PARKERSBURG - Despite rain in the morning and afternoon, Friday evening was the perfect summer evening for the 2012 Parkersburg Homecoming Festival.
Randall Roberts, president of the Parkersburg Homecoming committee, said the preparations went on as scheduled and they were ready for three days of late summer fun in downtown.
"Just normal things have happened, nothing outstanding; everything looks good," he said. "We got set up last night, most of the vendors got set up last night and they finished up this morning."
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Bucky Covington, left, opened the Parkersburg Homecoming main stage entertainment Friday night with his brother, Rocky, on the drums.
Roberts said the committee was happy the bad weather came and went hours before the festival.
"We're glad we have the rain out of the way," he said. "It came through this morning and we got it out of here."
Roberts said two new attractions to the festival were attracting a lot of attention on the first night.
"We have the world's largest pinball machine and a 25-foot by 25-foot waterbed where people get in a balloon and walk around the bed," he said. "We had to move them down near Point Park."
Several thousand people attended the Bucky Covington concert. Covington, a former "American Idol" finalist, followed the 2012 edition of the Texaco Country Showdown.
Covington, who was a finalist in Season 5 of "American Idol" in 2006, has made several appearances in the Mid-Ohio Valley over the last few years, performing at the Belpre Homecoming and at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
Following his appearance on "American Idol," Covington released his self-titled debut album - which debuted at No. 1 in April 2007 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and produced three hits, "A Different World," "It's Good to Be Us" and "I'll Walk."
Winning the state final of the showdown was Calhoun County High School junior Autumn Blair.
Blair, 16, of Chloe, earned her way to the state final by winning in Ripley during the competition on July 4. She said four years ago, at age 12, she entered a local showdown in Flatwoods, W.Va.
Blair sang "Flat on the Floor " by Carrie Underwood and "Drive" by Martina McBride.
When asked why she entered the showdown, she said it was because it's something she loves to do.
"I just love to sing," she said. "I really like to sing songs by Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and Sara Evans."
Blair said she hopes to pursue a career in music and has plans to attend college as a backup plan.
"My first plan is to sing but if I'm not able to then, yes, I will go to college," she said.
Blair will represent West Virginia in the Northeast Regional Final on Oct. 27 at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pa.
Today will mark the first full day of the festival and will being at 8 a.m. with The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon
Following the half marathon, the Parkersburg Homecoming Parade will be noon today on Market Street in downtown Parkersburg.
Other events today are:
* 1 p.m.: Coloring Contest (Bicentennial Park Stage)
* 1-5 p.m.: Pressley Ridge Ice Cream Challenge (Bicentennial Park Stage)
* 2 p.m.: Talent Show (Suddenlink Stage); Zumba dancing
* 2:30 p.m.: Dog Show (Bicentennial Park Stage)
* 3 p.m.: Pretty Baby Contest (Ages 0-5 months) (Ages 6-11 months) (Bicentennial Park Stage)
* 4 p.m.: Katie Blackwell (Riverfront Park Amphitheater)
* 5 p.m.: Pretty Baby Contest (Ages 12-24 months) (Ages 25-36 months) (Bicentennial Park Stage)
* 5:30 p.m.: Mahkayla and Kage Queen (Riverfront Park Amphitheater)
* 7 p.m.: Hit Parade (Suddenlink Stage); ShhhBang (Riverfront Park Amphitheater); square dancing
* 8 p.m.: VAC Harley-Davidson Drawing (Suddenlink Stage)
* 8:30 p.m.: Midnight Special (Suddenlink Stage); Liberty: A Musical Celebration Of Freedom (Riverfront Park Amphitheater)
* 10 p.m.: Fireworks from Fort Boreman Hill