The Star-Herald

United Way issues call for local talent

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — United Way of Aroostook is looking for its next Northern Star in the annual regional talent competition, now in its 14th year. 

The agency is changing things up a bit this year by creating a Junior Northern Star Division for contestants and groups under the age of 12. Through the years, organizers have made changes to improve the show, which is one of the UWA’s largest fundraisers, and believe this year’s change will provide audiences with highly entertaining shows they won’t want to miss.

“We are hoping to add variety and increase entertainment by including younger talent in the program,” said Sherry Locke, United Way executive director. “The County has some really talented children and we wanted to give them a platform to perform.”

As in years past, contestants will compete in three regional shows on Friday, March 9, in Fort Kent; Saturday, March 10, in Presque Isle; and Sunday, March 11, in Houlton. The finale, featuring winners from all three previous shows, will be Sunday, March 25, in Caribou.

The talent show was originally titled “Aroostook Idol” but then changed to “Northern Star” so it could include contestants not only from Aroostook County, but also Madawaska, Carleton and Victoria counties in New Brunswick. Last year the program opened the typically “vocal-only” talent show to include all talent, including group acts.  The new format drew a whole host of new talent, ranging from singers and dancers to stand-up comics and beatboxers.  Then 13-year-old violinist Hope Chernesky of Houlton took home the title of the 2017 Northern Star, bringing the house to its feet with her performance of Lindsey Stirling’s dubstep piece, “Crystallize & Spontaneous Me.”  

Last year’s show also introduced a new Co-Host to join long time host Jason Parent. Katie Zarrilli, local television personality and reporter for WAGM, was thrilled to be part of Northern Star.

“Co-hosting Northern Star was one of the highlights of my year last year,” said Zarrilli. “When I agreed to come on board, I had no idea how much fun I’d have. The mystery buildup and then reveal of me being the co-host was a blast, and then during the shows I was blown away by the talent we have right here in Aroostook County. I’m so happy to be part of this and am so unbelievably excited to see what this year brings.”

Regional shows will be March 9 at 7 p.m. at Fox Auditorium in Fort Kent; March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Presque Isle Middle School Auditorium in Presque Isle; and March 11 at 2 p.m. at the Community Arts Center in Houlton.  The finale will be at the Caribou Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m.

People interested in participating in this year’s shows should contact the United Way office at 207-764-5197 or by visiting http://www.unitedwayaroostook.org/northern-star for more information or to get an application.

Tickets for all shows will be available soon at all Acadia Federal Credit Union and The County Federal Credit Union branches throughout Aroostook County.

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