Contestants wow crowd at Grange Idol competition

When Allie Wiatrowsky hit the final note of her rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” the Grange Idol crowd roared.

The performance was even enough to get an initial “good job” from the resident Simon Cowell-esque judge Russell Bloom.

“It was really cool performing on this stage,” the 16-year-old Wiatrowsky said of the Grandstand performance in front of a crowd of hundreds of people.

The final round of the competition Sunday featured the seven best contestants from the previous rounds, and they all performed in front of a packed and engaged grandstand audience. This marked the fifth year of the competition within the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.

Four judges were on hand to critique the performances, offer positive and negative feedback and determine the winner.

From Christian rock to Broadway show tunes, to pop songs, the seven entertained the hundreds in attendance, who cheered loudly at times and clapped along to some songs.

For Wiatrowsky, the result was a little bit of a surprise. She said she figured she would get in the top three, but wasn’t expecting to be named the winner. She said she learned the song earlier that day, practicing it for hours in the family camper.

She dedicated the performance to her father and all other veterans for their service.

Some of the performers took to the stage with instruments, including third-place finisher Kaleigh Brahosky, who performed Rihanna’s “Stay” accompanied by her own ukulele.

She was playing that instrument for the first time in front of a large audience.

“It felt really good,” she said. “I’m happy with how I did.”

A nervous feeling was a problem for several contestants, including the first performer Tiffany Breon, but she and the others were able to shake off those nerves and perform well.

Breon, who has placed second in a past competition, said she felt happy with the way she performed, and defended her song choice of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”

Though it was tough, Breon said it was able to show off her range, and it is a song she loves.

She said she will continue to sing in the years to come and enjoys performing.

Other contestants included second-place winner Zachary Spaw and finalists Jessica Brown, Joe Lange and David Weaver III.