GREENFIELD — Where quantity was lacking at Friday night’s 4-H talent show competition, variety was not.
Though the stage of the 4-H Bowl saw only nine performances, several returning acts competed against a number of first-time talents.
“This is the first time we’ve had a martial arts demonstration,” said show organizer Tracey Gulden.
Gulden has led the talent show for the last five years. While she was disappointed there weren’t more participants, she was excited to see new groups, like the Kingdom Martial Arts troupe, join the project.
Steve Guinn, owner of the martial arts studio, was happy to get his students involved. Guinn said they have always been a part of the parade, but are looking to step up their involvement with the fair this year.
“It’s the first year we’ve been able to be here,” Guinn said. “It’s something good for the children, an alternative to sports for kids who aren’t necessarily athletes and don’t have a place to fit in.”
The group of students ages 12 and under performed a variety of martial arts acts, including hand-to-hand combat and stick fighting.
Another new type of performance this year was a knight battle, performed by a group called the Knights Templar.
Several of the members were past performers, but the group performance was new. The battle pitted two costumed percussionists against each other in the fight for Princess Tabitha. Drummer Josh Beeson appeared to defeat Nick Knowles for the hand of the princess, played by Tabitha Franklin, but the princess wouldn’t have it. She appeared suddenly with a large sword to strike down the victor.
While the act was a first for the fair, it wasn’t for the performers.
“We all do indoor percussion together,” Franklin explained.
Indoor percussion performances are often marked by traditional drum battery worked into complex plots and themes.
The rest of the evening’s performances were more traditional Hancock County fair acts, giving the audience plenty of singing, guitar-playing, clogging and tapping.
With such a variety in acts, the judges said they had a hard time deciding.
“I really just judged each act on its own merit,” said judge Donna Butler.
The clogging group – perennial favorite Hearts Ablaze Inferno – was upstaged this year by tap-dancing twins Caitlyn and Cassidy Cherry. The groups took home reserve champion and grand champion, respectively, for the senior division.
Vocals swept the stage for the junior division. Solo singer Delaney Phillips took home the top spot for the 12 and under group, while singer/guitar player Cassidy Indiana took the reserve spot.
All acts will be eligible for the state fair, should they choose to go.