcastle contest in the Northwest and the most popular annual event in this North Oregon Coast town. Dozens of teams participate in the contest with divisions for Masters, who compete for cash prizes; plus large group, small group and children's divisions with winners receiving medals and ribbons.

Sandcastle building plots are laid out early in the morning, a backhoe digs holes nearby to provide a water source and the building begins at 11am. Masters teams typically utilize construction forms, similar to those used for pouring concrete. Sand is shoveled, tamped and packed into the forms to make large, elaborate sand sculpture creations possible without crumbling under their own weight. The creations are best viewed during the mid-to-late afternoon, with judging taking place at 4pm when winners are announced. The temporary works of art are usually washed away with the next high tide.

A tsunami is credited with being the genesis of the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest. An earthquake in Alaska in March of 1964 created a tsunami wave that hit the Northwest coast. Cannon Beach's downtown suffered from flooding and the Ecola Creek bridge was washed away. Local residents got together that summer to put on a community sandcastle contest to raise spirits. Recognizing the potential draw of such an event, the event was promoted to the public the next year in an effort to bring tourists back to town. The event grew, began attracting tens of thousands of visitors and the Sandcastle Contest weekend is still one of the busiest weekends of the year for Cannon Beach.

See the Sandcastle Contest weekend schedule of events.

Make hotel reservations early for this popular weekend. This is the only day of the year parking is allowed on the beach in Cannon Beach, accommodating thousands of day trippers. For information on the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest or entry forms, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at (503) 436-2623. For lodging information, visit

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