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Talent on display at annual Festival show


Nathan Whalen

The GMC Trio sings Thursday night at the Strawberry Festival Talent Show. Nearly 30 acts performed during the annual event that showcases local talent.

Roman Soriano-Sanchez had a personal reason for singing "Hallelujah" – the somber and poignant ballad popularized by Leonard Cohen.

"This is for my grandma up in Heaven," the 11-year-old student said during the Strawberry Festival Talent Show held at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Soriano-Sanchez has always sung, but he has been performing for only the past three years.

"I tell him he has a gift and he has to use it," Roman's mom, Rachel, said during an intermission at the Strawberry Festival Talent Show. The show took place June 15 at the high school's performing arts center.

Soriano-Sanchez was one of nearly 30 performers - comprised of dancers, singers, musicians and even a comedian - who were part of the popular Strawberry Festival showcase of home-grown talent.

After several hours and 26 performances in an event where contestants had to audition in order to participate, a freshman at the Arts and Technical High School, Donald Lester, ended up earning Overall Winner honors. The pianist earned the honor by performing "Rhapsodie," which was composed Carl Koelling.

"I thought it was the most amazing piece I could play," Lester said after the show while holding a giant gift box that came along with the top award.

Lester has played the piano for 11 years. Living in the Marysville area for the past five years, he is taught by his Wenatchee-based instructor Linda Butler, with whom he interacts via Skype.

A number of dancers participated during the show and they were recognized by the five member panel of judges who were Teresa Bates, Keith Taylor, Bekki Bingham, D'Weanna Moell, and Roy Klementsen.

Vivian Palmer earned first place for Dance Vocal ages 4 to 7 with her lyrical dance based on "I Will Always Love You," while Grace Tift earned first place Dance ages 8 to 9 for her lyrical dance titled "Halo."

In the Dance Vocal Piano – 9 and 10 year olds, Emma Griffith danced her way to first place and McKenzie Raynor earned first place in the Vocal, Dance, Piano – 11-12 year old.

In addition to being honored for best overall, Lester earned top spot in Vocal, Piano – 13 to 15 year olds and Victoria Steward earned first place in Vocal, Guitar, Dance – 15 to 17 year olds. Lorna Burns earned first place in the Band, Vocal, Comedy category for 16 to 18 year olds.

As for the adults, Marvin Fritze earned top spot in the Vocal, Guitar category and The Fergeson Family Band earned top spot in the band category.

Fritze, who sang an original song for his entry in the Talent Show, said his piece, "Cascade Mountain Plea," is one of his latest songs that he's written. "It seemed to be a natural fit for the Strawberry Festival," he said.

Fritze describes his music as Country with a mountain twang. He is a long-time participant of the Talent Show, earning the overall award in 2001.

Marcy Giesler has been organizing the Talent Show for more than 20 years. Artists wishing to participate have to go through an audition before being accepted.

"Every year the talent just gets better and better and better," Giesler said.

With the Talent Show complete, Lester will still be involved in the Strawberry Festival. His victory earned him a spot in the Strawberry Festival Parade, which took place Saturday night.

He also has a busy June performing. He is set to perform June 20 at the Royal Room in Seattle and at Shoreline Community College on June 22.


Dance, Vocal 4 to 7 year olds

First Place – Vivian Palmer

Second Place – Cat in the Hat Dance Group

Dance, 8 to 9 year olds

First Place – Grace Tift

Second Place – Amarah Talluto and Parker Distefano

Third Place – Abigail Sarr

Vocal, Dance 11 year olds

First Place – Klara Darby

Second Place – Rylee Oehlert

Vocal, Dance and Piano, 11 to 12 year olds

First Place – McKenzie Raynor

Second Place – Roman Soriano-Sanchez

Third Place – Elizabeth Sarr

Vocal, Piano, 13 to 15 year olds

First Place – Donald Lester

Second Place – Alejandro Morales

Third Place – Jessica Zemanek

Vocal, Guitar, Dance, 15 to 17 year olds

First Place – Victoria Steward

Second Place – Megan Gooding

Band Vocal Comedy, 16 to 18 year olds

Nathan Whalen

Getchell High School student Victoria Steward, 15, performs "I Dreamed a Dream" during the June 15 Strawberry Festival Talent Show. Her efforts earned her First Place in the Vocal, Guitar and Dance, 15 to 17 year olds.

First Place – Lorna Burns

Second Place – Silent Sound

Third Place – Morgan Crosby

Vocal Guitar, Adult

First Place – Marvin Fritze

Second Place – Dennis Sigler

Third Place – Joanne Davis

Adult Bands

First Place – The Ferguson Family Band

Second Place – GMC Trio


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