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Milton High girl wins Walworth County idol contest

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Ryan Dostalek
August 29, 2008
— It seemed as if a major country act was about to take the stage Thursday night.

Droves of spectators clamored for spots. They weren’t jostling to see today’s superstars, they wanted to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s.


The seats in front of the Park Square stage at the Walworth County Fair were filled by 5 p.m., an hour before the first contender in the 2008 Walworth Country Idol competition belted a note.


Disk jockey for 104.5 WSAD Reggie Michaels introduced the 14 quarter-finalists, which were narrowed to a field of six semi-finalists.


Coming from all parts of the region, one woman even from Woodstock, Ill., the contestants appeared to hold their breaths as Michaels read the six who would have a shot at winning a trophy, $1,000 and an opportunity to open for tonight’s headline act, country group Little Big Town.


Though the crowd raved about each singer, only one walked away with the title of 2008 Walworth Country Idol.


Ashley Preston, 17, appeared to be in shock when the judges came back saying she was the winner. Excited relatives hooted and hollered as she took the stage to sing her winning song one last time for the night.


Katie Klein, though she didn’t win, sat with Preston’s mother, Jackie, during the victory song.


“I can’t believe she can still sing,” Klein told Jackie Preston. “I couldn’t sing if I won.”


Relatives and fans bombarded Preston as she left the stage. Cameras flew out of pockets to get a quick shot of the winner.


“I’m just really excited,” Ashley said laughing as she grabbed hugs from friends.


Her mother was just as excited, if not more.


Jackie never stopped smiling after her daughter came off the stage.


“I’m just excited and happy and very proud of her,” Jackie spouted. “I’m very, very proud of her.”


Ashley said she hopes to study musical theater at Columbia College in Chicago after she graduates from Milton High School.


Deciding what to do with her $1,000 award was easy—straight to the bank for her college fund.


Tonight will be just as easy when she opens for Little Big Town, Preston said.


“I don’t really get nervous,” she said. “I get really excited.”


“Our hope is (Little Big Town) will take her on,” laughed her mother.


Little Big Town is set to take stage at 7:30 tonight at the grandstand. Admission is free with a fair admission.


IDOL FINALISTS

Here’s a snapshot of how the six finalists for 2008 Walworth Country Idol performed Thursday night:


Susan Barris
From: Lake Geneva.
Song: “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles.
Notes: Barris appeared to be a true professional singer, moving about the entire length of the stage, eyes closed as she hit the familiar chorus.
Alicia Grzenia
From: Lake Geneva.
Song: “Stay” by Sugarland.
Notes: Grzenia, who schmoozed with the crowd as the intro led to the first verse of the song, sang with passion.
Lucy Walker
From: Mukwonago.
Song: “When God-fearing Women Get the Blues” by Martina McBride.
Notes: Walker never lost eye contact with the energized crowd. She smiled and improvised, purposefully adding lyrics during instrumentals.
Bryann Popp
From: Walworth.
Song: “Don’t Make Me” by Blake Shelton.
Notes: The only male in the group of six, Popp greeted the crowd with a southern drawl before belting his rendition of the slow ballad.
Ashley Preston
From: Milton.
Song: “Broken” by Lindsey Haun.
Notes: Preston, a Milton High School student, didn’t hold back when she sang her version of Haun’s love song. She appeared to hit the notes with ease, sending the crowd into a roar when she finished.
Katie Klein
From: Woodstock, Ill.
Song: “Big Deal” by LeAnn Rimes.
Notes: Klein took the stage, wooing the crowd from the get-go. Her voice was soulful as she opened the tune and her apparent passion continued throughout the song, even engaging the crowd to clap during instrumentals.

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