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Talent show brings out crowds

Rain couldn't keep a good party down and so despite less than desirable weather Septemberfest had its first go around Saturday and Sunday. While the rain may have kept a few people away, plenty still showed up for the Dakota County Technical College event that featured the successful talent contest Dakota County's got Talent.

While the fall celebration had lots to offer someone looking for some family friendly entertainment, the talent contest seemed to draw the largest crowd. And for good reason: the talent was good.

On Saturday 16 acts performed for a panel of judges who narrowed the field to six. Then on Sunday the six chosen competed again for the top prize.

The six finalists Sunday were The Kalisch Family Band performing an instrumental bluegrass version of Lee Highway Blues; Aria Stiles performing a violin solo of Mendelssohn's Third Movement Concerto; the Wild Rose Cloggers performing to Cry of the Celts; Larry Yates with a vocal performance of My Girl; Jenny Mezeritski with a vocal solo of New York, New York and the Neutron Dance Company performing a tap routine.

A generous anonymous donor made everyone's day Sunday when he agreed to award all top six contestants with at least a $100 prize. In addition DCTC President Ron Thomas announced that because scores for the top three were so close all three of the top three contestants -- Aria Stiles, The Neutron Dance Company and The Kalisch Family Band -- would receive a $1,000 prize.

"I think it's really cool. I wanted everyone to win," said Stiles.

Stiles said it is unique for the top three to get the same prize and the seasoned performer would know. She has been competing in talent competitions around the state for nine years. The 14-year-old Apple Valley resident is an old pro and even won the Minnesota State Fair teen division last year.

The other two acts have had some experience in talent competitions as well. The Neutron Dance Company, a male tap dancing troupe, lost this year at the Grandstand during the State Fair.

The Neutron Dance Company hails from Eagan. The group consists of Zach Fremder, Josh Fremder, Tyler Goldstein, Matt Wiegand, Joey Weaver, Erik Senst, Andrew Jensen, Kevin Kluegel and Andrew Kohagen.

The Kalisch Family Band, which consist of Sandy Kalisch and her four oldest children, Hannah, Sam, Alex and Ellason, also has competed in some talent shows. The family is from Lonsdale and started performing together after seeing another family band six years ago on a trip to Branson, Mo. There are seven children in the family and the three little ones are currently learning to play instruments so they can join.

"We are expanding," Hannah said.

The DCTC talent competition was less formal than some of the others contestants have competed at but everyone said they enjoyed the experience. Those in the crowd they also seemed to enjoy the show.

Some teenage girls in the crowd seemed especially impressed with the Neutron Dance Company that consisted of similarly aged boys.

"They're hot," remarked one of the girls.

DCTC marketing and communications director Erin Larsen said the talent show surpassed her greatest expectations.

"We are thrilled beyond belief," said Larsen. "It was just a ton of fun and the acts were really good."

Larsen said if the college hosts Septemberfest again the talent contest will be part of it.

In addition to Dakota County's got Talent there was a number of activities going on throughout the two day festival. Numerous professional acts including the Teddy Bear Band performed. There was a car show Saturday and a motorcycle show Sunday. More than 80 booths provided entertainment and local businesses and organizations got out and promoted themselves.

DCTC held the festival to get people out to its campus. This is the second year the college has hosted such an event. In 2007 DCTC hosted Summerfest, an arts festival. Septemberfest is an extension of Summerfest but was more family oriented.