Pickler a crowd-pleaser at fair in Albert Lea

Published 9:45 am Friday, August 7, 2009

Kellie Pickler chose the first song of the night just right as “Best Days of Your Life,” which described what Katie Falk, 15, and her cousin Stephanie Falk, 14, were going through during the concert as their favorite country artist belted out tune after tune pitch perfect before the grandstand-bursting crowd of more than 7,000 at the Freeborn County Fair.

“I got to touch her hand,” the energized Stephanie said right after Pickler walked across the cement barricades from the stage area to join her fans in her laid-back, bare-footed, down-to-earth, crowd-pleasing way.

Pickler, the former “American Idol” star who has taken the next steps toward being a Nashville star, sang many of the hits from her first two albums, “Small Town Girl” and the self-titled “Kellie Pickler.”

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“Rocks Instead of Rice,” “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” and “Don’t You Know How Much I Love You” came pumping out of the songstress in rapid fire, exciting the crowd of 8 to 80.

As Pickler talked to the crowd in between songs, it was almost as if this real-life small-town girl from Albemarle, N.C., had lived in Albert Lea her whole life as she effortlessly went from telling you about each song to walking unguarded into an area where you can tell she feels the most comfortable and confident — with her fans, who exploded with delight.

At one point a young group of teen girls got up near the stage and danced alongside of Pickler, who did not even bat a beautiful eye to the fun this group was having.

Pickler’s fun did not stop with just the crowd either as it was a joy to watch Pickler having a good time with her bandmates as well, dancing and streaming water at them during the song “One Of The Guys,” which was appropriate as Pickler seems just as comfortable either dressed in jeans and a baseball cap or going with the girls to Saks for a day of shopping. It is this characteristic that I think explains the reason that her star will continue to rise as both men and women are drawn to her confidence, charm and inner strength.

As Peggy Forester of Elkhart, Ind., who traveled many hours with her husband, Jerry, who is stricken with Parkinson’s disease, to see Pickler, stated, “It is her personality; you just want to adopt her.”

Jerry then added, “It’s her everything.”

I think everyone would agree with Jerry: It is her everything!