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Variety Show Returns to First Baptist Church

March 16 saw people of all gener­ations gather at First Baptist Church in Two Harbors for the 2024 Variety Show. After last year’s successful show, Sara Swanson and Meghan Cavallin brought the variety show back for another evening of family fun.

“Meghan and I first talked about the idea of a church variety show last winter,” Swanson said. “We thought it would be something fun to prepare for and look forward to in the midst of a long and dark win­ter season, when it is sometimes hard to get up the motivation to do anything outside of the necessary. It was very timely, with last year’s re­cord snowfall. People had talents to share that many people knew noth­ing about, and so half the fun was just the surprise at seeing someone you know do something unex­pected. After getting all the posi­tive feedback, we decided to do it again.”

Swanson continued, “Part of the blessing of belonging to a church is the encouragement and fellowship that come from people who know you and care about you. Sometimes our tendency is to pull away from other people, especially in times of stress or pain. We just wanted to bring people together – and laugh­ter and good food is one way to do that. This was our second year orga­nizing the variety show, and we’ve heard some talk about ideas for next year, so we will see!”

Meghan Cavallin also comment­ed on the evening. “It is really inter­esting to see how the variety show will play out. As the emcee, I sort of have an idea of how to engage the audience with prepared jokes, accents, props, or prizes, but it sort of feels like improv and being able to discern what to do next.” Caval­lin credits her open sense of humor to her family. “When I was growing up, my family tried not to take our­selves seriously, and we were not afraid to laugh at ourselves when we messed up. I think people in the crowd appreciate someone who can be open, genuine, or goofy in front of others. It is encouraging to see how God makes everyone with different talents and gifts and how we can come together and spread His joy through the variety show.”

The evening began with a pot­luck, and attendees helped them­selves to a variety of foods domi­nated by multiple mac ‘n cheese bakes. Baked goods of every variety and pink lemonade were favorites among the children in attendance. Peo­ple sat at tables and visited with each other during the meal.

At 5:00 pm, attendees found seats in First Baptist’s sanctuary to watch the show. Sara Swanson welcomed everyone, and turned the proceed­ings over to Meghan Cavallin, the evening’s emcee.

A father-son duo, Tom and Jim Wright, began the show with three folk-style songs on guitar. The first two were instrumental, and they concluded by inviting the audience to sing with them “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Between acts, Meghan Cavallin entertained the audience by having them read jokes written on note­cards. She would select two au­dience members to read the same joke, and the readers were judged on their “funniness” by the volume of the audience’s applause. The winner got to pick a random pantry item from a basket containing white elephant style food goods — enchi­lada sauce, mustard, and other ran­dom items.

Linda Heath came next, perform­ing a rendition of the Green Acres theme song in which she sang both Oliver and Lisa Douglas’ parts, switching hats between each voice. A prop featuring two outfits – one in Oliver’s style, one in Lisa’s – added to the humor of the piece.

An improv piece followed Heath’s song. Sam Klein and Meghan Ca­vallin invited Greg and Shele Hull to the stage, where they were seat­ed and each given a bell and a bike horn. The improv was titled “First Date”, and began with Klein and Cavallin interviewing the Hulls about how they met, and what led up to their first date. After a few minutes, Cavallin stopped the interview and set a timer for four minutes. In those four minutes, Cavallin and Klein re­enacted the Hulls’ meeting, with the Hulls ringing the bell each time they got something right, and sounding the bike horn each time Cavallin and Klein got a detail wrong. The audience laughed at the exaggerat­ed improv of Greg and Shele Hull’s meeting.

A more serious tone came with the next act. Britta D., Brooke S., Graciah P., and Allie K., youth stu­dents from Wings of Eagles Ballet Studio, performed a beautiful dance to the song “Here I Bow”.

Amy Nelson read a few pieces of her poetry next. “It’s always a lit­tle nerve-wracking to share a piece of yourself, especially a piece not everybody knows,” Nelson said of reading her poetry. “But it’s almost liberating to share your passions and get encouraging feedback.” She also commented on the show. “It was a blast to see so many people share a talent and many laughs. It certainly brightens our weird win­ter.”

