COLUMBIA — Talent show senior division winner Christian Wynn followed the advice of a friend and decided that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Before mounting the stage at the Boone County Fair talent show finals, Wynn considered singing a different song than "Mack the Knife," which earned him first place in Wednesday's prelims.
"Some advice from a friend said ‘follow success. If you got through once, you'll get there again.' So I rode that train," Wynn said.
First place: Faith Wright (gymnastics)
Second Place: Danielle Mortimer (baton/dance)
Third place: Benjamin Anderson (piano)
First place: Chistian Wynn (singing)
Second place: For His Glory Ministry Team (team flag/dance)
Third place: James and Bryan Biswell (guitar and violin)
Fourth place: David Melegrito (singing)
He stuck with his instincts, and it earned him first place.
Friday night began with the nine junior division finalists, whose acts included gymnastics routines, singing and piano playing.
Ricky Messner, 8, performed "Bet on It" from "High School Musical Two," which he chose because, he said, he looked it up one day and found it had a catchy tune.
"Well, I was a little nervous up there," Messner said. "But when the judges smiled, I could feel a little comfort."
Although he did not place in the finals, Messner received an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd, who clapped along with his song.
The evening continued with the 15-act senior division, in which any resident of the state of Missouri could compete.
The For His Glory Dance Ministry Team performed a folk dance routine that was accented by jewel-toned flags, which dancers rapidly spun around. The team consisted of Shakira Cross, 8, Carleena Jones, 13, Breauanna Bragg, 16, and Taneisha Tunstall, 16. The three girls said the best part of the talent show was meeting new people, having their friends there, and praising God.
The team plans to use their second-place winnings of $300 to go to a dance conference in St. Louis.
First place winner Wynn, however, plans to use his $500 prize to pay bills and perhaps to buy another $50 tie like the one he wore while performing. Between the two nights, Wynn has won a total of $650. Even though his plans for the money are simple, he said, "If you don't let the fame go to your head, there's something wrong with you."
Judges Lorah Steiner, Mike Glass, David White and Cindy Sheltmire have plenty of experience judging Boone County talent. Sheltmire and Steiner have been present for all three nights of preliminary rounds and have judged for six and seven years, respectively. This is Glass' second year as a talent show judge.
"It's kind of fun every year to get new acts. There are some people who come back year after year," Sheltmire said. "I just enjoy it because it's such a slice of Columbia life. It's a neat opportunity. The talent is always a big surprise."
Sheltmire finds she must disconnect from what she personally likes and instead judge people for their talent.
"We look for entertainment value. We look for talent of course, but we want entertainment value. That's why you might get someone without a traditional talent but who is very entertaining," Sheltmire said. "The thing about entertainment value is if you have someone with an amazing singing voice who doesn't connect with the audience, maybe that person has a good voice but no stage presence."
The top three places in the final round of the junior division, which is for participants 13 years and younger, received cash prizes of $50, $25 and $15.
In the senior division, participants who placed from first through fourth in the preliminary rounds received cash prizes. In the final round, first place received $500 and a chance to perform at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, second place won $300, third place got $200 and fourth received $100.
Though he is excited to perform at the Missouri Theatre, for the self-described "thirty-something" Wynn, winning is not about the prizes.
"I love music. It's my life," Wynn said. "But I've never caught a break or had anyone open a door for me like this."