Coordinators

Download Coordinator Rules

Rules and Regulations


The program is best presented as a “Free Admission” event for a local celebration or county fair. Young people cannot be charged a fee for participation in the talent show. All participants must be legal residents of Iowa. 


The Talent Search is a state wide program. We encourage competition in your local show to be open to anyone in Iowa. Please do not limit the competition to a specific county or area.  This is a program for all young Iowans, not just from your hometown.  Winners from earlier shows around the state can compete in any subsequent local shows to get as much experience as possible. If an act in your show is already qualified for State Fair competition, and that act wins first place in your show, they receive the cash award. The second place act will advance, unless they have already qualified at an earlier show, then the third place act will advance, and so on.  The emcee must ask the acts if they have already qualified for the State Fair Talent Search.



1. You must register your show with the Iowa State Fair by filling out the Show Application by the deadline. Failure to do this will result in having an unsanctioned show and your winners will not advance!


2. There must be four acts signed up ahead of time in each division to qualify as an Iowa State Fair sanctioned show. We suggest no more than fifteen acts in each division. If you have less than four acts in a division you are not allowed to hold a competition for that division. For instance, if you have 10 Sprout acts and 3 Senior acts you will only be allowed to have a Sprout division and you will only send a Sprout act qualifier to the Iowa State Fair. 


3. No more than five persons are allowed in an act.  Piano accompanist is NOT included in an act and may be any age.  No more than three accompanists permitted per act.  Drums, amps, etc. are discouraged due to the one-minute set-up time.  No combos, rock bands or similar musical groups permitted. 


4. Vocalists can perform with an accompanist or CD/Ipod/USB flashdrive. Prerecorded tracks should be instrumental only.  Any prerecorded track with backing vocals is not allowed, and the act will be disqualified.


5. Set Up: The stage should measure 16’ by 32’ or larger to accommodate acrobatic dance acts, and it should have a smooth surface; no carpet please.  This is very important to the dancers. Please provide them with a quality stage area. Provide a well-tuned piano with a full keyboard. Please provide an excellent public address system, with a competent sound engineer. You must also provide a CD player that will play through the PA system and be prepared for any digital playback from iPod, USB drives and other digital devices. 


6. Check In: Acts should meet with your show coordinator or emcee a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour prior to the show to get checked in.  


7. Use the registration sheets provided and collect all information on the form.


You will need name, complete address, birth date, age, phone number (include 

area code), email address and type of talent. DO NOT ASK FOR SOCIAL 

SECURITY NUMBERS.

To help us schedule the acts as they advance to the Iowa State Fair, please 

categorize as follows: 

Vocal: classical, country, contemporary, musical theater, etc.

Dance: tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, acrobatic, baton, lyrical, etc. 

Instrumental: classical or contemporary categories. 

Other: Please specify type of act (Examples: magician, martial arts, hula 

hoop)


Multiple member acts need one of the group members to act as a contact person with all information going through them. Additional members of the act need only 

birth date, age and town.


8. Contestants may only appear once in any given show.  This applies to qualifying shows as well as the competition at the Iowa State Fair.  They may not perform “solo” and then return in the same show in a duet or trio. Contestants are allowed to perform in different acts in different shows, but they may only qualify for the State Fair Show with one act. Once a performer has qualified for the State Fair they are not allowed to perform in local shows as part of another act. They may keep competing in local shows with the qualifying performance.


9. Age Groups: 

Sprouts: Ages 2 through 12                Seniors: Ages 13 through 21

A person’s age for the Iowa State Fair competition is determined at the time they win a local show.  A 12 year old who wins a local show (or 21 year old) could turn 13 (or 22) by the State Fair and still be eligible in the Sprout (or Senior) division, as they met age requirements at the time of qualification at a local show.


Additionally, Sprout acts who qualify at a local show will be permitted to have one performer who is 13 years old only at the Iowa State Fair. This applies to 

individuals or anyone in a group who qualify at a local show at age 12 but turn 13 before the State Fair. 

If more than one performer in a group turns 13 before the State Fair, thus making the Sprout act have two or more 13 year olds, that act will automatically become 

a Senior act.  Any performer who is 14 years or older will not be allowed to perform in a Sprout act.


10. Professionals are NOT permitted to compete. This includes Union musicians and anyone whose principle source of income is from their talent. Compensation for performing at weddings, etc. does not constitute principal source of income. 


11. Show Format: No preliminary rounds are allowed at the local level. The Sprout division performs first followed by the Senior division. Judging is to be done between each division in order to give the judges plenty of time for their decision. Awards can be done after each division or all at once after the Senior division. This is to be decided by the show coordinator.

