Every Fourth of July, St. George city embarks upon its most earnest and monumental search for the next superstar.

Maybe it's your turn.

I have been lucky enough to be selected as a judge for this year's iteration of the St. George Star Search Talent Show.

Here are the deets:

St. George is calling all potential stars as the Star Search Talent Show returns to the 4th of July Celebration at Historic Town Square.

Those seeking to entertain with a family-friendly act are welcome to audition June 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. George Recreation Center (285 South 400 East).

Those selected have a chance to be named the next “St. George Star.”

“Each year, we're delighted to showcase a wide array of local entertainers,” said Talent Show Coordinator Marianne Hamilton. “We encourage anyone who likes to perform to audition for the show. This is always a wonderful part of the Independence Day experience in St. George.”

Each act cannot exceed more than four minutes, and performers should have their own instruments and any needed background tracks. Audio support will be provided. Those interested in auditioning must register in advance and pay a $4 registration fee. Registration closes on June 20 at noon.

Five finalists for each category  (Ages 10 & under, 11-17, and 18+) will be identified June 24. Cash and prizes will be awarded to the top three winners of each category.

The Star Search Talent Show will take place on July 4 on the main stage at Historic Town Square at 10:30 a.m.

The talent show is just one part of St. George’s 4th of July Celebration. Other events include: the Uncle Sam 4K4th of July ParadeCarnival, games, and the fireworks show at 10 p.m. — visible from nearly anywhere in downtown St. George!

Questions regarding the Star Search Talent Show can be directed to Talent Show Coordinator Marianne Hamilton at marianne.hamilton@sgcity.org, or to the Parks and Community Services Department at 435-627-4500.

That incredible talent of yours, whether it be singing, dancing, yo-yo, magic, ventriloquism, or whatever, need not be hidden any longer.

Let's see what you've got Southern Utah.

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Trader Joe's and Rick Astley In So. Utah?

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I went to Trader Joe's in Cottonwood Heights last week.

Yes, I'm one of those people that just loves the little grocery store with an affinity for organic food and dark chocolate.

I'm not into organic food, but I do love their dark chocolate selections (I got dark chocolate-covered pomegranate sticks there once, wow, good!). And they make a pineapple barbecue sauce that I have yet to find its equal (although Pepper Palace's blackberry BBQ sauce is close).

So whenever someone teases that there might be a Trader Joe's opening up in Southern Utah, I do get a little excited.

Apparently I'm not the only one. I wrote a Trader Joe's story on this website two years ago and it's still getting clicks.

And back east (in Maryland, to be exact), they get pretty excited about Trader Joe's as well.

I guess the senior classes on the east coast have a tradition of pranking the community and folks in Pasadena (Maryland) took the bait hook, line and sinker when their Northeast High School class had a banner printed up saying "Trader Joe's Coming Soon" (a huge yellow banner, which came complete with a TJ’s logo and QR code) and posted the bright yellow sign on an empty lot in that town.

Some of the local media saw the sign and the prank was off and running.

But a (very) little homework would have kept the practical joke from going any further.

You see, the sign included a URL that, when scanned into your phone took you to YouTube and Rick Astley's video for "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Yep, it Rick-Rolled you.

So, it doesn't seem like TJ's is headed to Pasadena or to St. George.

But the TJ's in Henderson is only 110 miles away and there are four of them along the Wasatch Front if you're headed up north.

Oh, and bring me some of that pineapple BBQ sauce while you're there.

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Trader Joe's Won't Say No To St. George (Does That Mean Yes?)

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By far the most asked question when it comes to retail stores and expansion in our ever burgeoning town is: "When are we going to get a Trader Joe's?"

There are some others (Cheesecake Factory, Hobby Lobby, etc.), but the hope that Trader Joe's makes it to Utah's Dixie is foremost in residents' minds, for sure.

First of all, let's clear a couple of things up. There is no hard and fast demographic or population rule with Trader Joe's, despite the claims of some people. Trader Joe's expands where and when it wants. Certainly, the company does its market research and opens new locations where the parent company (Aldi) thinks there's a profit to be made. But there is no specific trend or number that qualifies a city or county of being "worthy" of having a Trader Joe's.

That being said, Trader Joe's does tend to open stores in locations where the population's median income is about $10,000 more than the state's average. However, with their focus on trying to keep product prices low, TJ's does tend to open stores in less expensive parts of expensive places. Does that make sense?

Doing a search on Trader Joe's reveals a lot. Apparently the store is not just a store, but a religious institution. I write that in jest, but it sure seems like it. People don't just love Trader Joe's -- they LOVE Trader Joe's! (all caps, exclamation point, heart emojis, etc).

