A total of 25 groups signed up to be part of the annual sandcastle contest on Saturday, July 27, at South Beach State Park. From castles to creatures, the creativity was apparent as young and old alike shaped their sculptures while a crowd of beachgoers looked on.
Sara Gibson, an interpretive ranger with Oregon State Parks, coordinated this year’s competition — now in its 18th year. Unlike some events of this nature, the sandcastle contest at South Beach State Park is simply about having fun with family.
“Ours is so family friendly. It’s for kids, it’s for all ages,” said Gibson. There were local residents, others who came from the Willamette Valley and even one group visiting from Texas. Juli Yates, from Winston, said she was planning to bring her two granddaughters to Newport to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. When she was looking up the area online she noticed the sandcastle competition was happening on the same day, so they added that to their itinerary.
The contest included five categories: most lifelike, marine life, tallest structure, people's choice and ranger's choice. An entry in the “tallest structure” category was literally a mound of sand. Gibson recalled, “I said, ‘That’s Mount Mazama.’”
Trophies were awarded in each category, and these were made from driftwood adorned with glass shells created by the Edge Art Gallery. “They did pressed seashells that were glued on in our state parks colors,” said Gibson. “We also had agates, local taffy and South Beach coffee mugs. We try to keep it local.”
The sandcastle contest is but one of the many activities available at South Beach State Park during the summer months. And people don’t need to be camping at the state park in order to participate.
“I really want Lincoln County residents to feel like they can come and take advantage of their state parks in the communities,” Gibson said. “We want this to be a place where families can come and participate in using their state parks together. We’ve got programs open to the community all summer long until Labor Day.”
To find out what South Beach State Park has to offer in the way of summer programming, go online at oregonstateparks.org. Go to the “visit” tab and select “find a park.” Once there, scroll down to South Beach State Park and then click on the “Events” tab to see a calendar of activities.
“I am courting Lincoln County residents as much as I can because we have such great nature programing that is resource specific for our area,” said Gibson.