Vying to be a teen idol

Teen Idol: The Finals

When: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.

Where: Olmsted County Fairgrounds, Rochester, building 31.

Admission: Free with fair admission.

By Christina Killion Valdez


Music comes naturally for Sigin Ojullu, 18, of Austin, who, in addition to singing, plays flute, piccolo, guitar and piano.

Yet facing a single microphone on an otherwise empty stage Monday at the Teen Idol auditions at the Olmsted County Fair got her heart racing.

"I was pacing back there," she admitted afterwards. "I was really nervous."

Still, she impressed the judges with her a cappella rendition of Nat King Cole’s "Orange Colored Sky" followed by "The Star Spangled Banner" in the second round.

Opening day at the fair featured several events for teens, including a teen dance at night.

Ojullu was one of 15 aspiring singers from across the region who made it a difficult decision for the judges.

"I got tired of hearing Miley Cyrus," said Eddie "ER" Rich, a pro-wrestling ring announcer, who judged the auditions and will emcee the finals today. "But no one butchered anything. I thought like on ‘American Idol’ someone would sing a Ricky Martin song horribly."


"I think ya’ll did a great job," agreed head judge Dale Gagne, partnership director for the Olmsted County Fair. "And I’m not from the South, and I just said ya’ll."

After announcing Anna Tamez, 15, of Dodge Center, as the first person to advance to today’s final round, Gagne said, "The problem we had is the rules say three people advance to tomorrow’s show before Disney star Brock Storm, and I have four more sheets in my hand. I say we advance all of them."

With that he announced that Ojullu, Tonya Kiefer, 17, of Plainview, Alexus Locker, 12, and Rebecca Tovar, 18, both of Rochester, would also compete in the final round. As soon as the five finalists were announced, Gagne changed the rules again and added a sixth place, a duet of sisters from Mazeppa.

The winner gets studio time with a record producer to record their favorite song, along with other prizes.

Kiefer said she’s written and recorded her own music but had never sung in front of people before. To improve her chances to make the finals, she spent hours at home and in the car singing "Imperfection" by Saving Jane. Even so, when she was named a finalist, Kiefer’s jaw dropped.

"I was surprised," she said. "Really surprised."

For more information, go to

Weblinks: Olmsted County Fair:

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