Crooners make karaoke a crowd-pleaser for Fair

Posted 25 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – Morgan Parnitzke belts out “Listen” by Beyonce.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

KNOWLESVILLE – Thursday night marked the finals of the karaoke contest at the 4-H Fair and a big crowd turned out for one of the fair’s most popular events.

Seventeen contestants were chosen from prior qualifying rounds throughout the week to compete for the $1,000 prize donated by M&T Bank.

Another prize of 16 hours of studio time was donated by John Wragg, owner of TORQUIL Studios. Wragg was personally judging the contest seeking someone who was very passionate about their and was not simply there trying to win the cash prize. The prize also includes time to make a music video with the studio.

Joyce Stamp entertains the crowd of more than 400 onlookers.

Wragg commented that he was not judging based on age, looks or gender. The important part was that the singer was full of energy and having a great time, while making it clear they lived to be a performer.

“Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks receives a sweet rendition by Laura Mullen.

Brandon Johnson, the entertainment coordinator for the fair, was one of the judges for the karaoke contest.

“This is one of the biggest competitions in the entertainment portion of the fair that happens throughout the week,” he said. “Lots of people come out for this and come back night after night to try to qualify for finals. We’re looking for stage presence, vocal ability and crowd recognition.”

Olivia Redick gets energized during her performance.

He added that pure talent was the key to winning high marks from the judges.

“I like all types of music, said Johnson. “It just depends on who is singing it and their vocal ability and whether the song fits them or not.”

Contestant Rich Nolan performed “Eight-Second Ride” by Jake Owen.

“I’ve been singing my whole life, so it’s just natural,” said Nolan. “I’ve been practicing that way and doing other contests. There’s a lot of good competition. It’s going to be hard.”

Taylor Whittier rocks the crowd to AC/DC.

Taylor Whittier performed an AC/DC for the finals, but also used the band for his qualifier song on Monday. One way he says he gets positive feedback is to get the crowd involved.

“I play music in a local band called Terrible Ideas,” Whittier said. “I’ve been singing since I was 12 or 13 in local places. I just do it for fun.”

Jessica Reigle donned a candy-sweet pin-up look for her number.

Lydia Piazza, a resident of New Jersey, moves to the area in the summer and enters the 4-H karaoke contest each year.

“I love it,” she said about being on stage. “I’ve been dancing since I was 5, so it’s just calming to me. I’ve always been singing just for fun.”

John Gursslin got the ladies in the audience screaming as he sang “Bed of Roses” by Bon Jovi.

Morgan Parnitzke, 17, was not intimidated by some of the older singers because she was competing for the enjoyment of it.

“I just took a lot of time rehearsing the song over and over again. I just felt it,” she said. “I’m glad I got the chance to sing today.”

Parnitzke (left) went on to win the contest with a score of 88 out of 90. The other competitors to make it to the top five included (from left): Rich Nolan, Olivia Redick, Jessica Reigle and Emily Kordovich.

Jessica Reigle also won over Wragg with her fun performance of “Candy Man” by Christina Aguilera. Reigle will be given the opportunity to use the studio space for 16 hours.