Ohio Has Talent runner-up Connor Raines will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage to compete for the Ohio Has Talent “Champion of Champions” title on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. (DHI Media/File Photo/Kirsten Barnhart)
Ohio Has Talent runner-up Connor Raines will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage to compete for the Ohio Has Talent “Champion of Champions” title on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. (DHI Media/File Photo/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – When 13-year-old Connor Raines found out he would get the chance to return to Ohio Has Talent for the second year in a row, he was more than excited. Raines, who resides with his family in Lima, will take the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage on Feb. 22 for a chance to win the Ohio Has Talent “Champion of Champions” title.

Raines wowed Ohio Has Talent goers in 2019 with a powerful acoustic guitar cover that landed him the runner-up title. When he tried out for OHT for the first time, he hadn’t quite experienced anything like it up to that point.

“My mom had just started putting me into competitions and this one showed up,” said Raines. “It was really fun; it was probably my favorite performance that I’ve been in so far.”

Not only was it his favorite performance, it was also the biggest audience he has ever played for.

Raines has been playing the guitar for around seven years. His dad, who also plays guitar, bought Raines his first guitar and enrolled him in lessons at a young age. Raines still takes lessons once a week but spends time on his own practicing.

For this year’s performance, Raines will be playing “Chicks Dig It” by Chris Cagle and “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Raines said he is excited to meet the other champions at this year’s OHT.

“I’m kind of nervous also because it’s going to be a lot more challenging this year,” said Raines. “I know this will be a lot tougher experience. I hope I really do win, but even if I don’t win, it will help me learn that it’s not the end of the world. I can still go on and keep going.”

Since OHT, Raines has performed around the Lima area. He is also currently in another competition that involves several rounds of performances.

“I follow musicians around and I open for them,” said Raines. “I’ll open up for bands or play at banquets and restaurants.”

The “Champion of Champions” competition at Ohio Has Talent takes place on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the NPAC. Raines said he looks forward to being part of OHT again this year and encourages others to try out for it.

“Ohio Has Talent is a really fun experience,” said Raines. “It gets you in front of people. It helps take away your fears of being in front of a crowd. It will show you that you can stand up in front of people and helps you build confidence in yourself.”

Proceeds from Ohio Has Talent will benefit the Community Health Professionals (CHP) patient care fund for in-home hospice. As a nonprofit hospice, CHP works with patients and families regardless of their financial situation. The patient care fund helps cover gaps for uncovered patient care expenses and enables CHP to continue providing compassionate care throughout Northwest and West Central Ohio.