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Speak Easy to host WE Fest Karaoke Roundup finals April 12

For the first time since 2002, the WE Fest Karaoke Roundup finals for northern Minnesota will be held in Detroit Lakes this year.

The event, set for this Saturday, April 12, will be hosted by the Speak Easy, located at 1100 North Shore Drive.

"I approached them about hosting it this year," said the Speak Easy's owner/manager, Michael Mercil.

According to Mercil, the event on Saturday is expected to draw roughly 400 people to the community next weekend. The competition is scheduled to begin at noon and continue through midnight, he added, which means most of the competitors will be staying in the area overnight.

To accommodate the 85 anticipated competitors, their family and friends, the Speak Easy has partnered with Best Western Holland House to host the event, Mercil said.

Now in its eighth year, the Roundup was started in 2000, with 10 local bars around the Detroit Lakes area. In the intervening years, the competition has grown to be the Midwest's largest karaoke contest, with six states participating: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Montana.

A total of over 80 venues hosted local weekly contests from January through March of this year -- including not only the Speak Easy, but Lake Park Liquor Store, Izzo's Bar & Grill (Detroit Lakes), Z103 Bar & Grill (Fergus Falls), Gary's Place (Staples), Twin Valley Municipal Liquor and Vic's Bar & Grill (Moorhead).

Each of these venues will have competitors at Saturday's finals, said Mercil -- including the Speak Easy, which will have the top three competitors from its local finals, held on March 25.

"The people who win this contest are just as talented as the people you see on 'American Idol,'" he said.

The top competitors from each of the regional finals will have an opportunity to advance to the grand finale competition, which will be hosted by Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn., on May 31.

Each year the top three winners from the Karaoke Roundup's grand finale are given the opportunity to perform on the main stage at the WE Fest country music festival. This year's festival is scheduled to take place on Aug. 7-9 at the Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes.

In the past seven years the Karaoke Roundup winners have opened for some of the biggest stars in country music. This year's festival, "Great in 2008," will feature Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Sugarland, LeAnn Rimes, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Neal McCoy, Little Big Town and more. For tickets and camping information, visit the Web site or call the toll-free number, 1-800-493-3378.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454