By KEVIN HEIMBIGNER
LONG BEACH Last Friday we were recognized as an official Long Beach Merchants festival and the city of Long Beach funded us $1,500. We are extremely excited to again have a razor clam festival, Randy Dennis said of the upcoming event April 27 and 28. He and Robyn Schneider are co-chairs for the committee that is bringing the clam festival back after 65 years and the community will dig the festival events as well as razor clams.
We delivered clam guns to Long Beach and Ocean Park Elementary Schools and the Boys and Girls Club and there will be three winners for the best decorated clam gun.
A prize of $100 will be awarded for kindergarten and first grade, for second and third grade and for fourth through sixth grades. The clam guns need to be turned in to Dennis Company by April 10. The decorated clam guns will then be displayed in stores that have helped sponsor the event. Any business wanting to sponsor can call Dennis at 942-2427.
The Lost Roo Restaurant is a major sponsor of the razor clam festival and they will have a tent set up. They will be introducing their new beers and will be serving clam-related dishes. There are 13 restaurants entered in a clam chowder cook off. A $5 donation gets one the right to taste the 13 chowders and vote for their favorite at the Elks Lodge in Long Beach. The restaurants will have razor clam dishes on their dinner menus that weekend, as well.
Mermaids and pirates will be dressed for the events. Face-painting and photographs will be part of the fun. Girls dressed in clam bikinis will also be a focal point of the event. Frances (Winn) ONeil, one of the original mermaids, will be making a special guest appearance as Honorary Clambassador. ONeil was a Clam Festival Bathing Beauty in 1948. The festival ended that year when there was a shortage of razor clams.
Free clam digging lessons will be given at 7 a.m., April 27 and 28. Those interested in getting a lesson can sign up at www.razorclamfest.com.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has given us a great razor clam outfit to wear for the event as well as our company duck dressed as a clam digger will be running around downtown during the event, Dennis said. There will be three different contests being held at our store from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The best looking limit, biggest clam and guess how many clams in the tank are the contests. Fish and Wildlife will be the judges for all three contests. We will also have numerous clam digging related vendors at the store giving away items, having drawings and demonstrating products, Dennis said.
In January Dennis and the staff at the Long Beach Dennis Company store did some brainstorming for way to improve local business. Resurrecting the Clam Festival came up. Originally we had thought this might only be a store event but once we learned the rich history of the event we knew it made sense to bring back the Clam Festival, Dennis stated.
We looked at the tides and checked with Fish and Wildlife and decided April 27 looked to be the best weekend for the event. What a great way to promote the peninsula and help the businesses during the off season. We quickly formed the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival committee and have been moving forward ever since, Dennis said.
We have a small committee and have some volunteers, but could always use more help. Next year we would like to involve more people, more businesses and have even more events. We think we will have a great festival for the entire family to enjoy, Dennis related.
There will also be the art show at the World Kite Museum and the Black Lake trout fishing derby is that weekend. The Astoria Seafood Festival is also that weekend. We think we have given people a reason to come and stay two or three days and experience a lot of great things going on in our coastal communities, Dennis said.
Special shirts, signed posters, post cards and mugs will feature the artwork of Ilwaco artist Don Nisbett. North Coast Blues Band will play at the Chowder Taste Off. The Beards Hollow Pirates and Queen La De Das Mermaids will be entertaining.
One thing many people will notice about this festival is that the event has been designed specifically to promote one of the Peninsulas favorite causes, that of shopping locally. The Clam Festival features many local restaurants, artists, and entertainers, uniting our community and reminding us all of the areas rich history that makes the Long Beach Peninsula a top destination year-round, Dennis concluded.
The main event will be clam digging with low tide April 27 being a -1.2 at 8:37 a.m. and Sunday another run out of -1.2 feet will be at 9:24 a.m. Were bringing it back, has been Dennis, Schneider and the committees motto since January. So sight in those clam guns and get ready to dig the great event.