Wichita, think you've got talent?

05/01/2011 12:06 AM

08/08/2014 10:03 AM

We already know that "America's Got Talent," thanks to NBC's 6-year-old reality show that gives singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, tumblers and yodelers prime time network exposure.

Now, we're about to find out what kind of wacky talent Wichita's got.

A new fundraiser by the Medical Service Bureau of Sedgwick County is a daylong talent show designed to fill the Orpheum stage with all types of human amazingness.

The Medical Service Bureau was created in 1937 and helps low-income residents of Sedgwick get prescription medication and vision care. Last year, it served 4,390 people.

When it came time to dream up a new fundraiser, the organization's board realized that Wichita had just about every kind of "fest" imaginable — a wine fest, a beer fest, a festival of animals known as Zoobilee.

But it didn't have a fest that would put the lesser-known abilities of residents, from little kids to retirees, on display.

The winner will get a small cash prize and a pretty amazing reward: The chance to perform on stage at Hartman Arena as part of May 21's Summer Jam, featuring Cody Simpson and LMFAO.

"We know a lot of people will go out and sing karaoke and they'll watch these shows like 'America's Got Talent' and think, 'You know, I could do better than that,' " said Lisa Vayda, president of the organization's board of directors and the Talent Fest organizer.

So far, the lineup has several promising contenders, she said, including a group of young singers called Kansas Boyz, a bluegrass band called Good n' Greasy, a few poetry readers, a gymnast and a couple of dancers.

A panel of judges, including area singers and dance instructors, will critique the performances, slated to go on between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre.

The judges will choose the ultimate winner, who will get $250 and the stage time. But spectators also can vote for a people's choice winner with dollars, all of which will go to the cause. That winner also gets $250.

Vayda says her lineup is strong so far, but she's hoping for even more entrants — perhaps even a few offbeat ones. She's willing to take entrants through Wednesday.

She has only a few rules. Acts must be family friendly and be able to prove that they're amateurs.

"The only thing we say is 'No professionals,' " she said. "If you have an agent and a contract, you're a professional."

Surely there's a rapping granny somewhere in Wichita.

Those interested in registering should visit www.wichitatalentfest.com or call 316-683-7559.

If you go

Wichita Talentfest

What: A fundraiser for Medical Service Bureau that will put Wichita residents' talent on display

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

How much: Spectator admission is $10. Entrants also pay $10 and can sign up until Wednesday.

For more information, visit www.wichitatalentfest.com or call 316-683-7559.

About Denise Neil

Denise has been an Eagle reporter since 1997. She writes about pop culture on Sundays, reviews restaurants on Fridays and blogs at Dining with Denise. Previously, she worked for the Chattanooga Times and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.

Contact Denise at 316-268-6327 or by e-mailing dneil@wichitaeagle.com

Follow Denise on Twitter: @DeniseNeil

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