If you want to know how area third-graders define fatherhood, take a walk through the second floor of River Park Square. Dozens of brightly colored posters adorn the walls near Boehm’s Chocolates and Flowers.
There are pictures of dads and kids fishing, hiking, camping, jump-roping, playing catch and horseback riding. And the sentiments expressed might make even the most macho dad tear up.
One says, “I love my Dad. He loves me too. He makes me glad when I am sad.” Another reads, “My dad is the best dad in the whole world! He is the most loving father I could ever dream of. I love him!” And another child wrote, “Dad your the best. You blow me away. I don’t want you to go. Please stay.”
On June 20, Father’s Day will be 100 years old, and Spokane has the distinction of being the birthplace of Father’s Day. A 1909 Mother’s Day sermon at Central Methodist Church inspired Sonora Smart Dodd to suggest fathers deserved their own day of recognition and honor.
Spokane celebrated the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910, and now the event is recognized in 52 countries around the world.
In preparation for the anniversary celebration, the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with the hospitality and marketing classes at Spokane Community College to get local children involved in the event. The result? A Father’s Day poster contest.
SCC instructor Duane Sunwold had clear objectives for his students. “I wanted them to demonstrate their skills in managing a project, as well as develop themselves into a highly functioning team.”
The college students decided to focus the poster competition on local third-graders, who study Spokane history. Sixteen schools gave third-graders a chance to submit entries to the contest. Team leader Brianne Thompson said, “We were responsible for implementing the contest and getting the information to the schools.”
SCC student James Giglio said he enjoyed working with the visitors bureau, adding, “The real world experience was the best way to develop solid interpersonal skills.”
The students chose the theme for the competition, “Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad.” In addition to creating and managing the contest, the SCC students served as judges for the preliminary round of the competition. They evaluated over 200 posters to choose finalists from each school.
“The posters were interesting and unique,” said Thompson.
Giglio said his personal favorite was an entry that said, “I love my dad because he takes me to McDonalds. I love McDonalds.” For the final round, the SCC students recruited a panel of judges that included Joe Dunlap, president of SCC; Dan Griffith from the Spokane Arts Commission; and Bev Numbers, current owner of the Sonora Smart Dodd home.
The judges declared the richly-colored poster created by Jordan Kopp, of Chester Elementary, as the winner. On May 20, the vice president and director of destination marketing for the visitors bureau, Jeanna Hoffmeister, presented Kopp with a $200 gift certificate to the Steam Plant Grill and a family day pass for Riverfront Park.
All of the posters are on display through June at River Park Square.
Hoffmeister said the poster contest was a fun way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day. She added, “Every dad who sees these posters won’t fail to be moved – they are really wonderful.”
For Thompson and her classmates, creating this event offered an opportunity to be included in Spokane’s Father’s Day legacy: “It was great to be part of something so rich in history.”