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Nine photographers stood out in showing the Newton area’s best side in a special photography contest by the Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau.


The contest was launched, according to CVB director Melody Spurney, as a way for residents to deal with stay-at-home orders as the state of Kansas and the nation fight COVID-19.


"We’re all adjusting to staying at home and staying apart," Spurney said. "We wanted something fun that individuals or families could do to get some fresh air but still be respectful of public health guidelines."


The winners of a special spring Best of Newton Photo Contest were announced Monday, with the nine winning photos posted online by the CVB. Winners of the photo contest will receive a gift card to a local business and will be contacted to arrange for delivery.


The contest offered a much-needed something to do for participants, many of whom have been under stay-at-home orders for weeks.


For some, it offered an opportunity to pursue a new interest.


"I have extra time since everything is closed, and I have always loved photography just never have time to do it," said Mayra Lujang, one of nine winners of the contest.


The contest featured photos taken in downtown Newton and at safe social distances in other public areas in Harvey County.


"It was fun to get out of the house and do something by myself," said Eli Redington, the teen category winner. "... I am in the 4-H photography project and for eight years it has been a passion for me. Photography is a thing for me to do, and get out of the house."


The other winners included Mark Alexander, Carly Budd, Kristen Neufeld Epp, Matthew Gerlach,, Chuck McClary, Wendy Nugent and Vernon Overman.


For his winning photo, Redington walked a section of the Sand Creek Trail between Centennial and Athletic Parks.


Lujang’s winning photo caught the sun at just the right time, and provided her with a pleasant surprise.


"I never usually win any contest but it’s nice ... something to look forward to during times like these," Lujang said.


Both Redington and Lujang said activities like this photo contest are more important now than ever.


"I think they are important because they bring the beauty out for others to see when things don’t feel and look so great right now," Lujang said.


"At this time, those kinds of events are extremely important," Redington said. "It helps people who are just stuck inside. ... You see the great sights that Newton has to offer."


Spurney said the photographs will be used in future marketing efforts for the community and will be considered for the 2021 Best of Newton Calendar, which is expected in December.


The Best of Newton Photo Contest is typically held in the fall. Submissions for that contest will be accepted starting Oct. 1 and will run through Oct. 23.


Spring contest winners can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/VisitNewtonKS and at http://tonewton.com/spring-photo-contest.html.