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music scENE By BrittaNy Jordt PhotoGraPhy By LEN ViLLaNo


Behind the Scenes Door County Idol


ontests like Door County Idol are often made out to be a stop- at-nothing race to the top. Mock documentaries about such


competitions, like Drop Dead Gorgeous, make fun of rural towns where mothers and daughters hatch deadly plots to win. And, of course, on the national televi- sion show American Idol young people fi ercely compete for the title.


Screenwriters would not have found inspiration for their drama-fi lled fl icks or reality television series here in Door County, however, where contestants are more inclined to hugs and joyful tears.


Contest Producer Kristy Nelson said, “T ey give each other all these


30 Door County Living Winter 2011/2012


(Above) Lily Nelson, 2010 Door County Idol, steps up to the mic to announce the winner from among the eight contestants in last year’s Door County Idol competition. Zephyr Ciesar earned the evening’s top nod and the current senior at Gibraltar High School will continue the tradition by announcing the 2012 Door County Idol at the February 11, 2012 event. (Right) Zephyr Ciesar sang “Fallin’ For You” by Colbie Caillat and “At Last” by Etta James before being crowned the 2011 Door County Idol.


compliments: ‘You are so good. You sound so beautiful.’ All the kids give lots of positive reinforcement to one another. T e night of the show they are hugging, crying – just in love with each other. It’s magical.”


Nelson started Door County Idol in


2003 to coincide with the Winter Festi- val in Fish Creek. Now in its eighth year, Door County Idol has become a much- anticipated event and a sold-out show.


T e performance, which takes place


every February at the Door Community Auditorium (DCA), features students from all over the county: Southern Door, Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol, Gibral- tar and Washington Island. T ough they


hail from diff erent ends of the peninsu- la, they all have genuine enthusiasm for each other’s talent.


“Every year that I’ve been involved


kids have been very supportive of one another,” said 2010 Talent Development Producer Holly Feldman. “I never caught wind of anything but joyful and sup- portive competition. I think they really became more of an ensemble by the end.”


It all starts with an audition. T ere are incentives to entering the contest, such as exposure and prize money, but most kids are inspired to enter by their love of performance.


Nelson said, “We ask them point blank: ‘Why do you want to be in Door


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