Country music star Bucky Covington is finally comfortable standing - not to mention singing and dancing - in his own cowboy boots.
"I'm more hands on with writing, producing and with my label (E1 Music) - with what's on it and what's not," the North Carolina native of "American Idol" fame remarked shortly before taking the stage at the Barbour County Fair Thursday night.
With his long-awaited 12-track sophomore album, "Good Guys" set to drop Sept. 11, Covington feels like he's finally "coming into his own."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Longtime fan Angie Cedeno chats with Nashville recording artist Bucky Covington during a meet-and-greet session prior to Covington’s performance Thursday night at the Barbour County Fair. Cedeno has been a fan since she saw Covington sing ‘Simple Man’ on Season 5 of ‘American Idol.’
But on Thursday night, Covington simply coming out on stage was enough for his droves of devout fans, some of whom traveled from neighboring states like Pennsylvania to see the country star perform. After the hype of a drawn-out drum intro, Covington sprinted out on stage to a cascade of thunderous applause and ear-piercing screams.
Anmoore resident Kay Moyer and her friend Stephanie Roda - who discovered their mutual love for Covington and his music at a Kenny Chesney show - were among the dedicated Covington fans in that audience.
"This is our fifth concert this year," Moyer remarked earlier in the evening, as she waited in the meet-and-greet line to have her photo snapped with Covington. "Anytime Bucky is in West Virginia, you bet our butts are here."
Just a few spots behind Moyer and Roda, Fairmont resident Angie Cedeno revealed she's coveted Covington's music since she heard him sing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" on Season 5 of "American Idol."
"It's one of my favorite songs, and he did an awesome rendition of it," Cedeno said. "I'm hoping to plug it so maybe he'll perform it again. It was one of those performances you never forget."
Indeed, performing live is Covington's favorite part of being in the music business.
"Playing live is the main reason I do what I do," he said. "I love the part where I come out, and I love it whenever I hear the fans singing along."
Despite the fact that it's been six years since Covington and his twin brother, Rocky, auditioned for "American Idol," he says the show - on which he finished eighth - "without a doubt" still has a positive impact on his career.
"'American Idol' helped put a name to a face to a sound," Covington said, "and that's a very important thing with this business. I think I'll be getting questions about 'American Idol' for many years to come."
Covington said he likes making the trek from his current residence - located just outside Nashville, Tenn. - to the Mountain State. The native North Carolinian said West Virginia reminds him of his hometown of Rockingham, N.C.
"When we were growing up, we used to come up to West Virginia and go snow-skiing," he said, "and it's always reminded me of North Carolina ... so when we come here, it's kind of like being on vacation. And the response is always great."
The Barbour County Fair continues today, featuring at draft horse pull at 6 p.m. and musical performances by Bowyer Drive at 7 p.m., Full Circle at 8 p.m. and Nashville recording artist Andy Gibson at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.
The Inter-Mountain and West Virginia Radio Corp. are co-sponsoring the Barbour County Fair, which includes musical entertainment throughout the week.
For a more complete schedule of fair activities, visit www.barbourcountyfair.com.
Thrift Tickets Good
4 p.m.: Commercial and competitive exhibits open
5 p.m.: Dairy Replacement and Beef Replacement Heifers Show and Showmanship
5 p.m.: Registration for ATV Drag Races (adult)
5:30 p.m.: Open Class Beef Show and Open Class Feeder Calf Show
6 p.m.: Draft Horse Show
6 - 11 p.m.: Midway open
7 p.m.: Adult ATV Races (sponsored by Bill Kelley Racing)
7 - 11 p.m.: Mechanical Bull Riding, old stage area (given by Junior Fair Board)
7 p.m.: Bowyer Drive, on stage at John Loyd Entertainment Center
7:30 p.m.: 4-H/FFA Market Steer and Feeder Calf Show and Showmanship Contest
8 p.m.: Full Circle, on stage at John Loyd Entertainment Center
9 p.m.: Nashville recording artist Andy Gibson
Katie Kuba can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.