What's your favorite thing? If you're a student in the Johnstown and Croton areas, writing about your favorite thing could earn a big prize in the Hartford Village Short Story Contest.
Contest coordinator Phyllis Barstow said all entries must be submitted by July 31.
"The first prize for each of the four categories has now exceeded the total value of each of the first prizes in the four categories of last year's contest," she said. "Last year, it totaled over $135 with everything."
Barstow said many individuals and organizations have donated money and gift certificates to the cause to encourage local students to put their creativity to the test this summer.
First prize includes a $50 cash award, a Walmart gift certificate and a free golf lesson, among other prizes -- for a total value of more than $140.
The short stories may be up to 500 words and must begin, "It's my favorite." No horror or ghost stories are wanted, though, she said. Otherwise, the subject is wide open.
Barstow said the contest is open to all local students in grades 1-12, and the age categories are grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. Each category offers first, second and third prizes.
"Some kids want to put (the prize money) toward their college," she said.
Second and third prizes total roughly $25.25 and $15.25, respectively. Barstow said first prize is set so much higher to encourage all entrants to do their absolute best.
All prizes will be awarded on Hartford Village Day, Sept. 14, on the village square.
"Don't miss your chance to win the first-place prize in your age category," Barstow said.
Entry blanks are available at the libraries of Hartford (Croton), Centerburg, Johnstown, Alexandria, the Vineyard Community Church on Crouse-Willison Road and the United Methodist Church and the Church of Christ in Croton.
The contest is open to all students in the surrounding area who will be in grades 1-12 in the 2013-14 school year.
Barstow said donations to this contest benefit the young people of the area. Those interested in donating should send checks to Paige Grandstaff, 14319 Fairgrounds Road, Croton, OH 43013, and mark the donation for Hartford Village Short Story Contest.
Names of benefactors will be posted and announced at the awards ceremony on Hartford Village Day.
For more information, call Barstow at 740-893-2299.
Barstow said each short story should have a title, but that's not required. However, an introductory paragraph, body text and a conclusion are required.