Many kids play games at the Mid-South Fair for a chance to win a stuffed animal. But for some, there’s a bigger prize in sight. The Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Contest, which offers cash prizes and an opportunity to audition for CBS Studios.
The fair has long hosted one of the largest amateur performing arts talent contests in the Southeast, with more than 150 preliminary contests held in eight states.
The categories includes dance solo; dance group; variety acts (solo and group); instrumental solo; instrumental group/band; vocal solo (male and female); and vocal group.The Grand Award Winner in the Senior Division (ages 13 to 21) wins $2,000 and an invitation to a private audition with CBS Studios in Hollywood, California or New York. The Grand Award Winner in the Junior Division (ages 9 to 12 year olds) receives $500.
I dropped by a preliminary contest at Lane Music in Germantown to preview the talent. Girls wearing formal gowns and young men dressed in suits and bow ties chatted while waiting to perform. They came with pieces by Beethoven and the Beatles, one girl even brought a ukulele. The event also featured a Tiny Tots category for ages 8 and under.
“The entrants in the senior division take it very seriously,” notes L.L.E. Wade, an event volunteer.
“The preliminaries are grassroots contests organized by schools, civic clubs, and other organizations to showcase talents,” says Mike McGehee, an emcee at the Youth Talent Contest. First-place winners automatically advance to the semi-finals. A fair representative also has the option to choose any contestant for advancement.
"Judges are looking for more than just raw talent,” says Judith Fairchild, chairman of the Lane Music preliminary talent show. “They’re looking for entertainers with showmanship who communicate well with the audience.”
The Grand Finals for the Junior Division takes place September 21, at 2 p.m. The Grand Award Finals for the Senior Division will be held September 28, at 2 p.m. at Landers Center in Southaven, MS. Those winners advance to the fair.
Here's a look at the LANE MUSIC PRELIMINARY SHOW WINNERS:
SENIOR DIVISION (Ages 13-21)
FIRST PLACE: Alisha Pershad
SECOND PLACE: Rebecca Melton
THIRD PLACE: Anita Pershad
JUNIOR DIVISION (Ages 9-12)
FIRST PLACE: Marissa Liu
SECOND PLACE: Sarah D’Souza
THIRD PLACE: Ethan Yang
Congratulations and good luck to all.