News Column

Youngsters delight in Disney star Zendaya as she performs at fair

August 24, 2014

By Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Aug. 24--Sarah Martin was in shock that one of her favorite singers made a tour stop Saturday in the Tri-Cities, so she didn't want to miss out on capturing the moment with her cellphone.

As Zendaya belted out the lyrics to Fashion is My Kryptonite, Martin mouthed along while shooting video of the afternoon concert at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.

The 12-year-old Hermiston girl knew all the words. She and best friend Sophia Sather, also 12, have been "big fans" of Zendaya since the teen starred on the Disney Channel series, Shake It Up.

Martin and Sather found out last week that the 17-year-old singer, actress and dancer would be on the fair's main stage.

"We were like, 'Oh my gosh, we have to go,' " the girls said together, both placing their hands on their cheeks in excitement.

"This is one of the greatest days of my life," said Sather, of the Tri-Cities.

"Yeah, it's awesome," Martin added before Zendaya returned to the stage from a brief break.

Hundreds of kids -- little and big -- bopped along with Zendaya's one-hour and 15-minute set. The singer encouraged everyone to stand and participate.

"Dance in the aisles. Do whatever makes you feel good. All right?" she said.

The past year has been a successful one for the Disney star.

Zendaya released her self-titled debut album in September, and it was certified platinum in January by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Her book, Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence, came out in August 2013.

And she's got the lead in an upcoming Disney Channel show, K.C. Undercover, which she's filming in between shows.

All this came after taking the runner-up spot in the season 16 finale of Dancing with the Stars. She was 16 at the time and the popular show's youngest contestant.

Letty Mendoza was thrilled Saturday that she could take her 11-year-old daughter to see Zendaya without spending a lot of money on a concert ticket and travel to another Pacific Northwest venue.

The Kennewick mother and her daughter, Nayomi Valdez, both shook their hair around while dancing freely on the fairground's lawn.

Valdez, who's been watching Disney since she was little, described the experience as "the best ever."

"We like music and we like to dance. It's fun," Mendoza said. "We're glad to see that they did this for the kids. You can't get it wrong with Disney."

Jenyka Xiggenis had one of the better viewpoints -- on top of her dad's shoulders.

Jennifer and Josh Baldwin of Hermiston stood off to the side of the crowd in the general admission area where they could see the stage and the large screen that had close-up footage of Zendaya, her four backup dancers and the band.

The parents were still debating who was going to escort the 7-year-old to the "Meet and Greet" after the concert. They paid $100 for the special pass to include an autograph and a picture with Zendaya, which would be posted on the artist's website.

"For her first concert, we can't beat this," Josh Baldwin said, with Jenyka smiling above him. "It's one time in her life she's going to do something like that."

Friends Makayla Hill, 13, of Pasco, and Natalie Richards, 14, of Prosser, were joined by sisters Samantha and Alexa Vasquez of Pasco on the bleachers in the back of the general admission area.

Richards admitted she doesn't know all of Zendaya's songs, but said it's a cool opportunity to see a hot artist without having to leave the Mid-Columbia.

"Plus, no one really that we know comes to the fair, and we know her," Hill added.

Zendaya reminded everyone in the audience Saturday that her slogan is D.F.T.S. -- Don't Forget to Smile. She said she made it up at age 12 because she believes in always finding the bright side of things and being grateful for what you have.

"Can I see some smiles, please?" the singer said, as fans young and old smiled wide.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531;; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer


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Source: Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA)

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