A new event at the Yellowstone Trail Festival looks to honor automotive history, while giving welders and artists the chance to showcase their work. Festival events director Juanita Ketcham says organizers are planning a first-of-its-kind re-purposed sculpture contest. “The Yellowstone Trail Festival has tried to incorporate reclaimed auto parts because we’re looking for a way to bring the automobile as a highlighted feature for the Yellowstone Trail Festival,” she says, “and I’m big into recycling, so I’ve been working on this project for 18 months.”
Ketcham says a bit of inspiration struck when she came across a picture of a dragon made of recycled metal. Since then, she’s been looking for a way to incorporate similar pieces into the local festival, “The hiring places in town always have a sign up that they need welders, so looking for ways to recycle and reclaim automobile parts or any other metal stuff that’s just laying around rusting and rotting into pieces of art or usable furniture or whatever their mind can think of was just a desire that I’ve had now for almost two years.”
However, Ketcham says planning for the contest really took off with the help of the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning. She says the contest will feature three different categories of artwork, based on the recommendation of SCILL Center coordinator of student services and programs Jerry Gurrado, “Abstract – they can create anything they want with it. He said an animate project would be something that looked like an angel or a dragon or a bench or a coffee table or something that we would recognize what it is. And then because they had some people interested in blacksmithing and forging, we created a third category for them, because their welding is different than the welding people would use to put the metal parts together for the other two categories.”
Sculptures will be judged by SCILL Center instructors, based on creativity and the quality of the weld. Projects will also be awarded bonus points for including recycled auto parts. The winner of each category will receive a $250 cash prize. On top of that, each sculpture will be auctioned at the end of the event, with 90-percent of the sale price going to the piece’s creator.
Ketcham says that SCILL Center students will receive extra credit for taking part in the contest, but it’s also open to artists and anyone else who may be interested. She says the contest has already been generating excitement among recycling and welding enthusiasts around the area.
While the contest is anticipated to start small this year, Ketcham hopes it will become a major part of the Yellowstone Trail Festival going forward, “I hope this becomes our signature because lots of festivals have car shows and lots of festivals have fashion shows and every festival has vendors, but I don’t know of any festival who has a recycled sculpture contest.”
The contest and auction will take place on Sunday, August 21, as part of the Yellowstone Trail Festival. More information and an entry form may be found on the Yellowstone Trail Festival’s website.