Local talent stepped on stage here Friday night to give their best shot at the annual “Quest for the Best” singing contest.
The competition, emceed by Johnathan Price of 93.1 The Border, consisted of 20 acts—18 soloists and two duets.
The contestants randomly were split up into two sets of 10, with the audience able to participate after each set in an interactive vote for the People’s Choice awards.
Highlights of the first half included a powerful ballad by Kayla Lauzon, who delivered strong vocals throughout Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.”
Ken Kellar also stood out in an uplifting performance as he resurrected a Beatles’ classic, “I Saw Her Standing There.”
A more comical moment was provided by “Mystery Man,” who pranced around the stage singing Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business,” throwing T-shirts with his name on the crowd.
During intermission, NCDS hosted a “Minute to Win It Extravaganza,” where case worker Cathy Tysz chose six volunteers from the crowd to compete for a $100 Chamber of Commerce gift card.
Challenges included balloon popping, beach ball basketball, and a “ping pong shake-off,” where contestants strapped a Kleenex box full of ping pong balls to their behind and jumped around in a race to see who could empty the box the fastest.
The winner was Chantal Jodoin.
Afterwards, back-up band “The Faculty” played a few songs while judges Maverick Judson, Myron Hawrylak, and Katherine Williams mulled over a winner of the first set.
The second set welcomed a talented bunch of younger performers.
Bryan Ribey, 14, of Atikokan brought the energy as he sang “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
Ribey had people congregating to the dance floor. And if they weren’t dancing, they were clapping and cheering him on.
Brianna Eldridge, meanwhile, went retro with her song selection of “Alone” by Heart—channelling her inner ’80s rock star.
Katelyn Shortreed then delivered a dynamic performance as she belted out Carrie Underwood’s “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun.”
After the second set, the winners of both were revealed, along with the runners-ups and award winners of Sponsor’s Choice, People’s Choice, Band’s Choice, and the Rookie Award.
Kellar topped the first set, with Lauzon as the runner-up.
Mike Fraser and Ed Calder took home the first People’s Choice award.
Dylan Ossachuk won the Sponsor’s Award, with Mitch Breton taking the Rookie Award and Ryne Strachan as the Band’s Choice recipient.
Shortreed was crowned winner of the second set, with Bryan Ribey taking home runner-up and People’s Choice.
Kellar and Shortreed then competed in a “battle song” (Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”).
The final face-off challenged both set winners but the judges ultimately decided on Shortreed as this year’s “Quest” champ.
Judson initially said when it came down to individual performances, it was hard to decide on a winner.
But he added the “battle song” highlighted Shortreed as the overall winner.
“In a really strange way, I’m glad Katelyn came out and just killed it because it made the decision really easy in the end for the second battle round,” Judson said.
“Yeah, she murdered it.”
Shortreed said she was shocked to be named the winner, but was incredibly grateful.
She added she prepared for a month before the competition and wanted to choose a song that showcased her best.
“It’s such an upbeat and fun song, and I really felt like I could get the crowd going and I know that’s something that the judges look for,” she explained.
“I really wanted to make sure that I could do everything I could to win,” Shortreed added.
“I wanted to give it my all.”
Shortreed also noted she’s been away from Fort Frances studying music in London, Ont., so it was nice for her to come back and compete with local talent this summer.
“Performing just makes me feel so happy and it just makes me happy to go up and perform for my hometown,” she enthused.
“I’m so happy and thankful for everyone that came out to support me.”
Chamber of Commerce executive director Jennifer Soderholm, who organized “Quest” for the first time, said she was impressed with how everything turned out.
“I was astounded not only by the talent but the quality of the talent we have here,” she remarked.
“It was very encouraging and I think it went well, and hopefully it’s just as good, if not better, next year.”
Soderholm said the committee will be reviewing every aspect of the event and looking for ways to improve it next summer.
“I want to thank the judges, our amazing emcee, all our sponsors, the committee itself has been so much help, all the participants who have practised so hard for this, and all the people who have came out to support all our local talent,” she remarked.
“Everyone deserves a huge thank-you.”