FFA members are talented. The organization seeks to spotlight the many ways the students are gifted through presentations and sessions. During the 2013 National FFA Convention & Expo, students who chose to express their talents had a new challenge. They had to compete.
This friendly competition sought to name the most talented participant in the contest. And 17-year-old Bailey Wesberry was named the winner of the first National FFA Talent competition at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Ky. National FFA Talent and the National FFA Talent Competition are sponsored by Wrangler.
Wesberry is a member of the Waurika FFA Chapter in Terral, Okla. She was excited to be named the first official National FFA Talent winner, singing songs like “Anyway” by Martina McBride, “Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt, and “To Make You Feel My Love” by Garth Brooks.
The other two finalists were Britton Pankratz from the Mountain Lake FFA Chapter in Minnesota with a yo-yo talent, and vocal duet EMazing Grace, with members Grace Kensinger and Emily Stoltzfus from the Manheim FFA Chapter in Pennsylvania.
The competition began with members submitting applications and recorded auditions to National FFA months in advance. After a review of the materials by the National FFA Talent Director, Dan Tedor, the applicants were notified of advancement and were invited to participate in the new competition.
Upon arriving in Louisville, 66 performers competed in the first round of selections. This general audition had candidates perform up to two different routines or songs. Then, 15 acts were chosen to perform during Round 2 on Thursday evening in front of a live audience and panel of judges. The final three were selected and competed on Friday evening at the National FFA Dance for the top prize of $250 and automatic acceptance as a member of the 2014 National FFA Talent program.
Competing against high-caliber talent and performing in front of thousands would make most quite nervous, if not terrified. But for Bailey, it was one more opportunity to share her passion, although she does admit that she had a few butterflies in her stomach.
“There was a lot of really good talent there,” Bailey explains. “I had faith in myself, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to win! My FFA chapter stayed to watch me perform, which meant a lot to me. They were originally planning to leave the convention earlier, but they stuck around to support me.”
Bailey, who serves as her FFA chapter’s sentinel and shows pigs, says that singing is her biggest passion. Her first singing competition was at age 8, and she’s been entertaining audiences ever since. Today, Bailey is putting together a band in Wichita and working on her original songs, which she says are based on her real-life experiences. So far, she has written about 10 songs.
“I’m kind of like Taylor Swift, since most of my songs are about boys and heartbreak,” she laughs. “But I also have a few about where I’m from. Writing my own songs is really important to me, so I’m still working at it.”
– Caroline Weihl and Kim Holmberg