Namekagon River Photo Contest Winners

Photographers found plentiful beauty along the river despite a dreary day.




4 minute read

Via the Namekagon River Partnership:

From a Single Drop, by Dave Thorson, Gordon, WI
From a Single Drop, by Dave Thorson, Gordon, WI

The day was gloomy, with mist, drizzle, and an occasional downpour filling the air, and yet the search for the best photo went on. Amateur photographers, of all ages and from across the region braved the elements and searched the river and its watershed for scenes that tell the stories of the Namekagon River.

‘A Day in the Life of the Namekagon,’ the theme of the 2nd Annual Autumn Photo Contest, was sponsored by the Hayward-based Namekagon River Partnership (NRP) and held Oct. 5 & 6. Contest planners chose the ‘a day in the life’ theme to create a special, one-day event to get people out to explore the river on one single day during the most colorful time of the year.

Making it a one-day event put pressure on photographers. The gray day made it a bit more difficult to capture that winning shot. As planned, the contest was extended to two days due to the weather.

“Although great photos are a goal, it is even more important to connect people to the river,” said Cindy Ferraro, NRP contest planning team member.

White-throated Sparrow in the Rain, by Kelly Nechuta, Hayward, WI.
White-throated Sparrow in the Rain, by Kelly Nechuta, Hayward, WI.

“The stories of the river are everywhere: beauty, history, color, wildlife, cultures, recreation, a National wild river, quality water, and watersheds – all have stories to tell. That is what we hoped to capture, and we did, despite the lousy weather.” said Ferraro, Seeley resident and a Director on the NRP Board.

The contest, is one event of many in the organization’s plans. “We feel this is a great way to help us in meeting our mission,” said Ferraro. The NRP is dedicated to supporting, promoting, and providing activities that enhance stewardship, awareness, and enjoyment of the Namekagon River, and its watershed.

To boost participation, a new age class (6 and younger) was added this year to focus on little kids. Our hope was that parents and grandparents would bring their kids and grandkids to the river with a camera and help make a memory for them. Although the rainy day hindered some participation, we did receive several entries.

Ryan Nechuta (age 4) took photos at the outlet of Lake Namekagon and really enjoyed watching the waterfalls. According to his mother Kelly, Ryan and his sister Lydia (2) threw sticks in the water and raced them down the rapids – their favorite memory of the day. They made a memory, and a connection!

Outlet Landing, by Kelly Nechuta
Outlet Landing, by Kelly Nechuta

Sisters, Greta (6) and Elsa (4) Maki, of Hayward, also spent time along the river near their home. They both love the river and call it ‘our river’ using words like ‘pretty’ and ‘quiet’ to describe it. Their mom, Kristy, says that when visiting friends on Lake Hayward, they find it hard to believe that it is the same river that flows near their home. They all had fun!

All three children entered photos that were award winners. From the critical eyes of the judges, picking the best photo was near impossible.

Pacwawong Passage, by by Cathy Zimmerman
Pacwawong Passage, by by Cathy Zimmerman

Judges Gary Crandall, Kristine Lendved, and Paul Ostrum volunteered their Saturday morning to choose the winners. “There are many talented photographers out there, and picking the best photo is easier said than done,’ said Gary Crandall of Cable. “Every single photo entered has a story to tell about the river, whether that is beauty, flowing water, or people doing things – they were all great! And for the little kids, we may have made a few allowances. After all we want this to be fun!”

”Photo-stories of the river, all taken on one single day, is an interesting concept and challenge,” says Kristine Lendved, Librarian of the Forest Lodge Library in Cable. “It is also an interesting challenge for the judges to pick winners. In our minds they were all winners.”

After two hours of viewing, discussion, and deliberations, winning photos were eventually selected. The photographer’s names were totally anonymous to the judges.

Adult Class

  1. From a Single Drop by Dave Thorson – Gordon;
  2. Pacwawong Passage by Cathy Zimmerman – Hayward;
  3. Toward the Ghost of Mt. Telemark by Emily Stone – Cable.

Honorable Mention winners were River Rocks, Namekagon Outlet, and Autumn Mist all by Kelly Nechuta – Hayward, and Pacwawong Pair by Jeanine Evenson – Hayward

Young Adult Class

Winner – Reflecting Maples by Paige Kollmorgen – Hayward.

Rocks at Peterson's Bridge, by Greta Maki (age 6), Hayward.
Rocks at Peterson’s Bridge, by Greta Maki (age 6), Hayward.

Kids (6 and under)

  1. Peterson Bridge Rocks by Greta Maki;
  2. Namekagon Sumac and River Cattails – tie, both photos by Ryan Nechuta;
  3. Diamonds on Plants by Elsa Maki.

All photographers were entered into a drawing for a Down To Earth Education Tour and Jeanine Evenson won that prize.

NRP President Frank Pratt says that due to the rather poor weather, participation was down from what we had hoped, but everyone that did go out had some quality time getting to know the Namekagon. And we got a new crop of photos that the NRP will use to help promote the river, and the organization.

Twelve photographers made a total of seventeen trips, entered 46 photos (5 max each), and spent a cumulative 24 hours searching for that perfect photo. Several participants indicated they loved the experience and hoped that the NRP would do this again. “Just by those comments the event was a total success – people connecting to the Namekagon River!” says President Pratt. “We will be doing this again!”