Winner learned to play the guitar in 2 weeks

Winner learned to play the guitar in 2 weeks
Teri Stein

The winners of the 2024 First Town Days talent show were Aden Lambert, left, Cheyenne Millard, Renita Ecenbarger, Jonah Brinkley, Benji Bolin, Aria Sanner, and Aria and Isla Dotts.


A 14-year-old who taught herself to play the guitar in two weeks won the age 14 and up category of the annual First Town Days talent show. Cheyenne Millard spent about two hours a day practicing the guitar to be able to perform at the show.

“I had a YouTube video, and I watched it. And I just practiced a lot after writing down the chords. I started off slow, and the more I practiced, I just kind of picked up the speed every time until I got to the speed I wanted,” Millard said.

She performed the song “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.”

Millard began singing in the sixth grade and has performed in a school musical.

The First Town Days talent show was sponsored by Dover Hydraulics.

Renita Ecenbarger won second place and $50 for her performance of “Inside Your Heaven,” a song by Carrie Underwood, in the age 14 and up category. The First Town Days show capped off a string of performances this summer by Ecenbarger, who also took first place and second place at two earlier talent shows.

The 30-year-old mother to seven children wants to continue performing and also enjoys singing at karaoke events around the area. She will soon have a lot of competition from her son Silas, 7, who has begun competing in talent shows too.

Aden Lambert, 18, who played bass to “Billie Jean,” took third place and $25.

In the age 0-13 group, the sister duo of Aria and Isla Dotts came out on top. They performed a violin/guitar duet to the song “Traveling Soldier.” The sisters also had performed at previous talent shows this summer, winning two other awards.

Though Isla Dotts’ favorite singer is Dolly Parton, she hasn’t performed any songs by Parton recently.

“We’ve been working on some new people,” Isla Dotts said. “We’ve been working on The Chicks, and we have been doing some Taylor Swift too.”

Second place went to Aria Sanner, 13, for her acro lyrical dance to “You Say.” She has been dancing since the age of 2.

Third place went to Jonah Brinkley and Benji Bolin, both 5, for their hip hop dance to “Mario Brothers.” The two dressed in Mario costumes for their performance.

Talent show coordinator and vocalist Marc Davis called the talent competition stellar. A crowd of around 100 attended. In addition to the family and friends of the participants, others said they like to attend each year because the show is always so entertaining.

Other participants in the age 13 and under group included the following:

—Silas Ecenbarger, 7, who sang “My Boy” by Elvie Shane.

—Stella, 8, and Tilly Incarnato, 4, who sang “1,000 Years” by Christina Perri.

—Elleeana Hillyer Woods, 8, and Daisy Hillyer, 5, who sang “Beautiful Things.”

—Tabitha Miller, 11, who sang “Fly Away Home.”

—Ivy Lucans, 8, who performed a gymnastics routine to “Narco” by Blasterjax and Timmy Trumpet.

—Mia Brinkley, who performed a hip hop dance to “Old School.” Brinkley enjoys performing and had participated in several talent shows this summer, winning awards at two other shows.

—Betty Millard, who presented a mime act.

—Alex Brinkley and Mario and Vito Passio, who performed a hip hop dance to “Get Cha Head in the Game.”

—John Douglas Idoine IV, who played the song “Wooden Heart” on the accordion.

Judges for the competition were Sarah Spies, Christa Roberts and Michele Spring of WJER. Special guest runner was Ryan Pastircak of WJER, whose job was to run the scores of each act to the First Town Days office for tallying. Each year WJER features some of the participants from the talent show on the radio, giving them even more opportunities.

Davis encouraged everyone to return for next year’s show and said more older participants would be welcome.

“The show is for everyone of any age,” Davis said.

The community support for the show demonstrates the importance of the arts.

“I want to thank Dover Hydraulics for their generous sponsorship and Hitchcock Sound for providing the sound for today,” Davis said. “I thought everyone did a great job, and I’m impressed with how they all were able to put together these beautiful, entertaining performances.”

Two other acts showcased their talent during the afternoon but did not compete. Performing were Ryan Almodovar and Gabe Winn, who played guitar and sang “Iris,” a song by the Goo Goo Dolls. Area amateur comedian Marty Drexler drew many laughs from the crowd with his act.

Davis feels it’s important for artists to be heard.

“Over the years people like Sam Hitchcock and Jerome James have given me a stage to sing on when I was just starting out, and it’s always good to just give back opportunities for people who you think are really good, just give them opportunities to perform,” Davis said. “They’re here because I’ve heard them, I think they’re really good and I want you all to have the chance to hear them as well.”

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