Thirteen acts perform at Bill Riley Talent Search in Charles City
By Bob Steenson, email@example.com
Thirteen acts competed Sunday afternoon in Charles City for the Bill Riley Talent Search, vying for prize money and an opportunity to advance to the Iowa State Fair.
Making the Charles City event extra special this year was the presence of Bill Riley Jr., the son of Bill Riley, the Des Moines radio and television personality who had started the Iowa State Fair Talent Search in 1959.
Bill Riley Sr. traveled the state looking for talent and hosted the Iowa State Fair event until he retired in 1996. Bill Riley Jr. took over the hosting duties the next year, when the State Fair stage where the contest is held was renamed the Anne and Bill Riley Stage.
The Charles City event Sunday at the North Grand Auditorium featured five Sprout acts for ages 2-12, and eight Senior acts, for ages 13-21.
One act from each age category advances to State Fair competition from each of the approximately 100 local Talent Search shows held around the state every year.
At the Charles City show, the first- and second-place finishers in the Sprouts division had already qualified for the State Fair in local competitions elsewhere, so the third-place finisher advances to Des Moines.
In the Senior division, the first-, second- and third-place finishers had all already qualified elsewhere, meaning the fourth-place finisher advances to State Fair competition.
Talent Search acts often compete at multiple local events, even after they have qualified for State Fair competition, both for the cash prize money available, but perhaps even more importantly for the experience performing in front of a live audience.
Acts in Charles City Sunday came from as far away as Waterloo, Cedar Falls and even Gowrie and Decorah.
Top place finishers at the Charles City event this year were:
• First place: Vocal duet of Kalli Tiedt, 12, of Waterloo and Ella Maker, 12, of Jesup, performing “Count On Me.”
• Second place: Brooklyn Miller, 11, of Gowrie, performing acro dance to “Enter The Circus.”
• Third place: Calista McDonald, 11, from Nashua, performing freestyle dance to “The Champion.” Also qualifies for Iowa State Fair competition.
• First place: Vocal quartet of the Lind sisters, Margaret, 13, Naomi, 12, Maya, 11, and Elaina, 9, from Parkersburg, performing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
• Second place: Bailey Miller, 18, from Gowrie, performing Lyrical dance to “Listen To Your Heart.”
• Third place: Megan Wheelock, 15, from Waterloo, singing “Times Are Hard For Dreamers.”
• Fourth place: Harlie Jacobsen, 21, of Rockford, performing a vocal/guitar piece entitled “Homesick.” She qualified for State Fair competition because the top three acts had already qualified.
There are seven days of preliminary competition for Sprouts and Seniors during the Iowa State Fair, followed by three days of semiﬁnals.
The six Sprout semifinalists are all named Sprout Champions and all perform on the final day of the State Fair competition. The Senior semifinalists all compete on the final day and one Senior champion is selected.
Riley announced in Charles City that the Senior championship prize this year has reached a new level.
“This is huge,” he said. “Thanks to Hy-Vee, our corporate sponsor, … grand prize winner at the Iowa State Fair this year will receive $10,000. That’s where Dad was trying to get it. He passed away in ’06, and we finally got there now.”
Riley also announced that a new program for special needs performers has been started, and 11 acts will perform at the State Fair 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17. An Iowa Public Television program about the performers, called “Shining Stars,” will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.