Tongue Twister Tourney returns Feb. 26

Hood River County Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) has announced the sixth annual Tongue Twister Tournament will take place on Feb. 26, at a new location – Butler Bank Social Cub, 301 Oak St.

The event is open to the public and a fundraiser for the SMART literacy program, in which volunteer community members spend time each week reading one-on-one with kids in grades kindergarten through third. Each child gets two books to keep each month, to go with getting to know and love books with the caring companionship of an adult.

This is the third year the tournament has happened on the final Friday of February – the date itself a tongue-twister. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the tournament begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 per person, at the door.

Local merchants are donating prizes, and supporters will also be able to sponsor “book packets” for reading at SMART programs at each school, and for taking home. The tournament, Hood River SMART’s only annual fundraising event, is also a chance to learn about the program and how to enlist as a volunteer for the 2016-17 school year. Programs happen in each of the elementary schools and Head Start locations.

Defending champion Morgan Graves, a Hood River Valley High School junior, will be back for more, and local judges will include Heather Laurance and Dan Goldman, two 2015 competitors. The competitors will include students and local public officials.

In Tongue Twister, competitors tackle difficult samples of word play –“ She sells seashells at the seashore” for example — with two elimination rounds leading up to the finale.

In addition, audience members can make a donation and ”try their tongues” in an open mic, for prizes.

SMART is contacting potential sponsors including local businesses to make event donations of $200 to $3,000 for recognition and other benefits, and for prize donors.

If you want to sponsor or donate, call Kirby Neumann-Rea at 541-386-1234.

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