All around the nation and the world, dance competitions are a big deal to dancers everywhere. And Marquette has a fairly large dancer population.
So when it was announced the Blueberry Festival would now have its own dance competition, many were overjoyed.
"Competition was huge. Not so much here in Marquette, but a lot of the dancers would go to Chicago or Minneapolis to compete. A few years ago, the economy went downhill, so less people were traveling to do the competitions. And we thought, why not have one here in Marquette?" said Camilla Mingay, Director of the Blueberry Dance Festival.
"We don't have to drive a lot, which I like, because it's just here in Marquette, which is where I live. But then also I know more people here that I get to compete against and dance with, which is fun," said 11-year-old Amanda Diddams, a competitor in the Blueberry Dance Festival.
Many of the dancers competing say they feel more relaxed and at ease in Kaufman Auditorium because it's a familiar setting, and they're among their peers, getting judged just so they can get better.
Blueberry Dance Festival officials say since the competition started six years ago, the number of pieces in the show has quadrupled. They say it may be due to the ever-growing dance population and the abundance of studios and instructors here in the Marquette area.
"I've never done Blueberry Festival before, and my friends have done it, and I've really been interested in it. So it was really fun for me," said eight-year-old Lauren Houle, a competitor in the Blueberry Dance Festival.
"I just like having people judge me because I can learn stuff, but then get better at stuff at the same time," said 11-year-old Taljia Borg, a competitor in the Blueberry Dance Festival.
The first place winner in each of the nine competition categories performed their piece a second time for the audience during the Blueberry Dance Festival Performance Thursday evening.
The first place winners for each category are listed below:
Group Number: "Circle of Life" -Sydney Kivi, Zoey Peterson, Linnea Vincent, Alexa Larmour, Sara Fosco, Charlie Edwards, Therese Katona, Whitney Wirkula
Duet Number: "Tap Dogs" -Jayna Ray, Trisha Ray
Youth Number: "Rockin' Robin" -Chloe Peterson
Preteen Number: "Spanish Variation" -Zoey Peterson
Teen Number: "My Discarded Men" -Caitlin Crum
Adult Number: "Firework" -Whitney Wirkula
Best Self-Choreography: "Bleed Red" -Charlie Edwards
& "Runnin'" -Kaylee Larmour, Alexa Larmour
Honorable Mention: "Rhythm Nation" -Samantha Bray, Ellie Davidson, Charlie Edwards, Eden Langlois, Ellie Process, Olivia Ruuska, Cera Shelafoe
& "Dear Old Friend" -Mackenzie Katzel, Caitlin Crum
OVERALL WINNER: "Spanish Variation" -Zoey Peterson
Zoey Peterson received a $300 gift certificate for the Second Skin Shop on Third St. in Marquette, a pair of Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and a pair of Gaynor Minden tights for winning the title of Overall Winner of the Blueberry Dance Festival Competition.