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Rock County 4-H Fair STAR winner is texted to the top

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staff, Gazette
July 25, 2012

— Tuesday night's talent show at the Rock County 4-H Fair was easy on the ears, despite a voting glitch.

Ten finalists competed in the STAR Contest, which returned to the fair after a 1-year hiatus. The contest unveiled a new voting system that chose the winner by tallying votes sent in by audience members via text message.

The new system touched off a bit of controversy, as the audience received contradictory messages about what to include in the body of the text message. Each contestant was assigned a number from two through 11, which followed the word "star." Contest emcee Mike Austin instructed audience members to use asterisks, rather than the word "star," to cast their ballots. Meanwhile, each contestant held a poster with the word "STAR," followed by a number. The audience was allowed to vote by sending as many text messages as they could within a three-minute timeframe.

"We're not thrilled that it did happen, but at least everybody was at the same disadvantage," fair board member Stephanie Gassen said.

"It's really unfortunate that people were confused, but it did not appear to skew results," Gassen said. "She won by a significant margin."

More than 150 votes were cast, Gassen said.

The winner was 14-year-old Amber Annen, whose soulful and remarkably loyal rendition of Adele's chart-topper "Rolling in the Deep" won her the $1,000 prize.

To a musically untrained ear, the song sounds particularly difficult, as Adele hits a number of different vocal registers throughout the song, sometimes even within the same line.

"The chorus is definitely the hardest part of the song," Annen said. "Especially the word ‘deep.'"

Annen, who donned a watermelon pink dress during her performance, said she has been taking vocal lessons for three months and playing the acoustic guitar for nearly a year. She said she plans to use the prize money for an electric guitar.

Nastassja Bates, 25, opened the contest with a dazzling performance of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You."

Another highlight was 10-year-old Savanna Jones, who sang a dead-on version of Sara Evans' "Suds in the Bucket." In a white cowboy hat, white boots and a pink sachet, Jones looked right at home on stage.


 

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