A 17-year-old from Cozad edged out seven other performers to win the Texaco Country Showdown competition Sunday at the Lincoln County Fair.
Each contestant performed two songs in the competition, which attracted artists from more than 100 miles in all directions.
Ashton Dugan was the last contestant to perform and the judges decided she was the best.
Christian Farmer of Hershey was second and Risa Mann of Burwell was third.
Dugan covered two hits – Free Falling and Wagon Wheel -- accompanying herself on guitar. She started performing at age 4.
“I wasn’t nervous,” she said. “I love to perform.”
Dugan will advance to the state showdown Aug. 25 at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island where prizes include $1,000 and the opportunity to compete in one of five regional competitions. Regional winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to the National Final in Nashville to compete for $100,000 and the coveted title, “Best New Act in Country Music.”
In a strong showing, Farmer played guitar and sang two country-rock original songs. Mann also played guitar and sang one original song, in which she longed for more to hold than a cell phone.
Jesse Hake of Grand Island won a previous Texaco Country Showdown during Nebraskaland Days in June. Hake will also head to the State Fair showdown.
The two showdowns were hosted by KXNP-FM and KODY-AM in North Platte.
Contestants at this year’s Texaco Country Showdown Nebraska State Final will also represent radio stations KCSR of Chadron; KUSO of Norfolk; KNEB Scottsbluff and KSID of Sidney.
The 142nd Nebraska State Fair runs from Aug. 24-Sept. 3.