Get your own Halloween costume ready for the Oct. 31 College Idol costume party.

Could you be the next Kelly Clarkson? College Idol organizers are looking for all kinds of talent – from bands to bird callers – to compete in this year’s talent show fundraiser for the United Way on Oct. 31. Students, faculty and staff can enter the competition as a solo performer or group. Each act gets five minutes of fame on stage in front of a panel of “celebrity judges” and a costume-clad audience.

“Anyone is welcome to participate as an idol,” says College Idol organizer Jennifer Beehler, Department of Clinical Studies in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). “I think it’s an excellent opportunity to represent their college. If they’ve never performed in front of anyone before, it’s a great way to get their feet wet. If they have performed before, I think it’s a way to keep their feet wet and increase their performance ability.” College Idol hopefuls are asked to contact Beehler by Oct. 14 at

A singer herself, Beehler participated in the first College Idol competition in 2008. “I’ve been involved each year, and every year it’s been more fun than the last year.” Natalie Carter, Office of Research, has co-ordinated the event for the past two years “and has done an excellent job making it such a fun event,” says Beehler.

Tickets cost $12.50, but if you purchase advance tickets for a table of eight, they’re only $10 each. Lunch is included. To purchase tickets, contact Beehler or Toni Pellizzari at

A panel of “celebrity judges” will critique each performance. “I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to who they are,” says Beehler. Last year’s panel consisted of Sonny and Cher (Beehler and Al Sullivan, plant agriculture professor and U of G United Way campaign co-chair) and Julia Child (Nancy Sullivan, vice-president of finance and administration, who retired earlier this year). “Our judges are the heart of the show and always give the audience a laugh,” says Beehler.

Audience members pick the idol winner by voting with their wallets. “Our contest is about whoever raises the most money,” she adds. “You don’t have to be the most talented to win; you just need to be able to raise the most money for United Way. That’s how we crown the winner every year.” Audience members are encouraged to bring a toonie, which they can deposit in boxes labelled with each contestant’s name after the show. Voting runs from Oct. 31 to the end of the United Way campaign.

This year’s campus goal is to raise $525,000. Beehler asks U of G students, staff and faculty to “think about those in our community who are in need” and visit the United Way’s website at to learn more about the programs and services it supports.

Looking at the list of agencies that the United Way funds, Beehler says it’s hard not to relate to what they do to help the community. A friend of Beehler’s has children with autism who attend the Rainbow Day Camp. Another friend turned to Hospice Wellington to care for an ill family member.

Volunteering for the United Way was an easy choice for Beehler. “I really like to volunteer,” she says. “Once you get involved with the people who work for the United Way, it’s really hard not to be inspired. They really supercharge your happiness.”

The winner of the talent show will get to wear the title of College Idol as their prize, says Beehler. Prizes will also be awarded for the best individual costume and group costume in the audience.

Last year’s College Idol winner was Chris Earley, interpretive biologist and education co-ordinator at the Arboretum, who wowed the crowd with his realistic bird calls. Over the past three years, the Ontario Agricultural College and OVC have captured the crown, so Beehler encourages some friendly competition from other parts of campus.

College Idol will be held Oct. 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in the University Centre’s Peter Clark Hall. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.