Talent contest showcases WNC’s youth

The 2011 Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent Contest at Greening Up the Mountains has really exploded.

The start time for the contest has been changed from 10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Bridge Park stage to accommodate the large number of youth who want to perform. Approximately 24 acts will take the stage before the program draws to a close at 11:15 a.m.

Entertainers ranging from 10- to 18-years-old will perform on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, buck dancing, vocals and poetry.

Cash prizes for all participants have been donated by the Catch the Spirit of Appalachia Board of Directors, parents of the 4-H youth, First Citizens Bank, United Community Bank and Champion Credit Union. Judges for the contest are Judy Rhodes (guitar/piano/singer entertainer); Pam Dengler (fiddle/piano entertainer); and Ron Smith (guitar/banjo/singer entertainer).

Jackson County 4-H is joining with Catch the Spirit of Appalachia to produce the Mountain Youth Talent Contest. The Heritage Alive Mountain Youth Talent Contests started in 1997 and is for youth ages 5-18. The purpose is to discover, develop, and encourage talent in the youth of Western North Carolina and to provide an opportunity for local youth to perform on stage before an audience.

Participants in the Talent Contest will now also be eligible to participate in “4-H Entertains” at the district and state level. The Mountain Youth Talent Contest will be offered in three locations and “Best of Show” winners will perform at Mountain Heritage Day at WCU.

• Greening Up the Mountains Festival (Sylva) – Saturday, April 23.

• The Franklin Folk Festival – Saturday, July 16.

• Great Smoky Mountains Railfest in Bryson City – Saturday, Sept. 17.

The two organizations are also working together to bring the JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) program to Jackson County. 4-H is working with a group of community members to start this after-school music program next year. Classes will be taught by regional musicians who will pass along their skills in guitar, fiddle, and banjo.  

The JAM organizing group is currently seeking funding through grants and individual contributions to get this program off the ground. The program is also in need of instruments (guitars, violins, and banjos) so that costs for participants can be kept low. For more information contact Ray Menze at 293.3407 or Pam Dengler at 506.8802.

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