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Ole Brook talent show gets new night

Talented local youth could have the chance to have their voicesheard nationally through the Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Contestheld during the Ole Brook festival this year, organizers said.

Kay Burton, of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce, said the competition has found a new time all its ownthis year. The talent competition, for ages 13-21, has moved toFriday evening, Sept. 19, and will allow the competitors to be themain entertainment of the night instead of splitting time with theother attractions of the festival.

“We thought it might increase the draw,” she said. “It’s moreexciting as its own stand-alone event.”

There will be winners in each division, includingBroadway/classical solo, Christian/gospel solo, country solo,popular solo and vocal groups. But most importantly, Burton said,the overall winner gets to perform as the opening act forSaturday’s headlining bands.

This year’s concert will feature Christian artists Jason Gray,followed by Rush of Fools and headliner by Big Daddy Weave.

In addition, Burton said, individuals may enter more than onecategory. Burton said there is a first place cash award in eachdivision as well as the chance to perform Saturday.

“This is a non-profit event, too,” she said. “All the money goesback to putting on the show, and back to the kids whoparticipate.”

The competition is also a precursor to the overall Mid-SouthFair Youth Contest, which has traditionally taken place in Memphiseach fall. Burton said winners are not the only ones who areselected to go to the Mid-South Fair. Last year, winner SkylarHardin of Jackson went on to the competition, but eight people wereselected altogether to go.

“Of 150 contests nationally, this is the last one of the year,and the national competition starts the Sunday after Ole Brook,”Burton said. “Two of our winners who got a bid went on to thesemi-finals of the national competition.”

The Mid-South Fair Youth Talent competition takes place Sept.21-28, and will field winners of events all over the country verymuch like the Ole Brook talent competition. Burton said thepractice is a perk even if a contestant doesn’t go on to the nextlevel.

“This is a great opportunity for some of these contestants whodo things like Junior Miss and other pageants,” said Burton. “Ithelps build your confidence and helps with a more professionalstage presence. With the professional sound and lighting on thestage, it gives them a good venue to perform in for experience,rather than just at home in front of the mirror.”

The Youth Talent Contest has been a Mid-South Fair tradition forover 50 years, and is the largest amateur performing arts talentcontest in the world.

“We do have some good talent here,” Burton said. “I’d love tosee us have a national winner.”

Burton said people interested in participating can pick up aform from the Chamber of Commerce, or call (601) 833-1411 for moreinformation.