FARMINGTON — An 11-year-old Farmington girl's artwork will be featured on syrup bottles at grocery stores nationwide.

Mary Elizabeth "Lizzy" Begay will have her artwork displayed on the label of the Torani's sugar-free French vanilla syrup bottles. The company, which produces speciality syrups for beverages, hosts an annual Arts for Kids contest and features the winner's work on their bottles.

During a celebration in her honor Thursday at the Farmington Public Library, Begay said she was surprised when in May she learned she won the contest. Her winning entry is a piece based off a bird of paradise flower.

"I have a lot of fun painting, coloring and sketching. I really like to paint and draw flowers," Begay said. "I did not expect to win the Arts in Afterschool contest."

With notes in hand, Begay gave a speech on stage, flanked by several special guests, including Mayor Tommy Roberts, state Sen. Bill Sharer and Farmington City Councilor Gayla McCulloch.

During her speech, Begay mentioned that she stops by the library every Friday to read and check out art history book.

The library's youth services coordinator, Flo Trujillo, presented Begay with a framed version of her winning artwork. Begay gave autographed syrup bottles with her artwork to the guests on stage with her before releasing the crowd to enjoy pizza and Italian sodas.

Trujillo said entries for this year's contest were collected in May as part of the after-school programs the library hosts. It is wonderful for youth in Farmington to be in the spotlight for their artwork, she said.

"Being accepted for something like this is pretty awesome," Trujillo said.

Flo Trujillo, the Farmington Public Library s youth services coordinator, receives a plaque for excellence in art education on Thursday during a ceremony
Flo Trujillo, the Farmington Public Library s youth services coordinator, receives a plaque for excellence in art education on Thursday during a ceremony at the library. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

The art contest was hosted in conjunction with Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide children access to quality after-school programs. Torani will donate 5 percent of its sales of two flavors of syrup from September to December to Afterschool Alliance.

During the presentation, Begay's family watched from the front row.

"She really has some talent," said the girl's mother, Jenifer Begay. "We are really excited for her. It's exciting for her to garner so much attention."

Mayor Roberts said the celebration is an opportunity to showcase the talent of young people.

"They thrive on the recognition they get, and they strive to do even better with their work," he said.

Torani has hosted the art contest for nine years, and three of the winners have come from Farmington. Previous winners include Aubrey Maslen in 2009 and Savannah Lesser in 2010.

At the end of her speech, Lizzy Begay thanked the library for hosting after-school programs.

"These kind of programs are great for families or kids. I have been coming here since I was a baby," she said. "The library is a good place for kids to go so that they are involved in good activities after school."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.