Born out of tragedy in 1964, Cannon Beach's Sandcastle Contest has been designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Heritage Commission. The Sandcastle Contest is one of 10 events that have been designated. The others include the Oregon State Fair, the Pendleton Round-Up, the Astoria Regatta and the Linn County Pioneer Picnic.
"The Heritage Commission wants to recognize those traditions that have helped define the state," said David Lewis, the commission's chair and historian for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. "They are distinguished events that are part of our heritage as Oregonians."
"The Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce is proud of receiving this designation from the commission," said Sandcastle Contest committee chair Debbie Nelson. "It honors the work of thousands of Cannon Beach residents during the past 50 years, and the creativity of hundreds of sand artists. This is a hometown tradition that all of Oregon can take part it and creates family memories that last a lifetime."
For the 50th anniversary celebration, Cannon Beach has organized three days of activities with the main event - the sandcastle contest - taking place on June 21.
A tsunami generated in March 1964 by an Alaskan earthquake destroyed Cannon Beach's main bridge, effectively stranding all of the residents. Several residents came up with the idea for the sandcastle contest as a way to boost the town's spirits. The first contest took place in August 1964. It now attracts 10,000-15,000 visitors annually.
An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state, said commission coordinator Kyle Jansson.
The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.
(photo: Ocean Lodge, Cannon Beach)