By: Bonnie Davis Guy
The Johnson County Welcome Center and Museum, along with sponsors from the Garden Barn and Triple C Trucking, hosted a birdhouse building contest throughout the month of March. Contestants from all age groups and walks of life entered the competition. The birdhouses were truly unique, ranging from the most elaborate two story models to the simple and rustic to every imaginable style in between. Some 50 birdhouses were entered in all with some builders entering more than one design. On Friday, April 1, the top three winners were announced and prizes distributed.
Anyone interested in birdhouses was invited to stop by and place a vote for their favorite entry and winners were determined by the number of votes received. The overall winner was entry number 33, a rustic birdhouse made out of firewood by 10-year-old George Grill. Second place went to Earl Price with a wooden wringer washing machine birdhouse. The third place winner was awarded to the late Jene Pearce. Each winner received merchandise of their choice from the Garden Barn such as 50-pound bags of birdseed, praying hands statue, humming bird feeders and other goodies as well as a check from Triple C Trucking.
Although the winners were announced via local radio early Friday morning, George Grill’s mom managed to get him to school at Mountain City Elementary without him knowing the outcome. George, along with his brother Christopher, sister Kristen and mother, Tonya, arrived at the welcome center after school Friday to find out who the winner of the contest was. George was greeted by welcome center director, Kelly Turner, and given the news that he was the top winner. A grin spread from ear to ear when George realized what was going on and received his prizes. Others in attendance and ready to congratulate the winners were Alderman Bob Morrison, Earl Price, and Cindy Church from the Garden Barn.
George says he simply thought up the birdhouse design and used firewood to build it. He did the work by himself and did not use any books or plans, and relied on his imagination and skills. He also said he had never made a birdhouse before so this was a first for him. When asked if he thought he might win, he answered, “No, I thought Mr. Price was going to win for sure.” George picked a praying hands statue as his prize from the Garden Barn. He says he plans to spend some of his winnings but he will save at least half of his cash prize. Besides being a student at Mountain City Elementary and building birdhouses, George also is involved in 4-H, basketball, baseball, and Pathfinders.
Price, the second place winner, has been building birdhouses for many years. He entered several in this contest including a wringer washer, old mill, lighthouse, water mill, moonshine shack, and country church. He plans on more entries for next year’s contest. Price chose a 50-pound bag of birdseed to use in his beautiful houses as well as accepting his cash prize. He said he really enjoyed making his entries and especially enjoyed knowing people like them and voted for them. Some of his entries have sold to those voting as well.
“The third place entry was a very emotional one,” says Turner. Gene Pierce made beautiful birdhouses before his passing last year. His wife Kathy entered the contest in his honor and plans to donate any winnings to the Johnson County Cancer Support group in his memory. Kathy was unable to attend on Friday afternoon when the prizes were distributed but has remained in contact with Turner at the welcome center and shared her feelings of pride for her late husband’s work.
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