News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today

Think you've got skills? Local talent contest Saturday at Colonial Mall

By Patrice Stewart 340-2446

Got talent? We've got the event for you.

Singers, dancers, musicians, bands, comedians and those with other skills can compete Saturday in the Decatur preliminary round of the "Official Homegrown Talent Contest."

Both individuals and groups can sign up to perform between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. near Parisian at Colonial Mall in Decatur. A rotating three-member panel of judges qualified in the arts will score each entry.

This "Homegrown Talent" preliminary is one of four scheduled; the first was held Saturday in Huntsville, while others are coming up Feb. 17 at Regency Square Mall in Florence and March 3 at Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville. You may attend whatever date is convenient, according to Jim Zielinski, communications director for The Arts Council Inc. in Huntsville.

The top-scoring performers will compete in finals onstage in Huntsville's Big Spring International Park on April 29 during Panoply Art Festival.

This is the second year for the event, but last year only two preliminaries were held, both in Huntsville, said Zielinski.

"We wanted to expand the reach this year, so we added preliminaries in Decatur and Florence," he said. The event now will include both groups and individuals.

Winners of the final round at Panoply will get cash prizes, he said, with $250 for first place, $150 for second and $75 for third.

Panoply director Stephen Burrell said there is no specific number of entries that will make it to the Panoply stage. Last year they took 20, but they have doubled the time and may take 40 or more this year.

"It depends on how many meet the criteria of talent, stage presence and crowd reaction," he said.

An audience is welcome, and he expects performances to begin every five to 10 minutes, at least in the morning, depending on how many sign up.

"We're looking for singers, dancers, bands, comedians, drama, all kinds of things," Burrell said. "Homegrown talent is whatever your talent is."

The minimum age is 10, and there is no maximum age. He said those entering should prepare a "family-friendly" performance that is at least two minutes and no more than six minutes. The entry fee is $5.

Registering in advance is preferred so times can be assigned, but contestants also can sign up at the mall Saturday. For applications and guidelines, call The Arts Council in Huntsville, 519-2787, or visit and look at the last item under "Applications."

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