Longtime Riley Festival volunteer moving on


Sarah Kesterson, who worked for the Riley Festival for 38 years, was its longtime spokeswoman, booster and volunteer coordinator. She says she hopes to keep working with festivals in the state. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — After 38 years, one of the Riley Festival’s most seasoned leaders is stepping down from her post.

Sarah Kesterson of Greenfield has been volunteering for the festival since the early 1970s in more capacities than she can recount. A former chair of the festival board, she most recently served as the organization’s publicity chair. She also oversaw the downtown Christmas parade and festival put on by the Riley Festival each December.

This week, Kesterson announced her resignation, saying the next time she attends a festival in Greenfield, it will be as a spectator only.

Over the years, Kesterson has had her hand in a little bit of everything Riley Festival-related, having overseen the photography show, James Whitcomb Riley breakfast and Riley queen pageant, among other events. Her work with the festival earned her the governor’s Sagamore of the Wabash award in 2004.

Receiving the honor is just one of Kesterson’s treasured memories of working with the festival.

“I’ve had many wonderful adventures,” she said.

While Kesterson has been one of the festival’s most active volunteers, she said the success of the festival has always been a team effort. She credited the Greenfield Police and Fire departments for their help, as well as her fellow volunteers.

“I’ve loved working with all the volunteers, and they’ve always been so good to help me out,” she said.

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