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Eli Marris’ ‘Hoot’ takes first place in New York State Fair photography contest

Eli Marris of Liverpool is pictured with his first place-winning photo, "I Give A Hoot."

Eli Marris of Liverpool is pictured with his first place-winning photo, "I Give A Hoot."

— Eli Marris has another feather to add to his cap.

The Liverpool Middle School eighth-grader recently won first place in the New York State Fair’s photography contest in the seventh- through 12th-grade age division for his photo, “I Give A Hoot,” taken at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park. The photo is of an owl.

Eli said he was surprised to have placed so highly among such experienced competition.

“When I came into the reception area, I was pretty surprised,” he said. “I did not expect to get that high of a place. I thought I’d get lower than one. I knew it was accepted, but I didn’t expect first.”

This isn’t Eli’s first winning photo; last year, his “Boat on the Cape” earned the top prize in the lower age division. That photo, taken on the way to a family vacation in Cape Cod, is of a dilapidated boat in Stage Harbor in Chatham, Maine, and it has ties to another local artist: Jo Cullen of Baldwinsville, whom Marris and his mom, Tina, met at the Baldwinsville Public Library earlier this summer.

“I was entering a contest, which, sadly, I didn’t win,” Eli said. “It wasn’t all photography; it was also writing and 3D art. We went in to drop off a picture of the moon and a painter was there showing her work and one of her paintings caught my eye.”

Tina Marris said she and her son were in the midst of filling out the application when Eli suddenly rushed off.

“While we were filling it out, he said, ‘Hang on, I’ll be right back,’ and I said, ‘Eli, what are you doing? This is the last day to enter.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I know, I’ll be right back,’” Tina said. “And he walks over and he’s talking to the artist, Jo Cullen.”

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