by Cori Hilsgen
Chris Sigurdson is not a professional photographer and has never won any photo contests – that is, until recently when his “The Giving Rink” photo entry won him top prize in the “I Love Sartell” photo contest.
The contest was sponsored by the City of Sartell.
He said winning the contest was quite a surprise and a nice recognition, but he felt there were many other very nice photos of how people love the city.
Sigurdson, 48, said others had viewed his photo and encouraged him to enter the contest.
The winning photo is a picture of the ice rink in Sigurdson’s family’s backyard.
More than 100 children and parents have had many hours of enjoyment on or near that rink.
“There is a lot of meaning to us and them, watching the kids in uninterrupted play simply enjoying the outdoors and the game of hockey,” Sigurdson said. “The photo was simply a picture after the children had all left and I had just cleaned and flooded the rink. Everything came together and I looked out and thought it was really a spectacular view and clicked a few photos.”
Sigurdson has never entered any photo contests before and described himself as an amateur photographer at best. Throughout his life experiences and travels, he has taken many photos so it’s somewhat of a hobby for him.
He said there many positive things about Sartell, and he felt it was a good idea for people to share their varying perspectives about how they see the city through a camera lens of why it’s a great place for them and their families.
Nate Keller, community development technician for Sartell, said the contest was held to build support and awareness and to instill pride in the area.
The theme of the contest was “Why do you love Sartell?” Seven judges scored and ranked the 10 photos that were chosen as finalists.
Contest organizers also took an area poll for two weeks in which residents could vote on which photo they felt showed the best representation of the city.
Keller said they received 765 votes for that poll.
For winning the contest, Sigurdson won a $250 prize package.
Sigurdson is general manager/executive vice president of a cattle genetic cooperative. He is married to Kristen, a foot-and-ankle surgeon at St. Cloud Orthopedics. They have lived in Sartell for almost nine years and have four sons – Colten, Talon, Quentin and Easton.
The boys all play hockey in Sartell and with a variety of other teams. Their children started skating when they were between 2 and 3 years old. The three oldest children started skating before the family moved to Sartell.
Sigurdson said even though it takes an awful lot of work and time, it’s that skating time when the family can get together with one another and with friends.
“I’m pretty confident if you ask them when they enjoy it the most, it’s outside on the ponds and rinks outside in Sartell just being kids and spending time with each other and friends,” Sigurdson said.
He added it takes quite a “hockey mom” to help make all of the hockey activities happen.
The boys also participate in other activities such as skiing, golf, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football, tennis, shooting sports, Boy Scouts, 4-H, church youth group, hunting, fishing and more.
“We enjoy Sartell because it’s a growing, thriving community that’s a good fit for our family,” Sigurdson said.
The Sigurdsons came to Sartell for Chris’ employment after a new friend recommended they consider it.
They consider the public-school system to be tremendous and it’s the number-one reason the family lives where they do. They also appreciate the growing and thriving youth hockey association and the close proximity to both their work places.
The rink in the photo Sigurdson submitted the family built two years ago to make the sport of hockey more accessible to their children and their friends.
Having it in their backyard allows Sigurdson to use the time he has available in early mornings and late evenings to do the necessary work to maintain the rink.
The Sigurdson children and friends use the rink several times a week, skating for hours, when the weather is cooperating.
Sigurdson noted for Sartell hockey players to be able to keep pace with their peers around the state, they need to put in many hours of ice time.
Sigurdson’s 8-year old son, Easton, skated on their outside rink more than 70 hours with his friends or other players last winter, in addition to being in the Sartell Youth Hockey Association.
Sigurdson said Sartell is really starting to emerge as a “hockey town.” As interest and dollars come to the city because of the Bernick’s Ice Arena, more ice time will be needed to meet the growing needs of the more than 200 families, extended families and friends connected to Sartell hockey.
Keller said the city staff members hope to sponsor the contest again next year.
Sigurdson said he is simply a dad who likes to take a lot of photos. He added that getting a really good one involves taking enough so one might develop that captures even more than the photographer imagined when taking it.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.