Country crooners are preparing to take part in the fifth annual Country Music Star contest.

The contest, sponsored by the Walker County Fair Association, has seen five stars go on to get cash prizes and a professionally recorded single.

Steve Fox, Country Music Star organizer, said the popularity of television shows like “American Idol,” and “The Voice,” have given rise to more and more competitors each year.

This year’s auditions will be held at 10 a.m. March 10 and March 17 before the semifinals at 6 p.m. March 31. The final competition will be held at 7 p.m. April 7. All auditions, semifinals and finals are held at the Walker County Fairgrounds.

Contestants win $750 for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third — all total for cash and prizes and prizes include a professionally recorded single and a Texas guitar signed by Texas country artists.

“A lot of our entrants have entered before. If they’re a finalist from a year or two ago, they don’t have to audition again,” Fox said. “As long as you didn’t win the contest, you can reenter. Our winner from the previous year always sings in our final show.”

Fox said the auditions and semifinals are fairly laid back, while the finals show is all about showmanship. Contestants are judged on vocal talent, stage presence and overall performance. Audience members get to vote during the semifinals and finals.

“We have people that come each year that like the fellowship and networking,” Fox said. “Not everyone’s agenda is to win. We have the ones who come after the prize and they’re usually back each year.”

This year’s Texas guitar has signatures from Mike Eli from the Eli Young Band, Josh Abbott, Cody Johnson, Bart Crow and Reckless Kelly to name a few. Fox spends all year taking the guitar to shows to get signatures.

“To have one guitar with those signatures is hard to find,” he said. “It’s fun. I have a good time doing that and the artists like doing it.”

For more information on the Country Music Star contest, visit Town and Country Cleaners, 1715 11th St. or email