Crystal comes home to perform

No matter what happens this evening, Mama Sox still plans to come home. And northern Ohio is ready to welcome her in a big way. After months in the national spotlight, Ottawa County's own American Idol finalist is headed back to the stage where she first performed as a young girl.
Annie Zelm
May 12, 2010

 

No matter what happens this evening, Mama Sox still plans to come home.

And northern Ohio is ready to welcome her in a big way.

After months in the national spotlight, Ottawa County's own American Idol finalist is headed back to the stage where she first performed as a young girl.

Thousands are expected to flock to the Ottawa County Fairgrounds Friday to hear her sing at "Bower-stock," a free performance that benefits two charities close to Crystal's heart.

With just four contestants left, the stakes have never been higher.

America voted for their favorite performers Tuesday night, and results will be announced tonight. Crystal appears to be pulling ahead of the others after what the judges called a game-changing performance.

She sang a spunky version of Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright" from the soundtrack of the 1980 hit flick "Caddyshack."

"That performance just got 'Crystallized,'" judge Ellen DeGeneres said. "I think you actually took that song and made it better."

Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson said she's proved herself as an artist since the beginning, and Simon Cowell said her take on the song put her "back in the game."

Fans who have been admiring Crystal from afar for months are hoping for a glimpse of her in person later this week.

"Everybody's coming together and donating very generously," said Graytown resident Amber Gahler, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Elliston, who's coordinating the event.

The gates at the fairgrounds will open at noon, and the celebration kicks off with performances from local bands. A hometown parade featuring the Oak Harbor marching band will stomp its way down Ohio 163 at about 4 p.m. before turning into the fairground's main gate and weaving through the midway.

Crystal performs for friends, family and fans after the parade until about 6 p.m., when she'll be shuttled off to Toledo to sing the national anthem at Mud Hens' home game.

Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton said local officials are preparing for an influx of national media from New York, Chicago and across the Midwest, as well as a film crew from American Idol.

"American Idol has told us to expect anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 people," Bratton said.

There should be plenty of parking at the fairgrounds, but Bratton advised people to arrive early -- at least by 3:15 p.m. if they want to see Crystal's grand entrance. Fans should also drive slowly on Ohio 163, where heavy traffic is expected, and remember that deputies from several area sheriff's offices will step up enforcement.

Ron Giesler, vice president of church council a Trinity United Church of Christ, said local residents and fans will gather at the church tonight to cheer on Crystal during the results show.

"I think everybody expects that she'll go on," he said. "It's a good thing for Ottawa County as a whole."

Larry Fletcher, executive director of Lake Erie Shores & Islands West, said the visitor bureau helped coordinate the event and plugged into social networking sites to encourage everyone to vote for Crystal.

"She's developed such a huge fan base -- we live in an area where we have some major population centers within a few hour's drive," he said. "She could draw a lot of folks here who may not have any idea about other things in this area."

 

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: "Bower-stock," a welcome parade featuring American Idol finalist Crystal Bowersox.

WHEN: Gates open at noon Friday; parade slated for 4 p.m. with Crystal's performance to follow.

WHERE: Ottawa County Fairgrounds, 7870 W. Ohio 163

COST: Free to all, but donations may be made to benefit Diabetes Youth Services, which teaches Toledo-area children to manage their diabetes and helped Crystal as a child, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

INFO: Fans can welcome Crystal home any way they wish, as long as they do it without alcohol. Feel free to bring coolers, but be prepared to have them searched.