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7th Annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival - Poster Contest
     On April 16, 2002, the biting wind made the spring morning feel more like winter as Carol Thompson set out to the delta of the Nisqually river, north of Olympia, Washington. She had been invited to join two other distinguished artists as an adjudicator for a shorebirds poster contest sponsored by the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, a member of the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service.  The setting was indeed wild and beautiful beneath cold gray skies.  Grebes, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Canada Geese and Tree Swallows were some of the lovely distractions outside the generous windows that overlooked a tree lined marsh.  This was her first visit to the refuge, and certainly, she noted mentally, not her last.  She was warmly greeted by Outdoor Recreation Planner, Sheila McCartan and her assistant Danielle Dauri, who briefed her and the other judges, Milton Bard and Carol Wilson on the judging criteria. Carol Thompson, Carol Wilson, Milton Bard

     The contest was open to students in the Grays Harbor Washington School District, First through Sixth grades.  (Although Kindergarten was not officially qualified, there was one entry, which the judges promptly awarded an honorable mention).  The subject was shorebirds to include Dunlin, Dowitchers, Plovers, Sandpipers and Palaropes. (North American species only).  The medium was "anything goes" from crayons, poster paint, watercolor or pencil to string, cotton, yarn, paste, or  torn or cut paper assemblages. 
The decisions for the winning entries were based on originality, accuracy in depicting the shorebird, and artistic skill.  The adjudicators were to award first, second and third prize and honorable mention winners in each grade, and then choose one best of show.  Each child  that entered received a certificate of participation.

     The awards are to be presented during the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, April 27, 2002, 11:00 a.m., at the Festival headquarters, Hoquiam High School.  Posters will be displayed at the festival from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. April 27th, and 28th  (This is the seventh annual Grays Harbor Shroebird Festival, celebrating the Spring migration of shorebirds in Grays Harbor County).  From there the exhibit will travel back to the convention hall at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, and be on display in the month of May. 

     The posters were placed on long tables, (according to grade level) and judged in that order.  When the first graders artwork was finished the next grade level was laid out and so forth.  The process was of elimination, and setting aside the best of the best for the awards.  Two hours later all the artwork had been presented and judged.  With the tremendous amount of talent that had been displayed, the judging was not an easy thing to do. Best Of ShowThe judges stayed very close to the criteria, and as a working artist, and long time adjudicator for adult as well as childrens' shows, Carol found the end result to be quite satisfying.  The judges worked well together.  The final decision was to award the Best of Show, and at this point, they were required to set aside any foregone knowledge of the grade and age of the entrant and to judge the art solely on the criteria and artistic merit.  Carol and her fellow judges considered very carefully  the top six winners and made their final choice. The Best of Show was nicely composed, with good balance, skillful execution of the subject and accurate depiction of the shorebird represented.  It was painted in crayon with a whimsical glow of setting sun behind the bird.  The markings and coloration of the species was correct, and overall, the theme was properly adhered to. The judges all agreed.

     During the two hours that Carol was engaged in the serious decision making, her husband, Ed, digital camera in hand, was busily recording the activity outside.  Those Red-winged Blackbirds, Swallows, the Robin and the Grebe, were thoroughly researched for future paintings. The serene setting of fields, marshes, trees and cattails which are so artistically appealling, were also photographed.  The park has been "bookmarked" in her head as a favorite place to return to again, and again, at various times of the year to paint in plein air or research photographically.

To learn more about these wildlife refuge systems on the web, go to:

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© 2001 Carol Thompson