Mark Washburn

Hometown Crowds Cheer Idol Faves

Residents of Kellie Pickler's hometown filled parking lots to watch her on American Idol.

The new issue of TV Guide, now on newsstands, offers on-the-scene looks at how American Idol contenders are celebrated each week back in their hometowns. Here is how Kellie Pickler, right up until her April 26 send-off, infused her stomping grounds with unprecedented excitement.

Albemarle, N.C. (pop. 16,000), is a city in the rolling hills of North Carolina's Piedmont, about 45 miles east of Charlotte. Textile was its lifeblood until most of the mills shut down in the '80s and '90s. The local economy now relies on light manufacturing, some agriculture and the service industries.

Its quaint downtown is undergoing a slow revival, but nothing has injected it with energy like the "Pickler Party" scene on Tuesday nights. Restaurants pack in customers with broadcasts of read more

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