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Armed Forces Icon singing contest at Freedom Fair

Are you active military or a vet? Be a star!

Local celebrity Tony LaStella will produce a singing contest for the military, July 4, in Tacoma. Photo credit: Armed Forces Icon/LaStella Foundation

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Spanning over one-and-a-half miles of Ruston Way with food, vendor booths, live entertainment, an air show and - finally - a massive fireworks show at dark, Freedom Fair is the place to be for Independence Day.

You won't want for things to do at Freedom Fair, but one area that's still fairly new to the event is worth checking out - Camp Patriot located at Marine Park near the Lobster Shop and produced by the LaStella Foundation. Camp Patriot has been at Freedom Fair since 2011 and is an area dedicated to military servicemembers, veterans and first responders, but everyone from the public is welcomed in to enjoy booths, food, inflatable toys for the kids, karaoke, a hot-dog eating contest and live entertainment on the America Be Strong Stage.

This year, there's something entirely new on stage - Armed Forces Icon.

A vocal competition in the style of American Idol or The Voice (and yet not named Armed Forces Idol due to a threatened lawsuit), Armed Forces Icon will serve as the headlining show on the America Be Strong Stage, kicking off at 8 p.m. and going right up until 10 p.m., just before the fireworks start. Contestants are all active military and veterans.

"We have six contestants so far, but we're aiming for a total of ten," said Tony LaStella, one of the producers of the show and of Camp Patriot. "We're looking for four more. So far, our contestants are veterans and are all very talented, but I'd also like to have some who are active military so we're hoping the last four positions are filled with active military."

The 10 contestants will work with LaStella to choose a song that really shows off what they can do individually, and singers will be backed by a live band on stage. At the end of the night, the top three will win prizes. The contestants will likely even get to do a miniature tour at local casinos.

But LaStella and the show producers have even bigger hopes for Armed Forces Icon - going national! While there are vocal competitions galore on TV, there are none with a focus on the military and the huge range of talent found within the Armed Forces. While the original idea was to do a single stage show, LaStella and his co-producer David Maestas (a retired Green Beret) were approached by award-winning TV director and producer, Travel Fox, and Beverly Hills 310 Media to take the stage show to an entirely new level.

On the night of July 4th, Fox and his crew will be there to film Armed Forces Icon at Tacoma Freedom Fair. They already have interest from PBS to air the pilot and other networks will possibly bid on the show as well.

"Best case scenario is that we shoot this on the Fourth, we give it to PBS, then there are other networks that are interested; we can go around to different military bases and audition active-duty and veterans for a national show, and we have a big competition that we film kind of like they do other vocal competitions," said LaStella. "That would be knocking it out of the park, but we'll see how it goes. At the very least, we'll have a really great show on July 4th. If the TV show doesn't go, we'll still do this at Freedom Fair each year."

Auditions are still open so if you're active or retired military or a military family member and you're interested in showcasing your talent, contact LaStella immediately to audition. He can be reached at

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