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Butler Project in Aitkin begins national Judy Garland talent search

■ Aitkin’s Butler Project launches national Judy Garland talent search

AITKIN — One of the most beloved movies of all time, “The Wizard of Oz,” will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2014. Judy Garland, who starred as Dorothy in the movie, has a special place in the hearts of many, but perhaps especially in her home state of Minnesota. In honor of the upcoming anniversary, The Butler Project in Aitkin announced a national Judy Garland talent search.

The contest seeks to find one finalist from each state to compete for the national title. Contestants will be judged on overall appearance, vocal talent and should be 18 – 45 years of age. Individual state finalists are asked to gather in Aitkin at the Aitkin Opera House at Butler’s in October 2013 for the finals.

One festival or event from each state will be selected to host the Official Judy Garland National Talent Search. The complete list of participating festivals will be announced November.

The winner of each state contest will receive a four-day/three night trip to Aitkin in October 2013 for the final contest, the Butler Project announced.

The Butler Project stated the national contest winner will be awarded a cash prize of $10,000, a set of professional photographs, and participate in the Grand Rapids Judy Garland Festival in 2014. Local, regional and national TV appearances will also be part of the winner’s package.

The contest is owned by The Butler Project, LLC and is produced by Allen Consulting. A portion of the proceeds from the contest will benefit The Rainbow Foundation and Sylvia’s Children.

The Aitkin Opera House, currently operating as The Butler Project, LLC, is where Judy Garland appeared as part of the Gumm Sisters vaudeville act in 1925 when she was 3 years old.

Garland is originally from Grand Rapids where the official Judy Garland museum is housed in her childhood home and where a Judy Garland festival is hosted each year. For more information on the National Judy Garland Talent Search, contact Sylvia at Allen Consulting,

The Butler Building, located in downtown Aitkin, was the original Aitkin Opera House, a mixed use building built in 1903 and expanded in 1904 that included dry goods, carriage sales, a bank, barbershop and the Aitkin Opera House.

The building was purchased in 2011 by Sylvia Allen (owner of Allen Consulting located in Holmdel, N.J.) and is being renovated. Plans call for a diverse collection of shops, an Internet café, and special event space on the main floor. Plans for the upper floor include house performance and event space with a lower level that has space for two restaurants.

For more information on leasing space at the Butler Project contact Sylvia Allen at 732-241-1144 or visit

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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