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'Idol' hopefuls spend weekend in St. Louis

Tents and long lines filled the parking lot outside the Edward Jones Dome as an estimated 10,000 "American Idol" hopefuls descended on St. Louis for the show's second wave of auditions.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Tents and long lines marked the landscape outside the Edward Jones Dome as an estimated 10,000 "American Idol" hopefuls descended on the city this weekend.

The performers hope to win a spot on the Fox television show, where the public can vote to select its favorite aspiring performer.

Contestants started arriving Friday, even though producers told singers not to arrive until 6 a.m. Saturday.

St. Louis police Sgt. Ronald Klier said the crowd was orderly _ and talented.

"A lot of them brought their guitars. Some of them sang. I'd say they are pretty good," Klier said. "It takes a lot of guts to get in front of people and sing. I admire that."

On Sunday, the contestants processed Saturday were to perform for about 30 seconds.

From that pool, about 360 singers will be picked by producers to go before executive producers on Monday. From there, they will then cut the field to roughly 120.

On Wednesday, celebrity judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will pick about 30 singers to compete against other finalists in California.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said he sets no quotas; if every contestant wowed the judges, each would move ahead in the competition.

Sisters Mandy, Erin and Melissa Maynard, who are 18-year-old triplets, drove from Omaha with $6. They camped outside of the stadium for 20 hours and then planned to camp inside for 24 more.

"Oh, we know our chances of one of us making it on our own is slim," said Melissa, whose singing appearances with her sisters include a performance at the Pentagon. "We think we can do this, but we accept a lot of people feel exactly the same way."

The next season debuts in January.

In addition to auditions already held in Cleveland and the St. Louis tryouts, auditions will be held in Washington on Aug. 18, Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 26, New Orleans on Aug. 31, Las Vegas on Sept. 12, Anchorage, Alaska on Sept. 28 and San Francisco on Oct. 5.