There was an air of nervous excitement permeating the Center Stage area of the Durham Fair at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

Contestants dressed in extravagant costumes paced back and forth backstage while the audience gathered to sit in the little shade they could find. Judges with bottles of water and notepads sat under a tent, waiting for the show to begin. There were only 15 minutes to go until the start of ‘Durham Idol’, or the Durham Fair talent show, as it is commonly known.

Although more than 40 people originally demonstrated their talents for the judges, only 13 perform due to the rigorous auditions held beforehand.

Bill Currlin, a talent show director and announcer for 11 years, stated that the audition process was one of the most difficult parts of organizing the talent show. “This is our 11th year, and it’s attracted some very impressive talent,” he said.

Kara Drenzek, a 3-year talent show director and lead singer for the band Jackson Hill, agreed and added that one of the former talent show winners is now recording in Nashville.

These may seem like big shoes to fill, but this year the performers are more than ready. As they prepare backstage, the judges are introduced. They are looking for everything from, “the heart of a musician” to “the perfect pair of jazz hands.” Sheila Jay, who has been a talent show judge for more than five years, is looking for “presence, professionalism, raw talent, and someone who engages the audience.”

Although some of the competitors were from Durham, others came from places such as Meriden, and even Rhode Island. Most sang, with Disney songs such as “Let It Go” and “Part Of Your World” being crowd favorites, but some danced, played instruments, or performed as a band. Diversity is part of the reason why the talent show is important, according to Morgan Moore, a sophomore from Meriden who performed “Girl In A Country Song”.

“[The talent show is important] because it showcases different talents and gives kids a chance to perform,” Moore said.

Bill Currlin added that the talent show “is an opportunity for young people to get up in front of friends and family and perform.”

Although the talent was great, there could only be one winner. That honor went to Alex Woznyk, who performed an impressive dance number to “I’m Gettin’ Good At Being Bad”. A close runner-up was the Strong Classics, a band made up of three seventh graders who performed “Johnny B. Goode”. They were such a crowd favorite that they also snagged the People’s Choice Award, which gives audience members a chance to vote on their favorite act.

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