Winchester Writing Group announced winners last week of the essay contest, Randolph County Memory, they sponsored with the News-Gazette. Receiving their prizes and congratulations from WWG founder, Dana Brown and member, Jeff Ward, were Jordan Law and Ashlee Jennings. Pictured, left to right, Brown, Jennings, Ward and Law.

    Memories of the community take on many venues and characters. Two local aspiring writers who took advantage of an opportunity to express their favorite memories have been awarded a plethora of prizes.

    Winners of the recent essay contest, Randolph County Memory, sponsored by Winchester Writers Group and the News-Gazette have been announced. The adult winner was Jordan Law and the youth winner was Ashley Jennings.

    According to Dana Brown, local author and founding member of the WWG, there were several entries considered, but the final decisions came down to how inclusive the winners were of their community.

    When asked what prompted her to enter the contest, Winchester high school student Jennings was honest about her parental probing.

    “My Mom asked me and I like to write,” Jennings said. “I’m in a writing group that meets in October at school.”

    After receiving her abundance of rewards, she was thankful her mom gave her the encouragement to enter her essay. As for Willard Elementary teacher, Jordan Law, she took a step of faith to pursue something publicly that she has enjoyed privately for a long time. She was excited to say she will now be published.

    “I’ve been wanting to write, but I always wanted to write a children’s book,” Law said. “I, also, have a blog. So, I just decided to try this contest and put my work out there. The subject made it easy to write because I love living here.”

    The writing group offered their immense appreciation to all the Randolph County businesses who gave prizes and helped in promoting writing ingénues to incite old memories of the community.

    Prizes and proprietors: Chocolate Moose, Farmland, gift certificates; Candy and Stuff, Farmland, gift certificate; Franky’s Studio, Lynn, large cans of hairspray; Home Town Coffee, Lynn, gift certificate; Pizza Barn, Losantville, gift certificates; The Christian Bookstore, Union City, gift certificates; Bouser’s Barn, gift certificates; Pizza House, gift certificates; Mrs. Coe’s Noodles, gift certificates; Mrs. Wicks Pies, coupons for free pie; Towne Square Cinema, popcorn bucket full of a movie combo; Winchester Golf Club, 18 holes of golf; signed copy of The Ones That Live in My Head by author Melanie J. Walker; signed copy of Lottie Loser by author Dana L. Brown; and Silver Towne, engraved silver bars.

Winning Essays from Winchester Writing Group

The Square of Memories

by Jordan Law, Adult Winner

    “CRACK!” The sound of a whiffle ball making contact with a whiffle bat can be heard echoing off of the buildings. “RING” The sound of a game bell going off, announcing a carnival game winner, can be heard in the autumn breeze.  “WHEEEE-YOO” The sounds of sirens pierce the night air as a hometown team brings home another title.  

    Moments in time. Memories made. Laughter with family and friends. These are just a few reasons why so many have found our humble town square the source of inspiration, and the place of many fond memories being made.

    Many may remember that the starting place of our Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie festival was none other than our town square. My dad, Dean Edwards, took part in organizing the whiffle ball tournament that took place. I remember spending many nights watching my dad create the brackets, call the teams, and organize all of the details. As a young girl, I remember thinking how cool it was that we got to shut down the square to play whiffle ball. Although this event has since moved to the park; our square inspired a long standing Winchester tradition.

    The Mardi Gras is a staple in our small community. The square is the home of this yearly tradition. It is the place where children have constant smiles from the thrill of the rides. It is the place where adults find wonderful food to snack on.  And, it is the place where many family memories are made. For me, I will never forget my Grandma going to the Mardi Gras just to purchase a sausage sandwich.  It was her favorite. She is no longer here, but every year, this timeless event reminds me of her.

    Winchester is blessed with an incredible academic, music, and athletic tradition. Multiple championships and titles have been claimed by our beloved Falcons.  No title earned is complete until the sirens ring out around the square.  No matter the time of day, our emergency personnel lead our proud students, parents, coaches, and teachers around the square with sirens screaming. Many fans will line the streets. People will wave from windows. As a student who has gotten to participate in a few of these laps, this is a rite of passage. This is what you live for. The feeling of circling the square, knowing you have made your community proud, is something you never forget.

    The Winchester Town Square is also home to the prime photo op spot for prom photos, a Santa sighting, yummy goodies from local farmers, a place for artisans to show off and sell their incredible work, and the list goes on. It offers store fronts for entrepreneurs to begin their dream business. Our square is the staple of incredible memories for many people.

    So, the next time you are on the square, take a moment to pause and reflect.  Think about those who have come before us. Think about those who felt our town needed a place to bring people together. Think about those who continue our important traditions. Finally, think about how amazing it is to be a part of a community who STILL values the importance of being together….as a family.


by Ashlee Jennings, Youth Winner

    When I am asked “What is my Favorite Randolph County Memory” I don’t think of just one memory. I think about several little memories about all the fun I have living in Randolph County. I think about all the friendly people, like my neighbor who tells me every time I see him, to go slower around a curve on my bike. I think about all the times when another neighbor would stop me to simply chat what’s going on and about her cute little dog.

    I think about that time when I was checking out some my favorite books at the Winchester public library and the kind librarian tells me she remembers when I used to check out fairy books when I was little. I think about getting home after the State Fair Band Day when it seems like the whole town is there to welcome us back even when it’s nearly one o’clock in the morning. I think about hot days of going to the races with my Dad, or riding on his green tractor or on his big combine in the fall time.

    I think about going to the Summer Reading Program and fun with my friends at the library. Or I think about all the Wednesdays after school when a teacher would let us stay in his room for chess club meetings and play chess with friends. Or I think about the first time I met my friend who was new to my school and unfamiliar with everyone. Or I think about when I dragged my friend to our first school dance because we were both too obsessed with fictional characters and books to actually get dates.

    I think about going to perform our marching band show and some guy in the crowd every time yells GO FORCE as loud as he can as we walk out onto the track at every performance. Or I think about seeing my longest and best friend who doesn’t go to the same school as me for the first time in months at Mardi Gras. Sometimes I don’t think about good memories when I think of my favorite memory of Randolph County, sometimes I think of embarrassing memories, like when my brother enters an apple pie eating contest during Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie Day.

    I think of the time my English teacher embarrassed me in front of the class by showing them my painting of a half-naked Odysseus stabbing a half-naked Cyclops in the eye. I think about the time two friends and I planned to go see a movie together and they both bring a plus one and I didn’t. Maybe my favorite memory of Randolph County is right now, typing on my computer thinking of all these silly, funny, embarrassing memories I have of this wonderful place I call home.