Josh Jardine performing at last year’s Swift Idol event. Watch one of the performers in the video player above. | Courtesy Duke Dance
AFTON, Wyoming – If you have a talent for singing, you could win $10,000 by participating in a local competition.
Auditions are now open for the fifth annual Swift Idol Competition, a localized version of the hit TV show “American Idol,” at Lincoln County Fair in Afton, Wyoming. The competition is happening Aug. 3, but auditions are open now through Memorial Day, May 25.
Duke Dance, the host of Swift Idol, tells EastIdahoNews.com the competition has gotten bigger every year and this year’s prize is the largest ever.
“The prize (for the winner) is $10,000,” Dance says. “Some of the other side benefits: we promote them on our local radio station here.”
Last year’s winner, Josh Jardine of Grover, Wyoming, recently recorded an album. Dance says he often performs his music live on Swift 98.7 FM.
Jardine’s album “Gotta Start Livin’” is available on Amazon or iTunes.
Swift Idol participants will perform in front of a live audience. Singer/songwriter Alex Boye will be attending as a judge. Jardine will return as a judge for the show as well.
The judges will help select the competitors and will be on stage providing feedback to the contestants during the show. Boye will even perform a mini-concert for those in attendance.
The audience will ultimately cast their vote to determine the winner.
“In previous years, we’ve had as many as 17,000 votes cast,” Dance says. “We don’t really have a clue what COVID is doing in August. The plan right now is we will have an audience. If we’re not allowed to have a live audience, we’ll still hold it. It will just be a video broadcast only.”
How Swift Idol began
Fall River Propane Swift Idol began in 2016 as a small community competition. The first event was held on Main Street in Afton, Wyoming. Melissa Dickey of Blackfoot won $500 the first year.
The competition moved to the Lincoln County Fair the following year, where it was held as part of the free entertainment. The prize increased to $1,000 and Case Tippetts of Afton, Wyoming was the winner.
In 2018, the prize increased to $3,000, which was awarded to EJ Pauni of Cokeville, Wyoming.
Swift Idol became one of the featured events of the Lincoln County Fair last year. It was held on a professional concert stage and carried a grand prize of $6,000.
“One of the most rewarding parts of this is to see how much it’s grown from this tiny, podunk competition to being the largest vocal competition in the intermountain west,” Dance says.
Getting to know the talent in the region and watch them progress is another aspect that Dance enjoys.
“Last year’s winner, Josh Jardine — hardly anyone even knew he could sing. His wife finally talked him into doing the competition and all of a sudden, he’s a celebrity in our town. Swift Idol brought him out of obscurity and now he’s a superstar,” he says.
Several competitors from eastern Idaho advanced to the finals last year. Heather Hathaway of Shelley finished 3rd and Katelyn Turman of Rexburg finished 4th.
Dance says he’s excited to see the new talent this year’s competition brings, and he’s inviting you to come and watch.
“If you think this competition is too big for you, audition anyway. The last three winners we’ve had were not expecting to get past the audition phase, much less win. If you can sing, submit an audition and you never know,” Dance says.
The competition is open to anyone 12 and up. There is a $30 audition fee.
If you’d like to audition, submit an audio file by clicking here.
Visit the website or Facebook page for more information. You can also contact Duke Dance via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Boye, center, was a judge in last year’s competition. | Courtesy Duke Dance