Ansonia Lumber Co. held its 28th Annual Wooden Toy Contest
ANSONIA– Nineteen contestants entered homemade wooden toys in the Ansonia Lumber Co.’s 28th Annual Wooden Toy contest this past Saturday morning.
For their efforts, six winners in the adult division and three in the youth division received prizes for their efforts. Scott Phillips of The American Woodshop, a cable television show on Saturdays, returned again this year to do the judging of the only contest of its kind that he has agreed to do.
As a result of the lumber company’s and the entrants’ efforts, Operation Christmas Cheer received the toys as they have for the last few years and are expected to deliver them to needy children in the area at Christmastime.
Winners in the adult division were: a circus block set, designed by Cathy Liening and made by her husband, Roger, first place; a marble game, entered by Kenneth Pence, second place; a tank, made by Harry Niswonger, who turned 97 this week, third; a school house made by Jim and Rich Hampshire, fourth place; a rocking chair, semi hauler and car and airplane, entered by Neal Pleiman, fifth place; and a basketball, gumball, aggravation and tic-tac-toe game, sixth pace.
First place in the youth division was Owen Marker, with a chess/checkers game; second to his brother, Lucas Marker with a croquet set; third to brothers owen and Gavin Frey of Defiance, whose grandparents, the Lienings, brought the boys’ Plinko game to the contest; and fourth to Max Lentz with wood animals.
Other adult entrants and their entries were John Burnett with a toy box and jewelry box; Gerald Brehm, with two cradles; Earl Goewert with an Army tank and livestock truck; Mark Burns with a white oak and walnut dozer; Michael Foreman with a truck and front-end loader; Neal Burns with a duck pull toy; Mitch McCabe with two airplanes; Brad Lentz with a Connect 4 game; and Allen Cox with a marshmallow crossbow.
When checking out the circus entry, Phillips remarked, “I’ve never seen anything quite like it and a real ringmaster. That toy will take children everywhere.”
Looking over the entries, the judge went on to say, “I’m on fire because of what’s going on here. Mitch (McCabe-the contest organizer) you’re the glue. I can’t imagine the amount of time it took to make these things. As I look at these, I am humbled by your acts of kindness.”
Phillips went on to say that he likes toys that make people think.
“There is no limit to the goodwill in this room,” he said. “They’re doing it for the time, not the money. This is what Christmas is all about.”
He admitted he was emotionally drained to make the calls he was making in his judging.
“I’m trying to share good ideas to make life better,” Phillips said. “Everyday here is Christmas to me. When I come here, I think about the emotions children are going to have. Look at these wooden wonders. Thanks for making this holiday what it is meant to be about.”
The judge’s favorite, it seems annually, are weapons for Christmas as he took a shot with the crossbow, whose marshmallow landed across the room.
“I just like expressions,” he said.
Phillips, too, was presented a gift from one of the entrants, Ron Myers, who made a hanging sign featuring two boards. The top board read “Proud Woodworker” and the bottom board read, “In it for the outcome, not the income.”
Phillips proudly accepted the gift and said he would hang it up at The American Woodshop.
Entrants and others attending the contest were presented with other take-home gifts provided by the Ansonia Lumber Co. and some of the entrants; as well as Frank Miller Lumber Co. in Union City, Ind., who traditionally gives those who compete extra lumber to take home.
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Video by Michael Blackwell