Raphael's Talent Search has been a tradition at the Dutchess
County Fair since 1963. Raphael Mark was a local radio personality at WEOK & WPDH, widely known for his popular radio talk
show, Talk Back. Raphael created the Talent Search as a venue for local performers to have a place to showcase their talent.
The emphasis of the Talent Search is for everyone involved to have a good time performing in a relaxed, comfortable, but always
Raphael and his wife Frances raised 7 children and were quite active in the community particularly
with youth- oriented programs. They were active in local theater, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and they developed the A.D.A.P.T.
program which was a precursor to today's DARE program. Raphael felt that there was a need for local talent to have a place
where they could perform in a professional environment while helping to build their self-confidence. Before this time, there
were no local talent showcases and therefore there really wasn't a way to be represented in the New York State Fair Talent
Search. With encouragement from Fran, Raphael started Raphael's Search for Talent. Since then, many families have grown up
with the Talent Search and many past participants now look on as their own children compete.
After the passing of
Raphael in 1986 and Fran in 2002, Jason Mark and the Mark Family continue the tradition in honor of Raphael and Fran. It is
their hope that many more participants, both young and old, will benefit from performing at the Fair. Even if the contestants
do not go on to the finals, the Mark family hopes that it will be a fun and memorable experience for all those involved.