Idol competition kicks of festival

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2005

The 31st Annual Atwood Music Festival got under way Wednesday inLawrence County with the first of two Atwood Idol contests to leadinto the weekend’s headlining acts of Andy Griggs, Joe Diffie andPam Tillis.

More than 1,000 people came last year to watch amateur croonerscompete for the prize and bragging rights as the Atwood Idol.

The popular amateur Atwood Idol Contest, which debuted lastyear, was split this year to accommodate the large number ofcompeting entries. The Country Idol Contest will begin at 6 at the Atwood Water Park.

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Winners of both contests receive five hours of recording timefrom Route One recording studio in Monticello.

Jackie Robbins of the Tilton community won out Wednesday overapproximately 20 other contestants to capture the prize. TheCountry Idol contest has about as many entries, said Mayor DavidNichols. He expects the contest to last a little more than twohours.

“They should be able to perform two songs apiece,” he said.”That was one of the reasons for the split. We had to cut it downlast year to one song.”

This year’s crop of Idol contenders includes many new entrieswho did not compete in the event’s debut last year, Nicholssaid.

The Idol contests are a warm up for the weekend activities,which feature Griggs on Friday night and Diffie and Tillis onSaturday. The Atwood Music Festival, Lawrence County’s biggestmusical event, draws more than 10,000 people to the area eachyear.

Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday with entertainment beginning at 6:30p.m. Griggs will take the stage around 8 p.m.

Griggs is best known for his hits “Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man”and “I’ll Go Crazy,” but his latest release “If Heaven” hasdominated the charts in recent weeks.

Gates open Saturday at 10 a.m. with local and regionalentertainment starting at 11 a.m. Tillis will perform around 7:45p.m. followed by Diffie around 9:30 p.m.

Tillis, a 1994 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, CMT “Video ofthe Year” and Grammy award winner, has seen five of her sevenalbums certified either gold or platinum.

Diffie, no stranger to the charts, is currently enjoying thesuccess of the title track of his new album “Tougher Than Nails.”It’s the latest round of commercial success for an artist with 10No. 1 records and six million in sales to his credit. He is bestknown for his hits “Love On The Rocks,” “Third Rock From The Sun,””Bigger Than The Beatles,” “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If IDie),” and “John Deere Green.”

The weekend’s activities also feature food, arts and crafts,kids’ activities and more.