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Best of the Fest: Talent show draws singers, dancers to Strawberry Fest

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Blues guitarist Olivia Plasch, 8, of Cottage Grove, warms up backstage at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show at Kingston Park. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 8
Miracle Etuakwu, 16, of Cottage Grove, sings “Burn” from the musical “Hamilton” at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. Etuakwu won third place at the June 15 competition at Kingston Park. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 8
Lauren Edlund, 11, played “Let it Be” by the Beatles at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show June 15 at Kingston Park. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 8
Emcee La Rae Mills helps Sam Chapman, 22, adjust the microphone at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show June 15 at Kingston Park. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 8
Lucy Oberdorfer, 7, and Vincent Wahl, 8, dance the cha-cha at the June 15 Strawberry Fest Talent Show at Kingston Park. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia6 / 8
Averi Bednar, 11, of Cottage Grove won first place in the Strawberry Fest Talent Show June 15 at Kingston Park. She sang “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 7 / 8
Blues guitarist Olivia Plasch, 8, plays slide guitar at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. Plasch, of Cottage Grove was inspired to start playing by her grandfather, who plays in the Nick Dinius Blues Band. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 8

Averi Bednar, 11, of Cottage Grove won first place in the Strawberry Fest Talent Show June 15 at Kingston Park. She sang "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."

Singer Desiree Robles, 16, took second with her performance of "I Found a Boy" by Adele.

Miracle Etuakwu, also 16, won third for her cover of "Burn" from the hip hop musical "Hamilton."

They performed for an audience of about 100, who sat in lawn chairs or parked themselves on the blacktop, sheltering from the sun in the shadow of the main stage on opening night of the 2017 Strawberry Fest.

The competition featured interpretations of the blues, Broadway ballads and the Beatles. But it was strictly ballroom for Lucy Oberdorfer, 7 and Vincent Wahl, 8, who danced the cha-cha. The two have been partners since February.

Contestant Olivia Platsch may well be the youngest blues guitarist in Minnesota. Warming up backstage, Plasch, 8, sat hunched over a pink electric guitar that was almost as big as she is. She practiced some blues runs up and down the fretboard, using a silver slide bar that she wore on one finger.

"My grandfather is a guitarist," she said. "He plays in the Nick Dinius Blues Band."

Plasch, of Cottage Grove, takes lessons from Cottage Grove blues guitarist Joe Filipovich.

Sam Chapman, 22, delivered an energetic reading of "Thumbs" by Sabrina Carpenter.

"I'm always nervous, but I lose the nervousness 30 seconds after going on," she said backstage. "Everyone's nervous. They're all getting judged."

Lauren Edlund, 11, played "Let it Be" by the Beatles on her electric guitar. The show also featured performances by Madelyn Elzen and Becca Jorgensen.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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