The event, which is now in its second year and is inspired by the popular TV show “American Idol,” is a singing competition for those who live or work in the city.
“On Thanksgiving night, the competition goes into semi-finals and then a finals round. The winner will receive a $250 prize donated by the Hampton Business and Merchants Association and will headline our Dec. 5th Christmas parade,” said Main Street Manager Candy Franklin.
New to the competition this year, the second-place singer will receive a $100 prize from Speedway Donuts.
Franklin said last year, about 32 participants were chosen to move on from the initial auditions.
“About five singers were chosen from each of the open auditions this year to compete during the semi-finals of Hampton Idol 2 this year,” she said.
During the open auditions, which were Nov. 15 and Nov. 23, participants sang their choice of a Christmas or gospel song for a panel of judges made up of Hampton residents including preachers, educators and administrators.
Last year contestants from any age group could participate, but this year’s competition is limited to ages 13 and older. Mayor Chris Moore said the event is not only an opportunity to showcase the city’s talent, but also to promote local businesses.
“When we’re doing the auditions, we invite local business owners to come out and share some of the opportunity since people are gathered. Just like commercials on TV, we have our businesses stand up and talk about what they do in between each contestant’s performance. It’s a way to help promote local business without them paying for advertising,” he said.
The inclusion of events like Hampton Idol has, in return, helped to make other events in the community more popular as well, Moore said.
“I wanted to improve the entertainment at the tree-lighting ceremony so we got our inspiration from ‘American Idol.’ The competition is a way to build excitement for the next event, which is the Christmas Parade.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year and the more people that come out and have fun, the more popular it becomes,” he said. Last year’s parade had the biggest turnout of any Hampton event so far, about 7,000 people total.