Submitted by Westport Winery

Darci Maxwell of Windermere, Florida was selected as the winner of the Swim to Unforgettable Grays Harbor mermaid contest on Friday, March 25, just prior to the start of the International Mermaid Museum Festival held at Westport Winery Garden Resort. Nearly 300 merfolk from around the United States entered the contest.

women dressed as a mermaid by a body of water
Darci Maxwell. Photo Credit: Matt Kitt Photography

In her entry Maxwell said, “I am swimming to Unforgettable Grays Harbor to learn as much as I can! Knowledge is a powerful tool that can be used to unify, empower, and create. I want to learn all I can about life under the water so in turn I can educate those I meet to better protect our world.”

The top ten vote recipients were awarded prizes from the museum for their great efforts and enthusiastic entries. They include Lara Akai from Eagan, Minnesota; Jessie Jewels from Warwick, Rhode Island; Tracey Barrow from Port Orchard, Washington; Willadee Worthington King from Bellingham, Washington; Elizabeth Ralleigh from Stuart, Florida; Jenifer Manning from Windermere, Florida; Sahra Aube of Lacey, Washington; Jessica Nickerson of South Weymouth, Massachusetts; and Grace Williams of parts unknown.

Maxwell’s story is inspirational, “I became a mermaid mostly because I’m actually terrified of drowning! Mermaiding became a way for me to combat one of my greatest fears in a positive and magical way. Through the magic of mermaiding, I’ve been able to grow as a performer and a swimmer along this journey. I’ve become more confident in the water, increased my breath hold significantly, and learned to trust myself.”

When on land, Darci is a cast member at Walt Disney World. Away from work, her enthusiasm for mermaid culture is something she loves to share. She explained, “I am very passionate about helping others become mermaids as well. Mermaiding is for everyone! Sometimes it just takes someone to believe in you. I have had some incredible mentors who have been instrumental in helping me grow along my journey, and I want to give back to the community by passing along that kindness. This past year I’ve had the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for Fin Fun, helping countless friends start their mermaid journeys.”

For her prize, Maxwell won a trip to Westport, Washington, to visit the International Mermaid Museum and to discover Unforgettable Grays Harbor County. The trip includes three nights in a beautiful condo donated by Vacations by the Sea, three meals donated by the Sea Glass Grill at the Westport Winery, travel expenses, and admission into the International Mermaid Museum.

woman in mermaid costume on a fjord horse with a unicorn horn in a forest
Sarah Beck and Nemo, a Fjord horse. Photo Credit: Capture.Share.Repeat

The Swim to Unforgettable Grays Harbor contest was a collaborative effort. The filming was done by Jill and Greg Jacobs of Capture.Share.Repeat. Westport Winery team members portrayed the mermaids in the campaign. It takes great courage to become a model for a day and each performed with enthusiasm and grace.

The campaign owes much of its success to Westport Winery’s head chef Lizzie Halsey as the surfing mermaid, head server Judy Drennan as the beachcombing mermaid, groundskeeper Steve Martin as the king of the ocean merman, host Armando Vega as the rainforest grunge merman, wine specialist Sarah Beck as the unicorn riding mermaid, retail specialist Brandi Slater as the fishing mermaid, owner Kim Roberts as the lighthouse mermaid, assistant chef Jasai Peterson as the fresh seafood mermaid, and Nemo–owner Carrie Roberts’ Norwegian Fjord Horse–as the unicorn. The images can be seen on the museum’s website at

The International Mermaid Museum is a registered 501(C)3 non-profit dedicated to teaching ocean ecology from seashore to sea floor immersed in mermaid mythology uniting world oceanic cultures. The International Mermaid Museum is located on the grounds of Westport Winery Garden Resort, halfway between Aberdeen and Westport on the Washington Coast.

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