POINT PLEASANT — Seven contestants came out to the Regatta Saturday Night to Compete in the Ultimate “Small Town Throwdown” - the 33rd Annual Country Showdown.
WBYG, Big Country 99 hosted the competition. Preliminary rounds began at 5:30 p.m. and the finals began at 8 p.m. Shari Cochran, WBYG and WBGS station manager, said the stakes were high at the competition.
“There’s a lot at stake,” Cochran said. “The winner can go on to the state competition at Parkersburg; then if they win, on to the regional competition, and then from there, to Nashville to compete with four other regions.”
That winner was Jenna Bright, 15, of Point Pleasant. In the two rounds of competition, the three songs Bright sang landed her in the winner’s circle. The Point Pleasant Jr./Sr. High School student said she was surprised to win and had entered at the encouragement of her parents, Roslyn and Randy Bright, and her grandmother, Rosita Bauer.
“I was just shocked and so happy because I came in really not expecting to win so it was really wonderful,” Bright said. “I signed up because my parents and grandmother recommended I enter because I have been singing for a while, so we went down, got the form and signed me up.”
Bright said she just began singing in front of crowds this year at Point Pleasant Jr./Sr. High School’s Variety Show.
“I’ve been singing since I was really small. I actually just started singing publicly this year at school,” Bright said. “I just feel comfortable when I’m singing, like that’s what I’m good at and what I’m supposed to be doing. I really enjoy singing. It’s my favorite thing to do.”
Bright also said her win came after multiple practice sessions.
“I spent a few days trying to pick out my songs, and then I spent time practicing in my bedroom two to three times a day and then again before I performed, but I actually didn’t decide to definitely do the showdown until about four days before.”
The second and third place winners also received recognition and prizes. Coming in second place was Jacob Gilmore with Corey Hager in third.
A team of three judges with music backgrounds scored the contestants. Brian Howard, one of the judges, said he was excited to see the local acts.
“I wanted to judge to see the local talent Point Pleasant has to offer,” Howard said. “This is my first time judging, and I came planning to have an open mind and to listen to everybody compete and not just the style that I like or the type of voice I like, but to listen to the overall song and performance and be a fair judge.”
Cochran said all of the performers put on an excellent show and she was happy for the support they and the station received.
“The acts this year were very good. Even though there is only one winner, I think any of the seven contestants would be able to make it all the way. They all have great stage presence,” Cochran said. “It’s great to see all the people who listen to Big Country and come out to support us and the local artists.”
Regatta Chairman, Jacob Hill said he likes the crowd response to the Country Showdown and the acts.
“In the crowd, I could see that everyone loves the Showdown. It brings a huge crowd to the Regatta, and when it went away for a few years, people asked me to bring it back and we were able to make that happen,” Hill said. “I thought the singers were great. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge tonight. The seven contestants were all very close in my opinion. I think they all did a great job.”
Bright will go to the state competition of the Country Showdown in Parkersburg in August to compete for a prize of $1,000 and the chance to head to the regional competition.