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Singer, Summit County apologizes for performance of National Anthem at demolition derby

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COALVILLE — The singer of a particularly controversial rendition of the National Anthem apologized Tuesday, along with Summit County officials, for her performance at the county fair's annual demolition derby held over the weekend.

The off-key performance caused many to wonder whether singer and Francis resident Jennie Gautney was completely sober, though others have speculated that she may not have been able to hear properly.

Gautney posted an apology on her Facebook page saying she was "incredibly sorry" and "extremely embarrassed."

"I thought it would be a great fit. I was excited. I had never performed in an arena before," Gautney said. "I know it was awful, I accept responsibility and just want to move forward and make it right. My intentions were absolutely not to be disrespectful to our country or the national anthem and, most importantly, not to hurt anyone at all.

"I wasn't 'hammered,' but after listening to my own video I had recorded, I absolutely can see why I was accused of being hammered," she said.

Summit County manager Tom Fisher said the singer has performed fine in the past, and that he does not know what caused the performance to be the way it was.

"Summit County wishes to express a sincere apology to anyone who attended the 2017 fair demolition derby and felt the performance of the national anthem did not meet reasonable expectations of decorum," Summit County officials said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

Gautney said she had difficulties with the speaker system and how the sound echoed through the arena.

"The rendition I chose was slow to begin with, which made it even worse," Gautney said. "I myself didn't even want to continue. I accept full responsibility on my part and just want to say how sorry I am."

Officials said they will be reevaluating their procedures and policies for securing talent in the future. At this time, the county has a committee who selects those who sing the National Anthem, according to the statement.

The county also noted they will check the sound and audio equipment in case there was a technical failure that contributed to the performance. In the future, all singers will be escorted early into the venue where they can do sound checks and make sure all equipment is working properly, Fisher said.

While many are still critical of the performance, others have responded positively to the county's statement.

“Lets not focus on the negative and remember what was a fantastic night! It was my first ever derby and our second community event since moving to Coalville. We love it here and want to thank everyone involved in the planning and execution of the Summit County Fair! Can't wait for next year,” Seth Meehan wrote in response to the county's Facebook post.

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