The finalists in the 2012 Singfest took to the main stage at Celebration Square Friday evening to wow a crowd of Ribfest attendees. Sarah Rideout fans and family.

The finalists in the 2012 Singfest took to the main stage at Celebration Square Friday evening to wow a crowd of Ribfest attendees. Sarah Rideout fans and family.

Gabriela Rodgers bested the 19 other vocalists taking part in 2012 SingFest Star yesterday at Celebration Square to be crowned this year's winner.

The annual contest, now in its second year, is put on by the Rotaract Club of Mississauga in partnership with the Mississauga Arts Council and gives emerging vocalists between the ages of 14-24 a chance to show their stuff.

For the win, Rodgers will receive recording time at Metalworks Studios, a professional photo shoot and a vocal session with Carolyn Lykkemark plus other prizes. Together, it's valued at more than $3,500.

Larah Opena, co-chair of the contest, said the event is designed to provide Mississauga's youth with a venue to show off their pipes and to get them interested in the arts and be empowered through them. She said she wasn't surprised at the skills the singers showed.

"There's just so much talent in Mississauga," said Opena. "I'm very, very impressed with the singers and I'm excited to see what happens."

The top 20 performers were given a chance to sing and the panel of expert judges - Frank Anthony, Alex Andronache and Patti Jannetta - provided them with their thoughts at the end of each performance. The judges whittled that number down to the top 10. The audience, along with the judges, voted on the who would make the top five and the eventual winner.

Erin Mills vocalist Aliya Mohamed sang Bust Your Windows by Jazmine Sullivan as her first song of the night. She said she picked the song because it had the right tempo and it's a tune she can relate to.

"I was a little nervous, being the first singer and all," said Mohamed, 17, who attends Cawthra Park Secondary School. "I don't think I've ever sung in front of so many people."

The square, which was also playing host to the ninth annual Amacon Mississauga Rotary Ribfest, was packed with people enjoying ribs and other treats and taking in the show. It was a figurative sea of people in the square.

Mohamed said she got the idea to tryout for the contest at her friend's urging, who was also giving it a shot.

Nicole Monteiro said she sang A Broken Wing by Martina McBride as her first song because she wanted to push herself outside her comfort zone, at her vocal teacher's urging.

"I don't sing country and it's not my (favourite) music," but my vocal teacher said I should try something different, said Monteiro, 15.

Joshua Peidl gave a stirring rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen that had the crowd cheering early on in the contest.

Susan and Terry Glofcheskie of Erin Mills were enjoying the evening in the square. They came down to check out Ribfest and had a chance to hear some of the singers. They were particularly impressed with Peidl.

"He's great and we're having a great time," said Susan, who added the couple really enjoyed the food as well.

Ribfest continues today from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.