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Keystone hosts country’s state finals

Kimberly Nicoletti

KEYSTONE – If you’re a fan of reality shows like “American Idol,” “Star Search” or “Fame,” then check out the Colgate Country Showdown at Keystone tonight.

The showdown features 14 country musicians competing for $1,000 and a spot in the regional competition. The joint Colorado and Wyoming state competition at Keystone is a stepping stone to the 22nd annual national Colgate Country Showdown.

The road to the nationals begins with local competitions hosted by radio stations. In July, 10 musicians competed in High Country Radio’s showdown at the Community Fair in Silverthorne. The winner, Loveland resident Stephanie Layne, will strut her stuff at the state finals. Other competitors hail from points ranging from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Grand Junction and Cortez.

“These are real talented people that work hard to further their career in country music,” said Allen Barrah of High Country Radio. “Their scores (in July) were so close. It was (amazing) how talented they were.”

More than 400 local talent contests ferret out the best musicians to compete in the state finals. Ultimately, the nationwide search aims to discover the most promising country music talent in America and to give the winner a $100,000 prize and a chance to launch a professional music career with a record deal with Lyric Street Records.

The national competition has aired across the country from such venues as the Grand Ole Opry House, the Grand Palace Theatre in Branson, Mo. and Epcot Center at Walt Disney World.

“It’s amazing the level of talent that is out there,” said Jeny Duke, spokesperson for the Colgate Country Showdown. “Sometimes, it’s a tough decision on who’s going to win.”

Unlike other star search shows, the showdown relies on a uniform judging system rather than popularity with audiences, Duke said.

Past winners include Martina McBride, John Michael Montgomery, Neal McCoy, and Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Other performers who have participated in the contest include Chad Brock, LeAnn Rimes, Billy Ray Cyrus, Garth Brooks, Sara Evans and Vince Gill.

“You never know who you’re going to see as far as a contestant – and where they’re going to end up,” Duke said. “Plus, it’s a family show. It’s good entertainment.”

The showdown begins at 6:30 p.m. today at the Park Lane Pavilion.


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