It was a last-minute decision for Shaelee Sheppard to audition for Bayfest Has Talent, and it paid off Sunday when she won the inaugural event in Port Rowan.
“This is the first year for Bayfest Has Talent,” said new Bayfest committee member Pauline Lemke, who coordinated Sunday evening’s talent show.
“Seems like it was quite a hit, too. A lot of people watching, so that was really nice.”
A volunteer at the Port Rowan school and in the community, Lemke came up with the idea for Bayfest Has Talent after seeing how much talent there was in the village and area.
“I thought, ‘let’s showcase this at Bayfest!'”
Fifteen musical artists auditioned prior to the event at the Port Rowan Legion, all of them singers and/or musicians, although one withdrew prior to going on stage Sunday.
It was open to more than just singers and musicians, however. Organizers expected some dancers. And they had a magician, but it just didn’t work out.
“It’s just the way Port Rowan is, I guess. Lots of people like to sing.”
The event was also open to all ages – and they competed in one open division.
“We would have done different age groups if more of different ages came out. This year there were a lot more kids than adults, but next year I think it will be different now that adults can see ‘oh I can try out for that.'”
Sunday’s competitors included Holly Pittock (Someone Like You), Jeff Smith (Hallelujah), Aubrey Wood (Hurt), Kara Brown (Riptide), Zoey Schultz (Mean), Quade Kelly (Joe), Emily Mole (1000 Years), Shaelee Sheppard (five different fiddle tunes), Madison Brazeau (Perfect), Taylor Holmes (Death of a Bachelor), Rachel Brown (Happier), Ezrah Schultz (Fight Song), Jeff and Doug Smith (Man of Constant Storm), and Kaitlyn Hecker (Sign of the Times).
Instruments ranged from ukelele to electric and acoustic guitars, to piano and fiddle.
Playing in front of overflowing dockside bleachers, and the five judges, each performed one song, or medley of songs in the case of Sheppard from Brantford, who had the crowd clapping along.
Second place went to Kara Brown, who sang Riptide while playing ukelele, and third went to the singer-guitar duet of Jeff and Doug Smith, performing Man of Constant Sorrow.
Before announcing winners, Lemke noted the judging was very close and it was not an easy decision coming up with three winners.
“Yeah, they (judges) were all over the place,” Lemke smiled.
Judges gave each entertainer a mark out of 10, but adding up the final scores did not result in clear-cut winners.
“At the end there was a few ties, so that’s where all the arguments came in. They didn’t agree with each other. But that’s fine, everyone has their own taste. That is why we chose five very different judges – we wanted five very different perspectives.”
Bayfest Has Talent organizers agreed it was a very successful event and hope to bring it back next year.
“I hope so, it was well received,” Lemke nodded.