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County fair is catalyst to singer/songwriter’s success

“MaryRose and More” will perform from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Carlton County Fair. Band members include Jean Marie Blair, Rory Butkiewicz, MaryRose Varo, Mikaela Krikava, Greg Class and Jamie Halverson. Contributed Photo

While most people would point to “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” as a springboard to fame, MaryRose Varo credits the Carlton County Fair for landing her some pretty sweet gigs.

After debuting her “Century Farm” song at the Barnum fair 10 years ago, Varo ended up playing at fairs across the state and even South Dakota. Then she wrote “Unsung Hero,” performed it at the Carlton County Fair and ultimately ended up performing her original song honoring fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thus, when Fair Manager Alysha Sample came calling, Varo jumped at the chance to perform at this year’s fair.

Varo will be joined on the stage by at least five other artists — not including those she manages to coax out of the audience — for a two-hour performance of her original songs.

“MaryRose and More” will perform from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14. In addition to Varo, the group includes Jean Marie Blair, Rory Butkiewicz, Mikaela Krikava, Greg Class and Jamie Halverson. They’ve been practicing in earnest since May.

It’s been a creative journey, said Varo, a singer-songwriter who describes the group as an “Indigo Girls”-type folks style band with “rich rhythms and harmonies.”

“I thought I would teach them my songs and tell them what to do, essentially,” said Varo. “Instead they absorbed my songs and came back and made it into something even bigger than I ever could have directed.”

Hence the “and more” part of the group’s name. Not only are they greater in number, but they made her songs bigger and better, too.

Varo’s love of music is infectious. She’s hoping the audience will be inspired to join in, and promises a singalong at the end of the show and will have some sheets with lyrics to hand out to anyone who wants to join in.

Those who fell in love with Varo’s latest tribute song, “One Common Hope,” written about how people came together to help each other after the devastating floods of 2012, won’t be disappointed.