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HomeCulture & CommunityFestival of Owls Kids-Art-Contest draws thousands of entries from around the world

Festival of Owls Kids-Art-Contest draws thousands of entries from around the world

By Karla Bloem, March 21, 2024

This owl entry came from 12 year old Jue-Hsin Huang of Taiwan, Republic of China. (Photos courtesy of International Owl Center)

Festival of Owls Kids-Art-Contest draws thousands of entries from around the world


HOUSTON — In just over 20 years, the International Kid’s Owl Art Contest, hosted by southeast Minnesota’s International Owl Center, has grown from a local coloring contest in 2003 to a highly competitive annual international art competition.

The 2024 contest received nearly 4,000 entries from 33 countries and 29 US states. Winning entries were announced in February.

The creativity and talent of these young artists is amazing. In addition to the works featured here by Root River Current, selected entries in this year’s contest can be viewed on the Festival of Owls Kids-Art-Contest website (click on the thumbnail pictures to see full images of these great works).

Nine year old Lawrence Guangyu Wang of Texas submitted this owl entry.

The winners and about one hundred of the Owl Center staff’s favorites are displayed at the International Owl Center, in Houston, for a year, until next year’s contest is judged.

There is a table of art that is “free to a good home” at the Owl Center, given it would be impossible and prohibitively expensive to mail the art back to the entrants, especially since only about 10% of the entries came from the USA.

Each year in June a selection of the art is displayed at the Pump House Regional Art Center in La Crosse, and sometimes at other venues.

Twenty pieces of art are selected each year to make into a set of blank greeting cards, sold at the Owl Center and its online store. Each card features the name, age and home country of the young artist.

Most people would never want to try to judge the contest because the pieces are all so good. Thankfully a team of retired arts professionals (Les and Ruth Crocker and Diane Crane) enjoy applying their knowledge and discerning eye to judging the contest each year.

The contest is managed by Owl Center educator Andie Harveaux. Because it takes an enormous amount of time to log in every entry, provide participation certificates to all, and physically manage all the art, the Owl Center has been lucky enough to receive grant funding from SEMAC (the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council) to help cover some of the costs to run the contest.

The contest opens each year in August and entries must be received by January 15. Full contest information is available on the Festival of Owls Kids-Art-Contest page.




Karla Bloem is the Executive Director of the International Owl Center in Houston, Minnesota.


Root River Current’s coverage of the arts is made possible, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

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