Judges Selected for Water Artisans of the Year Contest

Published on September 15, 2020

Top row, left to right: Frayne McAtee, Gerard Touhey, Paul Holdeman, Kip Northrup. Bottom row, left to right: Weston Zimmerman, Carolyn Weise, Shane Hemphill.

Summer is winding down, which means it’s time to start compiling all the best photos and specifications of your best waterscape projects from the 2020 season. The Nov. 30 deadline to submit your entries to POND Trade’s fifth annual Water Artisans of the Year contest is right around the corner!

Submissions will be presented blindly to a panel of seven industry experts to determine winners and runners-up in five categories (Best Pondless, Most Naturalistic, Best Water Feature Under $15,000, Ponds by Night, and Fountains & Formal Features). Last year’s contest winners were offered first dibs on this year’s Supreme Stream Court. Three of the five category winners opted out so that they could remain eligible to enter this year as contestants.

“It’s definitely a tough decision,” said Lora Lee Gelles, publisher of POND Trade. “Every year, the judges have so much fun reviewing all the projects, but they also want the chance to enter the contest.”

The 2019 pond season’s winners for Best Hardscapes Combo (Shane Hemphill) and Most Naturalistic (Weston Zimmerman) will gavel up and lend their expertise on this year’s panel alongside five other well-known builders, designers and business professionals from across the industry.

Shane Hemphill is co-owner of Art of the Yard based in Littleton, Colorado. He wowed last year’s judges with the iconic, artistic elements that blended together in his formal hardscape and waterscape feature. Hemphill has been building one-of-a-kind works of art for more than 20 years and was the recipient of the 2018 Atlantic Professional Contractor of the Year award.

Weston Zimmerman of Tussey Landscaping upsold a mystical pondless feature as an add-on to an existing project, and it ended up putting him over the top in last year’s contest. He has a passion for the creative aspect of building water features and credits living in rural Pennsylvania for his talent in naturalistic design.

Paul Holdeman is co-owner of the Pond Gnome, whose mission is to help replace natural oases that once played a huge role in providing healthy water for wildlife in the pre-urbanized Arizona desert. Holdeman and his wife, Barbi, were recipients of the 2019 Aquascape Conservationist of the Year award.

Frayne McAtee is the director of sales for distribution and commercial at OASE North America. He has more than 27 years of experience in the water feature and fountain industry with extensive knowledge in both operating small businesses and working within international corporations. McAtee is based in Seattle, Washington.v

Kip Northrup is the founder and president of Blue Thumb in Saginaw, Michigan, a leading manufacturer of professional-grade water feature equipment for ponds, waterfalls and fountain kits. He has been in the industry for more than 25 years and frequently speaks at various events about fountains, ponds and waterfall systems.

Gerard Touhey, owner of Waterfeatures by Gerard in Wilson, Pennsylvania, came to the United States from Ireland in 1998 with $400 in his pocket and started his first pond business. He became a Certified Aquascape Contractor in 2004 and has since built hundreds of ponds, becoming a household name in the pond industry.

Carolyn Weise of Ecological Laboratories in Cape Coral, Florida, is the author of ABC’s of Ponds, A Pond Primer and a frequent contributor to water gardening publications. She has held prominent roles in many industry organizations, including the Mid-Atlantic Koi Club, the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife and the Southwest Florida Sportsman’s Association.

A $25 fee is required with each entry, with all proceeds benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Eligible projects must be completed between Nov. 1, 2019 and Nov. 1, 2020. Contractors may submit as many entries as they would like; however, each project may only be submitted in one category. Winners will be featured in the March/April 2021 issue of POND Trade magazine.

For more information and to enter your best projects of the year, visit https://www.pondtrademag.com/2020-water-artisans-of-the-year

Aqua UV

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