The 63rd Otero Arts Festival announced the return of the music contest to the annual festival, set for April 1-4 on the Otero Junior College campus. The festival showcases creative writing, sculptures, pottery, paintings, drawings and other works of art submitted by middle and high school students throughout Southeast Colorado.
Students in grades 7–12 will be able to compete in two musical categories: solo and small ensemble. The instrumental music contest will provide an opportunity for young musicians to demonstrate their musical talent and love for music. Ribbons will be awarded at each level of the competition, with an OJC scholarship being awarded to the top graduating high school senior.
The music contest is open to middle school students in 7th and 8th grades (Junior Division) and high school students in 9th and 12th grades (Senior Division). Solo and small ensembles (three to five members) is limited to instrumentalist only. Performance time is three to eight minutes, with strict penalty for over or under the time allowed.

The contestant is responsible for an accompanist, if needed, and the arts festival will provide a piano. Musicians must provide three copies of music for the judges. The decisions of the judges are final and are based on difficulty of the piece, technical proficiency of the instrument, musicianship, tone, interpretation and stage presence.
Parents, teachers and friends are invited and encouraged to attend the competition on April 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the McDivitt Center.
Debbie Phillips, festival coordinator, anticipates about 30 area schools will have students participate in the 63rd annual event.

“Each year, we see entries from many exceptionally talented students," said Phillips. "They are supported in their work by teachers, parents and community members who are involved in helping them develop their talents."
The 63rd Otero Arts Festival Competitions this year, including deadlines, are:

Creative Writing - Submission deadline is March 1.  Students grades 7-12 can enter one writing in each category (poetry, essay and short story). Students in grades 9-12 can enter the creative book contest. Creative Writing Senior Portfolios compete for the Writing Scholarship. All creative writing entries must be submitted with a completed entry form this year, which is available on the website. Entries are currently being accepted by mail at Otero Arts Festival Creative Writing, 1802 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050 or by bringing entries to MacDonald Hall Room 110 by 5 p.m. March 1. Complete creative writing guidelines and information is available at Visual Arts – Submission deadline and art hanging is March 29. Students in grades 7-12 can enter up to six art pieces in a variety of mediums.  Visual Arts Senior Portfolios -  Online registration deadline is March 15. All forms are available on the website. Students compete for scholarships in this category. Theatrical Competition -  Online registration deadline is March 27. Entries consist of monologue and group short scenes categories. The theatrical competition will be held on April 1 at 6 p.m. in the Ed Stafford Theatre. OJC Theatre Scholarship will be awarded to the top senior actor (grade 12 graduating high school senior). Refer to the website for detailed contest rules and guidelines. Instrumental Music Competition - Online registration is March 29. Categories include solo and small ensembles (3-5 members). Refer to the website for detailed contest rules and guidelines.

The Otero Arts Festival is the longest running event for student’s grades 7-12. Complete guidelines and information about the competitions are available at: The full schedule of events for this year’s festival is also available on the website.
For more information, contact Phillips at 384-6863 or