HANCOCK COUNTY — Hancock County’s 2017 arts and entertainment calendar is already chock-full of music, dance, theater, art and artistry, festivals and events, proving for another year that Hancock County is an entertainment destination. Here are some of the things to look forward to in the months ahead:


The walls of the Twenty North Gallery, managed and maintained by the volunteers of the Hancock County Arts and Cultural Council, located at 20 N. State St., will feature an ever-changing array of local and regional art exhibits. The oil paintings of impressionist artist Beth Clary Schwier will hang in the gallery from Jan. 13 through February’s end.

April will see the return of the Will Vawter Fine Art exhibition to the gallery. This annual competition celebrates the life of Vawter, who first gained fame for his illustrations of Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley’s poetry books. In July, local artist and retired art teacher Sandy Hall and friends will present a show of paintings done during art field trips to the Taos area of New Mexico. September will see an exhibit of the textural art of Gary Schmitt, who won the Surface Design Association show held recently at the Twenty North Gallery.

The annual Teachers as Artists exhibit, organized by Sandy Hall, will be on display in the SoupHerb Gallery, at 2 W. Main St. March through May.

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Chalkfest, sponsored by Greenfield Main Street, is slated this year for Sept. 16. This event invites artists of all ages to compete for prizes in the annual sidewalk chalk competition conducted on the Court House Plaza.


Hancock County abounds with dance groups from the Hearts Ablaze cloggers to the classically trained ballerinas at Dance East Ballet Academy.

Hearts Ablaze, directed by Cristy Corwin-Howard, ended 2016 with an appearance as part of the Circle of Lights tree-lighting ceremony at the Circle in downtown Indianapolis and hope to march in the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They also plan to be part of many local events including Arts & Rummage at the Fairgrounds Jan. 28, the Hancock County 4-H Fair, Cumberland Arts Goes to Market and the Riley Festival.

Wilkinson Dance, now in its 41st year, will present “Tribute to the Greats” May 20 and 21 at Greenfield-Central High School. Its annual Spook-tacular dance revue will be part of 2017’s Riley Festival for two performances on Oct. 8 at the H. J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, followed by the Nutcracker and Holiday Spectacular in December.

Dance East Ballet Academy will present the ballet “Peter and the Wolf,” April 1 and 2 at the Ricks Centre for the Arts, complete with some live instrumentation and a recording of Leonard Bernstein as the narrator.


The Brandywine Wind will showcase the talents of some of its members in a late winter concert March 24. Music performed will include everything from Bach to Bernstein. A May 26 spring concert will feature a celebration of patriotic music and the vocals of Anita Workman. Both concerts will be performed at the Ricks Centre in Greenfield. In addition to the concert schedule, the Brandywine Wind, under the direction of Jerry Bell, will present Christmastide Celebration, a holiday collaborative of music, dance and performance Dec. 16.

The Hancock County Children’s Choir, directed by Gayle Roschi, will present “Do You Feel the Rhythm?” April 22 and 23 at Mt. Vernon High School. The choir’s Christmas concert dates are set for Dec. 2 and 3, also at Mt. Vernon High School.

The Hancock County Community Choir offers up a musical revue at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Greenfield Christian Church, followed by a classical music program March 5 at St. Michael’s Church. A dinner theater show performance is slated for May 6 at Trinity Park Church.


After a year-long break, the CrazyLake Acting Company will present a Ken Ludwig comedy, “Leading Ladies,” April 7 through 15 at the Ricks Centre in Greenfield, followed by the musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” July 14 through 23.

The Ricks-Weil Theatre Company has production ideas in the works to be announced at a later date. KidsPlay, Inc. Children’s Theatre has a show planned for the fall of 2017, and the Hancock County Children’s Theatre will present its annual summer musical in June.

On the high school stage, audiences can plan to see “The Nerd” and “Pippin” presented by Greenfield-Central High School and “Oklahoma” at Mt. Vernon High School in March.

The Riley Boyhood Home

The Riley Boyhood Home, 250 W. Main St., will open its doors for the season on April 1 and play host to Dance East’s annual Pixie Tea Party June 25. Under the leadership of newly-hired coordinator Stacey Poe, the Riley Boyhood Home will celebrate its 80th anniversary July 10. The Riley Home will also take part in the Aug. 8 Chocolate Walk, hosted by the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Riley Festival Oct. 5 to 8.


Greenfield shows its philanthropic heart as some of the biggest events of the year are fundraisers.

Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy will hold its annual Denim and Diamonds auction fundraiser at the Blu Falls Art & Event Center in Pendleton on Jan. 28.

The Rotary Club’s Annual Steak’n Bake’n Raffle is slated for Oct. 28.

Girls Night Out Pink PJ Party, a fundraiser for the James T. Anderson, M.D., Center for Women’s Health, sponsored by Kroger, is on the calendar for April 21. Hops for Hope, a fundraiser for the Hancock County Hope House, will also return Aug. 12.

Celebrations, Festivals and Events

If you’ve enjoyed the brightly-colored and decorated bicycles around town in the spring of the year, then you have Greenfield Main Street to thank. The ever-growing collection of bicycles will be on display again this spring from May 6 to June 10.

Greenfield Main Street is also the sponsor of the North Street Fitness Festival which will take place along the North Street May 20.

Summer festivals include the Pennsy Trail Art Fair & Music Festival, the Hancock County 4-H Fair in June and Cumberland Arts Goes to Market in August.

The Hometown Heroes Picnic at Riley Park Sept. 11 pays homage to Hancock County’s first responders as well as veterans and currently-enlisted servicemen and women. The highlight of the event is a three-on-three basketball tournament among the county’s safety officers.

The dates for the 2017 Riley Festival are Oct. 5 through 8.

Hancock County continues to prove that there’s no place like home for the holidays with Christmas festivals and celebrations in Greenfield, Fortville, New Palestine, Shirley and Carthage. Greenfield’s Parade of Lights will be held Dec. 2, and other local festivities include weekly holiday films shown at the Ricks Centre and horse-drawn carriage rides around Greenfield’s historic downtown.

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Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or cschaefer@greenfieldreporter.com.