Cave Springs resident Laura Guenthner won the Celebrating 500K Photo Contest organized by the Northwest Arkansas Council.
Guenthner’s picture of her 4-year-old son Cannon sitting in front of American flags on the Bentonville Square was among more than 200 photographs posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that were entered in the contest. She will receive a $500 Walmart gift card and a basket a Northwest Arkansas-produced goods donated by businesses such as Daisy Outdoor Products in Rogers and Nailed It Designs in Fayetteville.
The winning picture is at the top of this page.
"The winning photo was taken during Walmart shareholders' week, and I just loved the combination of old (the fountain on the square and the Walton 5&10 in the background) and new (my grinning young son), the energy of the gathering crowd, and the peacefulness of the flags waving in the soft evening light," Guienthner wrote in an email affer learning she'd won the contest "It captures some of the character and contrast that make Northwest Arkansas such a treasure for us and, hopefully for our half-million neighbors!"
The contest, started by the Council in late May, helped draw attention to the fact that the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area reached 500,000 residents on May 28. Photo contest participants used the hashtag #NWA500K to indicate they wanted their photo to be considered for the top prize. The contest ended June 9.
Guenthner submitted several pictures that were noticed by the judges, including this one taken near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, and this one snapped along the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista. She submitted photos from all over the region with her children - Cannon and 6-year-old twins Ava and Owen in a few of her shots.
"The pictures I submitted were taken on several different days during the contest period, but reflect the kinds of things that I do with the kids every week, throughout the year," Guenthner said. "From Tanyard Creek to Terra Studios, Crystal Bridges to the Walton Arts Center, Devil's Den to War Eagle Cavern, the Botanical Garden to the bike trails — we love exploring Northwest Arkansas and appreciate the stimulating blend of art, nature, culture, and community that thrives here."
One of the judges' other favorites was submitted by Keegan Kapugal, who took this fantastic photograph at Kings River Falls near Witter in Madison County.
Other outstanding photos highlighted such things as War Eagle Mill in rural Benton County, Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Dickson Street in Fayetteville, cycling with friends, music concerts, and the White River. There were many photographs submitted with cute kids, like this one, this one, this one and this one.
"The contest proved there are picturesque places and people throughout Northwest Arkansas," said Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. "It's hard to take a bad picture in our region because it looks so good all the time. Northwest Arkansas never has a bad hair day."