PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The United Way of Aroostook has officially launched its annual search for the top vocalist from Aroostook County and western New Brunswick.

The call is out for talented residents age 12 and older in Aroostook County and in Madawaska, Carleton and Victoria counties on the New Brunswick side of the border to participate in the organization’s Northern Star competition.

Three regional competitions are set for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, in the Fox Auditorium at the University of Maine at Fort Kent; 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Presque Isle Middle School Auditorium; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Houlton High School Auditorium.

Organizers of the popular international singing contest — which began 12 years ago as “Aroostook Idol” before expanding to include competitors from neighboring parts of New Brunswick — have added a twist called “The United Way Save.” The show, originally modeled after the popular FOX television show “American Idol,” has added a concept introduced on the NBC television network sensation “The Voice.”

As in past years, the audience will pick their top two contestants from each regional show, and the judges will pick the third finalist to head to the finale production. But then, after all three shows are completed, the United Way of Aroostook panel will pick three individuals to save — the “United Way Save.” These three saves can be from any of the regional shows.

“We may end up with three more contestants from the same regional show or one from each show. Our goal is to have the best of the best at the finale,” said Sherry Locke, new executive director for the United Way of Aroostook.

This year’s show again will be co-hosted by Claudia Stevens and Jason Parent.

“They have been with the production since the beginning and really make each show fun for the contestants and the audience,” Locke said.

Applications for the 2016 season of Northern Star can be downloaded at

Organizers would like to see 15 singers at each regional show. The regional winners, along with the United Way saves, will compete in the Northern Star Finale beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.

Three local celebrity judges from each area will sit on the panel for the regional shows. The panel for the finale will include one judge from each of those events.

Admission to each of the four shows will be $10, with all proceeds going directly to the United Way of Aroostook’s annual campaign. The annual event has raised more than $350,000 over the years for numerous worthwhile nonprofit organizations supported by United Way of Aroostook.

Tickets for this event are available at any branch of the County Federal Credit Union and Acadia Credit Union.

For more information, call the United Way of Aroostook at 764-5197.