One last song

Sarah Rogers
Trinity Gravens tucked a stray golden curl behind her ear, revealing her yellow plastic hoop earrings.

Down the deserted halls of Mater Dei high school, the auditorium echoed with cheers and applause from family, friends and community members.

The homeschooled junior sat against the wall in the quiet hallway, preparing herself for when her number would be called and she would stand on the stage to audition. She leaned against the wall with her white go-go boot tucked under her geometric patterned dress. Red and orange squares contrasted against the stark yellow of the sleeveless dress.

“Number 63.”

Gravens stood up, excitement shining in her eyes as she adjusted her dress and fixed her hair. Picking up her guitar, Gravens walked confidently down the hallway to the awaiting audience.

Trinity Gravens is just one of the many members of the Evansville community to participate in the annual Fall Festival Amateur Hour Contest. Girls and boys ranging from preschool through college are invited to audition to perform at the festival every October.

Contestants range from 5-year-old girls dancing to ‘I Want it All,’ to college-aged jugglers, and even to ventriloquists. The auditions are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Gravens said she has been participating in Amateur Hour since she was seven.

“I used to dance when I was younger,” Gravens said. “But when I turned 11, I started singing. I have been singing in Amateur Hour ever since.”

Gravens auditioned this year singing the Beatles classic ‘Oh, Darling.’

“I grew up hearing the Beatles,” Gravens said. “My dad listened to all types of old classic rock, and I just grew up loving it. ‘Let it Be’ has to be my favorite. It is a nice song to listen to when you are stressed, almost like meditation.”

Gravens said she themes her outfit with her song every year.

“You have to have fun with it,” Gravens said. “Some songs are harder to theme than others, but finding a 60s to 70s themed outfit to go with ‘Oh, Darling’ was easy. I wear this outfit in real life more than I probably should.”

Amateur Hour chairman Justin Guetling said he originally joined the committee because his daughter performed.

“She doesn’t compete anymore,” Guetling said. “She got out of dance altogether, but she used to perform tap, ballet and hip-hop. I stayed involved because I love it.”

Guetling said the children are what bring him back every year.

“It’s amazing to watch these little kids perform these talents,” he said. “Some of these kids can’t be older than seven, and they are standing in front of a huge crowd on Franklin Street completely fearless. That is amazing to me.”

Winners of the audition will perform at the Fall Festival on Franklin Street, the second largest street festival in America. The festival brings tourists from all over to try fried foods and brain sandwiches.

Winners of the contest are invited to ride in the parade October 7.

Gravens said this year will probably be her last time performing in Amateur Hour.

“I love performing,” Gravens said. “I am always ready to get up on that stage. I have learned so much; how to ignore the audience, how to keep going, and understanding at the end of the day it’s just the opinion of a few judges. I have been so thankful for what all the years of performing have taught me.”