Salem’s Got Talent, the family-friendly competition for Marion and Polk county performers, is in its second year and more popular than ever. Auditions had to close early because of the high volume of early entry forms. Including new kinds of talent, a magician and an a cappella group, 2012 promises a diverse group of performers.

“As was the case last year, we have a mix of ages and talents,” says Sharon Moore, a coordinator for the event. “Those auditioning range from 7 years old to 72!”

“The great thing about this competition is its relaxed nature,” she adds. “Maybe that’s easy for me to say because I am not up there on stage, but it seems to me that all the competitors understand that they are winners for just having had the courage to perform in front of a friendly audience.”

The public is invited to attend the final two auditions (of six total) on October 18th and 23rd at the Grand Theater, at 191 High Street in downtown Salem.

After that, “much as we would like to move everyone on to the semifinals, we have to make difficult choices,” Moore says. “There will be 2 or 3 semi-finals (Nov. 5, 7, 9 [if needed]) and then, of course, the Grand Finale on Nov. 18.”

While it is free to watch the auditions, there will be a $5 charge to attend the semifinals (with age 6 and under admitted free) and a $10 charge for the Final Competition (again, 6 and under is free).

Moore adds that this year “the very talented and amusing Tom Hewitt will be emceeing the semi-finals and the Grand Finale. We all feel this will add a wonderful dimension to the event.”

“Sometimes the parents of a contestant will come up after the audition and thank the committee for putting on the event,” she recounts. “It is such fun for friends and family members to encourage and support their loved ones up there on the stage. It’s a very positive environment.