2023 Cottage Grove Photo Contest winners


Four winners of the 2023 “Capture Cottage Grove” annual photo contest were announced at the Jan. 17 City Council meeting. The contest, now ongoing for more than 10 years, is held each fall, asking residents to submit photos for any of four categories to be considered for an award.
Submissions were accepted Nov. 20-Dec. 4, with a total of 78 photos being entered in the contest from residents.
The categories vary from year to year, and this year’s options were: Life in Cottage Grove, Business in Cottage Grove, Cottage Grove Parks or Landmarks, and Cottage Grove Celebrations or Events. Out of the four categories, there were three total winners chosen by the city. Each category winner receives a prize of $75.
Michelle Wind’s submission “On Cloud 9,” a joyful silhouetted piece in front of a bright blue-skied, wooded backdrop, was selected for Life in Cottage Grove. Gwen Martin’s “Cooling Off With Sparky,” depicting CG Fire’s Sparky the Dog spraying a fire hose on playing children, was chosen for Cottage Grove Celebrations and Events. Isaac Pavek, who won in two categories, took home the awards for Business in Cottage Grove (“Tank’s Family Farm,” a view of the historic local farm with the sun on the horizon) and Cottage Grove Parks or Landmarks (“Fall Bliss,” a crisp aerial view of fall-colored trees surrounding a pond near Ravine Parkway). Notably, Pavek has been previously selected for his photography work in the city’s photo contest in 2022.
The contest winners were decided by 59 members of Cottage Grove city staff in a blind vote, viewing only the photos along with the photographers’ chosen titles. The staff members chose their favorite photo in each category and the votes were tallied to determine the winners. The photographers who were selected were invited to attend the City Council meeting to be honored for their works being chosen.
At the meeting, the contest rules were briefly outlined to the council by Jaime Mann, the city’s Interim Communications Manager/Assistant City Administrator.
“We all know Cottage Grove is a beautiful place to live, and is full of talented and creative people,” she noted.
After displaying the winning photos, she invited Pavek, the only winner in attendance, to come to the front of the dais to be recognized by the council for his two winning submissions this year.
Mayor Myron Bailey greeted Pavek, saying, “Congratulations, right off the bat. I see you around town all the time, at all the events, taking pictures. So, the fact that you won two of these categories makes perfect sense with the amount of pictures that I see that you do.” He added, “Other than being selected by our staff with all of the different individuals that put pictures in, these pictures will also tell a story of our community. In publications and things that we’re going to be doing over the next year, I will be utilizing your pictures to show what are some of the exciting things, and the love of our community, here in Cottage Grove.”
Bailey presented Pavek with a plaque and an award check, concluding, “On behalf of all of our staff and everybody in the City of Cottage Grove, congratulations on winning these two categories in the Capture Cottage Grove Photo Contest.”