Rock Island resident Matt Ballew proved determination pays off when he won the adult category during Friday night’s karaoke competition at the Warren County A&L Fair.
“The karaoke competition has been going on for 10 to 12 years and I’ve entered almost every one of those years,” said Ballew. “I’ve placed third once, but that’s it. This year I practiced a lot. I sang at home, at work and in the car. I sang everywhere. I must have practiced my song 200 times.”
The competition is open to adults age 13 and up and children age 12 and under. Of the individuals who entered, a random draw selects only 20 adults and five children to compete against one another.
Individuals are asked to perform two songs. While children are allowed to select both their songs, the adults are permitted to select their first song. Those making it into the top 10 are given a second song by random draw.
“I’ve always done well on the first song, which is the one we get to choose,” said Ballew. “I’ve never gotten a song I knew in the second round. That’s when it all goes wrong. I kept coming back each year because I enjoy performing for the crowd.”
This year, Ballew selected and practiced “Burning it Down” by Jason Aldean for his first song. The random draw ended with him getting “You Look so Good in Love” by George Strait.
“When I drew the George Strait song, I knew I had heard it years and years ago,” said Ballew. “I mostly listen to rock. When the first words came up on the screen, it all came back to me. After that second song, I felt pretty good about my chances of winning.”
In the competition with Ballew and also advancing to the top 10 were Peggy Nash, Richardo Vazquez, Peyton McCormick, Dwayne Leck, Tyler Morton, John Miracle, Justin Shrum, Johnny Dawson and Craig Mayes. Taking second place was Vazquez and third went to Mayes.
Being selected to compete in the children’s portion of the competition were Kaden Hobbs, Chloe Rogers, Kelsie Cox, Gaby Ferrell and Leela Beaty. First place went to Beaty, second place went to Cox, and third place went to Hobbs.
Adult winners won $125 for first place, $100 for second place, and $75 for third. Children won $50 for first place and $25 for second. All were given ribbons. Mobile Music Unlimited provided the equipment and DJ for the event.