Winners crowned in ‘Picture: Okeechobee’ photo contest

OKEECHOBEE — “We’re here tonight because we decided to celebrate Okeechobee with photography,” Main Street Art & Culture Director Bridgette Waldau told the group of photographers gathered with relatives, friends and a gaggle of spectators Thursday evening at the Historic Okeechobee County Courthouse.

Joanie Tomlin with her Best of Show winning photograph, “Hey Diddle Diddle.” Courtesy of Okeechobee Main Street.

“That’s how it got started,” Ms. Waldau stated, explaining that over 50 images had been entered in the inaugural Okeechobee Main Street juried photography exhibit and contest.

Andrew Hines with his second-place winner, “Sit a Spell” (top left).
Courtesy of Okeechobee Main Street.

Those were then sent to judge Rafael Pacheco, a professional photographer who lived in Okeechobee for a number of years but now resides in Michigan. He blindly picked the 28 photographs selected for the “Picture: Okeechobee County” juried show, and the 11 finalists.

“So what you see here,” she said, gesturing around the lobby at the framed photos hanging on the walls, “are the results of the first round. I think we might make this an annual event,” Ms. Waldau added.

The occasion was the artists’ reception for the inaugural juried photography exhibit and contest. Winners were crowned from among the 11 photographers selected to participate in the exhibit, who included both professionals and amateurs living or working in the county, and Ms. Waldau read a brief biography of each. Those chosen are Maureen Burroughs, Sharon Cannon, Janelle Folk, Andrew Hines, Tammi Kelly, Donald Le-Francois, Shirley Palmer, Andrew Tomlin, Joanie Tomlin, Dowling Watford and Paulette Wise.

Dowling Watford with his third-place winning photo, “Pioneer Home.”
Courtesy of Okeechobee Main Street.

The pictures chosen for the exhibit will be on display in the courthouse’s lobby through March 30.

A second round of blind judging, involving a second judge, Linda Eveleth, took place before the show opening. Although Ms. Waldau said it was “very difficult for the judges,” they somehow, incredibly, picked the same three photographs as their chosen prizewinners, she added, noting how high the odds were against that happening. She said the determining factor was “how they captured the feel of Okeechobee.”

Honorable Mention awards in each category were announced first, and they went to:

• Janelle Folk in the “Capture Downtown” category with “Coexist”;

• Shirley Palmer in the “Happenings” category with “Making Memories”;

• Paulette Wise in the “Wildlife” category with “Ignoring You, Mr. Blue Jay”; and

• Donald Le-Francois in the “Authentic Okeechobee” category with “Castles in the Sky.”

A Special Merit award was given to Andrew Tomlin for “Okeechobee Pier Sunset.”

The grand prize winners are:

• Dowling Watford, third place, for “Pioneer Home”;

• Andrew Hines, second place, for “Sit a Spell; and

• Joanie Tomlin, Best of Show, for “Hey Diddle Diddle,” which depicts a cow scratching its face with one hoof while a roseate spoonbill watches.

The show is part of the Okeechobee Main Street Artist Series.

Andrew Tomlin, Merit Award winner, with his “Okeechobee Pier Sunset.” Courtesy of Okeechobee Main Street.

At top left is “Sit a Spell,” Andrew Hines’ second-place winner, and at top right is the “Happenings” category Honorable Mention winner, “Making Memories” by Shirley Palmer. Photo by Chris Felker.

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