as you can see from the solution grid, the meta is completely straightforward: fill in all the rows and crates, and the 9 letters that don't get used in a crate, reading from top to bottom, spell out COUNT ME IN, which is the meta answer. it's also what i hope all of you will be saying to year 2 of outside the box puzzles, of course!
there were 88 correct answers submitted to the contest, and 0 incorrect answers. (like i said, straightforward meta!) congrats to everybody who solved the puzzle and entered the contest! this is, by some distance, the most entries i've ever received for a contest on this site. i hope you enjoyed the puzzle!
one last note: if you like puzzles of this type, patrick berry had an excellent one in the wall street journal this past weekend.