Clifton takes blue ribbon two years in a row

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Judge Ron Louque (left) and Chris Williams take close looks at the top five entries before the final round of judging that picked the blue-ribbon winner from among those five entries. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Winning the annual N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition is extremely difficult. Winning it two years in row is nearly impossible.

Richard Clifton of Milford, Del., has done just that. Clifton’s entry of redhead ducks took the blue ribbon at the 2012 competition held Monday at the Washington Civic Center. Clifton also took the blue ribbon at the 2011 competition with his painting of a pair of Canada geese.

“That’s a big thing,” Clifton said Monday afternoon when informed about his winning the blue ribbon.

Clifton said he knew by entering this year’s contest he would face tough competition, which would limit his chances to repeat at the blue-ribbon winner.

“There’s some good people who enter this contest and you can’t be playing around,” Clifton said from his studio. “This year, I was thinking that I didn’t know if I can pull this off two years in a row.”

“I guess I will,” he said when asked if he will attend the unveiling of his winning entry the weekend of the festival.

There were 32 entries in this year’s contest, with 15 of those entries depicting redheads.

Gerald Putt, a Pennsylvania wildlife artist and former N.C. duck stamp-contest winner, took second place. Third place was claimed by Tom Morgan Crain of Missouri. Scot Storm, a Minnesota wildlife artist and another former N.C. duck stamp-contest winner, took fourth place. Fifth place went to Jeff Klienfelter of Indiana.

“I would say about par,” said Ron Louque, one of the five judges who judged this year’s competition, when asked about the quality of entries in the 2012 competition. “You have maybe five or six ones that stand out at the top, above the rest, some average and some down at the bottom. It’s kind of hard to pick a winner because they all have something really good or some little thing that’s quite as good, and you’re torn between what’s the lesser of the evils. I like this winner. I think it has the right balance. It has a really good lighting effect. It’s got good composition.”

Joining Louque, who’s a wildlife artist, on the judges’ platform were Lee Mauney, a wildlife artist; Raleigh Bland, a biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Mark Strukco, a decoy carver/artist and Chris Williams, Delta Waterfowl’s regional director for the Eastern/Atlantic Flyway.

The competition serves as a prelude to the 17th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, which is open to the public Feb. 11-12 in Washington. For taking first place in the contest, Clifton will receive $7,000 in prize money and a $300 travel allowance to help him attend the festival.

Selected entries from this year’s competition will be displayed at the preview reception for the festival. At that reception, to be held Feb. 10, the top five entries will be unveiled by the Wildlife Resources Commission. The top entries will remain on display throughout the festival weekend.

Each year, the WRC specifies five species/habitats for the competition. For this year, the five eligible species/habitats were tundra swan, northern shoveler, brant, gadwall and redhead. The entries must show an eligible species in an appropriate habitat in North Carolina. With redheads depicted in this year’s winning entry, that species will not be an eligible species in the 2013 competition.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike