Organizers prep for 38th annual beachcombing event set for the first weekend in March

By Clayton Franke

The Daily World

People who plan to peruse coastal beaches for weird and interesting treasures in the coming weeks are twice as likely to find Japanese glass fishing floats buried in the brush than last year.

With similar magic of the pixie who might place a pair of quarters under the pillow of a snoozing nine-year old in exchange for an uprooted molar, float fairies and float wranglers grace Grays Harbor beaches in February to hide hundreds of blue and green bubbles in the sand dunes.

Starting Friday, Feb. 16, 800 round glass floats were hidden on the North Beach. That’s twice as many as the fairies delivered last year.

The delivery is in anticipation for the first weekend in March, when the annual Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo at the Ocean Shores Convention Center will enter its 38th year.

Any glass floats found can be brought to the Ocean Shores Convention Center from Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3. There, beachcombers can register the glass orb and enter their name in a drawing to win a much larger float as a prize.

The massive scavenger hunt is only part of the storied event that celebrates the many aspects of beachgoing in the Pacific Northwest. The first weekend in March will feature vendors from California to Alaska with a beach bent, and people will have a chance to enter their coastal crafts into competition for dozens of judged categories.

Formerly billed the Beachcombers Fun Fair, this second year of the new event will have an emphasis on glass floats.

Beach item displays at the event have always operated under the rule that all items must be found naturally, instead of purchased.

Meanwhile, collectors can buy and sell items in the “parking lot lounge,” the nickname for the convention center lobby where people are permitted to peddle beach finds, named after the attempts of former event-goers to sell floats from their tailgates in the parking lot outside the event.

On Sunday morning the beachcombers will turn their attention from treasure to trash and run a “dash for trash.” Once participants fill bags with as much random trash as possible, judges will award a prize to the person with the piece of trash deemed most unusual.

Participants can return floats they find to the convention center until the last day of the festival on Sunday.