A change in format for the ever-popular “Quest for the Best” singing contest will see old favourites compete against newcomers this year.
The annual event is set to run this Wednesday (July 20) at the Sports Memorial Centre in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, with doors opening at 6 p.m.
“A couple of years ago, there was a ‘Best of Quest’ where they brought back a lot of past participants that had won ‘Quest’ and then pitted 10 sort of ‘newer’ participants against them,” recalled Sarah Hallikas, a summer student with the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce who has been organizing this year’s “Quest.”
That year, the winner of the “new” round competed against previous winners, Hallikas noted.
This year’s “Quest” will be somewhat similar to that one, she said, except that a winner from the newer participants will be chosen.
The second half of the evening will feature past winners competing against each other, with a winner also selected from that group.
“[Then] the two top places [will] compete in one final song, in a battle style, and whoever wins that wins the grand prize, which is $1,000,” said Hallikas, noting this prize has been donated by Northern Community Development Services (NCDS).
Despite the change, Hallikas stressed the whole evening will have the same feel as past “Quests.”
“A lot of the work was just getting a hold of the past winners because they’ve all grown up, sort of, because ‘Quest’ has been going on for more than 16 years,” she noted.
“So we’ve been calling people from the very, very beginning to see if they’d be in town for the contest and if they wanted to participate.”
This year’s “Quest” lineup includes both old and new faces, including Alex Revus, Ericka Tymkin, Brittany Hayes, Mylo Smith, Jon Glueheisen, Kristi McQuay, Alex Denby, Bridget Jorgenson, Nelson Bragg/Christina Empey, and Charity Alverson.
Dylan Ossachuk, Kayla Lauzon/Teagan Lauzon, Larissa Desrosiers/Tyler Big George, Maverick Judson, Ken Kellar, Allan McDonald/Zach Jolicoeur, Katelyn Shortreed, Dylan Thompson, and Melanie Williams round out the 19 acts.
This year’s judges will be Sandra Allan, former “Quest” participant Lindsay Hamilton, and Christa Pare.
Along with the grand prize, there once again will be other prizes handed out.
Returning, for example, is the “People’s Choice,” noted Hallikas, but this time around there’s a new twist.
“[For] People’s Choice this year, you have to pay to vote,” she explained.
“So it’s a $1 to vote and whoever at the end of the night has the most money in their slot, they win the People’s Choice for that round.”
Also to be presented will be the contestants’ choice, audience response, sponsors’ choice, and the dark horse awards.
There are still plenty of tickets available, said Anthony Mason, night-time entertainment director for the FFCBC.
“[Ticket sales] are kind slow this year,” he admitted, attributing the sales to the hot July weather of late.
He added the new format should make for an exciting evening.
Tickets for “Quest,” which cost $15, are available at Betty’s, Canadian Tire, and the Chamber of Commerce office across from Safeway.
And once again this year, the Chamber is offering VIP seating. These tables seat eight or 10, and come with snacks and tableside drink service.
Those interested in purchasing a table for $180 can contact the Chamber at 274-5773.