LaGrange Has Talent opens submissions Sept. 1

Published 8:00 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

It is time for residents to dust off their dancing shoes, tune their instruments and step up to the mic because on Sunday, registration will begin for LaGrange Has Talent.

This is the third year that the Magnolia Society and United Way have hosted the talent completion, where locals compete for the $2,000 prize, while raising money for local literacy programs. In past years, the competition has featured a variety of performances and raised thousands for BLOCKS (Babies Learning on Course for Kindergarten Success).

“I’m excited to see the diversity of acts and just how many acts enter,” said Melissa Miller, event organizer. “The number has risen every year. … We are hoping for children, but also adults with talents from churches and other organizations in LaGrange and West Georgia [to enter].”

The judges for the competition will once again be from out of town in order to ensure fairness.

“It is a lot of fun, and we do enjoy seeing the talent in the West Georgia area, but at the end of the day, we are raising money for literacy programs and early initiative programs in the area — programs like Jungle Bus and Success by 6. We want to make sure that every child has the best start, and they are ready for kindergarten.”

In 2018, LaGrange Has Talent had a gross revenue of $25,777, including ticket and raffle ticket sales, and the Magnolia Society has been able to put $150,000 back into the community for early learning initiatives over the years through Merry Market and LaGrange Has Talent. Those funds have helped United Way of West Georgia purchase books and increase awareness for the need for reading within the community.

“This year some of the kindergarten teachers said that more of their children knew their sounds and letters than had before, so we are really raising the awareness of the fact that learning doesn’t start when your child goes to kindergarten,” said Patty Youngblood, president and executive director of United Way of West Georgia. “Learning starts the minute they are born, and you should read to your children from the time that they are born. So, we are really seeing some increased awareness of the importance of reading, which is huge.”

Youngblood said the funds have made possible a variety of initiatives including providing books and prescriptions for reading to local doctors give to parents of young children.

“We were able to hand out books this summer,” Miller said. “We had members of our committee taking books all over town — to the library and to events to children. I think that has been one of the best things for me personally. … We gave out over 2,500 books the past year, and so I think we would like to meet or exceed that.”

Miller said that she hopes to see the Jungle Bus and Success by 6 programs be able to expand through the support from the annual fundraiser.

“We have been able to see the effects of our fundraising already, so we are excited to watch that grow and have even more impact on our community this year,” Miller said. 

However, that success wouldn’t be possible without the excitement and support surrounding LaGrange Has Talent. Miller said that this year, LaGrange Has Talent plans to ramp up its efforts to help acts get their names out into the community during the voting period. 

“We are going to try to be behind the acts this year, being supportive and help them reach their goals as far as fundraising and being on that stage,” Miller said. 

Miller said that everything from yard signs to donation buckets to social media support will be available to performers during the voting period. She said the celebration for the 2019 winners will also be bigger and better than previous celebrations.

LaGrange Has Talent will also be raffling off a stay at Great Wolf Lodge in order to raise funds for BLOCKS. LaGrange Has Talent’s 2018 winners, Our Circle and Addie Eiland will also perform as part of the Nov. 21 competition.

Registration closes on Sept. 30, and voting will begin on Oct. 1. For more information, visit LaGrange Has Talent or visit its page on Facebook.