Young talent shines at Elkhart County 4-H Fair

    Organizers for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair youth talent contest are asking more local teens to join the competition.

    Posted on July 24, 2014 at 6:23 a.m.

    The Elkhart County 4-H Fair talent contest is dwindling.

    Entries in the senior competition — ages 13 to 18 — are down to 19 from about 25 last year, and less than half the size of the junior competition — ages 12 and younger — had about 45 participants.

    Emcee Matt Long joked about it while announcing the single instrumental solo contestant during Wednesday’s talent show at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.

    “Hard to believe there’s only one person in Elkhart County who can play an instrument,” Long joked. “That person is here!”

    Even with only 19 entries in the senior competition, the talent show is a place for aspiring performers to stretch their legs and perform in front of an audience.

    Vocalist Maddison Read wants to sing professionally someday. She performed “House of the Rising Sun” Wednesday but said her first-choice song was “Unusual” by Francesca Battistelli.

    “I want to be a Christian singer,” Read said.

    Battistelli is Read’s music inspiration. The young singer got to see Battistelli perform Sunday at the fairgrounds.

    Most contestants perform multiple years, moving from the junior to senior division as they get older.

    Contest organizer Daryl Fradenburg said he’s confident more teens will enter the contest next year. He’s planning to reach out to local schools, music programs and dance clubs to recruit talent.

    “It’s a great venue,” he said. “You can see they’re having a lot of fun.”

    Growing the show will take some work with sponsors and media, he said. It’s not uncommon for numbers to drop a bit from year to year, or for contestants to miss the show because of stage fright. But he wonders if fewer people entered this year because they’re getting more and more busy.

    “I can’t control that,” he said. “I can just keep offering.”

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