Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

County fair’s talent show produces winners

Jul 17, 2018
Photo by: John Butters Nancy Trier has managed the Washington County Fair’s talent show for 17 years.  During that time, the show has produced three Iowa  State Fair winners.

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


Nancy Trier can spot talent.

After 17 years of managing the talent show at the Washington County Fair, she knows what judges are looking for. She also knows the annual competition can help build their confidence and learn the value of persistance.

On Wednesday, July 18, Washington’s own version of “America’s Got Talent” will take center stage at the Community Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. “We have quality acts. I am super-proud of them. Our show is a Bill Riley sanctioned show. Contestants who win here can qualify for the Iowa State Fair,” she said. “During my time as show manager, we have had three state fair winners.”

That is a great honor, she says, and a distinction for the community because there is a lot of competition.

“When our contestants compete at the state fair, they are competing with winners from other county fairs. Everyone at the state competition is a winner,” she said.

Washington’s show has been acknowledged by Riley as one of the Iowa’s premier displays of local talent and Trier has been recognized for her ability to pull everything together for the one night engagement.

“Bill Riley has been here several times and has always complimented us on how well our shows were managed,” she said.

While Trier is pleased with Washington’s reputation in the world of show business, her deeper satisfaction comes from her work with the contestants. It all began with her daughter.

“My daughter participated in dance competitions and I saw how people can grow through the experience,” she said. “I like to see how the kids improve, develop and grow. I feel like I am doing something special when I help them.”

Many of the contestants enter multiple county contests not only to win, but also to develop their talent. Trier said that as the students work on their skills, they learn important lessons about life.

“The competition helps them tap their potential. Performing in front of a large crowd helps give them confidence for the time when they have to give a speech or a presentation before their class,” she said.

By practicing, students develop the ability to focus on a goal and learn the value of persistence. They also learn to lose graciously, without blaming others or quitting on themselves.

“Not everyone can win. They are here to share their talent. For some of them, the only thing they take away is the applause,” she said. “It teaches them sportsmanship and how to be kind to people.”

Trier said an important part of the show is creating a comfortable climate for the audience and the performers.

“We used to have a stage in front of the grandstand. The weather was always a factor and the show could run very late due to the outdoor staging. The Community Center works much better,” she said.

But it’s not only the show’s venue that gets her attention. Her focus in on the performers.

“I try to make the contestants feel special. I want them to feel like stars,” she said.

And she doesn’t forget the parents’ contribution to the success of the participants.

“The parents make all the difference. The parents and the family provide the support for the contestants to practice and appear on the show,” she said.

And for those who don’t win the judges’ decision, she always has some kind words.

“I tell them ‘It’s just an opinion. Tomorrow, there might be a different opinion.’ Everyone who comes and competes is a winner,” she said.

There are two categories of contestants: Seniors age 13 to 21 years of age and Sprouts who are 3 to 12 years old.

The show has a panel of five judges who have varied talent specialties.

“I try to get people with different backgrounds for judges,” Trier said.

Cash prizes are awarded for first, second and third place. Winners also get a commemorative medal. The number of competitive categories appears infinite, but can be roughly grouped into dance, vocal music, instrumental music and acrobatics.

Trier begins working on the show in May and doesn’t stop until after the fair concludes in July. It’s a lot of work, but she considers it a labor of love.

“I want to do this as long as I can. I enjoy it. I take pride in it. I have seen the kids grow in it. And now, I have my former contestants’ children in the show. It has continued for generations,” she said. “We have a place where people want to come.”

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 17, 2018 15:38

Photo Courtesty of Matthew Christopher

During this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe catches up with designer Matthew Christopher. Before Christopher became a couture dresser for celebrities and brides across the world, he made prom gowns for his dates in his hometown of Wellman. He learned to sew in 4-H as a kid.

“I was enthralled with Brides magazine at the age of 10,” Christopher says.

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