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Miss Minnesota to perform in Frazee

Kathryn Knuttila, Miss Minnesota, will be performing at a Christmas Concert Gala in the Frazee Event Center on Dec. 9. Photo by Brian Basham.

Though Detroit Lakes native Kathryn Knuttila's life has been a whirlwind of activity since she was crowned as Miss Minnesota in June, she still tries to get back to the area at least twice a month.

After all, she has piano students to teach -- and choirs to direct. Specifically, Knuttila has been the music director at Frazee's Sacred Heart Catholic Church for the past 2½ years.

"As Miss Minnesota, I've been traveling everywhere," she says, "and they've been really understanding with my schedule."

So when Sacred Heart approached her about performing at a special Christmas Concert Gala and fundraiser, she was excited.

"From the time I first took the job at Sacred Heart, the community immediately welcomed me," Knuttila says. "This is a way to pay them back for being so supportive.

"I feel like I have two homes now (Detroit Lakes and Frazee)."

Knuttila will be performing a mixture of her own compositions and traditional Christmas music at the Gala, which is set for Thursday, Dec. 9, in the Frazee Event Center. She will also be joined on stage for a few pieces, by two of her "very talented" college friends, a vocalist and a violinist.

"I'll be playing a lot of original music I've composed -- it's off my first CD, 'Blessed Beyond Measure,'" said Knuttila. "I'll also be performing some Christmas tunes."

Knuttila has been selling copies of her new CD at her Miss Minnesota engagements, with proceeds to benefit the Children's Miracle Network -- a national partner of the Miss America Pageant, in which Knuttila herself will be competing about six weeks from now.

"Everyone can watch it on ABC (the network where the pageant will be nationally televised)," Knuttila says.

But there will also be a large contingent of friends and family watching her from the audience at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas, where the event will be held.

"I've got quite a lot of people from the DL area coming," Knuttila says. "It's a big theater to fill -- we want lots of people there cheering."

Though winning the title is, of course, the ultimate goal for Knuttila, she would be quite happy just to finish among the top 15 finalists.

"I would love to place -- Miss Minnesota needs to be represented (in the finals)," she said. "But it's really just an honor to be there."

Though she expects some nerves to kick in during the live event, Knuttila said, she's "not really nervous."

"I'm so excited," she continued. "I've been dreaming about this my entire life... I'm just ready to take it all in."

But before she has to start rehearsing for the pageant, Knuttila must first prepare for the Dec. 9 concert gala, which begins with a 6:30 p.m. The concert gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

Unlike many events at the Frazee Event Center, however, Knuttila will not be performing on the main stage.

Instead, "they're building a stage for me," Knuttila says. "It's a platform stage, a really intimate setting... it's going to be awesome."

As for her preparation, Knuttila says that the "Night of Inspiration" concerts she's been doing across the state as Miss Minnesota have meant that less rehearsal is needed.

"This (performing) is part of what I do every day (as Miss Minnesota)," Knuttila says.

The concerts are an extension of her platform, "Inspiring America: Crowning the Good in Your Neighborhood," with which she aims to honor "the everyday Americans that are doing inspiring works."

The stories of many of these inspiring Americans have been posted on Knuttila's website,

"What I love about this platform is that it takes the focus off of myself and puts it onto the people that the crown represents," Knuttila says.

As for being crowned Miss Minnesota: "It's been a dream come true, but I'm also busier than I ever thought I'd be. Every day is an adventure.

"I'm in a different city almost every other day, speaking at schools, to civic organizations and service groups, and of course performing. Minnesota has been so great to me -- everybody has been so welcoming.

"If I would win (Miss America), that would be amazing, but if I don't, I will continue the privilege of representing the state as Miss Minnesota until next June."

Tickets for the Dec. 9 gala are $25, and can be purchased in Detroit Lakes at First Security Bank & Insurance or DL Newspapers; in Frazee at The Backyard Station, Yak Shack and United Community Bank; and in Perham at Knuttila Financial or at The Wild Goose.

Note: The story that appeared in Sunday's Becker County Record about the gala incorrectly stated that there would be a catered dinner as part of the event. The gala includes wine, appetizers and desserts, but no dinner.