There were many “winners” in the Upsala Community Variety Show VI held Feb. 23 in the Upsala School auditorium, including the two large audiences that took in the matinee and evening shows. The two-hour spectacular showcased 20 samples of Upsala’s “finest and funnest.”
Singing a pair of Johnny Cash’s most popular tunes, the “The Out of Towners Band” was the overwhelming crowd favorite in winning “Best of Show” honors and the $100 first place prize. “Folsom Prison Blues,” as sung by junior Aidan Guthrie (guitar), was the big hit. Rounding out the band were Paul Jensen (guitar), junior Paul Ripplinger (drums), Josh Knudtson (banjo/vocal), Glory Knudtson (bass fiddle), Denise Cheney (trumpet) and senior Kaelin Smieja (trumpet).
In a close vote for second place, the audience chose the Douvier family, as father Mark (guitar/vocal) joined daughter Margaux (vocal) and son Gabe (bass guitar) in performing “Iris,” an alternative rock song made famous by the Goo Goo Dolls. Third place was awarded to third grader Hannah Luedtke and fifth-grader Paige Binek, who played guitars and sang a bright rendition of “Sweet Home, Minnesota!”
Only nine votes separated the next three spots. Fourth place went to Paul Ripplinger, who performed the Variety Show’s first ever drum solo. In a virtual tie for fifth and sixth were two pianists from the DJ Prom family. Rachel, a freshman, played Yimura’s “River Flows In You” while her sixth grade brother, Collin, performed “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar.
The balance of the program brought even more variety to the Show, including high-energy performances from the Upsala High School Dance Team and two elementary dance teams. Three families, the Knudtsons, Swansons, and vanHeels, combined for bluegrass renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “I Can’t Even Grow a Beard,” a hilarious Duck Dynasty tribute.
American’s favorite pastime was showcased first with Joe Schumer’s recitation of “Casey at the Bat” and later in a fun adaptation of “Who’s On First” by Leonice Prokott and Pam Schoon. Two additional routines demonstrated the beauty of the saxophone. Curtis and Jenna Robertson joined Denise Cheney in performing Phil Buttall’s “The Lone Arranger” and Terry and Isaiah Wardlaw combined for a father-son medley of “Saxophone Fun.”
Hosted by Camp Lebanon’s Bill Abeler and Pastor Craig Johnson of Community Covenant Church, the show was not without a lighter side, including a round of “Gorilla Gets the Man,” a camp version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Filling out the program were the insertions of three video productions produced by 2013 Upsala graduate, Matthew Abeler, including “Ghetto Wagon,” “Pass the Salt,” and “Top 5 Annoying Things about Girls.”
Proceeds from ticket sales, bake sale, and floats topped $2500, making winners of the Upsala High School band who will use the funds to underwrite their spring trip to Orlando, Florida set for March 26-April 1. The band closed out the Show with a rousing version of “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin and the Upsala Fight Song (“Minnesota Rouser”).
The ultimate winner was the Upsala community, which once again came together to celebrate a combination of creative talent, root beer floats and good will.