JASPER — 141 writers submitted humor essays to the 2016 Will Read and Sing for Food (WRASFF) Humor Writing contest. The contest was open to middle-school-aged and high-school-aged students in Dubois County, including home-schooled and online students. The Top 10 Finalists in the two categories are:
Middle School Writers: Peanut Picker (Andrew Wallace, JMS); Living the Life of a Popstar (Caroline McCance, JMS); Cereal (Ainsley Pierce, JMS); The Crayon Holder (Jake Schotanus, JMS); Waffles (Mackenzie Belk, JMS); A Mozart-Loving Tortoise (Ava Harmon, JMS); The Toddler Outlaw (Quinn Gunderson, JMS); A Blown Gasket (Ellery Wurster, Holy Trinity); The Great Cheeseburger Thief (Grayson Russ, JMS); Baseball Brother (Celeste Eby, Holy Trinity).
High School Writers: Oops (Courtney North, FPHS); Disaster at Disney World (Abigail Hopf, JHS); Meat Head (Conner Persohn, FPHS); Over-Cooked Cook (Brynn Sermersheim, JHS); The B Word (Mackenzie Walling, JHS); This is not Candy!? (Drake Siegel, JHS); Freshman Year Survival Guide (Laurel Hubster, JHS); Wanted for Illegal (Candy) Smuggling (Willy Krosnyak, JHS); Ba HumBUG (Andrea Rillo, JHS); Middle Child Syndrome (Jessica Mundy, FPHS).
The Finalists will be introduced on the Astra Theater’s Jim and Pat Thyen Performance Stage during the May 12 WRASFF show to benefit The Next Act Inc. The two overall winning writers, to be announced at the show, will read their stories during the show. If a first-place winner cannot be present, the second-place winner will read—and so on.
The humor essays had to be 500 words or less. Scott Saalman, founder and host for the show, and his 16-year-old daughter, Delaney, who has written three novels, judged the entrees. The judges used the following criteria: was the story memorable?; did it generate a laugh per paragraph?; did the story demonstrate personality?; was the story believable?; did the story demonstrate quality writing throughout?; will the story make a WRASFF audience laugh?
“We are excited to showcase and encourage the young writers in our community,” says Saalman, a humor columnist for The Herald. “Some, I assume, wrote these at gunpoint by good-intentioned teachers, but I know some did this on their own volition for the personal love of writing.”
“It was tough to narrow the pack down to the final 10, not to mention the final three, and then the overall winner,” he adds. “Overall, the quality of the pieces were wonderful, a testimonial not only to the kids themselves but to their awesome English teachers. Many made me laugh aloud, even the stories of the non-finalists. There was plenty of good stuff on the cutting-room floor, per se, so that says a lot about the overall quality of writing in Dubois County.”
WRASFF is a unique mix of live music and humor essays. Performers for the May 12 show include Abbie Rumbach, Jillian Becher, Scott Saalman, Ray Major, Marc Steczyk, Debbie Schuetter, Kyle Lueken and Megan and Isaac Gatwood. Jasper High School English teacher Brooke Keusch will also read a humorous essay of her own, and JHS senior Luci Hulsman will read/perform her funny essay about Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
To date, since Oct. 2011, the show has raised, through the generosity of its audiences, $62,900 for two dozen causes and charities. Admission for the May 12 show is $10 (adults) and $5 (students). The finalists of the writing contest get in free.
Saalman encourages family and friends of the finalists, as well as the general public, to come to the show and support these young writers, just as they do for our community’s athletes. (Many of these writers are athletes.) It’s also a great way to support the arts thru The Next Act’s efforts to revitalize and renovate our beloved Astra Theater.
Visit www.willreadandsingforfood.com or see our Facebook page.