A sand fortress, July 1980 Photo: George Vetter
Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest
in 1965 by Bill Kitterman and Billie Atherton Grant as promotional
event for this small Oregon coastal town, the Cannon Beach Sand
Castle Contest is the first and oldest sandcastle contest in the
continental United States. It takes place at the foot of Haystack
Rock, the world's third largest monolith. On March 27, 1964, Cannon
Beach was hit by a tsunami. Although it did considerable property
damage, it had the unexpected effect of revitalizing the town.
In its aftermath, on June 10, 1965, the lowest tides
of the century took place, and reporters flocked to the Cannon
Beach to cover this rare event. Capitalizing on the media
attention, Atherton-Grant and Kitterman came up with the idea of
holding a sandcastle contest in Cannon Beach on July 29, 1965,
attracting 32 entries, and it has grown ever since. In the peak
years of the 1980s and early 1990s, crowds were variously estimated
between 25,000 to 45,000. It has continued to attract media
attention, appearing in such well-known publications as Sunset
Along with a prize for "Best Art in the Sand," the
event now includes an annual poster contest, with local artists
producing posters designed especially for the event, a parade, and
prize bags for kids under 12. The Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest
is now entering its 36th year.
Project documentation includes a 16-page narrative,
three slides, 30 photographs, a video, a newsletter from 1964, the
official contest rules, and a list of years of the contest with
prize-winning poster artists.
Originally submitted by: Gordon Smith, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.