The annual Shooting the Blueway Photo Contest is now under way, with a call for entries that capture the beauty and spirit of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.
The contest is part of the upcoming Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival that runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 7 throughout Lee County.
For those who aren't familiar with The Great Calusa Blueway, it stretches 190 miles and can be paddled year-round. Encompassing Lee County s coastal waters, from Cayo Costa State Park and Charlotte Harbor south through Pine Island Sound and the Sanibel-Captiva area, it continues through Estero Bay to the Imperial River in Bonita Springs and takes paddlers up the Caloosahatchee River through Fort Myers.
The photo contest winner in 2008 was Jeanette Chupack, who will be a speaker/presenter/judge this year. She resides in Cape Coral.
"There are all kinds of places in North Fort Myers where you can hook-up with the Blueways," said Lee County Parks & Recreation Blueway Festival Coordinator Betsy Clayton. "Examples include North Shore Park at the foot of the Caloosahatchee Bridge, or you could visit a preserve such as Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve. There's also Hancock Creek and Yellow Fever Creek."
There are three categories for the photo competition:
- Paddlers on the trail: people enjoying the trail, waterways and outdoors along the 190-mile Calusa Blueway.
- Nature photography: Flora, fauna, landscapes and more.
- Signs along the blueway: Calusa Blueway markers, access points, fun spots and more.
"Entries for the contest will be taken through October 1. There is no entry fee. Winners and runners-up will be recognized at a reception and photography session November 6 at Matlacha Park," Clayton said.
Prizes for top category winners will come from ABC Framing, a mobile-framing business that is the contest s sponsor, said Clayton. Winners will receive an enlarged, matted and framed version of their photo.
Winning entries might be published in magazines, newspapers and online publications.
Selected entries may also be featured on several websites, including the blueway site, calusablueway.com, the festival site, calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com or Lee County Parks & Recreation s site, leeparks.org.
John Socha is the owner of local Paddle Creek Outfitters, which sells and rents kayaks and has a bait shop in Marinatown Yacht Harbor in North Fort Myers. He said there are many great photo opportunities right in our own backyard.
"People have seen everything here from dolphins to manatees to many different types of birds. They've seen turtles and mullets jumping out of the water. Just before dusk, you can see bats under the Hancock Creek Parkway Bridge."
He said many of those who have rented or bought kayaks from him send him pictures of what they've seen. "One of my favorites is one of the sun setting, with hundreds of egrets in the trees. It is very cool."
He's posted many on his website, paddlecreekoutfitters.com
Socha said he's happy to talk to anyone who wants advice on where to go locally for photos. You can call him at 997-2248 or visit the shop at 3444 Marinatown Lane.
"Anyone who enters the contest or wants to learn how to take photos out on the water can attend a photography session on Sat., Nov 6," said Clayton.
The event will take place from noon to 1:30 at Matlacha Park. "It's free and we will recognize and show off the photo contest entries. We're going to have Mark Renz, photographer and past photo winner Jeanette Chupack there. People can come and learn for free with a nice little reception indoors."
Details can be found on CalusaBluewayPaddlingFestival.com. The festival itself will be Oct. 29 through Nov. 7.
Submissions must be taken along a Lee County waterway and include a photographer s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and title and location of photo. Three entries are permitted per photographer; amateur photographers only. E-mail entries as one high-resolution photo jpg attachment at a time to email@example.com by Oct. 1.
Several festival events will be held in North Fort Myers, Clayton said.
"There is a paddling trip planned in North Fort Myers as part of the Blueway Festival. On Monday, Nov. 1, it starts at 10:30 a.m. leaving from North Fort Myers' Judd Park and that launches right on to Yellow Fever Creek. It is free, but have to bring your own kayak."
To RSVP or sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, Nov. 5, at UpRiver RV Resort, officials from the resort, Manatee Park, Conservation 20/20 and more will hold a special program from 8 a.m. to noon.
"Come visit a premiere RV resort on the Caloosahatchee River with free presentations offered on topics such as kayaking, Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve, manatees and The Great Calusa Blueway," said Clayton.
Socha from Paddle Creek Outfitters will be there to help with kayak demonstrations.
A tour of E.C.H.O. (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) will also be offered for $5 per person.
Gather at 8 a.m. at UpRiver's main building for a free breakfast buffet at 8 a.m. followed by free speaker presentations. The resort is located at 17021 Upriver Drive, North Fort Myers.
Call 533-7474 for information and questions on any activities or e-mail email@example.com.