By LENORE RUTHERFORD
They won't face down Simon Cowell's brutal honesty or be called "dawg" by Randy Jackson, but there are still plenty of reasons for people to sign up to be the Mother Lode Fair Idol:
Prizes, for one.
After being narrowed down from a field of 100 hopefuls, there will be 10 finalists just like the FOX TV hit show "American Idol." The finalists will perform for the first three days of the fair's four-day run, from July 10-13.
The voting audience will winnow the possibilities even more by the last night of the fair, there will only be two finalists left, and one will be the fair idol.
That person will win $500 in cash, a live radio performance (pending), two vocal lessons with a professional vocal coach and an invitation to perform at the 2004 Mother Lode Fair.
Judges will include a representative from the talent agency, That's Entertainment International, out of Sacramento at least one night.
Other judges will include representatives from radio and The Union Democrat.
During auditions, the judges will narrow the field down from 100 to the final 10 and three alternates.
Like opinionated judges Cowell and Jackson did on the real "Idol" show, the local judging panel will comment on stage about the finalists' performances during the fair, said organizer Sandi Romena, a well-known Tuolumne County performer.
But final decisions during the fair will be made by audience members.
"It should be a lot of fun," said Romena. "There is an incredible amount of talent up here. I think people will be blown away."
The contest is open to people between 16 and 25 who live in Tuolumne County. Only 100 contestants will be auditioned, and it won't help to camp out all night to be first in line.
Each person lined up between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 21, will get a numbered ticket. There will be a drawing to determine placement in line. Auditions begin at 10 a.m. in the Manzanita Building of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora.