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315 West Main St.
P.O. Box 7800
Tavares, Florida 32778


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For immediate release - Feb. 4, 2005

Essay contest celebrates local author’s new movie

TAVARES — The Lake County Office of Elevate Lake is sponsoring an essay contest in honor of the soon-to-be-released movie “Because of Winn Dixie,” which is based on the book written by local author Kate DiCamillo.

The former Clermont resident, who had the Newbery honor-winning book published in 2000, is once again in the spotlight when the story of “Because of Winn Dixie” hits the silver screen nationwide Friday, Feb. 18. The heartfelt tale of how a lonely girl adopts a dog that helps her make friends across a small Florida town is a perennial best-seller on the book shelves and the success is sure to be a hit in theaters later this month.

The contest is open to all elementary, middle and high schoolers, and prizes will be awarded in those categories of students. In each category, the top essay will garner an autographed copy of “Because of Winn Dixie,” two movie passes, a movie soundtrack and a $25 book gift certificate; second place will earn two movie passes, a movie soundtrack, a copy of “Because of Winn Dixie” and a $15 book gift certificate; and third prize will receive two movie passes, a copy of the book and a $10 book gift certificate.

No submitted essay is to exceed 300 words. Each submission must list the name, age, grade, school, home address and phone number for the entrant. To enter the contest, students are encouraged to write an essay on the following question:

“Author Kate DiCamillo said the town of Naomi, Fla., was patterned after Clermont. ‘A super, super place to grow up, outside in my bare feet, up in a tree — reading,’ she said. She also stated that growing up in Lake County ‘gave her the freedom to write.’ Please explain, in your own words, how growing up in Lake County is special to you.”

Entries may be mailed to the Lake County Welcome Center, 20763 U.S. Highway 27, Groveland 34736, or e-mailed to essaycontest@co.lake.fl.us. All entries must be received by Monday, Feb. 28.

The essay contest is being launched in conjunction with the Lake County Library System as local libraries will be promoting the story of “Because of Winn Dixie” with other special events and activities. Two events already planned for Wednesday, Feb. 23, are at Marion Baysinger Memorial County Library in Groveland and the Leesburg Public Library.

At 2:30 p.m., librarians at the Marion Baysinger branch will be wondering “Who Let the Dogs Out” as Caring Canine Therapy Dogs will sit attentively as children read them books. At 4 p.m., the Leesburg library dedicates its regular program of “Read to the PAWS dogs” to the “Because of Winn Dixie” book and movie. The program gives new readers the chance to practice reading before an attentive audience of dogs.

All essay contest winners will be announced and prizes will be handed out during a 2:30 p.m. celebration Wednesday, March 9, at the Tavares Public Library. To celebrate the movie release, the library is hosting the Caring Canine Therapy Dogs that same day as children will be able to read to dogs of all sizes and to participate in dog crafts. Winners of the essay contest will be notified prior to the event.

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Contact information:
Christopher Patton
Communications Coordinator
Office: (352) 343-9609; Cell: (352) 455-0445
cpatton@co.lake.fl.us

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