Dustyn Blindert, of South Lyon, took the Best in Show title with this image of his wife paddleboarding on an Oakland County Parks lake.

Dustyn Blindert, of South Lyon, took the Best in Show title with this image of his wife paddleboarding on an Oakland County Parks lake.

Photo provided by the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department


Oakland County announces photo contest winners ahead of busy winter activity season

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published November 26, 2018

 Jennifer Blindert submitted this image, titled “Beaver Hut Byway,” in the recreation category.

Jennifer Blindert submitted this image, titled “Beaver Hut Byway,” in the recreation category.

Photo provided by the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department

OAKLAND COUNTY — If you head to Oakland County parks in the spring to see the birds return, or in the summer to see the fireworks, or in the fall to watch the leaves change, you’re not alone.

But in the winter, the parks are just as picturesque, with plenty of fun things for the whole family to do.

Really. There are photos to prove it.

Each year, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department hosts the Pics of the Parks photo contest that draws hundreds of entrants from around the county, eager to show off their images of what the local parks experience means to them.

The contest runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, and the winners of the 2018 Pics of the Parks were announced in October.

“Every year, I’m amazed by the entries we receive for the photo contest. It’s as if the photographers know just the right time and location to capture the nuances of the daily activities of the parks — the wildlife in their natural habitat and our park visitors at play,” Oakland County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Dan Stencil said in an email. “They capture the emotion and feeling of how important it is to spend time outside and reconnecting with family and friends.”

This year’s top showing, chosen by radio personality Spike, of WKQI FM Channel 955’s “Mojo in the Morning” show, went to Dustyn Blindert, of South Lyon. His image, “Sundown SUP,” was taken at Orion Oaks County Park and was named Best in Show by Spike, a photographer himself.

“This year’s photo entries capture Oakland County residents enjoying the parks in so many different ways,” Spike said in a press release. “But the winning photo highlights Michigan’s real star attraction: our lakes. This image perfectly captures the inviting lake and peaceful surroundings. A low perspective by the photographer helps the subject of the photo stand out against the sky while also highlighting details of the water’s reflections. And the entire scene features warm-to-cool colors as your eye moves across the photo — it makes me want to be in that lake too.”

Blindert said he had a little bit of help setting the stage earlier this year for his winning pic.

“My wife and I enjoy outdoor activities, and the photo contest is a little added fun,” he said. “With digital photography, there’s a better chance to get one out of a handful of photos to turn out just right. That was the case for my entry this year. God gave me a great moment with my wife, the sunset and the lake. I just had to recognize it and snap the picture. I’m thankful for that, and that I didn’t drop my camera in the water.”

Along with Blindert, there were first-, second-, third-place titles and honorable mentions in five categories: artistic, parks, recreation, kids and dogs. All of the winning photos can  be seen at OaklandCountyParks.SmugMug.com.

The Best in Show and first-place winners in each category will be displayed in the newly renovated Great Hall at the Wint Nature Center, at Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston, through December.

But doling out blue ribbons hardly means it’s time to put the camera down. While the contest is held during the summer months, entries from throughout the year are welcome, according to Stencil.

If you need some inspiration, head to the Oakland County Parks website and look at the long list of things to do throughout the parks system during the winter months. Fat-tire biking is quickly becoming one of the department’s most popular activities, and Addison Oaks Park houses 5.5 miles of groomed fat-tire biking trails.

Cross-country skiing is a favorite at Independence Oaks County Park, where there are roughly 10 miles of groomed trails, and ski are rentals available. Waterford Oaks County Park boasts a 325-foot-long sledding hill, and there’s plenty of room to run around for our four-legged family members at the dog parks inside Lyon Oaks, Orion Oaks and Red Oaks county parks.

The Red Oaks Nature Center and the Wint Nature Center have packed lists of programming, indoors and out, throughout the season for visitors of all ages.

And if you’re hauling out the mittens and snow boots, why not grab the camera, too?

“We welcome all-season photos and encourage folks to visit the parks year-round to share their experiences with us through the photo contest,” said Desiree Stanfield, the supervisor of marketing and communications for the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department.