Christmas trees, tablescapes and other art items are entered in this year's Best in Show contest, free to the public for viewing and voting at the Vernon Filley Art Museum in Pratt.
One might think the Annual Filley Festival of Trees brings out the same types of Christmas decorations and finery each year, but one who thinks that is wrong. This year at the Vernon Filley Art Museum, 19 highly creative and uniquely interesting Christmas exhibits are on display, and there is something of interest for everyone.
The exhibits, part of a contest for Best of Show which will be announced on December 15, range from dazzling gold, pink and mauve of Annette Adelhardt's "Hope" entry to authentic antlers around a rustic lantern for a "Back to Nature Christmas" by Martha Wade.
"Many people find the look of nature in winter boring due to the lack of colorful blooms, green lawns and crops in the fields," said Wade. "However, Mother Nature makes up for the lack of color with an abundance of textures and subtle tints."
Items found on Wade's tablescape, the majority coming from Pratt County, are deer sheds, dried okra pods, cotton bolls, pheasant feathers and pine cones. Garland represents the evergreens, which do hold their color over the winter.
While there are some stunning traditionally decorated trees in the exhibit featuring candy canes, international flags and handmade ornaments, there are also pastel tree drawings, a miniature village and a tree decorated with vintage kitchen utensils.
"We have some amazingly creative entries this year," said museum co-director Brittany Novotny. "Every year we have new groups or people enter, and even those that enter every year do something different each time."
One item that has already captured several votes for Best in Show, evident in the nearby tally box, is an all-steel welded replica of the Trousdale Church, made by Pratt's own Dick Bixler.
"I've seen several people from the church where it is usually displayed coming in and voting for their church," Novotny said. "It's actually a replica of the church that was destroyed by the Greensburg tornado and this exhibit was donated by Bixler to the church."
Voting on favorites continues at the museum until 6 p.m. on December 15, when there will be a special reception to award the winner. The best part about the entire display and reception is that all are free to the public. The Vernon Filley Museum at 421 South Jackson Street in Pratt, is open Tuesday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with free admission November 15 through January 5, 2018.
The museum board of directors hopes the entire community will come in to enjoy the arts and explore the museum during the holiday season. To enhance that effort, the board has donated a special gift of a bacon-wrapped turkey, cooked by local chef Darrell Shumway, the winner which will be drawn from entry tickets from those who visit by December 15.
"We will announce the Best in Show Christmas exhibit and the turkey drawing winner at our December 15 reception," Novotny said.
The winner of the Best in Show award will receive at $30 gift certificate redeemable at the Filley Gift Shop or the Flower Shoppe. Free admission to the museum for visitors the next few months has been made possible by Bolen Office Supply, Pratt Energy, Maydew Thibualt Optometry and the Peoples Bank. Anyone is welcome to stop by and vote for their favorite Christmas tree or decorative exhibit during museum open hours. Remember, it's all free!