Daily Reporter staff reports
WEST TERRE HAUTE — With a few months until the Riley Festival, efforts to raise money for a new statue of the Hoosier Poet the festival honors are ramping up.
The Riley Boyhood Home and Museum is reaching out to the public for help completing the fundraising for the new statue of James Whitcomb Riley, which is scheduled to be unveiled at the downtown festivities in his honor this October.
The total cost of the project is $42,000 — a little more than half that has been raised. Anyone who makes a contribution of $100 or more will be invited to a special VIP reception in the backyard of the Riley home, 250 W. Main St., during the festival. Donors’ name will also be included in a permanent recognition on the Riley grounds.
All donors will receive an invitation to the official unveiling during the Riley Festival, which runs Oct. 6 to 9 this year; no donation amount is too big or too small, organizers said.
Artist Bill Wolfe of Terre Haute has been working on the statue for several months. When he last visited Greenfield, he took one of the iron benches that sits in front of the Riley Home and put it in the back of his pickup truck for the trip home. It is upon this bench that he has created a clay statue.
The sculpture features a seated Riley with an open book in his left hand and his right arm draped casually across the back — as if he has stepped out of his Greenfield home and sat down to read for awhile.
The next stage involves moving the statue to Indianapolis, where it will go to the Sincerus Foundry for molds to be made and the bronze to be poured. This process will take several weeks. Then, after a few finishing touches, the statue can be ready to make its official grand appearance during the Riley Festival.
Donations for the Reading with Riley statue can be made online at the Riley Boyhood Home and Museum’s website, www.jwrileyhome.org.
For more information, call the home at 317-462-8539.