Bobby Kendall,  a 25 year-old Lake George resident with Nashville dreams, won WGNA's “Country Idol” competition at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on June 16, 2011.  In a press release, Kendall announced that he's using the money to go to Music City U.S.A., Nashville, Tennessee!

Held inside Vapor Night Club, the series began in February and was held monthly, with five finalists selected each night to perform at the June 16 finals. Of the 20 contestants that performed in the finals, the judges narrowed down the search to the top five scorers, who then performed a second song for the chance at $5,000.

Those five finalists included Brandie Alexander from Wynantskill, Bobby Kendall of Lake George, Lauren Kerr from Cohoes, Loreal Lavigna of Schenectady and Faith Van DeMark from Ballston Spa. They were all rewarded with two tickets to the upcoming Toby Keith concert, and a $50 gift certificate for use at any of the restaurants at Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

With his rendition of “Love Like Crazy,” by Lee Brice, Kendall beat the competition by just seven points and went home with the big prize.

The judges’ decision came as a bit of a surprise. First, Kendall was the only male in the top five, but also only one of six men in the top 20. Also, he was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap during his performance, and according to WGNA personality, Kevin Richards, who hosted the series, judges had frequently stressed the importance of “dressing up and looking the part of a star” because ten points were allotted solely for appearance.

“It was unreal. I just couldn’t believe it,” Kendall said in a brief phone interview on Friday. The “Country Idol” competition was his first karaoke contest. “It’s incredible that they had something like this to get the local talent in front of people.”

Kendall said he plans to use the prize money to put back into achieving his musical goals. “I am heading down to Nashville this winter to make a CD. People have been telling me I need to go there, and now I’m going to.” Kendall is a solo act. He writes his own songs, plays guitar and pedals bass with his feet while he sings.

The “Country Idol” finale was filmed by LOOK-TV, which serves Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway, located on Crescent Avenue in Saratoga Springs, NY, features over 1,700 slots, electronic table games, Vapor Night Club, two full-service restaurants with buffets, a casual dining restaurant, three full-service bars, deli and a variety of guest services including valet parking and coat check. Operating hours for the gaming facility are 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. every day.

Watch Bobby Kendall's winning performance and see what the judges had to say!