For the second consecutive year, the eighth annual Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival &Seafood Extravaganza is expanding and charting new territory for a non-clam dig weekend.
This year, the festival will stretch over three days, March 21-23, at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.
“On Friday, we will open at noon and have all the vendors up and running,” said Dianne Hansen of the Dusty Trunk, who helps organize the event for the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The festival has evolved into somewhat of a taste of the North Beach, with many of the restaurants offering chowders in the Saturday contest as well as specialty seafood concoctions.
The event this year will have local music throughout each day, along with performances from the dance and gymnastics teams at Power and Grace Studio Friday afternoon. Hansen notes that the mechanical shark ride from Playtime Fun Center also will be on hand to test patrons if they so choose.
To encourage visitors to enjoy local restaurants, breakfast specials will be offered at many of the restaurants on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Admission to the festival is $3 per person/per day or $5 for a three-day pass with children 12 years old and under admitted free of charge.
The People’s Choice award for the “Best Clam Chowder on the Washington Coast” will be determined by vote on Saturday. You purchase a ballot, which allows you to taste all of the professional clam chowders and vote for your favorite.
Saturday also features the professional and amateur cook-offs, such as the “Creative Clam Entrée” competition where chefs show off their culinary talents. This year, a second competition will include the “Creative Seafood Entrée.”
Other activities will include awarding the “Best Clam Art;” a salute to the businesses of Ocean Shores; the Artisan Craft Marketplace featuring over 40 Northwest artists and crafters with unique and indigenous works; children’s activities and games; entertainment; information about coastal heritage, conservation and cultural exhibits; cooking demonstrations, and two adult beverage bars.
Kids and family activities include local pirates, a pirate ship, pony rides, face painting and the “Mechanical Shark.” If weather permits, the Big Purple Slide and pony rides will operate outside.
And if you don’t like seafood, Hansen notes there also will be vendors offering things like hot dogs and hamburgers.
Having the event between two clam dig weekends is really what the event is supposed to be, organizers say — an event to bring in visitors who otherwise might not come out to the coast.
“To be honest, when we did this event eight years ago, we said we had to have it on the weekend of a clam dig,” Hansen said. “We did use the clam dig … but we have pretty much decided that the purpose of the Chamber and the whole purpose of us putting on events in the offseason is to get people here at a time when normally they wouldn’t be here.
“And that’s not true of a clam dig. When you have a clam dig, you have people here.”
So from now on out, the event will always be on the third full weekend in March, clam tide or not.
“If there is a dig, there’s a dig, and if not, it’s a stand-alone event and we just honor what our lifestyle is out here,” Hansen said.
Exact Heated Storage is this year’s presenting sponsor; other sponsors include Quinault Beach Resort &Casino, Jodesha Broadcasting, NW Mini, and North Beach Printing.
For more information call the Chamber at (360) 289-2451 or visit www.oceanshores.org