Ramona has its own version of American Idol, and it’s among the most popular parts of the Ramona Country Fair.
Four weeks before the Country Fair, Ramona Idol auditions are held for singers in two categories: Adult for the 21 and older crowd, and Youth for the age 5 to 20 set. The Youth Division has three categories, based on age: 5-10, 11-15 and 16-20. Each week, two semifinalists were selected in each category for a total of six semifinalists a week in the Youth Division and two in the Adult Division.
That’s 32 semifinalists—24 in the Youth Division and eight in the Adult.
Getting to the semifinalists was difficult. Now comes the really hard part, said Gin Boughner, Ramona vocal coach who coordinated the Youth Division competition.
Two evenings of the Ramona Country Fair are set aside for the Fourth Annual Ramona Idol. Semifinals will start at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, and Ramona Idol Finals will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 31.
“I think the general public has to come out and see these kids and see the level of quality singers we have at really young ages,” said Boughner, who was a professional singer before she became a vocal coach.”Our really strong group this year is the 11 to 15-year-olds. They are amazing. They are incredibly talented.”
Choosing five finalists in each category on Thursday and then the top three on Sunday won’t be easy, said Boughner. “I feel sorry for the judges.”
Kenny Ogee of Ogee Productions, the company in charge of entertainment for the Country Fair, has organized the adult Ramona Idol auditions.
“This year has got to be the best in the singers for the Idol,” said Joanne Ueblacker, manager of Ogee Productions.
Ueblacker credits Boughner with starting Ramona Idol. “She is the one who put together the judging criteria, the guidelines, the different divisions. She’s coordinated the Idol.”
Ramona Idol hopefuls will be judged on three things: vocal ability, stage presence and audience response, “so the more audience we get out there cheering for them, the better,” said Boughner.
Prizes such as karaoke machines, recording studio times, microphones and gift certificates await the prize winners.
“It’s going to be a very entertaining day, but it’s going to be a very close competition,” Boughner said of Ramona Idol finals. “We want to get a huge audience out there.”