WATERVILLE — The idea came about one day last fall when Carolyn Morley, manager of the NCW Fair, was having a conversation with a friend.
“A friend of mine is in a band, a local band in Wenatchee. He and I were chatting about ways to spice things up at the fair and he just said ‘Hey, have you guys considered a battle of the bands?’” she said. “And then I ran with it.”
Fast forward to this summer and the first-ever battle of the bands is ready to hit the fair stage next Thursday.
The winner will receive a $500 cash prize and the opportunity to open for the fair’s headliner, national country-music star Craig Morgan.
Nine groups have signed up for the event: End of the Line, Seth Garrido, Rylei Franks, Uncle Doug, Nic Allen, Norman Baker, Devils Gulch and the Missionaries, Eden Moody and Palmer Anthony.
“Some are solo and some are true bands; we didn’t want to turn anyone away,” Morley said. “Only two are country genre. We are a fair but we’re open to lots of different music. There’s also some blues, there’s some rock.”
Since the event is brand new, Morley had to search high and low for local musicians to participate, she said.
“I just started looking at local advertisements, searching Facebook, talking with people in the band world and trying to reach out to people to say ‘Here’s an opportunity,’” she said.
But once she got in contact, the opportunity sold itself, she said.
“It was quite a bit of work on my part to find people to apply, but once I told them about the opportunity to win $500, plus they get to open for Craig Morgan ... they just started saying yes,” she said.
The bands will be judged by three local music-industry veterans: Brad Tate, a DJ at KKRV radio station; Andy Peart, owner of Snatchee Records; and Steve Clem, owner of Avalon Music and the show’s sponsor.
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just some random person picking their favorite bands,” Morley said.
They’ll perform from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Thursday and the winner will return for Morgan’s performance on Friday, Morley said.
This will be the second time Morgan has performed at the fair, she said. He first came to Waterville in 2007.
“This is the first time we’re ever inviting someone back, and he was a great showman the first time around,” Morley said. “People are very excited to have him back.”
Morley said she hopes the battle of the bands competition will grow in popularity and participation.
“We’re really hoping in the future to find a way to make it bigger,” she said. “Maybe we’ll partner with some wineries and bars in town where it’s a couple weeks before the fair.”
It’s all part of the fair’s goal to have broad appeal for all, she said.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on it,” she said. “We’re trying to make the fair more relevant and I think having this lineup of bands will really bring a whole lot of fun to it.”