Young talent shines in inaugural Little Big Shots

Sylvie Thompson, 5, closes Saturday's Little Big Shots Talent Show with a stirring rendition of "God Bless America." (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Sylvie Thompson, 5, closes Saturday’s Little Big Shots Talent Show with a stirring rendition of “God Bless America.” (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — A whole lot of talent can resonate from some tiny frames, and Manistee area youth proved as much Saturday in the inaugural Little Big Shots Talent Show during the Manistee National Forest Festival.

One of several new events to the 82nd installment of the festival, Little Big Shots is based off the hit TV show of the same name, providing a venue for budding skills to shine.

“The talent we had here today was just tremendous,” said Shirley Madden, the event’s organizer and emcee. “I’m a former school counselor, so I’ve always done talent shows for kids.

“Sometimes we’re so focused on reading, spelling and math that those artistic talents aren’t addressed in the schools,” she added. “That’s why I loved giving these kids the opportunity to come up and display their talents.”

Saturday’s showcase consisted of a small lineup, but it certainly didn’t lack musical chops. Gracing the stage were Trevor Haag (playing piano and singing), Tuggy Thuemmel (playing guitar and singing), Courtney Haag (playing piano and singing) and Sylvie Thompson (singing) and Courtney Haag (playing piano and singing).

“Singers, guitar players, piano players and little Sylvie who just knocked it out of the park with ‘God Bless America,'” Madden said. “It was just the perfect song for the day.”

Attendees were provided a program that included bios of each performer:

Sylvie Thompson (5 years old, daughter of Tina and Jon Thompson): Sylvie began singing as soon as she had a voice. One day, she was on the “Sandy” horse at Meijer and was singing as loud as she could. When she stopped, at least 100 people started clapping. Her mom didn’t even realize a crowd had formed.

Tuggy Thuemmel (13 years old, son of Eric and Julia Thuemmel): Tug started playing guitar five years ago when he was in elementary school. He enjoys playing it and singing. Tug is also a young actor. He has appeared in “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Peter Pan,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This young actor also played Ralphie in “The Christmas Story.”

Trevor Haag (11 years old, son of Cari and Jason Haag): Trevor is a sixth grader at Manistee Middle School. He has been playing the piano for over five years. He also loves singing.

Courtney Haag (ninth grader, daughter of Cari and Jason Haag): Courtney attends Manistee High School. She enjoys playing the piano but she also has a tendency to be shy. Hopefully as she participates in more shows of this nature, she will become more comfortable.

There was a fee associated with participation in Little Big Shots, with all proceeds benefiting the Blue Tigers Scholarship Fund. While admission to the event was free, donations were accepted to benefit the scholarship fund as well.

The event wasn’t judged, as each participant received a ribbon for their performance.

“We’ll definitely be back,” Madden said, “and next year it will be bigger and better.”


Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or

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