GREENFIELD — Every queen of the Riley Festival pageant earns, along with her crown, the responsibility of organizing an event to benefit the community.

Before 2016 queen Rylie Gendron felt her glittering prize settle atop her head, she knew she wanted to tailor an event to her love of performance and the arts. A dancer and choreographer, Gendron decided to encourage young people to get involved by creating a youth talent show.

The Hancock County Youth Talent Contest is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main St., Greenfield; about a dozen county children age 9 to 18 are set to perform a myriad of acts. There will be a winner awarded in two age categories as well as an overall champion, Gendron said.

Story continues below gallery

The Riley Festival is a philanthropic organization that funds scholarships and grants throughout the year, and the queen’s give-back project dovetails with those efforts, Riley Festival board member Anita Turner said.

While queens through the years have put on food drives, blanket drives and organized donations for area homeless shelters, this is the first time for a talent contest organized by the face of the festival, Turner said.

“She’s really put a lot of work and time into the coordinating of it,” Turner said. “She’s done the marketing and gotten volunteers herself.”

Tickets are $5 each, and all proceeds will go toward KidsPlay Inc., a local children’s theater organization. Gendron chose KidsPlay to benefit from her event because she has volunteered with the theater group in the past as a choreographer, and she wanted to promote performing arts to county youth, she said.

Maggie Brown, a rising senior at Mt. Vernon High School, is excited to sing “This is Gospel” by Panic! at the Disco during the talent contest.

“I’ve been singing since I was in elementary school, but I started really getting into solo things after the sixth-grade talent show,” she said in an email to the Daily Reporter. “I’ve performed this song other places, and it’s one of my favorites to do.”

Gendron, a sophomore at Ball State University majoring in theater studies and dance, undertook some event-planning during her high school years in student government — but nothing this big, she said.

“It was a challenge, but it was also really exciting for me to do,” she said.

She encourages all lovers of the arts to attend the talent contest, because it will not only support the arts; it will encourage the participants to continue performing.

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or