Locals to compete at state fair

Published 7:47 am Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gunnar Peters together with the duo of Bret Canny, center, and Dylan Kaercher will be competing in the talent contest at the Minnesota State Fair after advancing out of the talent contest of the Mower County Fair. --Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The four winners of the Mower County Fair talent competition will be competing at the Minnesota State Fair starting this Friday.

Each of the winners placed first in the talent show’s three categories. Shane Desilva won for the preteen division, Gunnar Peters won for the teen division and the duet of Dylan Kaercher and Brett Canny won for the open division. Desilva and Peters will perform on the Aug. 28 while Kaercher and Canny will perform on Sept. 1.

Peters, 17, won his division by performing “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. He has performed in the county talent show four times and received second place twice, including once when he was two years old.

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“I had entered several times, so it felt really great when I won,” Peters said.

He will be a senior at Austin High School this school year, where he participates in choir, band and the quiz competition Knowledgeable. He also participates in plays at Riverland Community College and the high school. He said he plans to attend Brigham Young University, where both is parents attended.

He said he was not nervous about performing at the state fair because he has more time to prepare for it than he had for the county fair.

The duet team of Kaercher and Canny won with their performance of “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” They were both talented musicians before they teamed up for the county fair.

Canny, 14, is returning to the state fair for his second year of performance. Last year, he won in the teen division of the county talent show as part of a piano duet with Andrew Wester. This year he performed on a guitar in the open division. He participated in the open division because county talent show participants are not allowed to compete in the same category they won the year prior.

He routinely performs at the Village Cooperative in Austin and the Charter House in Austin. He is in both the jazz and pop bands at the high school, as well as his own band, So Much For Sleep. He will be performing an additional performance for at the state fair on Aug. 29 for the 4-H musical performance competition.

His mother Tammy, who homeschools him, said he first learned to perform when she began teaching him piano at age five. She said he is always so eager to perform and that he never needs to be reminded to practice.

Canny said he used to be nervous performing in front people, but now he feels experienced enough to not worry. He said he wasn’t nervous about performing at the state fair, despite the larger crowd.

“I think it’s harder to play at the Austin fair then at the state fair. At the Austin fair, you know a lot of people there and want to impress them,” Canny said.

He said he is not only interested in a future in musical performance, but also one in musical recording.

Canny was introduced to Kaercher because both of their younger brothers played baseball together. They only practiced together a week before the performed at the talent show.

Kaercher, 17, is part of a large musical family. Both his parents are musical performers and his great grandfather is Ollie Hanson, who was notable for his many years winning the county fair fiddle contest. Kaercher first started his life with music when his received a violin from his grandfather at the age of two. He said  he has been a performer ever since.

He is also active in extracurricular activities such as performing in concert orchestra, concert choir and working as the president of the high school drama club. He has performed all positions in his role as president, including director and choreographer. He has worked with both the Riverland theater department and the high school drama department.

Kaercher also works his own singing telegram business as a side job. He started the business in 2008 and runs it entirely by himself. He said he usually receives jobs when people spread his service by word-of-mouth.

Kaercher said he was a little nervous to be performing at the state fair, but he feels his performance at the Owatonna county fair helped prepare him.

He said his abilities in music and theater to due to the people who taught him.

“I attribute a lot of my ability to Brian Johnson, Jerry Girton and Aaron Schoun,” Kaercher said.

Kaercher said he usually sings solo with a recorded track and that his work with Canny is his first time with an accompanist.

The duet’s success at the county fair has lined them up several new performances, including a performance at a nursing home in September and a New Year’s Eve performance at Canny’s church.

Desilva won by performing classical music while blindfolded. He named his performance Medley of the Blind Piano Man.

County Fair Talent Contest receives participants from county fairs throughout Minnesota. The county fairs send the winners of their amateur talent contests to the State Fair competition. Semifinals are held the first nine evenings of the State Fair on the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park. The first and second place finals winners in each division become finalists for the Sept. 5 talent competition on the Grandstand.