“American Idol” winner Maddie Poppe, the first Iowa native to win the reality singing competition, performs Friday night at Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson. NICESWANGER PHOTOGRAPHY

Iowa’s ‘Idol’ delights crowd

Maddie Poppe concert turned into celebration of ‘first Iowa ladies’


For The Jefferson Herald

Women from all over Iowa wrapped their arms around each other, hoisted their wine glasses up and swayed to lyrics: I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore. And I know too much to go back an’ pretend, ’cause I’ve heard it all before. And I’ve been down there on the floor. No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.

It was a night to celebrate all women.

The song — “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy — opened up Wild Rose Casino’s First Ladies Night on Friday in Jefferson.

Gary Kirke, founder and chairman of Wild Rose Entertainment, planned the night to celebrate “American Idol” winner Maddie Poppe, the first Iowa native to win the reality singing competition, along with many other hardworking and successful Iowa women.

Tom Timmons, Wild Rose’s president and chief operating officer, kicked off the night with a speech, saying that events such as First Ladies Night serve as a reminder for both women and men that they can accomplish anything through perseverance.

“I think it’s just a model for other girls,” he said. “My granddaughter is in the crowd, (and) she took a picture with the governor. She’s going to have that the rest of her life. It’s important to reinforce anybody. I am equal opportunity. I’ve been that way my whole life.”

After his speech, Timmons introduced the female speakers for the night: State Auditor Mary Mosiman, Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Gov. Kim Reynolds. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst was unable to attend but had planned to be there, Timmons said.

Reynolds said she was thrilled to be in attendance for a night to celebrate a homegrown hero.

“Maddie Poppe’s story is the Iowa story, and it is the story of dream big, work hard, never give up and anything is possible,” Reynolds said. “We want to celebrate her success and our success and really appreciate the casino bringing her here to Jefferson.”

Reynolds said that when she first arrived at the casino, she saw three extremely ecstatic girls waiting to see Poppe, and they reminded her of the girls she brings into her office at the State Capitol.

“I set them in that big red chair right behind my desk, and I want them to know that they will be heard, that anything is possible and to work hard and dream big,” Reynolds said. “Anytime I think we have a great role model like that we should celebrate it, and that’s what we get the chance to do tonight.”

Before Poppe came on stage, Patresa Hartman, a folk singer from Des Moines, set the mood. She loosened up the crowd with a few of her own original songs “Rotary Dial,” “Amelia,” “Old Tricks” and more.

After Hartman’s set, the crowd stood and cheered as Poppe, 20, walked onstage with her guitar.

Poppe began the night with the upbeat “Brand New Key” by Melanie before going on an acoustic classic run with “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes, though, she mixed it up with slow ballads like Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

It was only Poppe’s second Iowa concert since she won “American Idol” in May, but she kept the crowd involved and shared how much she appreciated her fans in her home state.

“This state comes behind people so much,” she said with a laugh. “Just like state wrestling.”

Throughout the night, audience members danced, cheered and yelled, “We love you, Maddie.”

It wasn’t just a night for women, but a night for all Iowans to come together.

“This state gets behind anybody,” Poppe said. “It’s very awesome.”

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