Stampede Talent Show back in a big way

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Lacombe native Jessica St. Dennis will join nine other finalists on the big stage with Gord Bamford’s band. The winner of the talent show will take home $1

Lacombe native Jessica St. Dennis will join nine other finalists on the big stage with Gord Bamford’s band. The winner of the talent show will take home $1

ADAM JACKSON/Ponoka News

It’s back and it’s back in a big way.

The 2011 Ponoka Stampede will feature an old favourite — the Stampede Talent Show. After a two-year hiatus, it’s back and it is sure to please.

Country music superstar Gord Bamford will be a judge and the contestants and finalists will have a chance to perform with his world-renowned band.

“I think it’s awesome that Gord Bamford decided to help out and take the ball and roll with it and get it started again for us,” said organizer Mike Stretch. “(The contestants) being able to play with his band is a huge thing itself, not everyone gets to say that they’ve played with Gord Bamford’s band.”

Bamford attended the auditions in late May, where more than 50 hopefuls were whittled down to just 10 finalists.

“There was definitely a lot of talent at the auditions,” said Stretch. “The judges had their hands full trying to get it down to 10 people.”

Of the 10 finalists, three are Ponoka singers: Jamie Woodfin, Samantha MacKinnon and Shalaine Hanick.

There is something else that is new about the talent show this year.

The contestants won’t know who the winner is until the performance is over. With $1,000 and a leather coat on the line, there is bound to be some animation on the faces of the contestants when the competition is over.

“With none of them knowing who the winner is before they jump on the big stage, it’s definitely going to be exciting,” said Stretch.

Winners will be selected by a small group of judges, Bamford as well as singer/songwriter and radio personality Tera Lee.

Many now-famous names have had their first steps at the Ponoka Stampede Talent Show — aside from Bamford — include Shane Yellowbird, Adam Gregory, Samantha King and Stacey Roper.

The contestants will be given the opportunity to sing their hearts out on the big stage on the evening of June 29, immediately following the chuckwagon races.

No finalist will go home empty-handed, though. All finalists receive free tickets for the Summer Send Off concert in September.