Nearly 1,200 musicians to converge on Emmetsburg

EMMETSBURG – Nearly 1,200 junior high and high school musicians will be taking center stage in Emmetsburg Saturday.

The 20th annual Emmetsburg Show Choir Extravaganza will kick off at 9 a.m. at Emmetsburg High School and will feature 30 choirs from across Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.

“We’ll be running two centers at the same time,” said Kelley Fog, director of the Emmetsburg Middle School Show Choir and accompanist for the Emmetsburg High School choirs. “The larger schools and the middle school groups will perform in the gym and we’ll have small schools and vocal jazz choirs in the auditorium.”

Each high school group performs for a place in their division and caption awards such as best soloist or best band, along with one of six highly coveted spots in Saturday evening’s finals round.

“Everyone hopes to make it into the finals,” said Fog. “That is where the top six groups of the day do it all over again and the judges name a grand champion at the end of the night.”

Fog said the Emmetsburg competition was started about 20 years ago to give smaller schools like Emmetsburg an opportunity to compete, but it has since grown to include 30 schools with all ages and all size choirs participating.

“This competition is a big one,” she said. “We started out for small schools, but have grown to get all sizes. It’s a nice way to get different groups here from five states. For a lot of schools, it’s a different competition. They might go to contests in Des Moines every weekend and compete against the same schools, but here they get to see groups they haven’t competed with before. And it’s an opportunity for some of the small town schools to compete and not travel a long distance.”

A competition of such a large scale doesn’t happen without a lot of help, Fog said.

For Emmetsburg music students and their parents, it is a long day of hard work to help make the contest run smoothly as they see more than 2,000 visitors come through the doors during the day.

“We have about 130 kids in the music program and between them and their parents it makes for a huge day for us,” said Fog. “But it is a fun day. We all enjoy it.”

Throughout the day, Emmetsburg High School students can be found working behind the scenes as judge’s helpers, door monitors, light and sound crew, announcers and homeroom hosts.

“Our kids do a lot of the work,” said Fog. “They host the schools and stay with them all day to make sure they know where to go.”

The music boosters group also helps by taking money at the door, working concessions and running a shuttle from Iowa Lakes Community College to the high school.

“Some of our booster parents, they might spend six months planning just what they are going to do for food for the day and getting that organized,” said Fog. “The buses park at the college and we have a group of dads that help run a shuttle from there to the high school.”

Local schools performing at the competition include St. Edmond, Pocahontas Area, Laurens-Marathon and the Emmetsburg junior varsity and middle school choirs. Admission for the day is $10 at the door.