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LaFleur voted Great American Storyteller

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Nicolle LaFleur's winning story at Saturday's contest began with this prompt: "I knew we had met before – the stringy hair, the nasty scare on his cheek."

Nicolle LaFleur of Snellman won the title of Great American Storyteller at the conclusion of Saturday night’s contest at Calvary Lutheran Church.

She received the most audience votes – and prize money of $1,000.

In the first round, LaFleur entertained with a charming story about raising her first daughter in a blended Chinese-American family, with both sets of grandparents living in their new home. She shared the humor and frustrations of negotiating life with a new baby, well-meaning grandparents and cultural differences.

LaFleur is executive director of the Nemeth Art Center.

Donna Marie Todd of Black Mountain, N.C. was runner-up at the fourth annual contest. Her combination of storytelling and singing earned her the second-place award of $500. Her first tale featured her big-hearted dad’s attempts to reform a ne'er-do-well hairdresser.

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Other storytellers were Maeve Bolton of Park Rapids and Noel LaBine of Andover. They each received $250.

In addition to the two rounds of storytelling, Richard Rousseau of St. Paul also engaged the audience while ballots were being counted. Rousseau is Minnesota liaison for the National Storytelling Network. Recently, he was presented with the network’s prestigious Oracle Award. Rousseau and project coordinator Steve Maanum shared duties as emcee. Lori Goulet Reich provided music while the audience was being seated.

Heartland Arts (formerly Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council) sponsored the event with funding provided, in part, by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.

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