The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 4, although the resolution that led to its writing had been approved two days earlier, prompting President James Adams to say:

“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, fun, bells, bonfires and illumination from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” (From “John Adams” by David McCullough.)

Apart from slipping two days on the calendar to July 4, a ho-hum day back in Adams’ time, the former president’s vision became tradition: the Fourth of July became a big birthday party our nation throws for itself. In Telluride the day is marked by fireworks (sadly, cancelled this year because of the drought), floats, flyovers, a public BBQ, an outdoor Impressionist art show, and, for the past three years, the Hot Shot Photo Contest. The event is co-sponsored by Ah Haa, the Nugget Building, the Telluride Watch, the Steaming Bean, the Telluride Volunteer Fire Department, and Telluride Inside… and Out.

This year’s judges were Lars Carlson, representing Telluride’s all-volunteer fire department; Baerbel Hacke, director, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art; artist/photographer Lisa Issenberg; Town Manager Greg Clifton; Meghann McCormick, co-owner, the Steaming Bean; the Ah Haa School’s Lauren Metzger; and me (Susan Viebrock).

The challenge: select 3 top prize winners and 10 honorable mentions from among the 100 submissions to the Hot Shot website: 62 percent from Telluride and 39 percent from guests, including a shot from a student from Jordan, attending Wendy Brooks’ and the Telluride Academy’s Global Mountain Theatre. The criteria: artistic expression, creativity, originality, image quality.

Visitors, residents, hobby photographers, amateur photographers, professional photographers participated.

The top prize winner was a guest from California, Jay Wiskerchen of West Hollywood, CA. His photography, “Telluride Firefighter Pride,” smacked of Norman Rockwell populism in its simply elegant depiction of a fire truck, an American flag proudly displayed on its west end, as it headed east down Main Street. (Purple mountain majesties looming the background were implied.)

In addition to winning a $500 cash prize, Wiskerchen gets to see his framed photo exhibited in Ah Haa’s Daniel Tucker Gallery and auctioned off during the Ah Haa School for the Arts 20th Annual Art Auction, Friday, July 20, 2012.

Second place went to Michelle Fortin for her beautifully composed “First Parade.” An adorable kid and a flag?  Throw in apple pie and ice cream and we get America in the halcyon days of America in the 1950s. For capturing the good old days today, Michelle receives $300.

The third place winner hailed from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Her photograph, “Celebrate Good Times,” captured the energetic vibe of a day when everyone forgets their troubles, gets happy–  and in Telluride, gets down. Kristin Davenport wins $100.

The 10 honorable mentions included four Telluride locals: Olivia Graham, Sam Barnes, Melissa Plantz, and Caitlyn Borosak. All 10 receive cash prizes of $50 each.

The Audience Award went to Telluride local Soleil Gaylord for her image of a patriotic robin, “American Robin.” Soleil gets to see her photograph made into 100 custom (and bona fide) U.S. postage stamps.

“Tellurideʼs July 4th festivities, likely among the most fun and most imaginative in the nation for a small town celebration, deserve to be documented with fabulous photographs. I hope the ‘July 4th Hot Shot Photo Contest’ becomes part of Telluride’s proud tradition,” said Katrine Formby, sponsor, The Nugget Building.

Watch Clint Viebrock’s video to view all 14 images:

1 Comment
  • Michelle
    Posted at 14:46h, 07 July

    Thank you for your kind words about my photo, “First Parade.” I’m blushing! This is a fantastic way to mark my son’s first parade and our first family trip to Telluride. It won’t be our last! Congrats to all of the winners – so many beautiful shots.