As previously announced by festival planners, the event will include an Agri-Heritage Photo Contest. Sponsored by Homestead Lawn & Tractor Co. and CPQ Professional Imaging Inc., this photography sideliner is being used to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the Ocoee Region’s agri-heritage.
Contest coordinator is Nancy Neal, vice president of communications for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, an organization that is providing some strong backing for the fledgling festival. Because of its grassroots heritage in the Charleston area, the cowpea has been picked to draw the masses to this tiny north Bradley County town once known as the Cowpea Capital of the United States.
The photography contest is seeking pictures from all corners of the Ocoee Region that depict farm work, crops grown in the region, rural scenic beauty, structures that are slowly disappearing from the agrarian landscape like old barns and farm buildings, farm machinery and all else related to agri-tourism.
The contest is already under way. Deadline for submitting entries is Aug. 10.
Anything captured by an amateur photographer’s camera from 2011 to present can be considered.
The competition is open to any amateur photographer — someone who does not regularly receive an income for photography — who lives in the Ocoee Region of Tennessee. This includes Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Polk and Hamilton counties. Young photographers, those age 13 and younger, are encouraged to enter the Budding Artists division.
A slew of additional categories will be included. They are Kids and Critters on the Farm, Grown in the Ocoee Region, Down on the Farm (farm work), Rural Beauty, Disappearing Landscape (barns, rural buildings and others), Production (machinery, technical aspects of farming), Agri-tourism (Corn Maze, Apple Festival, Country Fair, Apple Valley Orchard, Morris Vineyard and Winery, Farmers Market and others), and the Budding Artists.
Entrants may submit their own original photographs in digital format online, with no more than three photos per entrant. The contest will be judged by a panel of photography and communications professionals beginning Aug. 20. Winners will be announced at the Cowpea Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Winners with a good eye for all things photogenic, especially that which tells the story of agri-tourism in the Ocoee Region, will be in line for some well-deserved recognition.
The top two photos in each category will be part of a temporary display printed by CPQ Professional Imaging. It will be shown in the new Hiwassee River Heritage Center in Charleston. Also, the winners will receive recognition on the Cow Festival’s official website — www.cowpeafestival.com — as well as in local media outlets and on community websites.
What better way to document the presence, the beauty, the heritage, the people and the farm life of the Ocoee Region, and how the simple little cowpea played such a significant role in its history of agriculture? It was a way of life, and it was a lifestyle, that kept food on local tables while reaching out to the rest of a nation whose people and livestock relied on this nutritious food group for day-to-day sustenance.
For those interested in the photography contest, or in any facet of the International Cowpea Festival and Cookoff, visit the event website for full details — www.cowpeafestival.com. Questions may also be directed to Melissa Woody, vice president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce (423-472-6587) or festival co-chair Darlene Goins (423-413-8284).