THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - Despite having to move the show indoors, the crowd at the 37th annual Deja vu Festival Friday night on the campus of Davis & Elkins College was treated to two artists of “American Idol” fame.
Following an energetic performance by opening act and 2016 “American Idol” winner Trent Harmon, 2011 “American Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina brought the crowd to its feet.
“Seeing the artists perform live and in person is an amazing experience. The crowd was energetic and loved Trent and Alaina both on stage and off. Both artists came out after their sets to take pictures, sign autographs and chat with their fans,” Scott Goddard, D&E vice president for student affairs said. “There are not many venues you can go to these days where you have the opportunity to meet and talk to rising stars like these two.”
Prior to their performances, both entertains held a meet and greet as well as phot-ops.
“The performers were great! They talked and took photos with everyone who wanted to meet them. Parents told me they loved having a great venue to take their children to see national acts,” Elkins/Randolph County YMCA Executive Director Sid Gillispie said. “It was a real family atmosphere, and that’s what the Y is all about.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event benefit the YMCA and will be put toward various projects, including youth programs, sponsorships and facility maintenance.
“We’ve enjoyed a great partnership with the college. The D&E staff go over and beyond to host quality events for the Elkins community,” Gillispie added. “We are fortunate to have such generous sponsors for events like these. Without this financial support, it would be impossible to bring national acts to the small community of Elkins.”
Once each of the artists concluded their shows, they again mingled with fans, providing for a truly memorable evening for all in attendance.
“For me personally, a magic moment took place after the show in this setting. For D&E student, Megan Walters, Ms. Alaina didn’t play one of her favorite songs, ‘Like My Mother Does,’ in the show,” Goddard said. “Well, right then and there in the Buck and Joni Smith Arts Forum, Lauren broke into song. With tears in her eyes, Megan heard her favorite song up close and personal. It truly was a great evening at D&E to support the YMCA!”
The decision was made earlier in the week to move the show indoors following rain showers as well as the threat of rain at showtime. Goddard also noted the event was made possible by a number of local sponsors.
“Despite the truly challenging spring weather of West Virginia, the guests who came out were treated to a great evening of live music,” Goddard said. “It was an honor to work with the Elkins/Randolph County YMCA, Allegheny Insurance, Elkins Automotive/Fordland, Elkins Distributing, MegaCorp Logistics and J.F. Allen Company to bring chart-topping talent to our community — all in support of the YMCA.”
After headlining the event, Alaina said it was moving for her to play for college students.
“I had such a great time in Elkins,” Alaina said. “I didn’t get to go to college, so it’s always fun for me to play to college kids, and this crowd didn’t disappoint.”
Mississippi native, Harmon, who ended his show with a crowd sing-a-long of “Country Roads,” said he was humbled to perform the song in the state that serves as its namesake.
“I have been gigging since I was 15, playing John Denver,” Harmon said. “To finally get to say, ‘Take me home country roads, West Virginia,’ on stage in Elkins, West Virginia, is a dream come true.”