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Become an IDOL

With talent shows so popular now, it’s nice to know that Nevada County has its own Idol contest. It’s right at the fairgrounds, during the fair, on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Last year’s fair Idol winner was John Arbaugh who won singing “Runaround Sue” and “If You Really Love Me.”

Someone who won both locally and regionally is Kris Stepanian of Penn Valley. She won in 2006 with the song made famous by Patsy Cline, “Crazy.” The same song won her first place in a regional contest in Auburn, where a dozen winners of other fair competitions competed against each other.



It seems this lady, an escrow officer by day, has been singing since she was 10 at Lyman Gilmore school. For the past 18 years she’s performed in musicals at Off Broadstreet in Nevada City.

Her last performance there was in “Last Ditch Idol,” fitting, she says, because the Nevada County Fair has since lowered the age limit (it’s now 16-28; Stepanian was 37 when she won).




Other things have changed, too. Now the winning contestant is chosen through the quarter system – in other words, the winning poundage of quarters. Last year’s winner topped the scale at 23 pounds, or more than $900, all of which was donated to the charity of his choice. Stepanian’s charity was the Grass Valley Rotary Club, and she said that being able to give if she won was part of her motivation to compete in the first place.

Fair officials love this sort of thing wherein all benefit.

“The Fair is excited that this has become such a high caliber talent event for Nevada County,” said Sandy Woods, Deputy Manager of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. “It is also wonderful to be able to help a local non profit organization, and, at the same time, provide our community with family fun entertainment.”

In addition to possibly getting a recording contract (you never know who might be out in the audience) and donating to charity, there might be a judgeship in your future, should you become the fair’s Idol.

“Winning is real cool and I love performing,” said Stepanian, “but I loved going back and being a judge (which she did for the 2007 competition). “There’s something special when (contestants) are on stage pouring their heart out to you.”

Her advice: As every song is a story, “tell it well. Make every note count. Focus on your purpose, put your heart into it and feel the music, be real.”

And if you get butterflies, “That’s a good thing,” says this seasoned performer. “I always get them.”

Entries close Friday (Aug. 2) at 5 p.m. So get your application and $5 to the fairgrounds office now. And may the best singer win to go on to compete at the California State Fair in a month. The winner of that gets a cash award and round trip airline tickets to the talent competition of his or her choice in the US. Heady stuff!


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