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Kristyn Harris was part of the youth talent at the Dogwood Jamboree and has gone on to see success on American Idol and other television shows, documentaries, and films.

By Lisa Tang

Country music fans who long for folksy music and knee-slapping comedy of Branson, Missouri, will enjoy Palestine’s Dogwood Jamboree.

The spring show, “Country from the Heart,” is canceled due to Coronavirus  precautions, and is rescheduled for Saturday, June 20. 

Some audience members travel hundreds of miles — sometimes by the busload — to attend the family-friendly Jamboree, which features comedy and dozens of talented musicians from Texas and beyond. 

The show features guest performers and a regular cadre, including Sissy Perry from Corsicana, Joe Hancock from Hallsville, locals W.J. Copeland and Rodney Ray, and the Dogwood Jamboree Band.

Dan Manuel hosts the program, which alternates musical performances with knee-slapping comedy sketches reminiscent of “Hee-Haw.” 

One highlight of every Jamboree, already 16 years running, is the Youth Talent Search Contest. Two to three youth, ages 18 and younger, compete for a chance to earn the title at the year-end show.

The contest helps young performers like Kadie Lynn Roberson of Kemp and Kristyn Harris of McKinney achieve national stardom and recording contracts.

At 13, Roberson appeared on America’s Got Talent, which led to recording contracts with Sony Music in Nashville. She’s one of the most famous Jamboree alumni, having secured contracts for hits such as “Stronger” and “One Last Dance.”

Harris, 25, has gained national fame as a yodeler, performing for American Idol and other television shows, documentaries, and films. She was named 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year in the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association and 2019 Entertainer of the Year by the Western Music Association. 

Harris’ 2019 single, “What’s a Cowgirl Supposed to Do?” ranked as the number one most-played song by western music DJs in January. Harris also won International Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year four years in a row, 2016-2019. 

Marie Clare of Sherman won the Jamboree’s 2019 Youth Talent Search contest. The 11-year-old won the audience’s popular vote after she belted out “Don’t Worry about Me” by Marty Robbins.

Young performers audition for the talent search contest in person or online. Qualifiers perform at one of the shows at Palestine High School’s auditorium, usually attended by 300-500 folks.  Tickets are $15. For information, visit dogwoodjamboree.com or call 903-723-6291.

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