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Craft

You, too, could be Corny!

If the phrase, not to mention the song, "That's entertainment!" sets your pulse racing to dangerous levels, have we got an outlet for you.

With no medication required.

The good folks at the Normal CornBelters are in the market for an entire entertainment crew on behalf of the warm-weather months ahead.

So you want to be a mascot?

Specifically, one named Corny?

That gig is wide open as we speak.

However, if over-the-head masks strike claustrophobic fear into your heart, there are other, mask-free positions open.

According to the woman behind all of this, Shari Williams: "The CornBelters have hired me on for this season to help make The Crib a family fun entertainment destination."

Among the positions they are looking to fill, all the better to achieve that end, are, as mentioned, the coveted role of Corny the Mascot.

Also needed is an on-stage Game Day Entertainment Host ... and various offstage roles on the Entertainment Crew.

All of the above positions will be involved at CornBelters games in skits, contests and audience participation breaks.

The main requirements are folks who possess one or, better yet, all of the following personality traits: fun, energetic, outgoing, animated, dedicated, responsible, goofy-loving.

Introverts and misanthropes? Stay home, thanks. 

"Our auditions are on Feb. 24, specifically for game day host, mascot and entertainment crew, with 18-and-older preferred," says Shari.

"A background in dance, theater, music and athletics are highly encouraged, but we are open to everyone."

To arrange an audition, email Shari at entertainment@normalbaseball.com or head to www.normalbaseball.com/team/employment for more details.

Ricochet-ing back in time: We're always happy to flash back to that golden summer of the McLean County Fair, when the entertainment crew there struck gold.

It was the millennial summer of 2000, and the folks at the fair, much earlier that year, signed a 28-year-old newcomer named Brad Paisley as the big grandstand attraction.

Between the time the fair booked the singer and the date of the Aug. 2 show, things exploded.

Pre-explosion, Paisley had been on the scene about a year, scoring his first single, "Who Needs Pictures," which peaked at No. 10.

So he'd reached the mid-range where he could headline a county grandstand show and get a decent $8 a ticket.

Then along came the second single, "He Didn't Have to Be," to change the game for good by being nominated by the Academy of Country Music as Single of the Year, Video of the Year and Song of the Year.

Paisley was also named Top New Male during the 35th annual ACM awards show in May.

And "He Didn't Have to Be" made him Billboard magazine's only chart-debuting artist that year to achieve a No. 1 single.

For the man who would sell out his next three B-N shows (2005 in ISU's Braden Auditorium; 2010 and 2016 in the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum), the grandstand show was a fair (pun intended) preview of things to come.

According to The Pantagraph reviewer: "Paisley drew an audience that filled the reserved seats and almost all of the bleacher seats."

Interestingly, the first time Paisley's name appeared in print in The Pantagraph was courtesy of former country music writer Nancy Gordon's April 24, 2000 column, via an item noting that singer Alan Jackson had been signed for a May 5 Prairie Capital Convention Center show in Springfield, with a newcomer named Paisley as opener.

However, the lead story for Nancy's column that day was the "bigger" news: an interview with country band Ricochet, headlining a late-April show in the Streator High School auditorium.

As Nancy noted, "Heath Wright, a native of Vian, Okla., is lead singer and lead guitarist for Ricochet. Junior Bryant plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar and does backup vocals, and his brother Jeff is drummer and also a backup vocalist for the group. They are natives of Pecos, Texas."

Which brings us full circle back to today's GO! section: An interview with Chase Bryant, making his B-N debut opening for Brad Paisley.

Chase, as noted in the story, is the 24-year-old nephew of Ricochet's Junior and Jeff Bryant.

Proving again: it's a smaller world after all.

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Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at dcraft@pantagraph.com.

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