by Terry Duffy
Don't look now, but there's a new contest that's open to residents from all over the northern Niagara region.
Called appropriately "Niagara River Region USA - Autumn Beautiful," it's a celebration of the area's fall charm, says Aaron Dey of The Dory Trading Post in Youngstown.
Dey, originally from the Toronto area, is running this first-ever contest in cooperation with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and with the assistance of a number of community businesses. And to put it mildly, he's very upbeat on the northern Niagara region, its beauty, its charm and its people.
"We truly feel that not one community stands above the other when you talk about what makes the Niagara River Region great," says Dey. "The region as a whole offers so many wonderful things that make this one of the most wonderful places to live in the United States - a true treasure that we all appreciate. Not only because of the history and natural beauty - it's because of the people.
"And the talent represented by people in this region is incredible. This time of year just happens to be one of the most beautiful for the area and we want the talent that people have here to help express that. That is the genesis of the first 'Niagara River Region USA - Autumn Beautiful.' It's a contest to celebrate the natural beauty of the region during the fall season."
And it's open to residents from throughout the northern Niagara region - including the Lewiston and Sanborn areas, Youngstown, Porter, Ransomville and Olcott and Wilson.
"We picked the fall to showcase our contest because fall decorations go essentially from the beginning of October all the way through Thanksgiving in the United States," Dey notes.
As the popular Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Festival gets underway, area residents are invited to display their own autumnal creations outside their homes and vie for a chance to win some neat prizes, donated by area businesses. These include:
•A VIP family tour of the area's local national historical treasure, Old Fort Niagara, by Executive Director Robert Emerson. This tour includes areas of the fort not open to the public, including the secured archaeological finds, and the Fort Niagara Light House, which is only open to the public several weeks a year, says Dey.
•A custom-made art trophy and plaques awarded to the overall winner in each respective community by The Dory Trading Post.
Dey points out, "This beautiful, eclectic gift and art store supports and presents products from local artists, authors, photographers, vendors and historical venues of Western New York. We offer local-made and supplied gifts for all budgets."
•A "large" Niagara River Region gift package, courtesy of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce.
•A $20 gift certificate for breakfast at the Village Diner located in Youngstown.
"This little restaurant has one of the best views of the Niagara River at the mouth of Lake Ontario. For years it has been serving great food to residents of the Niagara River Region and beyond," says Dey.
•A $30 gift certificate for lunch or dinner at Brennan's Irish Pub.
"For over 20 years, Gary Brennan has created a friendly atmosphere to watch sports, drink and enjoy great food," says Dey.
•A $30 gift certificate from Ransomville's Baker Farms, which furnished the autumn decorations adorning the east side of Main Street in Youngstown, Dey notes.
The contest is now open and residents are welcome to participate and submit photos of their creations to The Dory. Dey says that Halloween decorations are welcome in residents' displays, but judges will be looking for "inspired decorations that have more to do with the harvest, natural colors and what the Niagara Region is all about."
To enter, simply go to www.dorytradingpost.com/win and submit a picture of your residential display, along with your name, address, and contact information.
"Upload your picture and hit submit. Judges will travel to view your display to see it live between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25. Winners will be chosen from each community," says Dey.
All entries must be submitted online by midnight Sunday, Oct. 20, in order to qualify for the judging.
Dey says viewers to the above sites will be able to post their "likes" to vote for their favorite. The entry with the most "likes" by midnight Oct. 29 will be the overall winner.
"Each community will have a winner and will be rewarded with a custom-made driftwood plaque commemorating their 'Autumn Beautiful' display," says Dey. "From the seven communities, a grand prize winner will be selected, and they will receive prizes from our sponsors of this wonderful community contest."
He invites area residents to participate. For more on this new contest, stop by The Dory Trading Post on Main Street in Youngstown or visit www.dorytradingpost.com.