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Canceled Youth Talent Contest is back on again

July 10, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

Shortly after the cancellation of the third annual Youth Talent Contest was announced, Ag Expo officials said it was back on after radio station WLTF once again agreed to sponsor the event, Ag Expo spokeswoman Joanna Calimer said.

WLTF officials announced on air Tuesday morning they had pulled their support for the contest after ticket prices increased from $2 to $8 per person. The price was raised to cover the cost of a new professional wrestling event to be held at 8 p.m. Aug. 2, the same evening as the Youth Talent Contest, Ag Expo board member Sandy Davis said.

After a 20-minute telephone call between WLTF program manager Stacy Drake and Washington County Ag Expo Vice President Nelson Reeder Tuesday afternoon, the event was back on.

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"I think it's great. It allows the talent show to be held as it was and allows the Ag Expo to make money for the wrestling show," Drake said. "It's a good compromise."

In the new plan, the Ag Expo Board will charge $2 to enter the Ag Expo, but charge an additional $6 at a new gate at the entrance to the track, the location for the National Wrestling League event.

Davis said she is relieved the contest is back on.

"There's just no way we could do it without (WLTF's) support," Davis said.

The Martinsburg, W.Va., radio station emcees the event, coordinates registration and assembles the music each year.

Yogi Yoder, general manager of Prettyman Broadcasting, which owns WLTF, WKMZ and WEPM, said he originally withdrew support because he did not want contestants to pay $8 to compete.

"It's a family event, and with a 400 percent increase in price, bringing mom and dad, brother and sister, and grandma and grandpa, you could easily pay over $50," Yoder said.

The Ag Expo Board originally voted to raise ticket prices during a June 17 meeting. Drake said once he was notified in early July, he suggested to Yoder they pull support, saying the station would field complaints for a decision it had no control over.

"This was sprung on us after we already promoted it on air," Drake said. "We were blindsided."

The Youth Talent Contest showcases children in three- to five-minute-long variety acts in two age categories, 8-12 and 13-18. Cash prizes are awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. Trophies and CDs are also awarded.

The National Wrestling League will feature WWE World Tag Team Champions Demolition Ax and Smash. Other wrestlers will include John Rambo, Doink the Clown and Gangrel and Luna.

The Ag Expo Queen Contest and 4-H Club Cake Auction are also scheduled for Friday, Davis said.

Davis said she was pleased the audience members attending the Youth Talent Contest would not have to pay for the wrestling show.

"It's a great break for the families," she said. "That's where my heart is. This has been haunting me for a while, but it worked out for the best. Sometimes we can move mountains."

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