By DAVID L. SHAW
GENEVA — After 80 editions and 80 tasks, the winner of this newspaper’s “Around the Finger Lakes in 80 Days’’ contest is Judy Gallagher of Geneva.
Gallagher completed each and every challenge in the Finger Lakes Times’ summer-long scavenger hunt/trivia competition, and she was named the grand-prize winner after a random drawing of 32 perfect entries.
For her efforts, Gallagher took home $1,000 cash and $2,900 in prizes, including a one-week stay for six at Cobtree Estates worth $1,600; a $500 gift certificate from Lynch’s Furniture; a football package featuring tickets, a blanket and sweatshirt from Hobart and William Smith Colleges worth about $250; and a four-pack of wine from Dr. Frank’s.
The first- through fifth-place winners of the contest were invited to the Times Friday for a reception and to pick up their prizes. All shared similar thoughts on the contest’s many challenges and their travels throughout the area to complete them — saying it was a lot of fun.
“It sounded like it would be great fun, and it was,’’ said Gallagher. “I got to see and go places I’d never been before, even though I’ve lived here for 20 years.”
From June 10 to Sept. 10, the Finger Lakes Times asked readers to accomplish a variety of tasks involving landmarks, businesses and other locations throughout the four-county area. Participants were asked to take photographs, collect specific items and answer questions.
Hundreds played at least part of the contest, and around 75 people turned in completed entries, with many missing only one or two answers. The Times provided the cash prizes, and numerous area businesses donated other prizes.
Gallagher said she first thought the tasks were “daunting’’ but quickly got caught up in getting them done.
“I really enjoyed it. It was fun and an educational experience,’’ she said, specifically mentioning the lighthouse in Sodus Bay as a revelation to her.
An animal lover, she said the hardest task was visiting a shelter and seeing all the animals awaiting adoption.
Gallagher said she was away for about a month this summer visiting family and friends. When she got back, she had a lot of catching up to do. Her daughters and friends often helped out.
In fact, getting others involved added to the fun for many contestants.
Second-place winner Colleen Spellecy of Waterloo took her husband, Mack, and friend Kathy Peters on many of her journeys.
“It was a great time. I got to go all over the Finger Lakes and see new things and learn things,’’ she said, adding that she’s “so competitive’’ she found herself driven to complete all 80 tasks.
She found the most difficult task to be No. 78, which called for finding out what Finger Lakes village elected the first female mayor in the state. She found out the answer from the Galen Historical Society after spending much time doing online searches.
“I used to teach fourth-grade at St. Michael’s School in Newark and would take my students to the old Wayne County Jail. It was interesting being photographed inside the jail cell there,’’ she said of Task No. 21, which also required the subject to be holding a copy of the Times.
Third-place winner David King of Canandaigua and fourth-place winner Kitty Peterson of Seneca Falls also talked about their experiences in accomplishing the 80 tasks. Both agreed it was fun and challenging, with the travel to places they’d never been to before an added bonus.
“I started out doing the tasks by myself but soon got my husband and sisters involved. They really got into it too,’’ Peterson said.
For her, locating the Trail of Hope in Wayne County proved to be difficult.
“I passed right by it on the way to Chimney Bluffs, but I had a hard time finding it,’’ she said.
King took his wife on many of their trips. He recently retired, so the contest was his first post-retirement activity.
He also found Task No. 78 a tough challenge, along with ask No. 5, which required him to be at the former Seneca Army Depot fence at the right time to get a photo of a white deer.
“I also had trouble finding a sailboat with a three-color sail,’’ King said, a statement echoed by Peterson.
He said he finally saw one near the Seneca Yacht Club.
Peterson joked that she was going to make a model sailboat and paint the sail herself before she saw one in Sodus Bay.
“I was sad when [the contest] was over. I had withdrawal. Now I’ve got to go back to the obituaries in the paper,’’ Peterson joked.
Fifth-place winner Laura Moss of Canandaigua and Gallagher used to work together. They hadn’t seen each other in years, however, and were surprised to see each other Friday.
“I got my daughter, son, sister and friends involved. I tried to group a bunch of tasks by county to make the most of trips,’’ Moss said. “I’m pretty competitive too.”
Finding out why the Clyde fireworks were on a certain date — to complete Task No. 58 — was a problem for Moss.
“I’d never been to some of these places before. It gave me a better appreciation for this area. And it was fun,’’ she said.
Second place was $1,000 worth of prizes and $200 cash; third, $400 worth of prizes and $100 cash; fourth, $280 worth of prizes; and fifth, $200 worth of prizes.
Prizes included a round golf for four at Seneca Lake Country Club, a $100 gift certificate from Ashley Furniture, a $100 gift certificate from Herman Bros furniture, a $70 package of items from Keuka College, a Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack package worth over $50 and a package worth $50 from the Smith Opera House, as well as other items — including numerous restaurant gift certificates and wine packages.