The first ever Farmers’ Market Poetry Contest was a success! On April 20th, the contest was announced with a deadline of April 30th to give enough time to select winners before the Lake County Farmers’ Finest opening market on Saturday May 2nd at Steele Wines in Kelseyville.
The opening day of this year’s farmers’ market was previously going to include the first Poetry Pop-Up at the Farmers’ Market, an event that started in 2018. Since this couldn’t take place on opening day due to the Shelter in Place and physical distancing recommendations, the poetry contest created by myself in partnership with Lake County Farmer’s Finest and the Lake County Bloom took its place to both support and encourage local writers and celebrate opening day of farmers’ market season.
A total of 22 contest submissions were received from Lake County writers from all around the lake of different ages and writing experience. A reading panel of 5 Lake County residents made the winning poem selections. Submissions were read blind without knowing the names of those who wrote the poems until after selections were made.
The first-place winner was Diane Tulley for her poem 65-Year-Old Garden. The second-place winner was Ariana Weinert for her poem The Market Season. The third-place winner was Mia Ruiz for her poem The Golden Peach. Each winner was awarded a monetary amount in market money to use on fresh goods at the market (funds were sponsored by Lake County Bloom and Georgina Marie), had their poems on display for the market’s opening day, and their poems are being published in the Lake County Bloom. The remaining contestants have the opportunity to have their poems posted on the Lake County Farmers’ Finest website.
The reading panel for the contest was impressed by each submission received and encourages all of the writers to keep writing! The poetry contest was a great example of community in spite of the current circumstances with COVID-19. It was especially exciting to see market-goers reading and taking pictures of the poems on display a the market. I hope to organize a similar contest in the future.