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Fair talent show brings new and returning acts

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GOUVERNEUR — Participants in the talent show at the Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair grandstand showcased a range of talent and interests Thursday, as they brought favorite songs to an enthusiastic audience. The event continued despite a crash that happened simultaneously at the Wall of Death motorcycle stunt show, which put at least one spectator of that event in the hospital.

Toni J. Young, who is in her ninth year organizing the show, also acted as master of ceremonies, congratulating each performer along with the crowd as they finished.

Half of those who were expected to participate did so this year, because many regulars opted to perform in last week’s Seaway Festival, she said. Nonetheless, Mrs. Young was enthusiastic.

“When they have talent, they should get up here and try it,” she said.

Prize money for the event totaled $1,000, to be divided among the top three performers in each of three age groups: ages 3 to 9, 9 to 17 and 17 and up.

All participants in Thursday’s show also are eligible for the state fair later this month.

Rebecca Branchau-Besaw, 34, Gouverneur, who won the competition two years ago, gave a commanding performance of “How Great Thou Art.” Her daughter, Skyler L. Branchau, 7, also performed. When asked why she chose to sing the classic hymn, Ms. Branchau-Besaw said God was the main influence.

“He gave me my voice, so I want to just sing for him,” she said.

Allexa M. Hooper, 14, Ogdensburg, presented a song she had written for a friend who died recently.

“It has a lot of meaning to me,” she said.

For Allexa, the fair’s talent show is one of many performances she is doing as she chases dreams of stardom.

“I’ve always wanted to be on the radio,” she said.

Judges for this year’s show are Kristina M. Dean and Toni L. Zygadlo.

The talent show was sponsored by Farm Family Insurance.

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