CONWAY, Arkansas — Walk the streets of this town on a Tuesday night, and you're not likely to see another soul. That's because the sleepy college town of 60,000 that's home to "American Idol" finalist Kris Allen has gone all-in to support their most famous product.
Around 2,000 people are expected to pack into the Farris Center at the University of Central Arkansas (Allen's alma mater) this Tuesday (April 28) to watch him perform and then vote en masse for the 23-year-old singer who has captured the hearts of his hometown and, people here will tell you, the entire state.
"Kris lives across the street from me, and I've never met him, but I was so impressed with what people were telling me about him that I decided to get behind him and do everything we can since he got to Hollywood," said Sonja Keith, one of the main organizers of the Kris Allen Kick Awesome Task Force, the volunteer group behind the Kris Allen Watch Party.
On the heels of more than a month of smaller parties that have been held all over town to support Allen, in restaurants, local country clubs, bars, pizza joints and Allen's New Life Church, last week's Task Force event drew 1,000 locals, who were encouraged to wear disco garb to the event, in honor of the night's theme. Keith hopes this Tuesday's party will attract at least twice as many fans.
Keith, a mother of four, had never seen "Idol" before this season. The editor and publisher of a local lifestyle magazine called 501 Life, she got onboard several months ago, when a local writer pitched her a story on Allen, who had just made the top 36. The story proved to be so popular that she and a group of other locals created the Task Force, whose numbers have swelled from five to more than 30 volunteers.
"Our committee is made up of people who are friends of Kris, who've gone to church with him, as well as business leaders, elected officials, restaurant owners and folks at the University of Central Arkansas," she said of the group, which began meeting on April 10.
The goal of Tuesday night's event at the Farris Center — where a giant TV screen will be set up to watch "Idol," and instructions will be provided to encourage attendees to vote as much as they can for two hours after the show — is to place upwards of 500,000 votes for Allen. Organizers will also be selling Kris Allen T-shirts to raise money for his family to travel to California for the final rounds of the show.
"The reason we're doing this is because Kris is a great guy, and he's the caliber of performer/entertainer we need," she said. "I think that he's very family-oriented and the kind of guy I wouldn't worry about my children listening to or going to a concert [to see]."
We'll have more from Kris Allen's hometown Watch Party, so stay tuned. In the meantime, read all about our visit with Allison Iraheta's hometown supporters.
Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.