Carra Carr also read something she had written, a reflection on Eas­ter, written two years ago when she had a self-described terrible Easter. Her reflection shared her struggles that year to have a good day, but also touched on the meaning of Eas­ter.

A young boy shared the history of the Iditarod with the audience. He learned about the Iditarod in school, and became interested in how sled dogs were used to save people from diphtheria.

Another ballet piece was next, performed by the Ballet 4 class from Wings of Eagles, who danced to Natalie Grant’s “Your Great Name”.

Country music followed this, with Nate Eide and his sons Gavin and Levi performing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, complete with cowboy hats, boots, and plaid shirts.

Rick Peterson shared stories of his time working in Alaska and Greenland. “My wife told me to tell my stories to someone else,” he began. One of his stories featured a coworker who wore a knit hat so long that his hair grew through it.

Jay was next, with a puppet that looked like First Baptist Church’s pastor, Scott Nelson. Pastor Nel­son, seated in the audience, read the lines for his look alike in a sketch that commented on the various bald men in the audience.

Two teen boys each shared a country song on guitar: “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, and “Sail My Vessel”.

Greg Hull also came back on stage, this time in a Victorian-era British military uniform, to dramat­ically read Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Gunga Din”, a tale of a water carri­er who saves a British soldier’s life.

A skit was next, featuring Pastor Scott Nelson as a police officer, and his wife, Julie Nelson, as a lady pulled over by this officer.

John Hanel performed a stand-up comedy routine on tourists to the North Shore, a piece found very re­latable by all those in the audience who sit in traffic each summer and fall.

The evening was closed by a skit, “If I Were Not Upon the Stage”, di­rected by Jillian Schneider and fea­turing herself and five other adults. Schneider said, “It’s always fun seeing the different hidden talents of others! And coming together for fun, laughter, and food is never a bad idea!” Her husband, Jason, who was also in the skit, said, “Break­ing out of the normal Saturday eve­ning routine for fun and laughter with friends and the community is a really good idea.” The skit was re­ceived with much laughter, and the audience left that evening laughing and visiting with each other. Gra­ciah P., one of the young dancers, said of the evening, “I loved it. It was fun and funny. My favorite part was [Jason Schneider’s part in the skit] ‘Stop, come here, get back on the pavement!’”.

Sisters and dancers Natalie and Brooke S. said, “It was fun to per­form our lyrical ballet with our friends and share it with others!” Others expressed that there was a wide variety of talents in “such a small community”.

Another of the ballet students said, “I had fun dancing in the show and watching the other acts, espe­cially the one with Mr. and Mrs. Schneider!”

Thank you to Sara Swanson and Meghan Cavallin for putting to­gether a variety show and provid­ing a fun evening for families. A night of food, fellowship, faith, and family fun: sounds like a winning combination.

Haley Searls
Haley Searls
Hello! My name is Haley Searls. I’ve loved writing from an early age, though my nonfiction writing at five years old consisted mainly of weather and gardening reports. I still have some of those early articles: “It’s sunny.” “It’s still sunny.” “It’s raining.” I’m glad to say my writing has improved since then. I wrote a guest post for the Silver Bay Public Library blog, and was the writer/editor of the newsletter for my American Heritage Girls troop. I have been writing for the North Shore Journal since June 2022. Besides writing, I love reading, drawing, photography, music, and spending time with family and friends. Two books that have really influenced my writing are Reforming Journalism by Marvin Olasky and Writer to Writer by Bodie and Brock Thoene. As a journalist, I want to share positive community interactions and inspire people to make lasting connections. Article topics that interest me are ones which show community activities and involvement. Such articles include community events, youth accomplishments, library programming, small businesses, local history, local artists and authors, art programs, and cultural events such as theater and dance. If you have an article idea, email the North Shore Journal with my name in the subject line! I look forward to hearing from you!
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