Cannon Beach will host its 55th annual Sandcastle Contest Saturday, June 8. It’s the oldest competition of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and the most popular event in the Oregon Coast town.
Dozens of teams of professional sand sculpture artists, amateur groups and families will construct remarkable creations in the sand during the event. The Masters division teams compete for cash prizes and construct large, elaborate creations often utilizing construction forms similar to those used for pouring concrete in order to accomplish their monumental size.
Although the sand sculpture contest on Saturday afternoon is the highlight of the weekend, visitors will find plenty of other activities to keep them busy. Saturday morning kicks off with a pancake breakfast at the American Legion and sandcastle building starts on the beach near Haystack Rock at 9:30 a.m. Official judging begins at 2:30 p.m., making 1-3 p.m. the best time for viewing the completed sculptures.
The tide will determine how long the sculptures last. Later Saturday evening, there will be a beach bonfire with s’mores and live music starting at 7 p.m. On Sunday morning, participants can enjoy the Singing Sands 5K fun run and walk starting at 9 a.m. on the beach at 2nd Street (registration starts at 8 a.m.).
In 2014, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest was recognized as an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, making it one of just 22 events statewide to achieve such a designation. An Oregon Heritage Tradition is an event with broad public appeal, with at least 50 years of continuous operation and that contributes to the identity of the state.
Make reservations soon for this popular weekend as hotels typically sell out all rooms in advance. 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 3 p.m. to avoid potential issues with the incoming tide.
From tsunami to Oregon Heritage Tradition, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest has a colorful 50-plus year history.
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 washed ashore on 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 more than 50 years later, the Sandcastle Contest weekend is still one of the busiest weekends of the year for Cannon Beach.
In 2014, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest was named an Oregon Heritage Tradition by the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, making it one of just 22 events statewide to achieve such a designation. An Oregon Heritage Tradition is an event with broad public appeal, with at least 50 years of continuous operation and that contributes to the identity of the state.
Cannon Beach 2019 Sandcastle Contest weekend schedule of events
FRIDAY, JUNE 7
10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Packets n’ Pail Pickup, Cannon Beach Visitor Information Center
Noon | Sandcastle Contest team registration closes
SATURDAY, JUNE 8
9-11 a.m. | American Legion Pancake Breakfast
9:30 a.m. | Sandcastle Contest Begins
2:30 p.m. | Final Judging and Awards Presentation
3 p.m. | Cars need to be off of beach
7 p.m. | Live Music with Bruce Thomas Smith Band on beach near 2nd Street beach access
8-10 p.m. | Beach Bonfire near 2nd Street beach access
SUNDAY, JUNE 9
9 a.m. | Singing Sands 5K Fun Run/Walk, check-in on beach near 2nd Street beach access (register online in advance or in person beginning at 8 a.m. on race day).