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Festival Idol winner receives ticket to 'American Idol'

Matt DeYoung • Jul 24, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The annual Festival Idol singing competition has always drawn some of the top vocalists from the Lakeshore to Grand Haven’s Waterfront Stadium.

The stakes are elevated this year as the winner of the Coast Guard Festival event will be granted a Silver Ticket to audition for “American Idol,” the television show that served as the inspiration for the local event.

Festival intern Abby Wittkopp said the Silver Ticket allows the holder to bypass several levels of auditions.

“They’ll go straight to an audition with producers, which is one level below meeting the judges,” she explained.

The Silver Ticket is being provided by WZZM-TV, which along with Summit Marine is a sponsor of Festival Idol.

The competition will take place Monday, July 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but they are required to attend the event.

Festival Idol’s rules have been tweaked this year to accommodate working with “American Idol.” While younger performers will have a chance to sing, only those ages 15-28 are eligible to win the competition.

Participants will have just one minute to perform their song (in the past, they sang an entire piece), and no background tracks are allowed. Performances must be a capella, or artists can play a keyboard or guitar during their song.

“It’s going to be a totally different show this year,” said Annie Lengkeek, director of marketing for the festival. “Once they narrow it down to the top 5-7 contestants, we’re going to bring them back up and they’re going to perform again.

“In the past years, this has been really local,” she added. “This year, we’re getting some people from farther distances.”

In addition to a Silver Ticket, the winner will receive transportation and hotel stay in the audition city.

“We’re hoping for a really good turnout,” Lengkeek said of Festival Idol. “Our goal is, the person who wins it, we want to see them on TV in the fall or spring. That would be awesome.”

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