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Wed, June 26

8 years on, Prescott Idol continues to draw crowds

During a recent Prescott Idol performance, local singer Thomas Apalategui belts out “Chicken Fried,” a song by the Zac Brown Band.
Photo by Cindy Barks.

During a recent Prescott Idol performance, local singer Thomas Apalategui belts out “Chicken Fried,” a song by the Zac Brown Band.

By 4:30 p.m. or so on a summer Thursday, the lawn chairs start to appear, and the prime grassy spots on the north side of the Yavapai County Courthouse begin to be swallowed up.

By 6:30 p.m., as many as 1,000 locals and tourists can be found lounging, picnicking on sandwiches or slices of pizza, and chatting – their faces all turned expectantly toward the stage.

Soon, music fills the warm evening air: The sounds of Carrie Underwood, the Zac Brown Band, John Mellencamp, Bill Joel, Adele.

You never know what you’re going to get at the Prescott Idol competition, but one thing is certain – there will plenty of people on hand to listen.

Now in its eighth year, the popular home-grown karaoke competition consistently attracts crowds to downtown Prescott.

“Idol has been one of the big draws,” said Kathy Flower August, who manages the event for the Prescott Downtown Partnership, sponsor of the annual Summer Concert Series.

Doug Brannson, a local DJ who serves as Idol’s master of ceremonies, notes the performances can sometimes amaze the crowd.

Take Phoenix resident Ashley Hite, for instance, who traveled to Prescott to take part in the competition. As a first-time Idol participant, Hite’s rendition of Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” was impressive enough to earn her a spot in the Sept. 7 finale.

Melissa Byrne, regional manager for the KOLT/REWIND/WOLF/BIG TALKER radio stations that organize the music for the Idol events, explained that two top competitors are chosen each week to go on to the finale in September.

Attendees vote for their favorites at the event, and can vote later online as well. Along with Hite, singer Tiffani Fortney also was a top finisher July 13 with her turn at “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia.”

While the singers sometimes return year after year, Flower August noted that Idol also attracts some of the same fans each week.

Local residents Carol Williams and Russ Nelsen, seated near the front of the crowd, said they like to arrive at the event by about 4:30 p.m. to get their favorite spot.

They like the music, as well as the social aspect of Idol. “It’s a good way to get out and meet people,” Williams said.

Idol, which takes place most Thursdays during the summer months, will return to the plaza on Aug. 10, 24, and 31, starting at 6:30 p.m. The location for the Sept. 7 finale is still being finalized, Byrne said.

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