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The San Diego County Fair held its annual singer-songwriter contest on June 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event was preceded by a set from the previous year’s winner, Josh Damigo.

Held on the Paddock Stage, there was a sizeable crowd to greet the dozen performers, who each played a ten minute set. A panel of four judges (including myself) selected the top three. The winner this year was Tolan Shaw, with second place going to Suzanne Harper and third to Chad Taggart.

The three auditioned at the Fairgrounds on May 19 for a spot at the main event, alongside almost 60 hopefuls, with twelve eventually finding a place at the main competition. These included the winners as well as Bryan Bangerter, Carissa Schroeder, Carlos Olmeda, Dave Booda, Joanna Pearl, Kristi Krause, Nate Donnis, Richard Schmeig and Stephen Ybarra. Each performer played acoustic guitar except for Schroeder and Pearl, who had accompanists doing so.

For their efforts the three winners were each awarded a glass trophy, a Taylor guitar and hard case, studio time at the Recording Arts And Technology Studio and a chance to perform at the House of Blues, as well as cash. First place earned Shaw $3,000, plus House of Blues tickets to an upcoming event, with Harper and Taggart receiving $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

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