COEUR d’ALENE — Ryan Seacrest strolled down the dock at the Hagadone Event Center on a gloriously sunny morning and said that he had been to Coeur d’Alene in the past.
He said he recalled going to a “famous hamburger place” — Hudson’s Hamburgers.
The “American Idol” host lingered for just a moment before ascending the stairs on the Spirit of Coeur d’Alene cruise boat to meet contestants and welcome them to the Lake City.
“It’s just beautiful, this place,” he said.
The HEC was a hub of show business activity Sunday during day one of the second round of “American Idol” auditions.
White tents and production trailers were set up in the parking lot and throughout the grounds, people with headsets and clipboards moved around the camera and microphone staff and cheers could be heard from the two docked cruise boats where people sang their hearts out.
About 35 contestants from around the country are chasing their "Idol" dreams, including one singer from the Inland Northwest and one from southern Idaho.
This audition round was the first time they got to meet superstar judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
“I’m super excited,” said 16-year-old Kate Plaisted of Eagle, Idaho. “I was excited to see Ryan, but when he walked by I freaked out a little more than I thought I would. There were some tears.”
Kate said talking with Perry has been on her mind in the days leading up to this audition.
"She was the very first concert I ever went to in Boise,” Kate said. “And here I am."
She said it's pretty awesome to be representing Idaho in this huge hit show.
"There's not many of us here," she said. "When everyone heard they had to go to Idaho, they were probably like, 'Oh, I don't want to go,' but now everyone's like, 'Oh it's so pretty,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, we live here.' Idaho's just underrated."
Contestants advanced through the first round of auditions in 20 cities in August. Those who progress from Coeur d’Alene will be off to Hollywood to compete for the crown of top vocalist for the show’s second season on the ABC network. It originally aired on Fox in 2002.
“I wasn’t going to audition because I didn’t think I’d actually make it ever. I had a friend convince me to do it. I ended up making it through Seattle,” said Kaylee Goins, 25, of Spokane. “It’s super random. It’s weird, I didn’t expect it.”
She said the “Idol” people see on TV doesn’t show everything that happens behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot more work, a ton of work that goes into it that you don’t see, which is interesting,” she said.
The episode featuring Coeur d’Alene will air during the next season, which premieres in spring 2019.