VIENNA - The Easter holiday season has officially begun with the fifth annual Mid-Ohio Valley Easter Bonnet Contest having taken place Thursday evening.
Participation for this year's hat-decorating contest was down with three children and five adults creating their hat and vying for the prizes and a chance to ride in a convertible in Saturday's Easter parade. Last year's contest had more than two dozen participants.
"I think there will be a lot of people wearing fun hats at PHS (Parkersburg High School) on Saturday morning," joked contest organizer Jessica Blankenship.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Sarah Gant, left, sits with Greg Gant and two-year-old Kendall Gant, all of Williamstown, during Thursday's Easter Bonnet contest at Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Six-year-old Anna Renee Phillips sits with a stuffed bunny rabbit she received as part of a prize package and her bonnet Thursday during the annual Easter Bonnet Contest.
This was said because the contest has traditionally been held the morning of the parade as floats and groups prepare the lineup.
"We decided to hold the bonnet contest on a separate night because the morning of the parade is always so busy that we didn't feel like we were giving the contest the attention it deserved," said Kiki Angelos, founder and organizer of the parade.
Blankenship said she hopes the move to hold the bonnet contest on its own evening will allow the event to grow.
"By moving it to another night from the parade, the contest will be more enjoyable and attract more people," Blankenship said.
As a run-up to the contest, Crafts 2000 in Park Shopping Center hosted a workshop for Easter hats and bonnets this past Saturday that saw about eight people join. Not all of the people who joined the workshop participated in the contest.
"I think as people realize how much fun and exciting making bonnets and hats can be and how creative you can be, this contest will grow," Blankenship said.
The judges for this year's contest were Julie Sellers, Sandy Guthrie, Sue Lyons and Ruami Dyck.
There were four prize categories - Most Creative, Most Artistic, Most Original and Most Reflective of Theme - for both the children and adult groups.
The winners for this year's event were:
Children: Most Creative was Anna Phillips of Parkersburg, Most Artistic was Kendall Gant of Vienna and Most Reflective of Theme was Alexis Hefner of Parkersburg.
Adults: Most Creative was Veronica Fields of Parkersburg, Most Artistic was Becky Blankenship of Parkersburg, Most Reflective of Theme was Jane Mancini of Parkersburg and Most Original was Linda Smith of Cutler.
Although only 2 years old, this was Gant's third time participating in the bonnet contest.
"She was only 4 months old when we entered her into her first Easter Bonnet Contest in 2012," said her mother Sarah Gant. "We decided that first year that we would make it a tradition and have her in this contest every year and we've been able to do it so far."
Gant said the family has enjoyed the contest for the past few years, as Kendall danced and ran around this year's event.
"She seems to have a good time with it and I hope she always enjoys it," Sarah Gant added.
The fifth annual Mid-Ohio Valley Easter Parade will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday with lineup in the horseshoe of Parkersburg High School.
This year's parade theme is "Hallelujah! He is risen!" and Angelos hopes local churches will participate in the 13 Stations of the Cross for the event.
Awards will be given to a commercial and non-commercial float.
Prior to the parade, there will be a free children's breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the stand-alone Chick-Fil-A on Grand Central Avenue in Vienna from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday.