The Vienna Town Green will be filled with music from aspiring locals this weekend -- a sight, if Khristin Kyllo had lived to see it, that would have made the Madison High School alumna flash her "million dollar smile."
Friends and family of the 18-year-old rising softball star at Princeton University, who died unexpectedly last winter in her dorm room, say music was part of everything Kyllo did, and in the year since her death, have used it to honor her.
This year, those efforts have fallen on the same weekend, as the finals of "Vienna Idol," a competition launched this year in Kyllo's honor, coincide with the second annual "Kyllopalooza," a festival featuring local musicians.
The timing, organizers say, was pure coincidence, but one that honors Kyllo in an even more special way.
Both competitions benefit the Khristin Kyllo Memorial Fund, established by her family, friends, and coaches and to promote seizure and SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy) awareness. It also awards scholarships in her spirit each year to students trying to chase dreams that, without financial help, could never become reality.
The "Vienna Idol" contest, a spinoff of the American Idol singing competition, was started by Caffe Amouri owner Michael Amouri, who coached Kyllo in basketball at Madison High School. Along with Whole Foods Market Vienna and the Business Bank, Amouri hosted a series of elimination rounds this spring, recruiting guest judges (including some from Vienna Patch) to narrow down contestants from several dozen to the handful that will compete this weekend.
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the seven finalists will face off with their last choice songs. After a second flash elimination, a winner will be determined by donation votes: Audience members will buy $1 tickets and "vote" with them by putting them in their favorite musicians' jar. The finalist with the highest total will be crowned 2012 Vienna Idol and receive a $500 cash prize.
The winner will also win the chance to perform at 5 p.m. Saturday at Kyllopalooza, which features the bands Dub Campaign, Fat Chance and Lethal Peanut, along with a guest appearance by Sash Callsen.
Food will be provided by the Vienna Inn, and purple and black t-shirts and wristbands will be sold for $25.
Last year, the festival raised more than $10,000 and gave away $6,500 in scholarships to graduating seniors that embodied the way Kyllo lived her life -- "passionately, with compassion and a zeal that inspired all who had the opportunity to be touched by her."
This year, the fund will award a $5,000 scholarship to a Madison High School senior, who will be announced at the festival.
Vienna Idol begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday. For more information, go here.
Kyllopalooza begins at 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go here.
For a video of last year's Kyllopalooza, click on the media player above.