I ran across articles like "18 Things You Should Know Before You Shop at Trader Joe's," "We went to Trader Joe's and found 7 main reasons why so many people are obsessed with the quirky grocer," and "6 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Items That Just Hit Stores," among hundreds of others.

And many were from legitimate news websites like business.com and kiplinger.com, not just fansites.

The one that really caught my was this one, "Here's Why There's Not a Trader Joe's Where You Live."

The story, on the popular website allrecipes.com, attempts to explain who gets a Trader Joe's and why (or why not?). The brief article, written by Bailey Fink, is a year old, but does give fans of the store some options to try and get the TJ management to take notice. Most notably, there is actually a "Request a Trader Joe's in my City" form to fill out.

The quirky, but popular retailer, with 542 stores nationwide, is mum about possible expansion in Southern Utah. The fit seems perfect: A decent population base (200,000 in the county), heavy tourism activity (TJ's most popular store is in Time's Square), and a decent household median income (about $62,000 and rising).

So, is Trader Joe's coming to St. George?

I can tell you this, in the article "Trader Joe’s Expands in Country’s Hottest Markets," Jennifer Strailey outlines how TJ's is 100 percent committed to the red-hot real estate markets in the United States.

In case you've been in a cave, the hottest state for real estate in the past year has been Utah and the hottest city in the state -- St. George.

I can't give you a timeline, but if that's the biggest criterium for coming here, TJ's will be here soon.

* BTW, I've been to the Orem Trader Joe's many times and love some of their products -- especially their pineapple habanero BBQ sauce and their huge selection of dark chocolate items).

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Utah's Top Google Searches May Surprise You

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In the United States, we love our entertainment and our Google searches in the USA reflect that -- "Matthew Perry," "Dolly Parton," "Taylor Swift," and "Barbie" were among the top Google searches this year.

But what about Google searches originating from ISP addresses in the state of Utah?

Interestingly, Utah seems to have quite an internal good vs. evil struggle taking place. We are tops in the nation for searches like "Jesus," "Sabbath Day" and Food Storage."

But we also make the top 10 lists when it comes to searches like "Naked girls," "Topless," and "Lingerie."

So what gives?

In a Deseret News article, Lee Davidson quotes psychologist Steve Pumphrey, "When you have extreme light, or people trying to do good things, you often also find the opposite in extreme."

Clinician Theresa Martinez expounds more on this: "The forbidden is really tempting. Where you have a culture that is known for family values, morality and apple pie, you will also have curiosity and interest in the forbidden."

It's worth mentioning that Utah, long accused of being a voracious consumer of pornography, is not any worse per capita than any other state. In this article in Public Square Magazine, details are given on how this became a common misconception.

Still, the searches are there and recently Viasat Savings published on its website that "What is catfishing?" is the most commonly searched phrase on Google in our state. (To save you time, catfishing is defined as the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.).

Analyzing our searches can reveal much -- or very little.

For instance, Utahns searched for Pallas Cat more than any other state. These small wild cats are adorably expressive, with short legs, dense grey fur, and round pupils as opposed to the usual vertical line pupils of most small cats.

But that doesn't really mean much, except that pallas cats are cute. (OK, go ahead and Google that one, it's worth it).

Utah also is No. 1 in the nation in the searches "roast beef sandwiches near me," "Lord of the Rings," and "Cheese Fries."

Now that sounds like a fine afternoon.

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Dissipating! Our 'Rainy Day' Funds Are Shrinking

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More and more Americans are having to dip into their "Rainy Day Funds,' or emergency savings with inflation being the biggest culprit.

That's one of the many findings revealed in a study by Fidelity Investments.

In 2023, more than 40 percent of respondents to the poll who admit having to dip into their savings blame the ballooning costs of day-to-day living as the primary reason.

Others blame unexpected expenses, economic uncertainty and lack of self control for the shrinking of our savings accounts.

With the costs of goods like food, gas and clothing up more than 10 percent the last couple of years, inflation is still the top cause for the dwindling nest egg.

But even with the rising costs, many Americans are comically unwilling to make many changes. The survey found that more than 28 percent of people would rather take their chances finding love on a reality show than take their chances on the stock market.

Additionally, 52 percent of people said they'd rather trade humorous internet memes than trade stocks and 45 percent of people would rather take a clean-eating challenge than a no spending challenge for the entire month of January.

Another key finding, and perhaps a reflection on the state of the economy right now, only about one-fourth of people said they have plans (or the ability) to rebuild that emergency savings account.

It's not all grim news, however. Fidelity did report that almost three out of every four people in the survey believe they'll be better off financially next year, and that number jumps to nearly 80 percent when you consider the younger respondents, Gen Z'ers and Millennials.

National estimates say about one on five Americans have zero money in savings right now.

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