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‘American Idol’ coming to North Iowa

Brianna Darling, The Daily Globe –

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — Small town, big voice? “American Idol,” the television contest famous for producing artists like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Kris Allen, is on a nationwide search for talent — and this year it isn’t limited to the metro areas.

“The American Idol Small Town Bus Tour” is visiting 10 communities across America, and Rock Rapids, Iowa, is on the list.

With a population of 2,600, Rock Rapids is, by far, the smallest community on the current schedule. The next smallest community is Clarksdale, Miss., with a population of just less than 18,000.

“We’re excited,” said Angie Jager, Chamber of Commerce director in Rock Rapids. “We’re the smallest of the 10 towns, and we’re expecting it to bring over 1,000 people to town.”

Rock Rapids was chosen as a tour stop because one of the producers of the show was born and raised in Rock Rapids, according to Jager.

Specifics of the tour are released only a few days in advance of each stop, and “American Idol” finally released the Rock Rapids information on its website late Wednesday afternoon. The auditions will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at Island Park.

“A lot of people are speculating. They think they know when auditions are and will ask, but I can’t tell them,” Jager said earlier in the week . “There will be one day of auditions sometime this weekend … I follow them on Facebook and Twitter to know where they’re going next.”

“We do have a few food vendors lined up,” Jager said. “Law enforcement is involved. They (“American Idol”) have also hired production assistants from Dordt College. They’re not really looking for volunteers. They hire everyone that they need.”

Jager did know that auditions would be in Island Park. No overnight camping is allowed.

“We’re anxious to see how far people will come,” Jager said. “They’re not looking for huge crowds. Just small crowds of good singers.”

Contestants are expected to bring two forms of identification and citizenship and be able to prove that they are within the ages of 15 and 28 as of June 5, 2012.

Those younger than 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian who is older than 21.

Contestants are also expected to have two to three songs ready to perform a capella. No instruments are allowed during the judging.

Contrary to popular belief, the famous judges seen on the television will not be present at the first round of the bus tour auditions.

Contestants at the small town auditions will be judged by producers, who will then choose whether they will move on or stay home.

Those who move on to the next round of auditions will get a “Golden Ticket” and will be given information of when and where the next round of auditions will take place.

This is the first year “American Idol” has done the tour. Also new is the “Nominate an Idol” program, through which friends and family can anonymously nominate individuals by filling out an online form and submitting an existing video of the individual singing a capella.

Can’t make it to the auditions in Rock Rapids this weekend but still want a chance to shine? The Tour will also make stops in Iowa City, Iowa; Bowling Green, Ky.; Clarksdale, Miss; Joplin, Mo.; Dodge City, Kan; and Grand Junction, Colo., following the auditions in Rock Rapids. Online auditions for Season 12 will also be open until Aug. 14.

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