Every summer, they can be found towering above the crowds at Cannon Beach. Sea creatures, life-sized board games, magic mountains, and — you guessed it — castles made of sand. They’re the creations of the famous Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, held every June since 1964.
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Anyone can sign up and try their luck in the contest, which starts at the young kids’ “Sandflea” level and goes all the way up to the Masters, who have to qualify to compete for cash prizes.
Around 45 teams participate each year, in front of thousands of fans. And why do they do it?
“Tradition,” says Debbie Nelson, chair of the sandcastle committee. “They came when they were kids and now they’re bringing their kids, and they’re bringing the grandkids. That’s one of the charming things about Cannon Beach.”
Sandcastles range from the basic to the very elaborate, and many of them take hours to build. Masters teams hit the beach at 4 a.m. on the day of the contest, rain or shine. It’s nice to win, but when even the best creations will be washed out to sea the next day, the most important thing is having fun.
“If you get so absorbed in the competition that when you’re done with it, all you have left is the finished product, then you didn’t win,” says masters team member Michael Jessop. “The real winners are people who leave with memories that will last them the rest of their lives.”
Want to make your own memories in the sand? Visit the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest website.