PARKERSBURG – Five regional winners of the Texaco Country Showdown got the 2014 Parkersburg Homecoming Festival off to a great start with a local contestant taking top honors.
Jake Binegar, 19, who was originally from Waterford and now lives in Little Hocking, won the state final against four other contestants and will advance to the northeast regional final. The winners there will advance to the national finals in January at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.
Binegar also won $1,000 at the event.
Binegar said this was his second attempt at the showdown. Binegar said the first time he failed to advance past the first round of the competition.
After his win, Binegar said for him his day was just starting as he had a performance to do later in the evening.
Binegar said he was at a loss for words.
“I’ve been trying to find the words,” he said. “Unimaginable I guess. It feels like a load off my back. I’ve been nervous all day.”
Binegar said music is now his only job.
“I’ve been at this full time since July,” he said.
Binegar said between now and the next round he plans to keep performing.
“I’ll just keep playing,” he said. “I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and get my name out there a little more.”
Fans of country music at the main stage said they enjoyed hearing all the hopefuls.
“Some of them were pretty good, but some were off key,” said Ernie Kroese of Macfarlan, W.Va. “It was still enjoyable to listen to them, though.”
Kroese said he was looking forward to the headliner, Restless Heart.
“I know a lot of their music and I’ve enjoyed them,” he said.
His sister Dora Kroese said they attend the concerts at the Parkersburg Homecoming.
“We’re here every year,” she said. “This year it’s good; we have Almost Queen; we checked them out on You Tube, and of course the Guess Who on Sunday, you can’t go wrong.”
Harold and Sue Yglesias of Parkersburg said they arrived for the Restless Heart concert and found the showdown to be a good show as well.
“They were very good,” Sue said.
“We came for the music and the funnel cakes,” Harold said.
For today the festival continues with the 2014 Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon at 8 a.m., followed by the Parkersburg Homecoming Parade at noon on Market Street.