AgExpo features Wyoming talentWritten by Christy Hemken
The contest is open to non-professional Wyoming youth ages 10 through 20 and offers four categories – folk or country music, gospel music, Western poetry and Western storytelling.
“We were thinking about entertainment for the AgXpo and a group of several of us came up with the idea of the talent contest,” says event organizer Scott Keith of the Wyoming Business Council.
He says their attention was brought to the fact that the Wyoming Idol program, normally held at the Wyoming State Fair, is not going to happen in 2009 because of the tight schedule between the fair dates and the national contest finals. “We got to thinking we could do something similar for youth,” he says.
“We’ve got a lot of talented young people in the state and nobody ever gets to see them,” says event organizer Milt Green of the UW Cooperative Extension Service. “At first I was thinking this could be for 4-H and FFA, but as we got to talking we thought we should open it to all youth.”
Invitations have been sent to 4-H Extension Educators, FFA instructors and high school music instructors throughout the state.
“The theme of our AgXpo is ‘Showcasing Wyoming’s heritage and agriculture successes.’ We wanted to make sure that any kind of talent we presented would publicly support the theme,” says Green. “Our contest categories are all consistent with our theme of Wyoming’s heritage.”
A panel of AgXpo officials will review contest entries and select 15 to compete during the day on Nov. 21. Of those, five will be selected to perform that night on stage in the arena before a live audience. The contest will draw upon Pinedale cowboy poet Andy Nelson’s talent to emcee the program.
Keith says the evening will begin at 7:30 Friday night and run in the same format as American Idol. “The judges will sit on stage with the performer and the emcee and they’ll have an opportunity to critique the performance as soon as they’re done. At the end of the night they’ll select one Grand Finale winner.”
The Grand Finale winner will not be eligible for future contests but will be invited to return in future years to serve as a panel judge. Judging will be based on general appearance, quality of the presentation and overall stage presence of the performer. Keith says cash prizes will be awarded, as well as others not yet finalized.
“We’re encouraging schools and music teachers and people that know kids with talent to start talking to their friends and spread word of the contest around and hopefully we’ll have some good contestants,” says Keith.
The contest is free to enter and there’s no charge to attend as a part of the AgExpo trade show. Keith encourages people to arrive at the contest early to take advantage of the trade show and the opportunity to be entered for door prizes.
“I’ve had a lot of interest shown in the contest already,” says Green. “Many people have called to ask questions, and I’m really encouraged about participation. I hope we have a huge chore ahead of us in deciding who we’re going choose for the show that night.”