Area talent shines during Delaware State Fair talent contest

HARRINGTON — Melodies streamed from the Free Entertainment Tent Sunday afternoon and meshed with the joyous sounds of the Delaware State Fair during the All-Youth Talent Showcase when 11 teenage girls from across the state performing 10 acts vied for six top honor spots.

“I commend these kids,” said seasoned announcer Gene Price between acts. “With all this noise, they do a great job.”

Mr. Price has acted as the announcer for the family-friendly showcase for the past 12 years.

Contestants were judged in several main categories, such as the degree of talent, showmanship and preparedness.

Hanna Paige Melba, 16, a songwriter/singer from Newark and contestant in the 13- to 16-year-old category, impressed the judges right to first place for her division. Ms. Melba was the only contestant to create her own background music.

She taught herself how to play the guitar after receiving her first one for Christmas in 2012 and she “just started singing,” she said. Paige took home a trophy and $250 in prize money.

“She did great. She performs a lot,” said her dad, Scott. Her mother Kellie added that this was her first competition, but she thought all of the participants did great.

The first-place winner for the 17- to 21-year-old category also won thanks to her musical talents. Paige Taylor Stevenson, a biological sciences major at Delaware Technical Community College, belted out a rendition of “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride.

Although Ms. Stevenson was once told she was not good at singing, she began taking lessons and says she recently beat 400 other participants in the American Idol Experience theme park attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

Also earning a trophy and $250 in prize money, she is hoping to purchase her own equipment for gigs.

All acts but two competed using their vocal talents. The other two acts, like Harmony Broussard, danced their hearts out on the stage, hoping to soar above the rest.

Ms. Broussard offered up a lyrical dance to “Something I Need” by One Republic, ending it with her hands out towards the judges. She did not place during the event, but said she will continue dancing and plans to audition for the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy in New York City.

Vocalist Sansskruty Rayavapu took third place in the younger division on Saturday after a dramatic version of Wicked’s “Defying Gravity.” She will also be performing later in the week in a production of
Fiddler on the Roof” with The Brandywiners at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

Audience members, consisting mostly of family members and friends, cheered on all of the participants throughout the talent showcase.
Shirley and Lou Ray from Bridgeville didn’t even realize they knew one of the contestants when they arrived.

“We’re just here to enjoy it. She really likes it. But then we found out a girl from our church is here dancing,” Mr. Ray said. “We just really love watching the youth,” his wife added.

Altogether, two trophies and $1,000 in prize money were awarded as a result of the talent showcase.

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