Fulton County will be represented by two young people in the 9th Annual Ohio Has Talent competition March 5 in Van Wert.
Claudia Cromly, 14, of Swanton and Autumn Pelok, 11, of Wauseon were accepted into the Community Health Professionals (CHP) contest after auditioning in November. Theirs will be among 18 acts at the 7 p.m. competition at Niswonger Performing Arts Center that include vocalists, quartets, and dancing.
Ohio Has Talent is an annual fundraiser for CHP, a home health and hospice agency serving 10 locations in northwest and central Ohio, including in Archbold. Proceeds this year will benefit the agency’s Hospice Patient Care Fund.
Seats are $26 in the Orchestra Center and $11 in the balcony. Other seats are available through the art center’s ticket office at 419-238-6722.
The competition includes all ages, and awards three cash prizes: $1,000, $500, and $250. Winners are decided by the audience. Contestants this year hail from areas such as Lima, Hardin County, Licking County, Columbus, Berne, Ind., Hicksville, and Fostoria.
Jessica Carnahan, CHP marketing coordinator, said the competition is a way for contestants to get their talent noticed. She said the agency has been contacted in past year by the NBC-TV series, “America’s Got Talent,” asking for information on certain performers.
“It’s going to be a really exciting event, and we are looking forward to supporting our local talent,” Carnahan said.
Claudia Cromly, a freshman at Evergreen High School, auditioned after seeing a flyer for Ohio Has Talent posted in the school’s choir room. Claudia has earned her singing chops in 15 musical shows, including “The Lion King,” as Fiona in “Shrek the Musical,” as Jojo, the mayor’s son in “Suessical the Musical,” and as part of the dance ensemble in “The Music Man.” She has also performed in area talent shows and at local festivals, and has sung the National Anthem at games and events.
She plans to entertain with her rendition of “Mercy” by recording artist Duffy, a song about a girl attempting to separate herself emotionally from a boy she knows is wrong for her.
“It is quite challenging. It has a lot of styling in it. And it’s a fun song to get the audience engaged in,” she said.
Competing against older people who may have more experience entertaining makes her somewhat nervous. “But, all in all, I feel pretty confident,” Claudia said. “I am so, so excited to be participating, because I like to challenge myself.”
Autumn Pelok, a sixth grader at Wauseon Middle School, has been in musicals produced by the Archbold Community Theatre, such as “Annie” and “The Little Mermaid.” She played Fagin in the fifth grade musical, “Oliver Twist,” and is a member of the school district’s Junior Choral Society and the choir at St. Caspar Catholic Church.
She filled out an application for the contest given to her by her elementary school music teacher. She will sing “Let It Go” from the animated film “Frozen.”
“I sang it at church, and all of them loved it. It really comes natural for me,” Autumn said.
She believes she has a chance to win the competition, but admitted to nervousness due to the size of the audience. But she said she’s also excited for the opportunity, “and I’m hoping a lot of my friends come.”
CHP spokesperson Greg Yinger said the contest was held the past eight years to benefit the agency’s inpatient hospice center in Van Wert. This year, it was decided to assist the hospice fund.
Yinger said it’s no surprise that several contestants over the past few years have been invited to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
“They get a lot of good natural talent here. They’re certainly high-quality talent,” he said. “We’ve had several move on to become professional talent. It’s kind of a good springboard.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.