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'Sing-gular' sensations boost Strawberry Fest Talent Show

Cassie Klinga of Cottage Grove won first place at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show with her rendition of “I’m Shy” from the musical “Once Upon A Mattress.” William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 6
Alfredo Laus of Cottage Grove belted out “I Am ... I Said” by Neil Diamond at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. Laus, a retired Navy veteran and grandfather, won third place. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 6
Samantha Haatvedt, 11 of Inver Grove Heights sang “Lost Boy” by Ruth B at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 6
Jennifer Chavez, 19, of Cottage Grove sang at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 6
Samantha Haatvedt, 11, of Inver Grove Heights sang “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 6
Eventual winner Cassie Klinga sings "I'm Shy" at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia6 / 6

There's a difference between merely singing a song to an audience and getting out there and selling it.

Cassie Klinga did just that at the Strawberry Fest Talent Show on June 13.

The Park High School grad won first place in the competition with her crowd-pleasing rendition of "I'm Shy" from the musical "Once Upon a Mattress." Klinga, a musical theater major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, won last year's competition.

Singer Averi Bednar won second place for her performance of “The Lamest Place in the World” from the musical “13.”

Alfredo Laus took third place. The retired Navy veteran and grandfather belted out an impassioned rendition of Neil Diamond’s “I Am … I Said.”

Laus has performed at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and in the semifinals of the Minnesota State Fair talent competition.

"I love that song," he said.

Contestants performed before a small but receptive crowd. They included Samantha Haatvedt, 11, who traveled from Inver Grove Heights with her father, Michael. The aspiring singer/songwriter sang "Lost Boy" by Ruth B. while accompanying herself on guitar.

She was waiting backstage to go on when she received a good luck text from her friend and fellow performer Hailey James, a Cottage Grove teen who released her first single, "Live Your Life," earlier this year.

Miracle Atvakwu, an East Ridge High School graduate, sang "The Great Pretender."

Competitors also included Kelly Zidon, Baylee Stevenson and Jennifer Chavez.

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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