PILOT STORY AND PHOTOS
BY ANDREA BARKAN
A current of creativity washed into Azalea Middle School last weekend as artists, crafters, vendors and teachers set up shop in the gym at the third annual Beachcombers Festival.
All things nautical from a vast array of colorful glass fishing floats to dozens of creatures crafted from driftwood lined vendor booths and art exhibits.
Local artists submitted paintings and photographs of coastal scenes and sculptures crafted from beachcombed materials.
Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, estimated between 700 and 800 people attended Saturday and Sunday.
A new addition was the clam chowder cook-off, featuring entries from five Brookings-Harbor restaurants.
The winner, Great American Smokehouse, was decided by people's choice. The fee to taste and vote was $2.
Festival Co-Chair Violet Burton said the festival was resurrected three years ago after a long lapse.
"It's a popular off-season event in the winter to bring people over to the coast," Burton said.
She added that school children submitted more entries this year than usual.
"The judging was very difficult," Burton said of the grade school submissions.
Vendor Dave Beeson sold seascape and landscape paintings and miniature wood houses crafted from beachcombed driftwood.
Beeson offered children at the event lessons in seascape painting.
This was not only Beeson's first time at the Beachcombers Festival, but his first time at any craft show.
He said he wanted to teach kids "to have something to do instead of just sitting here being bored."
He also said seascapes are relatively easy to paint. "That's why I thought it would be so good for kids," Beeson said.
Vendors Johnna and Rob Zeigler came from Portland to sell their Oregon Rain Soap.
The Zeiglers collect and filter rain, then pour it into the soap molds.
"Rainwater is softer water and Oregon has very clean (rain) water," Johnna said.
Johnna learned soap making from her mother while growing up in Coos Bay and turned it into a business about a year ago.
One bar, fisherman's soap, covers up the stubborn fish scent that can cling to a fisherman's hands, she said.
"We've got such great response from people," Johnna said.
Free classes were offered both days, on topics including beachcombing for glass floats, beach rock identification, gray whale migration, sea kelp baskets, the Oregon Coast Trail and marine mammal rehabilitation.
Karen Johnson, Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation office coordinator at Harris Beach State Park, led a three-hour guided van tour of popular coastal spots.
Before the trip, Johnson said she planned to share local and natural history of Harris, Lone Ranch and Whaleshead beaches as well as Natural Bridge viewpoint and the Arch Rock picnic area.