Logan County Fair

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At the Logan County Fair

Talent reigned and the night
was filled with magic    
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[JULY 31, 2003]  Oh, what a night July 30 was, as a whirlwind of talent performed on the center stage of the Logan County Fairgrounds. The Logan County Fair junior and senior talent contest had begun.

Kevin Franz was the host of the evening. Franz began by introducing the three judges of the event: Josh Masterman, Kingsley Keys and Martha McBride. All three judges had plenty of experience in the field of music entertainment, and tonight they would need all of that experience when it came time to deciding the evening's contest winners.

The evening was not going to be just any night, as 11 acts in the junior division and seven in the senior division would compete and provide the Logan County Fair audience with a magical evening of song and dance.

The ages in the junior division ranged from 6 to 13 years, and although the talent was young, those performing demonstrated a wide array of skill and provided their fans with beautiful, zestful songs and smooth dance arrangements.

Kaylie Honkala, a 13-year-old performer from Ashland, started the evening off with a rousing country song. Trystan Anderson, 6 years old, from Lincoln, followed by singing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The U.S.A." Wearing a red, white and blue dress Trystan certainly charmed her way into the audience's heart. A dance duet, "Kung Fu Fighting," by Annie Sheley and Jaci Gandenberger, followed as the clogging duo high-stepped their way around the stage. Then came Audrey Maske with "I Wanna Be A Cowboy Sweetheart." She had a guitar accompaniment and finished the song with yodeling. Kayla Billlington followed with a dance number.

Taylor Ehmen dazzled the audience with a combination of dancing and baton twirling. At one point she was twirling two batons at once. Katie Gosda, 11 years old, sang a second rendition of "God Bless the U.S.A." This song seemed to be very popular among the junior contestants. Kayla Buss and Kaylyn Engelhardt choreographed an exciting dance number. Chrissy Barrett, 10 years old, from Hammond, sang, as did Emily Reimers from Lincoln. Maggie Buss and Holly Klockenga choreographed a dance song that they performed. The junior division ended with each act providing plenty of entertainment and enjoyable listening for the audience.

The senior division had seven acts competing. Justin Thompson began by performing a very athletic dance number. Thompson, 15 years old, was agile and energetic in his performance. Megan Butler, 19, from Macomb and Western Illinois University, followed by dancing to the song "On Broadway." Michelle Kaesebier sang Shania Twain's song "From This Moment." Michelle is 18 years old and a veteran at the Logan County Fair talent show. She said that she learned to sing because of her father and his karaoke machine. Elizabeth Ward provided another dance number for the audience. Kelsey Ney and Wes Tucker danced a fun-filled version of the song "Love Is Strange." Elizabeth Pugh, a 15-year-old from Mattoon, sang the song "When You Say Nothing At All."


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The senior competition ended with Brande Montgomery and Kirsten Gandenberger from Lincoln dueling it out in a great dance rendition of "Dueling Banjos." Brande and Kirsten learned to dance at Audra's Dance Studio and have been partners for many years. The dance at the fair will be one of their last performances together, as both are leaving for different colleges in a few weeks.

As the senior performers ended their competition, it was time for the judges to decide the winners in the evening's talent contest. The judges had a very difficult job ahead of them because all of the contestants in both divisions were talented. Judges consider appearance, stage presence, audience reaction and the performance of the contestants themselves in making their decision.

Josh Masterman, one of the three judges, said that in the end it usually comes down to instinct and that it is always good to have three judges. The fact that the three judges all have experience in music also is a big help, but the decision this evening would not be easy.

People in the audience all had their individual favorite. All of the performers seemed to be favorites. Who would it be? The performers had put their hearts and soul into their acts, and they had given their all to the audience. Now, as they came out on stage to await the judge's decision, the audience wanted the best for each of them.

Finally the time had come, the announcement was at hand. Taylor Ehmen, the baton-twirling young dancer who twirled two batons while she danced her heart out, won the junior division, and Brande and Kirsten, the dance team that was dancing together for their last season, won the senior division.

As the prizes were handed out and the competition ended, all of the performers gathered around the stage, the three winners had their picture taken, and members of all of their families came to congratulate them.

There will be other contests, and these talented performers will have many more starry nights to sing and dance their way into the hearts of their audiences. But Wednesday night they performed their magic for fans at the Logan County Fair, and oh, what a night it was!

[Don Todd]

[Pictures by Bob Frank]

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