It was just minutes before 12-year-old Lauren Senden had to check in for the biggest performance of her life and she wasn't where she wanted to be Sunday afternoon.
The Minnesota State Fair Grandstand was at one end of the fairgrounds while she and her mother were pulling into a parking lot on the other end. The two collected their thoughts and did the only thing they could do. They started sprinting through the streets, dodging the thousands of people more concerned about gobbling fried food than getting out of the way of a State Fair Amateur Talent Contest finalist.
“We were almost late for the (pre-show) meeting so we had to run across the State Fair,” Senden said Monday morning, long enough after her Sunday night performance to giggle about the experience.
“Then we got to the stage and it was so huge. Mom talked to me and calmed me down, but Dad was still stuck in traffic with my dress.”
Senden, of North Mankato, was one of three people from the Mankato region to make it to the annual Amateur Talent Contest finals. She earned a third-place finish in the Preteen Division with her show tune “Gimme Gimme” from the Broadway musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Britton Pankratz of Mountain Lake and Sarah Mitchell of Waseca also made it to the finals, both in the Teen Division. Pankratz also earned a third-place finish with her yo-yo performance. Mitchell, who played the piano and sang “That Wasn't Me” by Brandi Carlile, didn't place in the finals.
Senden and her parents, Jim and Lynell, had been staying at a hotel near the fairgrounds since Thursday. Lauren didn't have to compete in the semi-finals at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell until Saturday night, but she had a friend competing in the talent show who she wanted to watch Thursday.