By LESLIE EIKLEBERRY
What looked to be a silver splotch turned out to be gold for one Festival Medallion Quest participant.
Salina Arts & Humanities announced during a news conference this afternoon that Samantha Uhler was the winner of the 2022 Festival Medallion Quest. Uhler found the medallion shortly after the Thursday morning clue was announced, said Brad Anderson, executive director of Salina Arts & Humanities.
The first clue was given on the afternoon of May 18. Subsequent clues were announced at 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day.
Uhler said she found the medallion under a yucca plant located in a brick-paved area at the southeast edge of the N. Ohio Street overpass. Uhler had an idea that the medallion was somewhere in that area, so she positioned herself there and awaited this morning's clue.
Once she had the clue, she knew where to look: the bricks she had stared at for days.
"I knew everyone had already picked up every brick there was," Uhler said. "I wasn't too hopeful that I would find it, you know, just 'cause we haven't in the past. Usually, it's always right there and then somebody else finds it, but apparently it was my lucky day."
Uhler's boyfriend, Isaac Beckman, was a partner in the search, as well as her mother, Missy Slagle, with whom she was talking on FaceTime when she found the medallion.
The metal medallion, which was shaped like a splotch of paint, was silver on one side and multi-colored with instructions on the other and approximately two inches wide. When Uhler found it, the silver side was up, she said.
"I thought it was a piece of trash because we saw so many pieces of trash out today and the last couple of days. I wasn't sure what it was, but I was like 'oh, I can't just let that go right in front of me,' so I went ahead and picked it up and it was not a piece of trash," Uhler said and laughed.
That medallion, however, was not the original 2022 medallion. According to information from Salina Arts & Humanities, Anderson discovered that the original medallion "had been lost in the environment, likely because of the rain. It was promptly replaced with the medallion that Uhler found, but this time it was left without disguise of organic matter."
Uhler receives a prize package of $1,000 in cash and $2,000 in gift certificates to be used for shopping at the River Festival 2022 Fine Art and Craft Show. Other prizes include four festival admission wristbands, a complimentary on-grounds VIP parking pass, an invitation for four to the Thursday-evening PREMIERE Art Patron party, and four river festival 2022 t-shirts.
Uhler, who is a senior at Bethany College studying business administration, said she plans to use some of the cash to purchase books for her summer school classes.
The Festival Medallion Quest serves as a countdown to the Smoky Hill River Festival. This year's festival is scheduled for June 9-12 in Salina's Oakdale Park.
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To view the full set of Festival Medallion Quest clues, go to festivalmedallionquest.com and click on the Clues page.