12. Judges: A minimum of three judges are required, and up to five is advised. Shows can usually be broken down into four basic areas; dance, vocal, instrumental and other. We strongly advise judges with a background in dance, vocal and instrumental (judges should have enough performance experience to be able to judge acts that do not fit into the dance, instrumental or vocal categories).  Please access music, dance, and vocal teachers from the area; but they cannot have direct ties to the competitors.  College students may be used, if need be, but they must have a declared major in one of the areas. No high school students or relatives of participants are allowed to judge. Current BRTS competitors are not allowed to be judges. 


13. Judging Comments/Criteria: The Bill Riley Talent Search presents a nice opportunity for professional judges to help foster growth and improvement with all the young Iowans that compete in the program.  Please use the judging sheets provided. Make the second page of judges comments available to performers. These do not have to be lengthy, just some brief, constructive comments.

Only share judges comments with performers. Scores should NEVER be shared with performers.


14. Timing Acts.  Acts must keep the performance to three minutes.  Acts timed past three minutes are subject to possible disqualification or point deduction. Five seconds over would be a starting point to begin deductions, ten seconds over or longer can be considered for disqualification. This is at the judges’ discretion and should be monitored closely.  At the local level this would be a great opportunity to let an act know that they were over the time limit.  Please don’t allow an act to advance to the State Fair competition only to be disqualified at that level.  We have two different timers at the State level so we are very serious about the three minute rule.  Set up time is not included. Limit set up time to one minute.   


15. Appropriate music/lyrics: Foul language is not allowed in the Bill Riley Talent Search. Acts performing to or singing pieces with inappropriate lyrics should be disqualified and the show coordinator should encourage them to compete with a different song. 


16. Winners: Only one qualifier from each division (Sprout and Senior) of a local show is permitted to advance to the Iowa State Fair. NO TIES are permitted in all placing.


The local sponsoring group is expected to provide prizes, which may include ribbons or trophies.  The suggested range is:

SPROUTS: Low range: $15, $10 & $5 High Range: $50, $25 & $20.

SENIORS: Low range: $25, $15 $10 High Range: $100, $50 & $25.


17. Upon completion of your program it is your responsibility as show coordinator to let Tonya Cook and Heather Torpy know ALL information regarding your winners.  We would prefer that you email the results to tcook@iowastatefair.org AND heathertorpy@gmail.com. If that is not an option you may call the results in to Tonya at (515) 262-3111, ext. 215 or Heather at (515) 229-1821. You may also fax them to Tonya at (515) 262-6906.  It is very important that the results are sent in immediately as scheduling is a detailed process.


Competition at the Iowa State Fair


Preliminary rounds: First 7 days

Semi finals: Days 8, 9, and 10

Championship show: Day 11


Semi-Finalists: Semi-finalists from last year’s Iowa State Fair Bill Riley Talent Search are automatically qualified for the next State Fair competition.  You do not have to re-qualify for next year’s show by winning at the local level show, but you are encouraged to compete at local shows. If you win at the local level show, you are entitled to the prize money, but you must inform the emcee that you have already qualified for the State Fair. The second place winner will then be able to advance to the State Fair competition.  

Birthdays and Semi-Finalists: Semi-finalists returning the following year will perform in the division for their current age as of the next Iowa State Fair. If a Sprout act makes the semi-finals at the age of 12, they pre-qualify for the next year as a Senior. 12 year old Sprout semi-finalists may no longer compete as a Sprout at local shows.


Iowa State Fair Championship Show:

Sprout Division Champions: There will be 6 Sprout Champions showcased in the Championship Show. Sprout Champions in the Sprout division must sit out one year of competition.* They also must re-qualify when returning after the one-year absence, and be 12 years old or less to compete in the Sprout division.


*The only exception to the one-year absence will be for Sprout Champions who were 12 years old when they won. They do not have to sit out a year and are automatically qualified for the next State Fair as a Senior. It is highly recommended that they compete at the local level as a Senior to get a feel for the older division.


Senior Division Championship: There will be 9 finalists in competition. All finalists in the Senior division must sit out one year - they cannot perform as an individual or in a group during the next year. They also must re-qualify when returning after the one-year absence, and be 21 years old or less.  The “Grand Champion” of the Senior division is no longer allowed to compete in the Bill Riley Talent Search at the local or State Fair level.


Seniors and Sprouts must qualify within the age requirement. For example, if you are 21 and don’t qualify before you are 22 you are ineligible. All Sprout acts must qualify for the State Fair at the age of 12 or under.


Good luck with your show!


Please contact us with any questions.

Bill Riley Jr. Tonya Cook Heather Torpy

President Special Events Director Vice President

Bill Riley Talent Search Iowa State Fair Bill Riley Talent Search

(515) 202-6232                  (515) 262-3111 ext. 215      (515) 229-1821

rileystage@gmail.com tcook@iowastatefair.org     heathertorpy@gmail.com