Steamboat fifth-grader wins Winter Carnival button art contest |

Steamboat 5th-grader wins Winter Carnival button art contest

Lyla Baker designed this year’s Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival button. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Ten-year-old Lyla Baker was home sick from school one day when her mom suggested she enter the Winter Carnival button art contest.

Taking inspiration from an old pair of criss-crossed wooden skis hanging in their guest room, Lyla began drawing on her iPad.

At first, she started with the outline of two skis, but then she changed her design slightly.

“I realized how many people I knew who snowboard, and how many people in Steamboat snowboard, so I decided to replace one ski with a snowboard and make it fit for everyone,” Lyla explained.

Following the “Blast of Winter” theme, Lyla said the fireworks are one of her favorite parts of Winter Carnival. And she loves snow, and “all the things you can do in the snow — snowshoe, ski, play with my dog.”

She stuck with red, white and blue as an homage to Steamboat’s designation as Ski Town USA. Lyla is very fond of her hometown, where she moved to in the middle of winter from Ohio when she was just 6 weeks old.

“I like how many outdoor activities there are and how friendly everyone is,” she said.

Lyla said she’s always loved art — painting, drawing and sculpture.

She said she often draws based on mood.

“In the summer, when I’m happy and calm, I draw still lifes,” Lyla said. “When I’m agitated and irritated, I draw abstract.”

Drawing while thinking about Winter Carnival, “I felt really excited,” she said. “I felt like doing something that would inspire others.”

Creativity is something Lyla has spent significant time thinking about. Her project, “The science of creativity,” won first place at her school’s recent science fair.

For that project, Lyla researched historical events and figures and the science of the brain.

“Creativity means different things to different people,” she concluded. “Some use it every day, and for some, it shines through on special occasions. Even if you don’t see it, everyone has creativity inside of them.”

The humble Soda Creek Elementary School fifth-grader wasn’t expecting to win the button art contest.

“I didn’t think I would do well,” Lyla said.

Lyla’s mom Jennifer Baker admits she forgot about the contest for a little while and missed the community voting. The popular vote is used along with a juried vote to determine the finalists, before a committee makes the final selection. Baker wasn’t even certain if the entry went through.

Then, a few weeks ago, Baker got an email announcing her daughter as the winner.

Baker printed out the note and brought it to dinner.

“We sat down at the table and my mom said, ‘Lyla we need to talk to you about something, and dad is here to take a picture of your reaction,’” Lyla recalled. “I was worried.”

Then her mom read the email.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” Lyla said. “Then it slowly started to sink in. It still hasn’t, really.”

Lyla is excited, if not a little shy, to see her artwork everywhere and on everyone, with 9,000 buttons printed for Winter Carnival.

“I will feel special, if that doesn’t sound cocky,” she said with hesitation.

Lyla’s list of things she wants to be when she is older includes mathematician, astrophysicist, author, illustrator, activist and president of the United States.

“I want to make my talent affect the world in a positive way,” she said. “And I want to make the world a better place.”

Asked to describe her daughter, who recently turned 11, Baker’s eyes light up, she smiles, and just says, “Amazing.”

“I’m really glad my button was chosen,” Lyla said. “I know there were a lot of other great buttons.”

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @KariHarden.

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