‘Got Talent!’ competition features local talent, surprises
From a judicial candidate and a city manager to too many to name talented children, The Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted the second annual “Southwest Florida’s Got Talent!” competition at the Edison Restaurant this week.
It was a joint effort by the The Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and CONRIC PR & Marketing that featured singing, dancing, and even artwork-in-the-making.
Talent included 19 acts on stage — with a final five moving on to another leg of the competition, which will result in an ultimate winner from either Lee or Collier County.
North Fort Myers’ own Pamela Cronin was one of the celebrity judges, along with Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker and the popular Bill Woods from Fox TV’s “Morning Blend” show.
Several acts/groups from the local area included the Cape’s Spencer Saso, Keith Cute, Derrek and Mary Ann Connolly, and several acts from one Cape family — Avie, Julian and Isabella Montoya. Former Cape Coral City Manager and now Fort Myers Beach City Manager Terry Stewart also performed.
Young Saso came with his family, including mom B.J., uncles Alan and Anthony, family members Marissa Rose, Jehna and grandmother Mary Saso.
“He’s been singing for a while now, even singing the National Anthem at Miracle games,” said uncle Anthony Saso.
Both Saso and Stewart are two of the five who will move on to another phase of the competition, along with Matlacha artist Laoma Lovegrove.
Her talent was doing a patriotic painting in three minutes, that tuned into an eagle and a flag in the last few seconds of her act.
Other finalists were Haley Hinds and Alan Bradford. The Cape’s Cute was in a tie with Bradford at the final hour, but Bradford ended up getting the last slot.
There was a wide range of performances and talent profiled. The Cape’s Cute performed a song he composed himself, Derrek and Mary Ann Connolly did a nostalgic yet updated “Donny and Marie” act (“I’m A Little Bit Country, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll”). There were two Michael Jackson dance numbers, and attorney David J. Shestokas, who is running for Lee County Judge, did his own version of the song “Gloria.”
The judges enjoyed the event as much as the participants.
“I’m honored to be part of this group,” said Pamela Cronin, who calls herself “VP of Fun” as one of the owners of the Shell Factory. Each judge gave his or her critique of the acts, with Cronin leading off.
“I’ve never been asked to judge anything before,” said city of Fort Myers Police Chief Douglas Baker. “This is first, and I’ve had many this year. And it is fun.”
“This is in my neighborhood; I was honored to do it,” said Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, who also said he enjoyed the event.
“Wild Bill” Woods had a quip or humorous story for most contestants, and heartfelt praise for their individual styles. “It was an outstanding group of performers,” he said.
“Here in Southwest Florida we do have so much talent,” said Connie Ramos-Williams of CONRIC PR & Marketing, a co-sponsor of the event.
“It is our opportunity to let the performers show the public who they are and what they do.”
Veronica Culbertson, president and CEO of The Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce agreed and said the event was immediately popular when announced. “It really has caught the attention of the community.”
Robert McDonald was the DJ, who said he enjoyed the venue and the unique show. Troy Nelson was the videographer who caught the action.
Edison Restaurant Manager Joshua Noland was the gracious host of the event. “We were a proud sponsor. The participation was great.”
Other sponsors included Television Telemundo, which will broadcast some of the acts on upcoming shows.
A second competition is scheduled in Collier County at Ultra in Naples on Saturday, Aug. 28. The top five winners from Lee and Collier will perform at the a “Grande Finale” scheduled for Sept. 28, location to be announced.