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Photo of a sand fortress, July 1980
A sand fortress, July 1980

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Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest
A Local Legacy

You may have built a sand castle or two, but have you ever built a sand castle as elaborate as the one in this photo?

Every year in the small coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, all sorts of things are made out of sand in the Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest: cars, pigs, fish, almost anything you can think of! Most of the people who enter this contest enjoy building things out of sand just for fun. Some people, though, are professional sand sculptors and make a living building things out of sand. They might create a sand sculpture at a shopping mall, for instance, to promote the mall and get more people to visit.

The sand castle contest began in August 1965 as a result of a natural disaster. A year earlier Cannon Beach was hit by a tsunami (an enormous wave). The tsunami (pronounced "soo-nah-mee") did a lot of damage to the town, but it also brought a lot of attention to the area because afterward the lowest tides of the century took place. Two people decided to hold the sand castle contest to take advantage of all the media attention.

Today, the contest begins just after the morning high tide and ends about 12 hours later as the next high tide reclaims the beach -- and all the beautiful sculptures. Kids of all ages are welcome to participate. What would your sand castle look like?

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