Chamber launches Maskie Awards

Posted 7/2/20

Masks are now required in Washington state and some creative Jefferson County residents are making the best of it.

The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first-ever Maskie Awards, …

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Chamber launches Maskie Awards

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Masks are now required in Washington state and some creative Jefferson County residents are making the best of it.

The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first-ever Maskie Awards, a friendly competition created to encourage mask-wearing and doing fun activities while staying at home. 

The contest began June 26, the first day of the masking ordinance in Washington state.

Submissions are open until July 17, and everyone who lives or works in the county is invited to participate. 

Anyone with an interesting mask design can submit a selfie photo wearing their mask, which the chamber will post to its Facebook to spread both the community’s creativity and awareness about the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Designers are encouraged to be creative, but few other rules apply. Sample masks range from intricate-woven moss to a bright arrangement of traffic cones.

“People are thinking beyond the box, and that’s a good thing. There’s more fun than fear,” said Arlene Alen, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Alen doesn’t want potential entrees to be intimidated by the impressive examples and hopes new submissions will roll in once people see more “normal” masks on the Facebook page. However, the fanciful masks do help to “stretch their imagination,” she said. 

The submitted masks take various forms. Two recent entries on the Facebook page include an air-conditioned Star Wars helmet and a bra cup, both being used as masks.

“We have such a huge creative arts community in Port Townsend, but arts and business rarely intersect,” Alen said.

Most people entering the contest are business owners, Alen said. She hopes that this contest helps owners make working while wearing a mask fun for their employees.

“People are having fun with it instead of being traumatized by it,” Alen said of the mask mandate. “We can be fun with it. We can have a good time. It is what it is.”

Submissions will be compared in a blind judging by chamber staff. The mask designer who wins the final prize will get a Maskie Award trophy and gift certificates to local businesses. 

“And huge bragging rights,” Alen added. 

There will also be smaller-scale contests held various times throughout the submission window.

“The creative arts community could use some perking up because they’ve been shut down, their whole year was canceled. This gives them a creative project to do from home,” Alen said.

The contest began as part of the JeffcoCARES program, which has been encouraging businesses to make a pledge to encourage wellness for staff and community. 

Port Townsend Wearable Art and the Jefferson Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls also helped create the contest. 

Regardless of the success and underlying message, Alen doesn’t want to see the Maskie Awards continue forever.

“We’re hoping this is the only Maskie Awards that we ever have to have in Jefferson County,” Alen said.

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