Singing competitions are back in a big way for the Estevan Fair.
A night after the Estevan Sings Junior contest was on the stage, teens and adults had their opportunity to perform Tuesday night during Estevan Sings. A large crowd filled the surrounding grandstands and picnic tables to listen to the musical talents of 10 performers.
Karissa Hoffort, an aspiring young musician from Minton who now resides in Weyburn, was the winner of the resurrected contest, which ran from 2003-2013 under the Estevan Idol name.
Estevan Sings started with 10 singers: Doris Trobert, Janney Wilson, Jenna Fleck, Ocean Batke, Megan Zemlak, Kelsey Shier, Sarah Hodgson, Christina Dyck, Cole McCaskill and Hoffart. Hodgson was a late substitution for Melissa Wright.
The judges had the tough task of trimming the field to five. They went with Trobert, Wilson, Zemlak, Dyck and Hoffart. The quintet of singers had a chance to perform again, but this time it was the audience who would decide the winner, thanks to a vote via text messages.
Spectators ultimately thought Hoffart deserved to win Estevan Sings.
Dyck was second, Trobert was third, and Zemlak and Wilson finished tied for fourth following a final round that showcased the talents of the performers and created emotional moments.
Hoffart won two tickets to an upcoming Backstreet Boys concert, and the opportunity to perform during the Rafferty Rumble next month. And after the show, she spoke with Jeff Michel, who was one of the judges and has his own recording studio.
“He wants to provide me with studio time,” said Hoffart. “The people in general, giving me that spark to continue on with my passion. I think that’s the main thing I get from this is that I’m never going to give up on my dream of being a singer and a songwriter.”
While she works as a nurse in Weyburn, and she’s passionate about nursing, she still wants to pursue music.
This wasn’t the first time she has been in an Estevan singing contest. In 2012, she finished second in Estevan Junior Idol. And after that experience, she wanted to perform again.
“I love the community vibes of Estevan. I love this small town community how everybody’s out here enjoying themselves and supporting everyone.”
When she saw Estevan Sings was coming, she knew she had to audition.
She was impressed with all of the talent who was on the stage this year.
Hoffart played Stay by Sugarland in the first round, and then delivered a highly energetic version of Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson.
“When I select songs, I always try to pick a slower song and then a faster song. With Stay, I really just have a passion for Sugarland, and the way in which she sings and puts all her emotion in. That’s what kept me wanting to sing Stay. Redneck Woman is just so much fun. It’s a blast.”
Estevan Sings producer Travis Frank said the contests on Monday and Tuesday night were terrific and a lot of fun.
“The entertainers were incredible. It was kind of good to take a little bit of a break over the last couple of years to get some fresh, new talent,” said Frank.
The judges had a very difficult job during the two nights of the competition, thanks to the talent on stage.
The text message system worked well, and Frank was pleased to see it wasn’t a popularity contest.
‘One of the big goals we had was to not really announce how it would work right up until it went live, to make sure that we didn’t have a popularity contest. We wanted to make sure that we got the people who were watching the performances vote, and watching the system work, we knew that it worked really well,” he said.
Most of the votes came in after the performances were done, and he believes the crowd was pleased to have their say in the winner.
He looks forward to seeing Estevan Sings as part of the fair for years to come.