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Former child singer draws crowd of 2,700

Playing to a nearly-packed house on opening night of the Corn Palace Festival, singer LeAnn Rimes wowed a Wednesday night family crowd and set the mark for shows to follow.

Playing to a nearly-packed house on opening night of the Corn Palace Festival, singer LeAnn Rimes wowed a Wednesday night family crowd and set the mark for shows to follow.

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said about 2,700 fans filled the Corn Palace.

"It was a very good crowd," he said after the show. Schilling said slightly more than 2,400 paid $35 to $40 a seat to hear the popular singer. The remainder of tickets went to event sponsors.

Rimes cleared $75,000 for the show, which ran nearly an hour and a half. That's a number equaled only by Big & Rich, who played last year's festival to a sellout, and considerably more rowdy, crowd.

Rimes began her career as a 13-year-old country music prodigy and demonstrated Wednesday that, at 23, she has become a polished veteran performer. While some in the audience anticipated a warm-up act, it was not to be. It was all Rimes, all the time.

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On a muggy night, Rimes dressed for comfort in short shorts, heels and a loose-fitting baby doll top and offered a straight-forward show with solid musicianship. She displayed power and impressive range.

Playing to a Palace crowd that included both teeny-boppers and grandmas, Rimes worked hard to pry a reserved audience from their seats. It's not that they weren't appreciative -- they were. But Rimes persevered and managed to get some arm waving during her rendition of "I Need You."

The crowd loved the show and was especially receptive to Rimes' hits like "Blue," "Nothin 'bout Love Makes Sense" and "Some People." Her nod toward a few blues and rock classics were show stoppers and her version of Janis Joplin's "Summertime" did bring some people to their feet.

Encores included "How Do I" and her homage to Grace Slick with an explosive version of Jefferson Airplane's rock classic "Don't You Want Somebody to Love?"

Jessica Anderson, of Orange, Calif., and formerly of Mitchell, said, "I returned to Mitchell for Corn Palace Festival and this show was awesome."

Sue Stulc, of Mitchell, agreed.

"It was a great performance and it was great to see the Corn Palace full," she said. "She's a powerful entertainer."

The review of sisters Kassie, Kaitlynne and Karissa Beck of Mitchell was typical of many.

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"It was awesome," they said as a group. "We liked all of it."

The Corn Palace festival continues through Sunday. Tonight at the Corn Palace, Michael Londra, lead voice of Riverdance on Broadway, will perform. The show begins at 7.

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