Singer Rebecca Hopkins was nervous about trying out for Newark's Got Talent last year, but with the encouragement of a friend and her boss, she thought she'd give it a try.

Singer Rebecca Hopkins was nervous about trying out for Newark's Got Talent last year, but with the encouragement of a friend and her boss, she thought she'd give it a try.

"I found it neat listening and seeing all the different acts and talents," she said. "You don't realize how much talent is capsulated in our local community, just waiting for their time to be noticed."

In the end Hopkins didn't win first, second, or third place, but "I had a blast," she said. "I won the opportunity to be a part of it all."

Newark's Midland Theatre is readying for the third Newark's Got Talent contest, with auditions open to all Licking County residents set for April 5 and 12 at 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Grace Fellowship, 4905 Jacksontown Road SE. NGT director Brad Kittle, outreach pastor at Vineyard, said he's looking for a wide variety of local talent.

"In the past we've had mimes, jugglers, comedians, Elvis impersonators, singers, bands, dancers and even yodelers," he said. "We love the wide variety of talent spread throughout our county."

Newark's Got Talent 3 will be held May 11 at the Midland Theater in downtown Newark. Admission is free, with voluntary donations accepted.

"NGT2 was an amazing event, and we look to provide an even better show this year," Kittle said. There will be prizes and recognition for the top three performers, with the winner receiving $500 and a trophy.

"(Newark's Got Talent) was an idea I had one morning when I woke up," Kittle said. "I had been thinking about doing an outreach for the city of Newark…

"As I was thinking on it, I started to get excited but also nervous about the idea," he said. He wondered how it would work, where the event would be staged, who would come, and who would help. "But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to do the event."

Once the event came to fruition, Kittle said the variety and level of talent in Licking County amazed him.

"We had so many try out for the event that it was hard to whittle the participants down to 14 acts," he said. It was the variety of talent that amazed him most, he said - dancers, singers, bands, cloggers, comedians, instrumentalist, impersonators, and then a variety within those categories.

"Many of the acts that we cut could have been in the show but we had to make some tough choices," said Kittle. "Yes, Newark does have talent."

He said he enjoyed the participants' excitement.

"You could tell they appreciated the opportunity to perform," he said. "There are many in the county that have amazing talent but don't get to showcase it in such a large venue. They seemed to really enjoy the opportunity."

Jason Angus was one of those people. He's the drummer of a local Christian rock band called "As Through Fire," which participated in last year's NGT.

"I have been to several shows at the Midland Theatre, but it is a whole different experience being on that stage," he said. "The experience was one that will never be forgotten."

Hopkins said the experience was worth it because it was all for a good cause.

"Not because someone took away the top prize, but because the donations that came in from those in the audience were used to help out people less fortunate than ourselves and to help make their lives a little happier, healthier, safer."

Kittle said proceeds of the contest go toward the Vineyard Grace Fellowship's benevolence and missions programs.

"Although the reality is we spend more on NGT than we receive back," he said.

This year all proceeds will help the fellowship's work at the Orphanage Emmanuel and the Honduras Project.

"Orphanage Emmanuel is obviously an orphanage and the Honduras Project helps the poor in Honduras," Kittle said. "We typically built two to three houses for indigent Hondurans on our trips."

Hopkins said she's ready to audition and take the stage again this year.

"I look forward to taking a second chance, trying out again, and having the experience all over again."