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Johnson County's got talent

It was a night full of amazing performances at the sixth annual Johnson County Talent Show, hosted by the Johnson County Community Foundation at Heritage Hall. Featuring 25 acts along with performances from past winners and the Johnson County Chorale, the talent show serves as a final competition for the winners of the preliminary competitions at the various county schools. The show is divided into four categories based on the grade levels of each contestant.
The four categories are kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, and nine through 12. First place winners in each category received a prize of $75, with second taking $50, and third $25. However even participants who didn’t score within the top three didn’t go home empty handed, as honorable mentions were given gift certificates from Hardee’s and McDonald’s of Mountain City. The master and mistress of ceremony for the night were Joe Herman and Wanda Payne.
The kindergarten through third grade category featured seven acts showcasing the amazing potential that the youth of Johnson County has. First up was Lauren Paterson, a second grader from Roan Creek Elementary. Paterson showed great courage as she sang her version of “Til I forget about you” by the band Big Time Rush. Paterson was followed by memorable performance of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” played on the violin by Roan Creek Kindergartner Timothy Potter. Also displaying her amazing instrumental abilities was Ryleigh Icenhour of Laurel Elementary, who tackled the difficult “Amazing Grace” on the piano. Rounding out the Honorable Mentions was the duo of third graders Alexis Hendley and MaKayla Wilson of Doe Elementary who demonstrated a cheer titled “Firecracker.” Two of the top three placings in this category featured talented clogging acts from Mountain City Elementary. First grader Gracie Wilson took home third place with her performance, while third grader Taylor Parsons secured the grand prize. Dressed in an adorable blue and white dress and accompanied by guitar, second place went to kindergartner Kyla Tolliver of Shady Valley Elementary who sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
Moving up a few years there were eight performances in the category of grades four to six. Of those eight, four were talented piano performances, with two securing positions in the top three. Josie Ward of Roan Creek performed the classical piece “Springtime,” Abdielle Beaty of Shady Valley took on “Amazing Grace,” home-schooled Leah Ransom earned third place with a complex hymn medley, and Abby Smith of Doe was given second place with a beautiful rendition of “Reverie.” Laurel sixth graders Stacey Ward, Samantha Minks, Mikaela Morefield, and Brittany Grayson entered the competition together by singing a lively version of Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey,” while Alexis Payne of Roan Creek sang “Fireflies” by Owl Eyes. Finishing out the category was a complex dance routine by Daisy Treadway of Mountain City and some memorable clogging by Courtney Stout, set to Randy Houser’s “Boots On,” which gave her the number one spot.
The seventh and eighth group contained the least number of competitors but this didn’t mean any lack of talent. Bailey Spencer sang a moving version of “Resurrection Morn,” while Moriah Franklin’s amazing performance of one of Seitz’s Violin Concertos secured her third place. Tristan Clawson and Brandon Vannoy entered the competition by showing the audience their abilities to play blue grass. With Clawson on banjo and Vannoy on guitar, Heritage Hall came alive with the sounds of toe-tapping music that landed the duo with second place. Playing the very difficult “Fadango, A Lively Spanish Dancing Song” on the piano, Mackenzie Robinson grabbed the judge’s attention and took the top spot in her division.
The final division consisted of high school competitors, who gave a wide array of variety and blew the audience away with the incredible nature of their skills. Proving that there is true potential even in a rural area like Johnson County, Austin Mink could have been Taylor Swift herself with a strong performance of “White Horse.” In the same way Forrest Barker and Greg Hopkins gave an unplugged rendition of “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters, which earned them third place. There were also three piano performances, each of which could have been featured as headliners in their own right. Austin Burchette showed his ability to multitask by flawlessly playing and singing at the same time, wowing the audience with “Up, Up and Away.” Daniel Ransom displayed his skills with the piano by mastering the Scott Joplin Ragtime classic, “The Entertainer,” and Kevin Eller dominated the whole evening with his performance of classical master Chopin’s Waltz No. 2 in C-Sharp minor Op. 64. Eller’s speed, fluidity, and mastery of such a complex and difficult piece earned him first place in one of the toughest groups of competitors for the night. Arguably the most unique and breathtaking performance of the whole evening fell to Mikey Edington. Almost without words to describe it, Edington’s official designation was a dance routine, but his use of performance art, dim and ambient lighting, and techno music was more reminiscent of “Fighting Gravity” from the top Rated show America’s Got Talent. Moving fluidly with the fluctuation of the song, Edington, gave a show that no one is going to forget anytime soon, and one that earned him 2nd place.
Between judgings there were also performances from last year’s winners including Shea Huyard, Krista Warren, and Colton Fenner. The Johnson County Chorale under the direction of Dr. Peter Wachs held the honor of closing out the outstanding evening while the judges deliberated on the final parts of the competition. The night concluded with a brief awards ceremony in recognition of all of the performers.

Events like the Johnson County Talent show are wonderful ways for the youth of the community to show their unique abilities and interests,and Mountain City is very blessed to have as wonderful a venue as Heritage Hall to hold the competition. Not only does the talent show give the competitors the ability to perform in front of a live audience but it also gives the audience the chance to show their pride and support for the talent of the community. It takes courage, skill and ability to succeed in this type of competition and by gauging the outcome of the evening, Johnson County seems to have all of these qualities in spades.