Out Our Back Door By Tom Baake
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Open Beaches are the Original Fun Factories  
By Tom Baake
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Visitors enjoy the legacy of Oregon’s Open Beaches Act, marking its 50 anniversary this year.

We’re nearing the midway point in fairs and festivals season so I hope you’re pacing yourselves because there’s still plenty of fun left. In fact, one of the really big annual events is actually called the Fun Festival (it won’t be until September) so that should settle any questions about our priorities. Yes, the South Coast turns into a full-on fun factory just about every weekend in summer and fall, with everything from cardboard boat races to county fair pig scrambles.

It occurred to me that the beach is the original fun festival, so to speak. It’s what has drawn people here for many generations and it’s still among the top attractions, if not the main go-to destination. One of my favorite scenes – which I’ve actually seen repeated several times, with only minor variations – is of the family carload from someplace like Kansas. They’ve been crammed together for what seems like days on this quest to the coast, and the kids are getting antsier by the minute as they close in on their goal. And then finally, here it is, the famous Pacific Ocean. The car pulls over and the kids pile out, shedding articles of clothing as they race joyously to the surf. I don’t know why they always act like it’s Southern California or somewhere the ocean can actually be entered without a wetsuit, but there they go, plunging in. And plunging out! “It’s c-c-c-cold!” they scream.

Meantime the parents have bundled up for a walk in the fog and/or wind that has thrown its daily blanket over the South Coast. They come reluctantly behind the kids, shaking their heads at this strange version of summer in this strange place called the Oregon coast, and wondering if it was all worth it – but then the antics of those crazy kids banishes all doubt.

They run, pretending they’re gulls or something, or dragging long ropes of bull kelp around, or starting esoteric collections of colorful rocks, or all manner of things. As I said, it’s sort of an ever-changing show with fresh material delivered with every new tide.

As mentioned in previous columns, Oregon is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Open Beach Act. Events are planned in many coastal communities this summer, including this Friday, July 7, at the free Surfrider Beach Party at Sunset Beach State Park. There will be games for the kids, grilled fish and oysters, beer and more! Feel free to bring your favorite sides to share. Dancing music will be provided by the Rogue Rebellion.

Another fun “beach” type event coming up is the Southern Oregon Kite Festival in Brookings on July 15 and 16. Free and fun for all ages, the festival is celebrating 25 years of “colors in motion,” with more than 30 nationally and world renowned kite fliers expected to be on hand to showcase their creative designs and colors. This two-day event is unique in that it’s non-competitive, with the invited fliers showcasing their individual talents in routines choreographed to music.

The action actually kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 14, with the fourth annual Indoor Kite Flying Demonstration in the Brookings-Harbor High School gymnasium located at 625 Pioneer Road. Kite fliers experienced in indoor flying will entertain the attendees with their talent and without any available wind. Get details at www.southernoregonkitefestival.com/

And so summer hurtles by, with loads of events and activities still to come. Can’t make it to the parties and festivals? Well, the beach will always be there, thanks to forward-thinking citizens and officials who fought for the landmark Open Beach Act in 1967. If nothing else, you can honor their efforts by enjoying the simple pleasure of a visit to the beach – maybe the fogbank will hold off for a nice sunset.

(Shopper columnist Tom Baake is author of regional guidebooks.) 
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