by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Fanaka Ndege has come home from the Minnesota State Fair with a first prize for entertainment for the second straight year, this time as a solo act.
The ERHS senior placed first in the Teen Division of the County Fair Talent Contest (a state fair competition for county fair winners) and was also awarded second place in teen for the State Fair Amateur Talent Contest.
Last year, Ndege and two other youths, Dupre Robinson and Josh Walbot, won the Open division at the state fair contest for county fair winners, after winning at the Sherburne County Fair.
His act is rap and dance, under the theme of “Hypnotized.”
He explains: “I come on stage like a guy who is hypnotized by the music. And I have three costume changes in my act.”
He starts dressed like a rapper, then switches to a suit coat and tie and fedora, and finishes in martial arts clothing.
“It was a blast. The opportunity of a lifetime,” said Ndege, who of course has done this twice in his young lifetime so far. He said his next gig will be dancing at a school pep fest with Robinson.
In the competition at the state fair, there is a first round, then semifinals, and those chosen to continue get to perform on the main s tage where the big-name acts have their concerts.
Mark Frandsen, the 62-year-old Big Lake resident who won the Open division at the county fair, advanced all the way to the finals at the state fair, singing “Cara Mia My.” He was not one of the top three chosen in the finals chosen for prizes.
The other county fair talent contest winners at the state fair were Alaina Wolff of Faribault (vocal, guitar) in pre-teen, and Alex Shaleen of Chisago Lakes (dance) in Open.
Kaeli Patchen of Plymouth sang “The Lamest Place in the World” to win the State Fair Amateur Talent Contest in the teen division, with Ndege second. Winning pre-teen was Selena Brills of Blaine (vocal solo) while Aria Siles of Apple Valley won Open (violin solo).