Talented youth take the stage at festival

Area youth brought some “magic” to the stage Saturday as they entertained a crowd for more than 90 minutes.
Of the nearly 20 performers, two young women performed at the Summer Moon Festival scholarship pageant, another tried out earlier in the day for the Disney Channel and a third recently returned home from trying out for American Idol.
In total, 17 area youth took to the stage Saturday and displayed their talent and courage in front of more than 150 people gathered in the Summer Moon Festival Entertainment Tent.
“I am just in awe at how many talented kids there are in this community,” Youth Talent Show organizer Jackie Martell said after their performance as fans lingered around the stage congratulating
the performers. “All we did was send out a few fliers to churches and schools and all these kids are calling wanting to be in the show.
“You always have the kids who are first-timers and you really want to support them and you always have the kids who have been doing this for years and years,” she said. “In all of them you can see the magic they bring to the stage because they become so comfortable and they are really enjoying themselves — there is nothing better in the world when you see that in kids.”
Martell said she loves to watch all the area youth grow and mature on stage.
While she watched competitors aged from 7 to 18 blossom as they gained confidence, she also gets a front row seat as she watches her daughter, Shelby, and her son, Liam, perform.
Shelby and Liam performed a snippet of the play “Willy Wonka Jr.” being performed in Sidney at the Sock and Buskin Community Theatre on Sept. 9 and 10.
“That is a special part of being in this,” Martell said. “I have been a part of the (Noon) Optimist club for years and we do a lot in this community to support the youth, but once your kids become involved it takes on a life of its own, watching them get up and enjoy something so much.”
Ali McClintock and Alicia Sawmiller were two performers who also competed in the Miss Summer Moon scholarship pageant. McClintock performed “Break Even” by The Script as she played her guitar.
Sawmiller signed the lyrics of “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus.
The 17-year-old enrolled in a sign language class at Wapakoneta High School when her friends were taking the class and teaching her words and phrases.
“I really liked it so I started taking the class myself,” said Sawmiller, who started taking the sign language classes two years ago. “As I go forward, I would like to learn to sign more songs.
“I intend to do both competitions again next year because I had so much fun,” she said.
Alex Bauer intends to bring her friend, Ashley Haag, to sing next year. Bauer performed “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” on the keyboard.
“It was fun, but I was kind of nervous,” Bauer said. “I will leave here remembering watching everybody perform and all the different talents.”
Kaelan Voght sang and played guitar to “The Only Exception” by Paramore. Earlier in the day, Voght traveled to Columbus to try out for the Disney Show. She learned to play guitar two years ago and “thought it would be fun to participate in this contest.”
The show ended with 16-year-old Cedric Gagel, who traveled to St. Louis to try out for American Idol.
He told the crowd the American Idol judges liked his singing but he needed to build his confidence for being on stage.
Gagel sang “Follow Me” as all the performers stood in front of the stage as he tried to build that stage presence.
“It was crazy — they are cheering, they are clapping and singing along — you just look out and they are supporting you,” Gagel said. “It was great feeling.”
The son of Tammy and Mike Gagel said he started singing because his father played the Oak Ridge Boys at home a lot when he was younger and he liked to sing the song “Elvira.” He then branched out and sang other songs.
During his time in St. Louis three weeks ago, Gagel, whose sister, Tori, competed in the Miss Summer Moon pageant, said he developed a lot of friendships and gained a lot of experience and knowledge.
“You can’t be nervous on stage, you just have to be yourself and as long as you are yourself the people are going to like you,” Gagel said. “If you try to be somebody else, they are not going to like you — so you just have to be yourself and give them your best and that is all anybody can ask of you.”