Growing up, many are told not to play with their food. However, an Emporia State contest encourages the exact opposite.

Emporia at the Table (EAT) and the Lyon County Food and Farm Council are putting on the Food Art and Creativity Contest in partnership with Emporia First Friday Art Walk, Vault Meats and Cheeses and the Lyon County History Center, in honor of World Food Day, observed on Oct. 16.

Participants are allowed to explore art through food in the medium of their choice, including images, paintings, poems and more.

“It may seem like we kind of jokingly say they can play with their food and create this art,” said Teresa Briggs, chair of Lyon County Food and Farm Council. “But, it’s all to draw attention to the fact that we’re fairly fortunate in this country, but still, we do have people that don’t have easy access to food.”

Anyone with a connection to Lyon County, whether that be as a student, through work or living in the county, can submit their creations. The contest is also open to participants of all ages and languages.

“Really anyone can participate,” Linabary said. “I think sometimes when you see an art contest or a creativity contest, we have this myth that only certain people are creative or other people might be better at it than me so I shouldn’t, but I would say embrace this as an opportunity to do something that brings you joy, to think outside the box.”

The contest started last year as a way to observe World Food Day in the midst of a global pandemic and allow for the conversation to be had virtually.

“The reason for World Food Day is to bring attention to those people across the world who don’t have access to food,” Briggs said. “So (the) goal is to make production and different parts of the food system healthier, more accessible, and more nutritious.”

This year, the competition will be held online, but some of the submissions can be seen at Vault Meats and Cheeses at 509 Commercial St. Some of them may also be displayed at the Lyon County History Center at 711 Commercial St.

“It’s an opportunity to bridge both online and off this year,” said Jessica Linabary, assistant professor of communication and theatre and one of the cofounders of the contest. “So we can still have the online contest so that more people can see it, but also still have the opportunity to still have a physical exhibit and display.”

The submissions will be posted on the Council’s Facebook page and the posts with the most likes will be the winners. Those winners will receive gift cards as a prize.

The submissions were due by Oct. 25 and winners will be notified Nov. 1. Selected submissions will be displayed at Vault Meats and Cheeses Nov. 5 for the Emporia First Friday Art Walk.

“Students should enter the contest because it allows them to get creative and involve others in their creative process as well,” said Maddy Broxterman, intern at EAT and graduate student of instructional design in technology. “They have an opportunity to intentionally play with food and create art. What could be better?”

Those interested in entering the contest can find more information at bit.ly/F21FoodArtContest.

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