GREENFIELD — The intersection of State and Main streets will soon be prepped for thousands of visitors, as Hancock County and surrounding area residents gather to celebrate and enjoy one of the largest craft festivals in the state of Indiana — The Riley Festival.
The annual fall event is a tradition in Greenfield, when officials shut down traffic through the center of town to celebrate the birthday of James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier Poet.” This year’s event is Oct. 6-Oct. 9.
Each year, one of Riley’s poems is selected as the theme for the festival. This year’s theme is the poem, “Indiana.”
This year’s festival activities are a nod to the state’s Bicentennial Celebration; festival organizers also applied for a designation for the event as a Legacy Project.
Legacy Projects, which are happening around the state this year during the 200th celebration of statehood, aim to showcase the best of Indiana history.
And in Greenfield, the October Riley Festival is just that, organizers say.
This year, they’re asking all vendors and patrons to bring a new children’s story book to donate so they can make sure every kindergarten student and first-grader in the county has a new book to read at home.
“Riley’s love was children and literature, and most of his poems were for children,” festival organizer Linda Lowe said.
Books can be dropped off at city hall now and during the event. Festival officials will pass them out to county children after the festival.
This year’s festival, sponsored by Unique Home Solutions, will be bigger and better than ever, organizers said, as plans call for a food area, commercial and flea market booths, activities for children, entertainment and more.
New this year will be a laser light show set for Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 at the east end of Main Street at dusk.
This year’s festival will also offer helicopter rides, provided by Paratus Air, taking off from Riley Park. Rides are $20 and will be available all four days, weather permitting.
The zipline is returning to the Riley Fun Zone, where event organizers say there will be plenty of other fun activities and games for children.
“We’re trying to reach all different kinds of people,” Lowe said.
Local groups will perform throughout the festival at various times in the Greenfield Banking Co. Entertainment Tent.
In all, organizers say they’ll have more than 460 exhibitors set up for visitors to enjoy.
In addition to the vendors, games and food, patrons may also enjoy exhibits including the Fine Arts Show, as well as the Home Arts & Quilt Show, in the courthouse annex, located southeast of the courthouse.
Parking is limited, so shuttle buses will run from the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds to the east entrance of the festival; patrons may ride for 50 cents. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs will be available for rental at the shuttle bus drop-off at the east end of the festival area.
Riley Festival Hours
Oct. 6-9, 2016
Thursday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
No admission charge.
No pets except service animals allowed.
by James Whitcomb Riley
Our Land– our Home– the common home indeed
Of soil-born children and adopted ones–
The stately daughters and the stalwart sons
Of Industry–: All greeting and godspeed!
O home to proudly live for, and if need
Be proudly die for, with the roar of guns
Blent with our latest prayer–. So died men once…
Lo Peace…! As we look on the land They freed–
Its harvests all in ocean-over flow
Poured round autumnal coasts in billowy gold–
Its corn and wine and balmed fruits and flow’rs–,
We know the exaltation that they know
Who now, steadfast inheritors, behold
The Land Elysian, marvelling ‘This is ours?’