By Ron VandenBoom
More that 600 enthusiastic fans braved the mud and rain to bestow riotous applause on Ed Juneau Wednesday night at the Great Northern Fair after the 27-year-old Great Falls man took top honors in the 1999 True Value/Jimmy Dean Country Showdown.
Juneau, who played the guitar and the harmonica during his performance, sang two original songs to win the competition. The first song, Montana, an up-tempo song replete with hard-hitting guitar licks and featuring a lead guitar solo, set the tone for the slightly more mellow, but still hard hitting second song, Body Shot.
Juneau, after receiving the grand prize check for $1,000, thanked the standing-room-only crowd for braving the rain and mud to come to the Showdown and also thanked his fellow contestants.
It takes a lot to get up here and do what we do, Juneau said. I think we should all give them one last round of applause.
Other contestants were Amanda Caldwell, Whitefish, Lisa Marie Ellis, Missoula, Kelli Jackson, Shelby, Tom Minow, Miles City, Tina Renee, Scobey, and Tina Tryan, Billings.
After the presentation Juneau said he felt pretty good and satisfied by his win.
The competition was so great, he said. It was really a toss up.
He added that no one in the competition was really dominant and that any one of the contestants could have won.
Im just glad I came out on top, he said.
Juneau said he would probably use the prize money to pay for his trip to the regional competition to be held Nov. 16. The winner of the regional competition will travel in December to The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., to compete in a nationally televised face-off round for a $50,000 grand prize.
Juneau said his future plans include getting a CD cut of some of his original songs so I have something to give to people that they can take home rather than just seeing me live.
Juneau said he dedicated his win to his niece, Ashley Fenner, who was a great lover of music and died more than a year ago from cancer.