Series ends with a gong [UPDATED]Published 9:40am Tuesday, September 3, 2013 Updated 11:41am Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Chuck Barris would have been proud to be in Battle Lake Aug. 29.
The Lake Area Community Center closed out its “Come to the Lakes” summer series with a gong show. The show featured magic acts, singing and comedy bits and drew laughter and applause from the capacity crowd, comprised of people both young and old.
The show, based on the variety series hosted by Barris in the 1970s, was hosted by Dennis Johnson and judged by a three-person panel. One of the judges was Jo Bowman’s Norwegian character Lena, who often drew the biggest laughs of the evening. Gary Harrington portrayed a hard-to-please sports official and Mike Henkenius played Anthony Vincent Gambino. The three judges took jabs at each other and the contestants throughout the night.
After being serenaded by one contestant’s Norwegian love song, Bowman gave the man a handkerchief and feigned passing out when she got it back. Later, the two other judges brought up the Norwegian culinary staple lutefisk, which Bowman defended much to the delight of the audience.
The contestants ranged from teenagers to elderly citizens, but the audience seemed to enjoy each act. The evening began with a magic act performed by a team of high schoolers. After being unable to select the correct card from a volunteer and another failed trick, the group heard the dreaded gong.
One performance seemed to stir the audience more than others. Local teacher Everett Jacobson, known as “The Voice,” sang a version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Jacobson’s performance was met with a standing ovation from the crowd and a nearly perfect score from the judges, with only Harrington, who gave the performance a nine-plus, not giving Jacobson a ten.
“But that score is great coming from me,” Harrington said.
Prior to the gong show, Vyntage Blend performed a wide mix of folk, country and gospel covers. The group also performed during the gong show.
The free weekly “Come to the Lakes” series is over for this year, but those in attendance at the gong show seemed to find it a fun and fitting conclusion to the summer.