‘Aroostook Idol’ competition crosses border

Posted Dec. 31, 2009, at 6:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Organizers are reinventing a popular regional singing showdown in order to bring a wider variety of talent and a broader audience to the contest formerly known as “Aroostook Idol.”

The United Way of Aroostook first debuted the singing competition, a spin-off of the Fox TV series “American Idol,” five years ago. The contest quickly attracted entrants and has become one of the organization’s most lucrative fundraisers.

Now, organizers want to boost their chances of making the 2010 event even more profitable and entertaining by offering contestants from both The County and western New Brunswick a chance to compete.

Organizers said this week that residents 12 years of age or older and who live in Madawaska, and Victoria and Carleton counties in New Brunswick will be eligible to compete in the show.

Along with the change in eligibility comes a name change. The 2010 show now will be known as “Northern Star.”

The show format will remain largely unchanged and still will function similar to the “American Idol” TV show.

Claudia Stevens, executive director of the UWA, said organizers opted to revamp the show in order to keep it “fresh” and “make it new and exciting.”

“We have received calls from interested participants across the border in years past who were not eligible to compete because they didn’t live in The County,” she explained. “So, we thought this was a perfect opportunity and a great new direction for the production.”

As part of the Aroostook Idol of the past, the United Way of Aroostook held three shows — one each in southern, central and northern Aroostook County — and one winner from each region went on to compete in the finale.

Three regional shows will continue to be held, all in the United States. All times are in U.S. time.

The first show, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at Houlton High School, will feature contestants from southern Aroostook and Carleton County, New Brunswick.

The second show, to be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at Presque Isle Middle School, will be open to residents of central Aroostook and Victoria County, New Brunswick.

The final show will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, in the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Fox Auditorium. It will be open to residents of the St. John Valley and Madawaska County, New Brunswick.

A top performer will be chosen at each show, and the three winners will compete in a finale production on Feb. 28 to determine the new, international “Northern Star.”

Stevens added that the new faces likely will bring songs in new languages. Competitors are being encouraged to present selections from any genre, in English, French or any combination of languages.

Since the United Way of Aroostook launched the fundraiser, it has drawn more than 150 competitors to the stage. It also has raised more than $150,000 to benefit agencies funded by the United Way in Aroostook County.

Applications for interested participants are available on the United Way of Aroostook Web site at www.unitedwayaroostook.org and at all Aroostook County KeyBank branches.

Admission to each regional production will be $8 and admission to the finale will be $10. All proceeds from funds raised at the door will go directly to the United Way of Aroostook annual campaign.

For more information on the “Northern Star” competition, contact the United Way of Aroostook at 207-764-5197.