The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, June 15, 2017, Page 15, Image 24

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    JUNE 15, 2017 // 15
A STORIA
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BRENNA VISSER
Debbie Nelson holds a sandcastle-shaped candle to show her enthusaism for this year’s Cannon
Beach Sandcastle Contest. She has been the chair of the Sandcastle Committee for seven years.
Continued from Pg. 4
“The town didn’t really
advertise,” she said. “It
was to help quell fears
after the tidal wave.”
Cannon Beach Mayor
Sam Steidel also remem-
bers participating in the
early days of the festival,
when most contestants
were kids and families
rather than world-class
artists.
“Families would get
plots next to each other,
and then help each other
out with each other’s cre-
ations,” he said.
PHOTO BY GEORGE VETTER
A row of sandcastles at a previous contest
Ebbing and flowing
Now, the contest has be-
come the oldest west of the
Mississippi River, attract-
ing up to 30,000 people
and some of the world’s
most competitive sandcas-
tle makers.
Steidel — who, like
Nelson, is a lifelong Can-
non Beach resident — has
served in roles similar to
Nelson’s over many years.
As a judge, participant and
event organizer, he said he
noticed the cultural vibe
ebb and flow. After master
artists started taking more
interest in the contest in
the mid-1990s, he said
SUBMITTED PHOTO
the level of competition
started to rise, taking away
some of that iconic family
feel.
“I think Debbie’s en-
gagement with the town
and leadership has helped
make it feel like a home-
town event again,” he said.
For Nelson, that passion
comes from a place of
protecting the feeling of a
hometown tradition.
In her lifetime, she has
helped judge, facilitate
plots for competitors, and
organize the dozens of
volunteers it takes to pull
off the events.
“I really love the cama-
raderie of getting the job
done. It’s such a satisfying
moment,” she said. “I’ve
lived here all my life. It’s a
lot of work, but it’s a way
to represent hometown
tradition, and I’ve decided
(the Sandcastle Contest) is
the tradition I’ve decided
to put my time into.”
This year’s contest will
begin 10 a.m. Saturday,
June 17. For more infor-
mation on the contest,
contact the Cannon Beach
Chamber of Commerce at
503-436-2623.