SELINSGROVE - Great weather and strong attendance led to a successful 35th Annual Selinsgrove Market Street Festival on Saturday. More than 5,000 people packed the downtown street on a sparkling clear afternoon, with just a threat of rain in the air.
About 140 vendors lined both sides of the street, selling everything from fresh produce and fast food to jewelry to wooden crafts.
But one of the afternoon highlights, said festival coordinator Elaine Herrold, was the first-ever Market Street Idol music competition, with 13 acts competing for money prizes.
From the first act, 14-year-old Deborah Thomas, of Beavertown — playing guitar and singing “Stuck Like Glue,” made famous by Sugarland — to the sweet sounds of gospel music performed by Teresa Bingaman, singing “Amazing Grace,” the level of musicianship was amazingly high.
Winning the top prize of $300 was Kelsey Heimbach, of Selinsgrove, who performed “So Long,” a song made famous by Christian music star Natalie Grant. The second-place winner of $200 was Bingaman, of Mount Pleasant Mills. The third-place winner was Stephanie Mengle, of Selinsgrove, who did justice to the Carrie Underwood hit “Blown Away.”
Heimbach, who has had experience singing in front of crowds, and once competed in the Valley’s Got Talent show, said she’s learned how to hide her nervousness on stage.
“I’m in college now at Misericordia University,” she said. “I do some singing and I enjoy it. When I heard about the competition, I thought it might be fun to sing one of my favorite songs. You know, just go for it. I was very surprised and very grateful to win.”
Daily Item reporter Francis Scarcella, one of the five judges, said afterward, “What I saw here today is just another example of how much talent is spread throughout the Valley. To sit on the panel was an awesome experience, and to hear fellow judge, and Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz’s opinions was fascinating.”
Scarcella and Kantz said they were impressed by the overall talent on stage.
Sherry Barben, an instructor in the Selinsgrove Area School District, chimed in. “This was fun,” she said. “The crowd enjoyed it. I would definitely be a judge again next year.”
Standing on the sidelines, swaying to the music, were visitors, Susquehanna University students and area residents.
“I came for the food, and this is a great fair every year,” said James Watson, of Selinsgrove. “Having a talent show is a bonus. And there were some pretty good singers today, right?”