PRINCETON—A Golden Heritage Days Festival tradition may be replaced with a new singing competition that could take a local singer to the next level.

Jim Stephens, Gibson County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the Golden Heritage Day Family Feud contest has “run its course” and a new singing competition may take its place in the September festival.

He said at Thursday's meeting of the Gibson County Visitors and Tourism Commission that the new singing competition will be similar to National Broadcasting Company’s television show “The Voice.”

Stephens said they hope to have 100 contestants audition.

Auditions are planned prior to Heritage Days to narrow the number of contestants to 16 finalists. The public will be invited to the Princeton Theatre and Community Center to vote for the final four contestants, and those four will compete at the festival.

The winner of the competition will be sent to one of audition towns for “The Voice.”

“We make no guarantees (about them advancing or winning),” Stephens said.

He said they will help the contestant with coaching and training for three months.

Stephens said he’s looking for a $5,000 sponsorship to make the competition come together.

“We hope we can get this off the ground,” he said.

Stephens said they’re still working on final details, but contestants must be age 13 or older.

Stephens also reported the chamber is closer to having a final estimate on a new sound system around the square.

“We have one (bid), it would be wireless and around the courthouse square only,” he said.

Stephens said the quote was $109,000, but eliminated the option of speakers at Bicentennial Park and near State Street for an estimated quote of $38,000.

He said he plans to ask the Gibson County Chamber of Commerce to increase its contribution of $3,500 to $6,000.

Stephens said they already have a $7,500 pledge from Gibson County Economic Development, $1,000 from Downtown Princeton Inc., up to $5,000 from Gibson County Tourism Commission, $1,000 from Gibson County Commissioners and a possible contribution match from a Toyota grant.

“We need (the sound system) for Golden Heritage Days,” he said.

Rachel Beloat, City of Princeton communication director, said the city's willing to contribute and she'll get a confirmation of the amount and report to Stephens.

“We really need a firm commitment from the city,” Stephens said.

Tourism Commission President Alan Douglas, who is also a Gibson County Commissioner, suggested Stephens visit commissioners again to see if they could contribute any more funding.

Tourism Commission members will continue to discuss the topic at the next meeting.

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