Summertime singing in Conway, especially in competition, has become a custom for the seat of Horry County on the third Saturday in August.
The city’s Riverfront Park, on Elm Street, along the Waccamaw River, will provide the setting for the 2014 “Conway SuperStar Competition,” 7 p.m. Saturday.
The lineup comprises six contestants in each of three categories: JuniorStar, for ages 12 and younger; TeenStar (ages 13-17); and SuperStar (ages 18 and older).
Auditions for the contest, coordinated by Conway Parks, Recreation and Tourism, took place Wednesday evening, and the finalists will each perform one song on Saturday, or Aug. 23 if a rainout occurs. The first-place finishers will represent the city of Conway on Oct. 4 in the Conway Fall Festival, Dec. 13 in the Conway Christmas Parade and June 27 in Conway Riverfest.
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Foster Hughes, the parks and recreation department director, voiced his excitement about another edition of Conway’s casting call for local stars to show off their chops. He called the audition process, which spanned four hours, this year “probably the most talented group we’ve ever had.”
Question | How many years, including with other titles this competition has been known, has this been brewing as a rite of summer for downtown Conway?
Answer | It has been over 10 years, and I’ve been down here for five years now.
Q. | With more than 45 people auditioning on Aug. 5 for a spot in this 2014 competition, what song or genre stood out this year compared with other years?
A. | What I liked about this year was there was very little duplication. We had some rock, several show tunes and some country and gospel music. That’s one of the very nice things. It’ll be very entertaining. It’s very well rounded.
Q. | In what grouping was turnout highest for tryouts?
A. | JuniorStar, for ages 12 and younger, was the largest, then TeenStar, then the SuperStar, for adults. In fact, we’ve had some years — but not this year — where we barely had enough for every category. This year, we were overflowing, but you never know until the application deadline, plus we were surprised when the room was full when we started the auditions.
Q. | How is the judging process and panel arranged?
A. | At auditions, we have three people that help with judging that, and at the competition, we’ll have three technical judges who all have backgrounds in music, teaching at the high school or college levels.
Q. | How smoothly does “Conway SuperStar” play out in the park for audiences?
A. | With the 18 performers, it takes about two hours; it rolls. And for each group, we’ll bring back the winner from last year to do a song. We usually have 200 to 300 people show up each year, so bring a blanket or chair to sit in. We do our “Movies in the Park” there, so it really works well there.
Q. | Are thoughts about the 2015 “Conway SuperStar” already in the back of your mind?
A. | It’ll be at the same time next year, the third Saturday in August, and we’ll take applications again around the first of July.
Q. | How special is knowing this event has built a foundation of support and participation, with quite a radius from an even larger community, countrywide?
A. | This year, we had a people come from Myrtle Beach and several from Aynor. It’s definitely attracted a following over the years.