Dennison talent show was one of the best ever

Dennison talent show was one of the best ever
Teri Stein

The winners of the Dennison talent show were third-place winner Sabrina McGaha, left, second-place winner Renita Ecenbarger and first-place winner Belle Fockler.


The judges at the Dennison Railroad Festival talent show had the most difficult job at the event as 10 contestants took the stage. This was the second year for the show since it was brought back after the pandemic.

“This is one of the most talented groups of contestants I’ve ever seen in a talent show. I wish we had more prizes and awards to give out,” show host Marc Davis said.

First place went to Belle Fockler of Dover, second place to Renita Ecenbarger of Dennison and third place to Sabrina McGaha of Dennison. They took home $100, $75 and $50, respectively.

Fockler wowed the crowd and the judges with her song and dance routine to “I’m a Brass Band.” The song is from the 1969 Broadway musical “Sweet Charity.”

Fockler has just finished her first year at Ohio Northern University, where she is pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater.

“I’m having a lot of fun, learning a lot. I’ve had a lot of great experiences, and I can’t wait to go back,” Fockler said.

Fockler will perform in the musical “Spring Awakening” at the Ohio Musical Theatre Institute in Columbus over the summer. She will work as an understudy, learning five different roles.

Fockler has shopping plans for her winnings.

“I love thrifting. I’ll probably go thrifting with my friends,” she said.

Second-place winner Ecenbarger lost her grandmother earlier in the week. She ended up picking one of her grandmother’s favorite songs, “Temporary Home,” to perform.

“Actually, because it was an emotional week, I just started practicing today,” Ecenbarger said.

She plans to use her winnings to help take her family, including seven children, out to eat.

Ecenbarger and third-place winner McGaha hone their vocal skills regularly by attending karaoke nights at various places.

McGaha sang “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in the show.

“It’s always been a favorite of mine,” McGaha said. “I’ve been singing since I was 3. I’ve chased it all my life. I’ve sang in bands, sang in karaoke contests.”

Many people recognize her from those experiences, and she is happy to still be singing at the age of 51. She credits her teacher at Lakeland School, the late Chris Hughes, for her talent for singing and all she knows about singing.

“I love singing. It felt great to hear my name. I wasn’t expecting that,” McGaha said.

She said she hopes to get to a place where she can sing the song “Dancing in the Sky” for her son, who passed away in 2022.

“It’s something I might pull out for next year,” she said. “I just want to thank everyone for listening.”

Judges for the competition were Derek Kohler, Connie Hillyer and Helen Borland.

The other seven performers included Kyla Barr, 8, who sang “Beautiful Things.” Emily Lewis played the guitar to a song she wrote called “Hearts Content,” playing a kazoo part at the end. Sami Krocker sang “Second Chance.” Sisters Aria, 11, and Isla Dotts, 13, played the guitar and fiddle and sang to “Our Song” by Taylor Swift. Ashton Mundell sang “Waving Through the Window” a cappella. Roger Deardorff, the show’s oldest participant at age 73, sang a rendition of “Peace in the Valley.” Eight-year-old Mia Brinkley performed a dance routine to “Old School” in an outfit complete with a gray wig and pink curlers.

Davis said, “I think they should all be proud of themselves for how hard they’ve worked to prepare for today and for how great they are doing. I hope they will all come back next year and try again.”

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