By Michelle Colesanti

The Hillsborough County Fair celebrates the talents of the residents of the county each year at the fair. As part of this tradition, artists and photographers enter their works of art in the hopes of winning cash prizes and ribbons. Both competitions are judged by local artists and photographers of distinction. The two shows are an excellent opportunity for any resident who lives in Hillsborough County to enter either a fine arts work or a photograph and have the work displayed in a gallery setting and viewed by thousands of visitors to the annual fair.


This year, the Fine Arts Competition was judged by local artists and residents of Plant City, Debra Bryant and Michaela Messer. The Best of Show for the Adult Division went to Bebe Blackwelder of Brandon. Blackwelder is an amateur artist who entered an acrylic piece into the competition. Bryant, who spoke on behalf of both judges, said of the winning piece, “We felt the artist showed great attention to draftsmanship and color harmony. This piece has great universal appeal and the artist’s high level of skill is demonstrated superbly here.”

The winner in the Youth Division was Juliette Young, a high school student who entered a black and white pencil piece. Bryant said, “We agreed that the overall piece had strong execution in both the face and hands. Both of these are elements that are difficult to portray.”

One piece that was entered was a collaborative piece created by the Mural Club at Trapnell Elementary School in Plant City. This piece received a 2nd place ribbon. Mary Jane Wagoner, chair of the Fine Arts Competition said, “This is a great piece. I am glad to see some kids enter the show and get recognition for their hard work.”


This year’s Photography and Photography/Mixed Media Competition was judged by Jason and Nicole Hahn. They are professional nature photographers who specialize in capturing all of the amazing creatures and places that our planet has to offer.

Brenda Anderson is the chair of the Photography and Photography/Mixed Media Competition. Anderson said, “The judges were impressed with the quality of this year’s entries, especially those in the Youth Division.”

The Best of Show for Digital Color for the Youth Division went to Lauren Diedrich, a middle school student from Valrico. The Best of Show for Digital Color Adult Division went to Brenda Anderson of Plant City. The Best of Show for Digital Black and White Adult Division went to Mona Merriam of Valrico. The Best of Show for Mixed Media Adult Division went to Donna Holt of Plant City.

Anderson added, “I would encourage anyone who takes photographs, whether it is with a camera or a phone to enter the show.”

Artists and photographers are encouraged to enter next year’s competition. Read all of the rules carefully and submit your entries early and online.

For more information, please visit

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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.