Northern Lights award was surprise addition at FOTA presentation

NORTHERN LIGHTS: Scott Whitney (left) and Tom Hogenson (center) present Ed Mallett with the Northern Lights Arts and Entertainment Award on Thursday. Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation organizes the annual Northern Lights Award series to recognize community members who make significant contributions in different areas. (Pioneer photos/Lauren Fitch)

Ed Mallett received Northern Lights Arts and Entertainment Award, other FOTA contributors recognized for work

BIG RAPIDS – Amid the authors, poets and photographers recognized for their 2013 Festival Of The Arts submissions on Thursday evening, Ed Mallett was recognized for his continued contributions to local arts with a surprise presentation of a Northern Lights Award.

Scott Whitney, chair of the Arts and Entertainment Northern Lights committee, presented Mallett with the award during the FOTA contest award presentations at United Church. He noted Mallett’s work with STAGE-M, co-chairing Festival Of The Arts, founding Tuba Bach and many other types of involvement in community arts as what made Mallett a deserving recipient.

“It’s all the things he’s done in both arts and entertainment,” Whitney said. “We like to ambush (recipients) among their own peers because it makes it more meaningful for them.”

The annual Northern Lights Award series is organized by the Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation to recognize community members who make significant contributions in seven different areas that make up the acronym MECOSTA: Management, business and industry; Environment; Civics; Outdoor activities and sports; Social services and health; Training and education; and Arts and entertainment.

Separate committees select the recipients for each category and then make a surprise presentation of the award. Steve Miller, of Edward Jones in Big Rapids, sponsors the series.

As Whitney began the award presentation, Mallett first thought the award would go to his FOTA co-chair Carrie Weis, then FOTA board member Jerena Keys, then other artistic members of the audience. He was surprised and humbled when Whitney announced him as the recipient.

“It honestly didn’t occur to me until Scott said Tuba Bach,” Mallett said. “There were so many people in the audience who were deserving of it, so I was completely surprised.”

Mallett thanked the board members and other organizers who assisted him in planning various events and the audiences that attend performances for making his acceptance of the Arts and Entertainment Award possible.

In the scheduled events for Thursday’s award presentation, the winners of the photography contest, Haiku contest and tall tales contest were announced. A civic sculpture, “Vertical Wave” by Lee Brown, was unveiled. It will be installed near the Maple Street bridge.

Matt Yeoman and Bill Bitzinger revealed the winners of their photography contest, which was decided by popular vote. Jessica Lyons won the landscape category, Scott Randle won for his nature/wildlife shot and Nicole SanCartier won for both pets/animals and macro.

Nathan Allan was announced as a winner of the Haiku contest at the 2013 Festival Of The Arts contest awards presentation on Thursday.

The Haiku contest named two judges’ choice winners and two people’s choice winners; an 18 and older winner and under 18 winner was chosen in each category.

The judges chose Earl Waite’s Haiku titled “Future” for the over 18 division, and Nathan Allan, with his Haiku “Pond,” won the under 18 division. The authors of the people’s choice winners were unknown, but the pieces were titled “Conspiracy” and “His smile.”

Judges also selected the top entries in the tall tales contest to read their work at the awards presentation. Audience members then voted for their favorite piece.

Mikki Garrels was the judge’s choice winner in the over 18 division, and Amanda Smith won the under 18 division for judge’s choice. Robert Garrels and Gena Marek tied for the people’s choice award. The rest of the top tall tales authors included Earl Waite and Megan Stevens.

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