2019 Writing & Video Contest Results

Eight members submitted entries in the writing and video categories of the contest. Best of Show went to Ron Belak for his book “Fly Fishing Colorado’s Backcountry”.

Book, Fly Fishing Colorado's Back Country

Judge Mary Taylor Young said of the book: “Highly readable how-to guide with great descriptions and loaded with photos, angling help, and tips. An excellent, comprehensive guide, nicely illustrated with color photos of sites, fish, anglers, fishing flies as well as explanatory illustrations. This thorough, well-researched book covers how-tos of fishing and backpacking plus fish biology and management, while also being enjoyable to read.”

Writing Judge

Award-winning writer and naturalist Mary Taylor Young has been writing about the landscape and heritage of Colorado and the American West for 30 years. Her numerous books include Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years and Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey. She has published hundreds of magazine, newspaper and web articles and her “Words On Birds” column appeared in the Rocky Mountain News for 16 years. Mary was the 2018 Frank Waters Award honoree for exemplary literary achievement and a canon of writing that communicates a deep understanding, celebration, and love of the West. 

Video Judge

Ann Lukacs fell in love with photography at an early age, and has been working in the camera department in the motion picture industry for over 40 years. In addition to working on major studio feature films, she is an independent filmmaker. This experience has given her an insight into storytelling and how to combine the various elements of production to create the final film. Ann also sits on the Board of Arts for Colorado, a state arts advocacy organization, and has been involved with promoting film production to Colorado.

Writing Winners

(Judge’s comments appear in italics.)

24 Newspaper, Magazine, or other publication – articles/columns/editorials/short stories
 Ron Belak “Fish Intelligence and Learning,” Colorado Outdoors, Jan/Feb 2019 — Nicely researched and presented piece on the intelligence of fish, engaging to read and a worthwhile takeaway (I’ll even forgive the lead-in using the old “fish in schools” joke!).
2nd Maryann Gaug “The River’s Lesson,” Anne Sullivan Writers’ Forum, Sep 2018 — Lovely evocation of the river and its allure, leading into an account of a river trip and the lessons the river taught.
3rd Ron Belak “Recovery & Restoration at Trappers Lake,” Colorado Outdoors, May/Jun 2008 — A skillful interweaving of landscape writing, personal experience, angling advice and research to reveal a story of native species restoration.
Honorable Mention
Judy Lehmkuhl “Just Another Day at Gross Reservoir,” Mountain Messenger, Jun 2019 — Who wouldn’t love a piece that opens with a poetic bit of onomatopoeia?! Filled with energy and imagery, this whimsical piece carries a serious conservation message.

26 Newsletter and Web Writing
 Richard Holmes “Beyond the High Meadows,” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, Mar-Apr 2019 — Nice piece that easily takes the reader along on the hike. The grabber lead draws the reader in and reading. Good use of first person, making the narrative accessible. Good close ties it all up neatly.
2nd Virginia Staat “Tapping the Storyteller,” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, May-Jun 2018 — Nice essay examining the power of story to engage readers. The intro quote expresses the theme perfectly, then the writer takes readers neatly through how story works.
3rd Jack Olson “The Extraordinary Travels of a Drop of Water,” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, Mar-Apr 2019 — Creative use of narrative to explain the process of snowmelt feeding river systems, detailing the path of the Colorado River from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean.

28 Unpublished Written Works
1st Judy Lehmkuhl “Orion Kneels” — A lovely, evocative poem, with rich, vivid language that animates the night sky and draws in the reader.
2nd Maryann Gaug “Chilling Adventure in the Swiss Alps” — With vivid, first-person narrative, the author takes us along with her, cold and tired but awestruck, on a winter hut trip in the Alps. (Made me glad I was reading it on a sunny August day.)
3rd Richard Holmes “Beyond Adversity” — A nice, descriptive piece combining the scene, the author’s reactions and photography lore.

35 Books
1st Ron Belak “Fly Fishing Colorado’s Backcountry,” BookBaby, Dec 2018

Video Winners

(Judge’s comments appear in italics.)

30 Video
1st Ron Belak “Powder Day” — This video started off cute showing the time-lapse of snow accumulation for a “powder day”, as indicated by the onscreen text.  The telemark footage was a little long.  Any one of those shots would have been enough.  Would have loved some additional “powder” shots.  I wish the last two shots were not still shots.  However, the filmmaker did a good job of assembling shots to make this sequence.

31 Video Clips
1st Frank Zurey “Snow Geese” — This is a great clip. I love how the ducks fill the frame with their action. Great reflections. Great composition. There is a fun moment where you see one duck swimming across the middle of the screen going in an opposite direction. The camera doesn’t move and it lets the action entertain, which really makes it work well.
2nd Virginia Staat “Fishing for Roe” — Good segment on bear fishing. Interesting foreground action with fish splashing.
3rd Maryann Gaug “Close Encounters of the Bison Kind” — Good footage watching buffalo with minimum camera movement.  Really interesting when an off-camera buffalo crosses the scene.  After that, not much was happening so shot was over.