By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
From a group musical rendition of "Hard Knock Life" from "Annie" to a one-girl tap dancing routine, sound director Jeff Brown is expected to cover a wide range of music and sound levels at the Madison County 4-H Fair talent show.
The event, which featured 25 entrants with different skill sets and performance goals, wrapped up the schedule of festivities for the fair on Saturday. It allowed talented youth a chance to showcase their ability, and possibly move on to the state fair talent contest in August.
Brown was in charge of arranging the sound for each act.
"It's without a doubt the hardest show I do all year," Brown said.
The Alexandria native has handled the sound control board each of the past five years, and it's a responsibility he enjoys. He typically works throughout the summer, helping out at weddings, parties and church events each weekend. But none of these experiences totally prepares him for the variety of sound needed at the talent show.
Brown adjusts on the fly. He realizes it's difficult for the children, too.
"I try to talk to them, get them to feel comfortable, but they're kids. They're all different, they all have individual personalities, so it's tough," Brown said. "This is my favorite part of the entire 4-H fair."
The contestants split into junior and senior divisions and are further pared into categories like vocal, instrumental and dance. The 12 judged to have turned in the best performances will get the opportunity to compete with contestants from across the state at the Indiana State Fair in August.
Many of the performers debuted Saturday night. Others are veterans of the contest.
Delaney Gillespie, 11; Ashley Mwonya, 11, and Jennifer Delk, 10, form most of the quartet who won the dance division two years ago for Dance Fusion studio in Pendleton. They said they were excited, but more relaxed this year, and focused on the goal of getting back to the state fair.
"I think we learned to have fun," Mwonya said.
This year, dance instructor Kyra Kenyon brought her entire dance team, many of them first-time performers. She said she stressed to the girls to just have energy and embrace the excitement.
"Whether they're on a big, huge stage with a lot of people, or on a teeny, tiny floor, I just want them to have fun and enjoy themselves," Kenyon said.
Terri Brenner, director of the event for the past 19 years, said she has noticed a more relaxed atmosphere this year because of an unexpected positive: the weather. With a cool breeze blowing Saturday and a record low temperature predicted for Sunday, fairgoers were treated to an unseasonably chilly but sunny evening.
"It was really sweltering last year, and you have to watch out for the kids. I got sick myself last year because of all the running around," Brenner said. "This year, we've been blessed with really beautiful weather."
The performances lasted into the evening, and Brenner predicted the winners wouldn't be awarded until late Saturday night.
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