MADFEST 2021 concludes with virtual ceremony announcing winners

WLU’s annual Media Art and Design Festival and Competition (MADFest) concluded last Friday, April 23, 2021 with a virtual awards ceremony video announcing all the winners for each category. President Evans started out the video congratulating all who participated in the 2021 competition saying, “Our arts programs are cutting edge, and we hope that you will consider joining us here on the Hilltop once you’ve graduated from high school.” Each year around January, MADFest invites W. Va., Pa., and Ohio high school students to enter their work into the competition within the following four categories: traditional, digital, audio and video. Here are the winners of the 21st annual MADFest competition.

Starting out with the traditional category, Kalee C. Ross won first-place with the piece titled “Painful Plees”. Jaggar Dyrlund won first place for the digital category with his piece titled “Lightning Blue”. In addition, Dyrlund was chosen as the “Faculty Choice” winner by the WLU Faculty and will be receiving a scholarship to attend WLU. The first-place winner for the audio category went to Rowan MollenKopf with the piece “Amber Aphrodite”. The winner of the video category went to Aiden Keller with the piece called “Drug Awareness Video: Opioids”. Keller’s video was also voted “Best in Show” by the 2021 jurors. As a result, Keller will receive a $250 gift card on behalf of the WLU Foundation as well as a scholarship to attend WLU. To view all of the work from the winners and runner-up’s for this year’s competition, please visit

The 2021 MADFest jurors included Mark Ott, who judged the audio and video categories, and Jacinda Walker, who judged the digital and traditional categories. Ott is a director of broadcast operations with Broadcast Management Group, and he also started his career working on the Jerry Springer show, where he produced five episodes per week. Walker is from Cleveland, Ohio and has over 20 years of industry experience in design. For more information on these jurors, please visit the 2021 Guest Juror Bios website.

The WLU student design team for this year’s competition included: Jub Delbrugge, Connory Eisen, Jamie Fogle, Abbie Henry and Karleigh Kowcheck.

As mentioned earlier, the awards ceremony was held virtually again this year due to COVID-19 and social distancing regulations. The producer for the video was Jared Thompson, WLU’s creative video director for the office of marketing and brand management. Reportedly, Dr. Matthew Harder, WLU’s Dean for the College of Arts and Communication and member of the MADFest planning team, reached out to Thompson to create an awards video. Thompson gave credit for the strength of the video to all the students who submitted work. “It’s easy to make an interesting video when you are provided with good content and I applaud the many students who submitted their work.”

Being sure to give credit to all who participated in the making of the video, Thompson mentioned a special thanks to Dr. Harder who created the music used in the video. “It [the music] definitely takes it [the video] to the next level.”

Ultimately, Thompson continued sharing his experience with producing the MADFest awards ceremony video saying, he is “thankful to be able to contribute to the event in a small way,” and he thinks the competition is “a golden opportunity for West Liberty.”

For more information about this year’s MADFest competition, please visit