Kellie Pickler made the night of three cousins from Blue Earth at Tuesday’s Grandstand show. Pickler brought Rylan Storbeck, 7, left, Katelyn Storbeck, 5, and Payten Gudahl, 7, on stage to sing “Best Days of Your Life” with her near the end of the show. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune
Kellie Pickler made the night of three cousins from Blue Earth at Tuesday’s Grandstand show. Pickler brought Rylan Storbeck, 7, left, Katelyn Storbeck, 5, and Payten Gudahl, 7, on stage to sing “Best Days of Your Life” with her near the end of the show. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: ‘American Idol’ singer opens county fair with full house

Published 11:30am Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bringing in some sweet Southern charm and some good old-fashioned fun, country music star Kellie Pickler opened the Freeborn County Fair Tuesday night to a full-house crowd of fans.

Performing at least 17 songs to a crowd of all ages, the “American Idol” alum said she was glad to be back at the fair after performing at the Grandstand in 2009.

“Thank ya’ll so much for being here,” Pickler said.

A lot has happened for the country music star in the last three years, including a winning stint on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and a new release “100 proof,” her third album.

Pickler, whose career was founded after finishing sixth on the fifth season of “American Idol,” said she is set to release her fourth album this fall.

She opened the show shortly after 8:30 p.m. with songs dedicated to the women in the audience, with hits “Little House on the Highway,” “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful,” “Makin’ Me Fall in Love Again” and “Tough.”

Then she transitioned into a song for the men in the audience, warning them what country girls would do if men do them wrong with “Stop Cheatin’ on Me.”

Sharing experiences from her own life before performing most of the songs, Pickler sang for country music icon Tammy Wynette, who she said was one of the first country women of country music she listened to as a little girl, and her grandfather and grandmother, Clyde Raymond Pickler Sr. and Faye Pickler, who she said she was mostly raised by.

Growing up in North Carolina, she said her grandmother was her best friend, someone she could always tell things to. She gained a lot of her personality from her grandfather.

She also sang a song about her mother and how she felt after leaving the “American Idol” stage and deciding to go to Tennessee.

Country music star Kellie Pickler performs at the first night of the Freeborn County Fair on Tuesday. Pickler also sang in the fair in 2009. --Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune
Country music star Kellie Pickler performs at the first night of the Freeborn County Fair on Tuesday. Pickler also sang in the fair in 2009. –Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

She said for her country music is about telling stories and behind every country song there is a story about somebody’s life.

She performed mostly in the center of the stage though she veered out on at least a handful of times onto the large cement blocks on both sides of the stage to greet fans. She also treated fans to some new songs she plans to release soon, including “A Little Bit Gypsy,” “Ring for Sale” and “Someone Somewhere Tonight.”

At the end of the show, she brought up on stage three young Blue Earth cousins to sing with her as she belted out “Best Days of Your Life.”

After the crowd chanted for an encore, Pickler came running back out onto the stage to sing “Red High Heels.”

She said she’d be happy to come back to the fair in the future.

Pickler has been nominated for Top New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music Awards, alone with Female Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards, among others.

Her most recent release, “100 Proof,” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart last year.