Every year for at least 15 years, Gwen and Wade Hall have been organizing the unique gospel-singing competition event at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.
“We started doing that in the late 1990s,” recalls Wade Hall, who works with his wife at WGGS TV, aka “Channel 16 Carolina Christian Broadcasting,” in Greenville.
“For a couple of years we broadcast live from the fairgrounds during the week. After that, the folks at the fairgrounds came up with the idea of a gospel competition, and asked us to help organize it and emcee the event for the day.”
They decided on four competition categories — Youth Individual, Youth Group, Adult Individual, and Adult Group. For the first few years, they also had a church choir competition.
“We have a wide range of talent,” Hall says, “and some good singing, which can also be a springboard for some of the young people.” Channel 16’s flagship program is “Nite Line,” and Gwen and Wade have hosted the Friday-night program for the past 20 years.
“Gwen makes a list of the talent she sees at the competition that would make good guests, and then features them on the TV programs later in the year,” Hall explains.
Three judges are chosen from the upstate SC or WNC gospel-singing community; they pick 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each category. Contemporary gospel, bluegrass gospel, Southern gospel, and gospel ballads are all considered
The competition takes place at the Heritage Stage, which is also the fairground’s bluegrass venue. Ward says that over the years they have been “well-blessed to not get caught with inclement weather.” He also says that everyone in WNC is fortunate to have the Mountain State Fair in the area.
“I’ve told many people how the fair continues our mountain traditions and is family-oriented,” he says. When it comes to family, Ward speaks from a position of experience. “Gwen and I have six kids, 19 grandkids, and one great-grandbaby.”
The Mountain State Fair Gospel Competition will be held at the fairgrounds on the Heritage Stage on Saturday, September 12. The singing starts at 9am and runs until approximately 4pm. www.mountainfair.org.