Bristol Duo Lands in Final Three of Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition on June 16

Cross-state drive to first audition proves a wise decision for Ashley Tragler and Christian Simcox.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 18, 2018) — Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition hosted its final round at Smoky Mountain Opry on Saturday, June 16, where 12 contestants performed. Ashley Tragler and Christian Simcox, from Bristol, Tenn., advanced to the top three.

19-year-old Tragler and 21-year-old Simcox are a duo on stage and in life. The couple performed “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars and won over the judges with their harmonies and Simcox’s impressive guitar skills. Tragler and Simcox left Bristol, Tenn. at 3 a.m. to audition in Nashville, Tenn. on April 21. View performance here.

“Even if we didn’t make it at the auditions, even if we didn’t place in the top three, we just love playing music. That’s why we are here,” said Simcox.

“It takes such strength to get out on stage and do what these contestants did today,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “We are fortunate to have a robust theater community in Pigeon Forge and we are thrilled to be able to give this opportunity to performers looking to advance their careers.”

Approximately 450 contestants registered to compete in the Pigeon Forge Path to Fame. A three-month auditions tour visited Cincinnati, Nashville and Atlanta and produced four finalists from each city, all of whom competed in Saturday’s finals. Contestants competed for a grand prize package that includes a 12-month career mentorship with a Nashville-based entertainment executive and a consultation with performer Kelsea Ballerini.

Each contestant performed in front of a live audience and a diverse panel of judges: John Alexander, Nashville-based talent executive, Michael Headla, general manager, producer and director of Smoky Mountain Opry, Jeff Taylor, general manager for Country Tonite Theatre; and Kyle Grainger, WVLT reporter.


The top three finalists include Taylor Deaton from Springboro, Ohio, and grand champion Brenna Beatty from Springfield, Tenn.

Pigeon Forge is a family-friendly vacation destination with over 80 attractions including award-winning entertainment. Janelle Arthur, Craig Morgan and Carly Pearce all got their start in Pigeon Forge. The city embarked on a three-city tour to discover new talent that could entertain Pigeon Forge audiences.

For more information about the Path to Fame Talent Competition, visit For more information about Pigeon Forge, visit


Link to photos and b-roll of PathToFameFinals.

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Jess Pangrazio
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