As spectators entered the annual Barnyard Days event on Saturday morning, the musical voice of Emily Nichelson, 12, could be heard.

As spectators entered the annual Barnyard Days event on Saturday morning, the musical voice of Emily Nichelson, 12, could be heard.

Nichelson was just one of eight performers in the single mic contest, a new attraction at the annual event at the Circle R Ranch, north of Neosho.

“I have entered other competitions this summer, I won some money doing that,” Nichelson said. “I really love competitions and I wanted to do more in the future. My grandma and my godmother, they decided to try to look for some more competitions and they saw the newspaper article (about the single mic). We decided to get me some songs, I found that I loved performing in front of people and that is what I really wanted to do.”

The competitors sang songs from bluegrass to country to even American music.

Three years ago, the festival took on a new meaning, that of a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO).

Aside from wanting to sing, Nichelson’s participation was more of a personal nature. Last year, her second aunt, Vickie Scarborough died from cancer.

Asked if her aunt passing away from cancer was a deciding factor for her to compete, Nichelson said it was.

“That is how I really knew I wanted to audition,” she said. “I probably practiced a couple of hours a day (for this).”

Nichelson sung five songs for the judges and the audience.
Of the eight participants, six moved onto today, where they will compete for cash prizes totaling $1,300: $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and three at $100 each for fourth place).

Nichelson was one of the six finalists to move onto today’s competitions, which begins at noon today.

According to Steve Roark, co-owner of Circle R Ranch, in a previous article, “Also on each day on Saturday and Sunday, we have a people’s choice award where people can vote with a dollar bill for the group of choice. Of the group that wins that will receive half of all of the proceeds from all of the votes that day and the other half will go to Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO).”

Asked if Nichelson wanted to ever be on the popular television show, American Idol, she said, “It is something that I am hoping to do, but as I am leading to that, I want to get some experience with some other competitions before I go onto anything major.”

Despite the cold weather on Saturday, Crystal Webster, executive director of BCFO, was pleased with the turnout.

“We are very excited to see so many people out on such a chilly day,” she said. “In spite of the weather, everyone is coming out to support BCFO. The resources that we raise today will be used locally to help families who have a member in treatment for breast cancer with items such as mortgage payments, utility bills, help with the specific needs of the children, etc.”

What is Barnyard Days?
The festival has a lot to offer this year from arts and crafts to music, food and commercial exhibitors.

Crafters will not only sell their items, but also demonstrate their abilities for the audience. There will also be a petting zoo, antique tractors, pumpkins, children’s rides and musicians during the festival.

Want to go?
Today, the festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $6 (or $5 with $1 off coupon). Children under 14 are free with an adult. Parking is free. And coupons are available online at

About BCFO
The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks is a resource for individuals and families in Southwest Missouri who are impacted by breast cancer.