Bill Riley Talent Search part of Bell Tower Festival

The audience at the Bill Riley Talent Search, held Saturday as part of the 37th annual Bell Tower Festival, was treated to first-rate entertainment.

Fifteen acts from 11 Iowa towns, including Jefferson and Grand Junction, competed for the chance to perform on the Bill Riley Stage at the Iowa State Fair.

In the Sprout division for performers 2 through 12 years, first place was claimed by 12-year-old Gwen Jacobson of Battle Creek with a lyrical dance solo to “Let It Be”. Second place was pianist Jonathan Nguyen, 11, of Johnston playing Beethoven’s Sonata, Opus 79. Third place was Natalie Burk, 11, of Ida Grove with a tap dance to “I Wanna Be Like You”.

Libby Peterson, 20, of Cherokee won in the Senior division with a musical theatre solo, “Watch What Happens” from “The Newsies.” Cali Wilson, 16, of Norwalk placed second with a lyrical dance solo to “Must Have Been Love,” and 19-year-olds Maddie Engelke and Nicole Goodman of Storm Lake placed third with a musical theatre duet “Freedom”.

Bill Riley Jr arrived during the show. He spoke briefly about the Bill Riley Talent Search, now in its 57th year, and then announced the winners.

Bill Riley Jr (back, right) announced winners (front, from left) Natalie Burk, Gwen Jacobson; and (back, from left) Maddie Engelke, Nicole Goodman, Cali Wilson, and Libby Peterson.. Jonathan Nguyen is not pictured.

Sponsor of the local Bill Riley Talent Search was Bolton & Menk. Judges were Dale Menning of Guthrie Center, Lyn Spies of Audubon, and Sarah Bradley of Ames. Emcee for the show was Stephanie Hall. Local coordinator was Tori Riley. Doug Hawn assisted with sound.


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