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Sunday, June 28, 2009

SandFest Coming Soon to Oregon Dunes


SandFest organizers are pulling down a mountain on the North Spit to give more people an opportunity to experience the revived dune event’s second year.
Well, not technically a mountain, but a whole lot of sand. Organizer Terry Wilmeth said they are dune deconstructing in order to put the event vendors in a place more accessible for people who lack sand transportation.“Everybody from town can walk around and enjoy the event and they don’t have to worry about getting to the sand,” Wilmeth said.
SandFest 2009 has two phases this year. The first phase will start July 4 and will feature an air show organized with The-Mill Casino, Coos Aviation and the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. The “Salute to the Military” Air Show & Display will feature aircraft from World War I to the present, along with precision parachutists, aerobatics and a search and rescue demonstration from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Air Station North Bend.
The air show is a fundraiser for a memorial for Oregon National Guardsmen who died in Afghanistan when a flight was hit by Taliban rockets.The air show is expected to begin at about 11:30 a.m. and run to about 2:30 p.m.
People who can’t get enough of the planes can get up close to some of them at Coos Aviation on July 4. Coos Aviation line service manager Joe Pedro said a B-25 Mitchell bomber from World War II and two Korean War-era planes will be on display. The latter planes, a MiG 17 and a F-86 Sabre, will face off in a mock dogfight over the casino during the air show.Pedro said he doesn’t know yet what the price will be, but people can pay to ride in the B-25 while it’s at the airport on the Fourth.He said the air show was organized quickly this year, but he hopes it becomes something more than a last-minute bright idea for this Independence Day.“We haven’t had an air show in a long time,” Pedro said. “We are striving to get this to be an annual event.”
In addition to the air show, SandFest is bringing sand sports to town on Saturday and Sunday, with free supermoto racing at the Pony Village Mall. Wilmeth said the racing will be a chance for people who can’t venture out to the North Spit for the main sand party to get an idea of what it’s like.Also in the spirit of welcoming, SandFest will waive its entry fee for it second phase, a five-day dune event starting July 7.Wilmeth said vendors and all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts are all feeling the financial pinch this year, and organizers decided attendees needed a break. With camping and entrance fees, a family easily could spent $200 to $400 just to get into the event last year, and that didn’t include transportation, food and gas.“Just come on out and have a good time,” Wilmeth said. “Take that money and put it into the community where it belongs.”
Wilmeth said he still is trying to arrange a way to bring community members out on the sand, even if they don’t have ATVs.Wilmeth said Sand Dunes Frontier in Florence has offered tour vehicles to shuttle people to and from the sand event. The only problem is getting the sand buses to the North Spit. The huge vehicles can’t drive 45 miles on the highway, said Sand Dunes Frontiers owner Chuck Chapman.

With SandFest fast approaching, organizers are still trying to pull all the event features together, including the artificial movement of a dune.“We will take it to the last minute to make this an exciting event for everyone, even those without sand toys,” Wilmeth said.

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