By Kirsti Scott
Ocean Shores has celebrated beachcombing, glass float collecting, and the marine environment at the Beachcombers Fun Fair since 1985. This year, the Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo will continue to expand on the tradition at the Convention Center in Ocean Shores, Washington.
Alan Rammer, one of the board members for this year’s event, was instrumental in founding the first Beachcomber’s Fun Fair in 1983, but the festival had its roots in an even earlier event in Oregon. “In 1973, Amos Wood, author of Beachcombing for Japanese Glass Fishing Floats and considered by many to be the godfather of glass float collectors, asked me if I might be interested in assisting with the Beachcomber’s Fun Fair in Seaside, Oregon, which began in 1969,” Alan says. “I learned a lot over the next eight years about publicity, advertising, and the inner workings of organizing and managing a public event. In 1981, this event ended its 12-year run.”
Eager to continue the event, Alan approached the Ocean Shores and Washington Coast Chambers of Commerce. “I had the help of a very influential community mover and shaker named Erma Bedilion,” says Alan. “She introduced me (I called it ‘shopping me around’) at community events, and in 1985, with $1,500 from each chamber, I managed the first Ocean Shores Beachcombers Fun Fair.” The event was dedicated to promoting all of the various ways families could enjoy the beaches of Washington, with speakers, juried displays with awards, vendors, beach walks, and more.
In 2022, a small group of people got together to update the event. This year’s event on the first weekend in March incorporates some of the history of beachcombing and how it was instrumental in the survival of indigenous people and early settlers. “Glass fishing floats are the number one sought-after treasure on the Washington coast,” Alan adds. “Since so much buying, selling, and trading takes place at many of the tables, we felt the words ‘float’ and ‘expo’ needed to be in the title.” Beachcombing experts will be on hand to offer appraisals and identification of visitors who bring their beachy treasures for identification. “It is kind of a nautical Antiques Roadshow,” laughs Alan. Learn more at bit.ly/floatexpo.
Read more about Glass Fishing Floats
- Riding the Waves: Glass Floats From Around the World
- American-Made Glass Floats
- Beachcomber Interview: Alan Rammer
- The Glass Floats
- Washington: All in a Day's Work: Japanese Glass Fishing Floats
- Boat & Float Day
- Beachcombing Adventures in Japan and the Pacific
- Japanese Fishing Float Factory Tour (video)
- Floats of the Pacific (video)
- Japanese Sea Glass (video)
- The Eclectic Beachcombing Collection of Tina Terry (video)
- The Mystery of Sea Glass Strength
- Finders Keepers
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2023 issue.
Kathy–This is the premier float show but there are beachcombing festivals and expos of all types around the world. You can see a list of upcoming events at https://www.beachcombingmagazine.com/pages/community. It’s a great way to learn more and connect with others passionate about beachcombing!
Hi, Susan! There are plenty of displays at the event, filled with all kinds of things found on the beach. We will likely do a follow up story with images of some of the thousands of buoys, shoes, driftwood, rocks, and shells on display at the Expo.
Is this the only show of this type or are there others ?
After years of participation in this event, it certainly has a different feel. In the past we would receive a mailed program of sorts explains the various sections you could display your beach combed treasurers. The rules for years I stated 10 (ten) maximum floats per entry. Since we don’t live in this area, I was stunned to see tables running over with all types of floats.
Actually last year I felt a new vibe had come to the event. It doesn’t seem like an event to show what you pulled off the beach but more of an expo on who has invested the most money in acquiring various types of floats, glass being the goal.
That certainly is interesting but not exactly the geared to all types of found North West treasure. So if this is now a float show I am personally disappointed but wish nothing but the best for the hard workers that volunteer to make events popular and well attended.
Sincere thanks to all,
Susan C. Bonallo