Outside Looking In
The Christmas Lighting Contest is over and done and it was beyond a success in many ways.
For one, it allowed people to have something to do in this shut-down coronavirus age we have been living in. When I drove around Minneota the past couple of weeks prior to the contest, I noticed individuals and families putting up lights and decorations. Not just those entering the contest, but nearly one in every three homes had some type of lights and/or decorations.
For another, the contest would not have been possible without the local businesses going above and beyond with their generosity. These businesses listed below heard about the contest in one way or another and wanted to get involved. Some of these places that do not sell actual products chose to donate gift cards from other businesses in town. And that keeps the money local and helps the small businesses during the pandemic period.
We initially were going to give $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. The amounts continued to rise as more businesses heard about the contest and wanted to donate. The posters placed around town listed the prizes as $500, $250 and $100 for first, second and third, respectively. Those amounts ended up being much more.
In fact, we even added a fourth and fifth place to the contest this year.
Also, if not for the many homeowners getting involved and registering for the contest, this likely would not have been as exciting for the judges, participants and residents as it turned out to be.
Since this was the first year for the Mascot's Lighting Contest, there will be a few tweaks to make it even better next year.
This year's contest involved city and rural residents that hold Minneota, Ghent and Taunton addresses. One complaint we received was that a particular person lived nine miles from Minneota that had a different address than the three aforementioned, yet one of the registered participants lived 10 miles away. We will look into those types of things for next year's contest.
The six judges we lined up also had to travel a lot of miles and spend a lot of time to view the 29 places that had registered. Some of them were difficult to find in the dark, but we were able to give each one a good look.
The two main categories that we judged on was Organization and Lighting.
For Organization, the judges were asked: "Are the lights and other displays neatly organized on the house and in the yard and not just randomly placed? Does the overall display seem to have a theme?"
For Lighting, judges were asked: "Are the lights colorful? Are the lights hung up neatly and not falling down? Are the bulbs all working?"
Participants were judges on a 1-10 point system (1 being poor and 10 excellent) for each category; a maximum 20 points possible from each judge.
Austin and Shannon Dritz south of Taunton was the winner this year. The winner received well over $500 worth of gift cards and merchandise, including several gift cards, large tool set, appliances, turkey, holiday decor, goodies and more.
Gus and Mayra Molina of Minneota received over $250 worth of gift cards and merchandise for second place.
Tom and Kim Abraham who live north of Minneota received over $100 in gift cards and merchandise for placing third.
Fourth place received $75 in gifts cards, while fifth place received $55 in gift cards.
Peanuts and Ali Kloos of Minneota were the fourth-place winner. Lynn and Barb Okrina of Minneota placed fifth.
We also saw many homes that should have registered for the contest based on the quality of lighting at their home. We hope they will enter next year.
I would like to personally thank those participating in this year's contest. It was fun for everyone involved and really had the communities "lit up" during this holiday season. It gave us a chance to forget about the pandemic for a little while.
Also, I want to give the sponsors and huge thank you for donating for the prize packages. They were:
AgPlus, B Lenore, Borch's Sporting Goods, Brad's Market, City Hall Bar & Grill, Countryside Auto, Crusty Pie Ladies, Doyle Insurance, Gislason's Ace Hardware/The Arched Door, Hometown Kitchen & Bath, KB's Bar & Grill, Larson's Furniture, Minneota Building Materials, Minneota Manor, Minneota Mascot, Minneota Veterinary Clinic, Prairie Winds Wellness, State Bank of Taunton, State Farm Insurance - Kevin Anundson, Tri-County Veterinary Clinic, Walnut Grove Mercantile, The Hitching Post, Universal Forest Products.