The 2024 Cedar County Fair

Bill Riley Talent Search

Nearly 100 local qualifying shows are held across the state. We are happy to be one of them!

2024 Cedar County Fair Bill Riley Talent Search Competition

Our Bill Riley Talent Show to qualify for the State Fair’s Competition will be held at the Cedar County Fair outdoors on our Family Food’s Stage on July 13, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. Registration for this event will open June 1, 2024 and Close July 10, 2024. 


Equipment Available During Event: A full 88 keyboard, Sound System.

Bill Riley Talent Search - History

In 1946, Iowa Falls native Bill Riley emceed variety shows held at the Iowa State Fair by KRNT radio. In 1957, Bill approached Fair secretary Lloyd Cunningham about showcasing talented kids during the State Fair. Two years’ later, Bill Riley’s first Iowa State Fair Talent Search was held. By August of 1959, Bill had crisscrossed the state holding numerous talent shows. During the Fair, the state’s brightest young stars performed for delighted Fairgoers.

“Our daily shows started at 2 o’clock,” Bill recalled. “They were so popular that people weren’t attending the afternoon shows in the Grandstand, so the Fair Board asked us to move our start time to 1 o’clock. Finally, we started our shows at Noon.”

Affectionately known as “Mr. State Fair,” Bill retired from the Talent Search in 1996. That same year, the Plaza Stage was renamed the Bill Riley Stage. In 2006, Bill celebrated his 60th Fair and passed away in December of that same year.

Today the Talent Search is still thriving through his son, Bill Riley Junior. Nearly 100 local qualifying shows are held across the state with seven days of preliminary competition for Sprouts (ages 2-12) and Seniors (ages 13-21), followed by the semi-finals and, ultimately, the selection of six Sprout champions and one Senior champion at the Iowa State Fair. The Sprouts do not compete beyond the semi-finals, but are chosen as champions to be showcased in the Championship Show.

Bill Riley Talent Search - Registration

Registration Open June 1, 2024 - July 10, 2024

We’re sorry, but this event registration is closed. If you think this is in error, please call the fair office at 563-886-6170.