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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

J.R. ROWLEY MUST have been “Rockin’ and a Chirpin’” after learning this was a hit with the judges. Rowley’s birdhouse tied for best in show – chosen by the hundreds of people who streamed into the store to check out the creations.

Birdhouses Stir
The Imagination

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — November 29, 2005 – It’s certainly fitting.
An old home converted into a store by a banker/artist and his diplomat partner is now home to the county’s first contest entirely based on putting the artist’s touch on homes for our feathered friends.
The Blue Victorian on Jeffersonville’s main drag played host to the grand opening of its second annual Birdhouse Competition Friday evening – opening just as crowds streamed into town to grab the best parking spots before the holiday parade began.
The store’s co-owner, Maurice Seaton, said it’s a way of giving back to the community.
His partner, Greg Brooks, is head of the village Chamber of Commerce, and the two devised a way to attract people to Jeffersonville on the night of the parade while offering an outlet for the community’s creativity.
An open call was made for entries of all shapes and sizes – from people of all ages.
“Everyone welcome,” it said. “Artists, non-artists, and children, too.”
“Cash prizes,” the sign said.
Creations were to be dropped off at the Blue Victorian by Nov. 21.
That was where the list of rules ended.
And it’s where the creativity began.
By late Monday, about 35 entries had been dropped off at the store – and there were no birds of a feather in this bunch.
Each was distinctly different, from the medium used to create the masterpiece (“I hope someone doesn’t eat a piece of the roof,” Seaton joked of a chocolate creation submitted by The Three Chocolateers candy shop in Jeffersonville) to the subject matter.
On display with an elaborate recreation of the Guggenheim museum (aptly named the Sparroman R. Guggenbird) was a simple shoe filled with bits of straw.
A detailed model of the Stone Arch Bridge created by Robert Justus (winner of best in show for the second year in a row) was joined by a Chicken Little-themed home created by 5-year-old McKinley Bernitt of North Branch.
“We’re so impressed with the creativity people have displayed,” Seaton said. “We were looking for something that would spur people’s creativity.”
It sparked an interest for the Sulis children from Liberty.
Alexander Sulis, 9, said he and his brother and sister looked around their home for “resources” to make their “Mobile Home.”
Literally a mobile that hangs from the ceiling, their house was actually three little homes made of wood and bark and pieced together by small hands.
The Sulis children had help from their friends Matt Frost and Jordan Wright, and it was a lot of fun, they said.
Eight-year-old Nicholas’ eyes lit up when he explained all it took to put the homes together.
“I like to nail,” he admitted. “And it was great that we made it all together.”
The children’s bark and wood creation was one of many, while other artists pulled out all the stops, using clay, stones and, of course, feathers.
“There’s no limit on what you can do – somebody used a tea kettle last year, somebody used a shoe this year,” Seaton noted.
“It’s really where the creativity takes you.”
That’s what makes the competition so special for the Blue Victorian’s owners, he noted.
“We would have had the store open for the parade anyway,” Seaton explained. “It’s not that it’s for holiday sales . . . it’s our way of giving back to the community over the holidays.
“As long as the community supports us, we’ll continue doing it.”
The store handed out more than $150 in prizes this year – all based on the popular vote.
As shoppers and oglers left the store, they were offered the chance to fill out a paper ballot.
Gift certificates were awarded to the theme categories, and even the younger winners in the two children’s categories received $25 apiece.
Justus’ Stone Arch Bridge was a shoo-in. The piece will be on sale at the store, and proceeds will benefit the JEMS Briscoe Dam project.
But he shared “Best in Show” with J.R. Rowley’s Rockin’ and a Chirpin.’
Rowley’s house is also for sale, and proceeds will go to the White Sulphur Springs Fire Department.
Category winners included Duane Domutz for “The Acrowpolis” which was awarded Most Classical.
Cindy Herbert’s entry, “Ice Palace,” won Best Fantasy.
“Stone Arch” also took Most Locally Historical, and “Rockin’ and Chirpin’” won for Most Musical.
Children’s category winners were Max Kotsonis, 6, first place for his entry “Glitter House,” and McKinley Bernitt, 5, second place for her “Chicken Little House.”
In the 12-16-year-old category the winner was Jason Lubniewski for his entry “Paradise by The Sea.”
All of the birdhouses will remain on display through January 31. The store is open Thursday through Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Dec. 15 through Christmas, the store will be open daily.
Seaton said it’s worth coming down just to get a look at all the different birdhouses.
“It’s something different,” Seaton said. “It’s hard to be unique.”

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