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Published on August 8, 2017 1:52PM

By Gretchen Ammerman

For the TODAY

Though castles made of sand melt into the sea eventually, a crisp $100 bill might help soften the sadness of the loss. At the 40th annual Lincoln City Sandcastle Contest this Saturday, Aug. 12, successful sand architects will win prizes with silicate renderings in six categories: traditional sandcastle, dog, sea creature, squid, chowderhead and “illuminated.” Categories are further broken down by age and teams.

The rules include using only sand, water, shells and other natural materials found on the beach that day to build your entry. Forms can be used during construction, but cannot be used to support the final structure. Hand tools may also be used, but please suppress the urge to use power tools. And if you know that there is such a thing as a professional sand artist, you might be one, and — if so — are respectfully asked to leave this event to the amateurs.

“Other than the usual rules, you don’t have any limits on what you can build,” said former event organizer LeeAnn Reyes. “My personal favorites in the past events were the mermaids because people can get very creative.”

Prizes of all kinds are up for grabs, including beach items, dining and lodging certificates and — of course — cold hard cash.

And even if you aren’t able to turn sand into clams, the contest can bestow other benefits, according to longtime participant Stacey Baird.

“There are people that have a lot of stress and this is a great way to get rid of it.” he said. “I like to go play in the sand and forget all my worries.”

Over at least the past 15 years, Baird has partnered with friend and fellow sand castle fan Domenic Micherone and their families to enter the event.

“We’ve won several times,” Baird said. “But sometimes we didn’t even officially enter; just went down and played around and looked at what other people were building. It really is a great way to be outside with your kids or release your own inner child.”

New this year will be a second day of play on Sunday.

“We’re turning this into a weekend event by adding games on the beach,” said Susan Wahlke of the Bay Area Merchants Association. “We’ll have things like Giant Jenga, ring toss, corn hole, and lots of other games for families.”

The games will be in the same area as the sandcastle contest from 10 am to 3 pm.

Also new this year will be s’mores on the beach at 8 pm on Saturday.

“This is a fun, family-oriented event,” Wahlke said. “We have many people who come here for the weekend, so we wanted to give them things to do for the whole time.”

In a survey taken last year, more than a third of respondents said that they had come specifically for the contest, and there were participants that had come from as far away as Holland and Israel. Three people said that they had been participating for more than 10 years, and one family has been coming for more than 20.

Throughout Saturday, shuttles will be running from the three public parking lots in the Taft area — one on the first block west of Hwy. 101 on 51st Street, one off SE Inlet between 51st and 48th Street, and the third right off Hwy. 101 north of 48th Street, just past Oregon Beach Vacations.

“This is a wonderful tradition that is attached to Lincoln City,” Wahlke said. “The Siletz Bay is a great safe place for building castles. We need to be careful, though; if it gets any bigger, we’re going to run out of beach.”

Registration fort he Lincoln City Sandcastle Contest begins at 9 am on Saturday, July 22, at Taft Beach SW 51st Street. Entrants must register the day of the event, before building begins. Entry is free, but a donation of non-perishable food for the Lincoln City Food Pantry is requested. For more information, contact Susan Wahlke at 541-921-9329, or go to taftbeach.org.

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