Friends of Council Grounds State Park hosting ninth annual photography contest

By Tina L. Scott

MMC Staff

MERRILL – The Friends of Council Grounds State Park are again holding their ninth annual amateur photography contest in 2023, and they want to encourage visitors to Council Grounds State Park, located just north of Merrill, to “come and enjoy the park and remember to bring a camera along and take photos for the contest.”

Park visitors in previous years have captured some wonderfully unexpected and candid images of animals in the park and people enjoying Council Grounds, as well as great images of plants and landscapes, to enter into the contest.


There is no cost to enter and the rules are few and easy to follow.

All photos entered into this year’s contest must have been taken within the boundaries of Council Grounds State Park between Aug. 1, 2021, and July 31, 2023, (a two-year period), and each person can enter only one photograph, so pick your best image to enter.

Professional photographers and anyone who sells their photos are not eligible.

Images must be in color, submitted as high resolution digital JPEG files, emailed to [email protected], and may only be submitted between until Monday, July 31.

Keep images at their original aspect ratio – don’t crop them into weird thin photos – for best results. No panoramic, digitally enhanced, or altered photos. Submit images that can be enlarged and clearly printed in an 8-inch by 10-inch format.

Photos can be submitted in one of four contest categories, so submit your photo in the best category for your photo’s subject matter.

Photo contest categories are:

  • Plants (includes wildflowers, trees, shrubs, fungi, berries, cones, etc.)
  • Wildlife (includes animals, birds, insects, etc. – anything found walking, crawling, hopping or flying in the park)
  • People using the park (includes people engaged in any activity in the park – walking, hiking, cooking, swimming, biking, fishing, exploring, just relaxing, etc. Please do not include photos with recognizable faces of people.)
  • Landscapes (includes broad scenes, sunsets, sunrises, rivers, etc., but remember, no panoramic images. This is the most popular category.)

Each photo submitted must include Contest category, date taken and photographer’s name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number

By entering the contest, photographers verify the image is their own and agree to have their submitted photos used/copied/displayed/published (without fee or compensation) in conjunction with the contest, including in local publications, in articles relating to this or future contests; online at the Wisconsin Parks Website, on the Friends Facebook page, etc., and displayed in the Park contact station; on cards or postcards for sale by the Friends Group; and/or saved or re-used for any future purpose by the Friends of Council Grounds State Park group.

Any photo that does not comply with the contest rules, is not properly labeled, or is deemed inappropriate in any way by the Friends of Council Grounds State Park Board will be rejected.

Contest judges, DNR employees and Friends Group members and their families are not eligible to enter.

Complete rules are available online at or on the Friends of Council Grounds State Park Facebook page.

Copies of complete rules are also available at the Park office and in the entryway at the Merrill Chamber of Commerce office.

This photo of a developing tadpole was entered into the Wildlife category in a previous year’s Friends of Council Grounds photography contest. Photo by Gregg Warning.


After Monday, July 31, a panel of judges from the Friends Group will narrow the entries down to the top three in each category. Photographer names will not be revealed to the judges. Any category with fewer than eight entries may be canceled.

The three finalist photos in each category will then go to public voting to determine the final first-and second-place winners in each category. Public voting will take place from Tuesday, Aug. 15 through Thursday, Aug. 31.

Finalist images may be viewed on the Friends of Council Grounds State Park Facebook page, at the Park contact station, and at the T.B. Scott Free Library in Merrill.

The public will vote on their favorite single image on the Friends of Council Grounds State Park Facebook page or by emailing their vote for their favorite image to [email protected]. Only one vote per person. Duplicate votes will be eliminated. 

Winners will be notified and announced in September.

First-place winners in each category will receive a 2024 Wisconsin State Park vehicle sticker. Second-place winners in each category will receive Council Grounds merchandise or a gift certificate valued up to $15.00.

This photo, though not a contest entry, is a colorful example of the kind of image that would make a great entry in the Plant category. Photo by Laurie Nikolai-Svetlik.
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