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.