Karaoke hopefuls coming to town Friday

FAIRMONT – Could the opening act for WE Fest this summer be performing at Shenanigans in Fairmont on Friday night? It’s possible.

Contestants have been qualifying in the WE Fest Karaoke Roundup throughout the region, with Shenanigans holding one of the qualifying competitions.

“We expect to have 24 contestants,” said DeeDee Neu, one of the proprietors of Shenanigans. “There have been some amazing singers, just phenomenal. We’ve had singers come from Sioux Falls, Iowa, Mankato, Worthington, even a few from the Twin Cities area come and compete.”

This is the second year Shenanigans has held the We Fest Karaoke Roundup competition.

“We pony up a lot of cash to be involved,” said Steve Neu. “So it’s a huge, huge deal.”

Other competitions are being held in Mankato, the Twin Cities, and in North and South Dakota.

The final competition for the Roundup at the local level will be held Friday night at Shenanigans. Warm-ups begin at 7 p.m.

Five winners and two alternates will be picked to advance to regional competition in Granite Falls in May, with the big finale to be held at Northern Lights Casino in Walker in June. Of the competitors there, the top three will perform as opening acts for WE Fest, a three-day country music festival held every year in Detroit Lakes.

Big-name acts at WE Fest this year include country stars Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Big and Rich, and Gary Allan.

While this may put some pressure on the contestants, DeeDee says she feels pressure as a judge.

“The rules are specific that we have to judge with that specific moment and the song they perform,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen them perform before and know what they can do … We had one guy who was so disappointed that he didn’t qualify, and it hurt to know he was crushed, and we knew he’d performed other songs better, but we had to take that time and that performance.”

Those competing Friday night already have earned tickets to WE Fest. Neu plans to follow those who qualify to the regional and state finals.

“It will be really exciting if we have someone who qualified here get to the state competition, or if we have one that wins. They’ll be able to say they got their start at Shenanigans Cheer and Chow,” she said.