Local Artists Wow the Wadena Community at Inaugural Wadena’s Got Talent Show – Wadena Pioneer Journal


WADENA – ‘Wadena’s Got Talent’ was definitely the perfect name for an event like this. On the evening of Friday, August 19, the Wadena community took the stage at the historic Wadena Memorial Auditorium to sing, dance, and perform their hearts out in the region’s premier talent show, hosted by the Wadena Area Concert Association.

“It was good to be back (on stage),” said dancer Mackenzie Wilds, who performed a tap duet with Brooke Goddard in the 15-and-under portion of the show. “Once on stage, it’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Deb Nelson plays piano for the crowd at Wadena’s Got Talent, earning her the win for the 16+ portion of the contest.

Elizabeth Vierkant / Wadena Pioneer Journal

Laurie Anne Runge sings during the show Wadena’s Got Talent while her daughter, Elisa Mae, accompanies her on the piano.

Elizabeth Vierkant / Wadena Pioneer Journal

The talent show, while fun for both performers and audiences, also had a competitive edge. There were two different categories for talented people looking to perform: 15 and under and 16 and over. Judges, seated at a table in front of the stage, determined a winner for both categories, who would each win a cash prize of $200.

Thus, the community of Wadena presented itself. All the talents from piano, vocals, tap, guitar and even harmonica took to the stage as the audience gasped and cheered them on. Murmurs could be heard between each act, talking about the talent of each last performer.

“(Playing in front of everyone) was different,” said Deb Nelson, who played piano in the 16+ category. “I was a music teacher here for 35 years, so I was performing three times a year with my kids, but I always had my back to the audience. Being in the center was a little unnerving.”

Despite his nerves, Nelson’s performance impressed both the audience and the judges. She was announced as the winner of the 16+ game. Mackenzie Wilds and Brooke Goddard, the tap dancing duo, had the honor of winning the 15 and under portion.

Mackenzie Wilds and Brooke Goddard perform their tap number in front of the crowd at Wadena’s Got Talent.

Elizabeth Vierkant / Wadena Pioneer Journal

Elisa Mae Runge accompanies her mother’s song on the piano.

Elizabeth Vierkant / Wadena Pioneer Journal

“I didn’t expect to (win),” a humbled and shocked Nelson said. “I love music. I’ve always loved it. I don’t see myself as winning material, I just like to play.”

For Goddard and Wilds, winning was pretty awesome. They have been dancing for a long time and it was nice to see the reward for their hard work.

Even for those who didn’t win, playing was a treat. Mother-daughter duo Laurie Anne and Elisa Mae Runge said practicing and playing together is a joy. While Elisa Mae performed independently in the 15 and under category as a pianist, she also accompanied Laurie Anne when she sang for the 16 and over portion.

“When we train together, we laugh and laugh,” Laurie Anne said. “We’re just having fun, you know? The music is wonderful, and it’s healing.”

The audience was clearly amused too, as loud applause followed each talented performance.

For more information on the Wadena Area Concert Association and future events, visit the Facebook page @Wadena2022 or alliedconcertservices.com.


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