In the last couple of weeks, the Arkansas State Fair happened from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24, and it was bustling as always! Being the year after COVID-19’s outbreak and the consequent cancellation of the fair, this year saw the fair back better than ever and back with stronger annual numbers.
The fair features many things, from annual animal showcases and competitions, art exhibitions and the talent competition. I am happy to say I had the blessed opportunity to take part in it.
I have only gone one year prior, which was in 2019, but this honestly still felt like my first year due to how crazy the time between 2019 and 2021 has been. By having won the category of a senior vocal solo in the Yell County Talent Contest (thank you for all the hard work of those lovely people!), I was able to advance to a state in the same category.
The way the state works, the whole state is divided into regional competitions throughout that week (for me, it was Oct. 19). Then, if you win in your region, you return at the end of the week (which was Oct. 22 this year) and compete for the state overall. I was so blessed and happy to win in my region and make it to the state competition!
When I say that these people are talented, it is NO joke. Being in both the regional and state competition, I was able to experience and witness some of the genuinely marvelous talents we have in Arkansas, ranging from self-composed and written musicians such as my friend and local talent Miguel Alcocer, to live card trick performances.
Quite honestly, I often questioned how exactly or why precisely I even ended up on-stage next to all these talented people. Maybe it is just me, but I certainly was not focused on winning as much due to all the variety of talent.
I am so happy to say we had quite a lot of local representation! Some names of those who made it to state who are also photographed next to me are, from left to right, Emma Frick (junior variety), Kaylee Pouthavong (junior vocal solo), Rachel Duvall (senior instrumental solo), and Miguel Alcocer. The absolute honor it was to share a stage with these individuals and others in the state was an experience I do not think I could quite accurately depict in a text description.
I never expected to get so far as to win both regionals and state in the senior vocal category, but here we are! Being a very awkward and socially-conscious person, I thought that I would flop on-stage, but there is something about performing that brings something out of a person. With the song I sang (“When We Were Young” by Adele), I was able just to get myself into a character, and pretend that the person I was singing to was in the room and that they would hear.
A person who gave a marvelous piano performance at state and won, later came up to me and told me I had made him cry. Is it such a surreal experience to hear that. Then again, it’s not unlikely for me to be overly emotional, and I am a bit of an open book.
All in all, I don’t consider myself some sort of super-star because I have won this, and I am still the same ol’ Caleb that I’ve always been, perhaps just really blessed and lucky.