Iowa State Fair
2012 - Ballrooms/Venue
Conceived by Bill Riley along with Kenneth Fulk and Richard Yeager, Teen Town began at the Iowa State Fair in 1964. It existed well into the 1970's and hosted dozens of top Rock and Roll Bands over the years, many of which have been inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame. It is a badge of honor for any band to mention in a bio that they at one time played at the "Battle of the Bands" at Iowa State Fair Teen Town.
Iowa State Fair Funds were invested in 1964 in permanent improvements and additions, the major ones being Teen Town. First known as Hawaiian Village, it was living proof that Iowa young people are great. It was staffed and managed by teenagers and over 30,000 youngsters were in attendance the first year. In 1976, countries from all around the world were represented in its courtyard area, surrounded by covered booths, and it proved to be extremely popular with fairgoers wishing to purchase unique unusual items from other countries. Learning about the people and the cultures of other countries by seeing, experiencing and enjoying this is the purpose of International Place. The informal, friendly, open-air atmosphere of this arena daily attracted thousands of fairgoers who saw (and bought) food, handcraft items and small merchandise from such faraway places as Europe Africa, Asia, Hawaii, Mexico, South America and the Philippines. To add to the visitor's delight regularly scheduled entertainment with an international flavor from a center stage with a seating capacity of 1000, and plenty of extra "standing room" on the grassy grounds. Nightly entertainment usually reflected the theme of the Fair and featured professional acts from various countries. International place was open from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. daily with no admission charge.
An excerpt from a book about the Iowa State Fair entitled "Country Come to Town" by Thomas Leslie states: "Although youth from rural Iowa had long been served by a wide range of 4-H exhibition programs, the fair attempted to appeal to non-rural teenagers as well. In 1964 "Teen Town" promised "dancing to live combos, teen interest exhibitions, autograph parties, hootenannies and an annual teen queen contest," all held within a carefully monitored area. Teen Town guaranteed the fair's future with the Iowa's baby boomer generation, giving the fair a cachet with the first Iowans to grow up as part of an urban majority.
The Iowa Rock 'N Roll Music Association welcomes the Iowa State Fair Teen Town into its 2012 Hall of Fame.