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Port Moody's Venegas, 7, takes PNE Star Showdown
The world of a seven-year-old Port Moody boy shone a little brighter today (Wednesday) after he clinched the PNE Star Showdown title.
The top prize for Tyson Venegas makes him one of the youngest contestants ever to win the toughest talent competition in B.C., which is considered a career launching pad.
“It’s amazing,” said a stunned Venegas after he was named the best out of nine finalists that included a band, a dancing duo, a ballet dancer, a saxophonist and four others singers.
The Aspenwood elementary student said he’ll be tucking away his $5,000 win into his savings account.
Venegas, who performed the classic hit Route 66 before hundreds of spectators that included a large cheering section for him, took the BC Junior Talent Contest at the Cloverdale Rodeo earlier this year.
The PNE finals were full of surprises.
Before the judges revealed the results, Venegas got a boost when he was asked by the emcee who his idols were. “Michael Buble and Michael Jackson,” he responded.
Then, from out of the crowd, appeared Buble — a PNE Showdown titleholder himself — to give Venegas a hand shake.
Venegas’ mother, Iris Samson, said she was overjoyed with how the day turned out for her eldest child.
Samson, a School District 43 elementary teacher, knew she had a special boy on her hands when, at the age of two, she sang him nursery songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and he would repeat the tunes with a jazzy rendition.
But Venegas wasn’t the only Port Moody resident to place in the Star Showdown.
San Francisco School of Ballet trainee Ben Freemantle earned $2,000 for the second spot in the competition. The 18-year-old dancer performed a self-choreographed piece to The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home.
“I am very grateful,” he told The Tri-City News later. “It shows that dance isn’t dead and that’s very rewarding to know.”
Freemantle plans to use his cash to pay for his apartment in California. (To view a sample of Freemantle's dance, go to http://youtu.be/FCXXMVe6D54).
Also on stage was Port Moody resident and Lindbjerg Academy of the Performing Arts student Julia MacLean, 11, who sang Don’t Rain on My Parade — a song made famous by Barbra Streisand.
And third place in the finals was awarded to saxophonist Jongsung Kim, 32, of Surrey, who played Above All; he received a cheque for $1,000.
Besides Buble, Canadian big band leader Dal Richards was also in the audience as was Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay.
“It’s amazing to see so much talent coming out of the city of Port Moody, earning its reputation as the city of the Arts,” said Clay, who posed for photos with the hometown competitors after the event.