CREAM OF THE CROP: Queen’s court members to preside over Riley Festival events

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GREENFIELD — Quality over quantity was the theme at this year’s Riley Festival Queen pageant.

Just four young women vied for the crown this year — while more than a dozen typically compete — but co-chair Katrina Greene said the young women were the cream of the crop.

“It’s nice to be part of a group of girls who are so accomplished and are just ready to tackle the world,” said Greene, a former Riley Festival board member who has been helping coordinate the pageant for the past 10 years. “I heard one judge say that talking to these girls restored her faith in humanity.”

Lauren Silcox, 17, was crowned queen.

Haley Arthur was crowned Riley Festival princess.

Both are seniors at Greenfield-Central High School and played basketball together growing up.

Two other competitors — Samantha Andis of New Palestine and Maggie Brown of Greenfield — round out the festival queen’s court.

All four will be prominent fixtures at this year’s Riley Festival, which runs through Sunday, Oct. 10.

They’ll lead the Parade of Flowers today (Friday, Oct. 8) and will take part in Saturday’s parade. They’ll also preside over events like poetry readings and the pumpkin decorating contest.

“The primary duty is to be a good ambassador during the festival,” Greene said. “It’s really common for people who are from out of town to come up to any of those girls to ask questions about Greenfield or ask questions about the Riley Festival.”

Lauren said the festival will always hold a special place in her heart, and she’s excited about the opportunity to be an ambassador for it this year.

She has fond memories of working in a food booth there as a kid, selling apple dumplings at a church booth alongside her grandma.

“I love the whole atmosphere of the festival. I worked the food truck with my grandma, I did all the pumpkin-carving contests, I did the flower parade. I just love everything about it,” she said.

Her parents — Richard and Kelli Silcox — even had their first date at the festival when they were teenagers.

As this year’s Riley Festival queen, Lauren will move on to compete in the Indiana State Festival queen pageant in 2022, which offers the chance to win college scholarships.

Yet it’s the chance to share her love of her hometown tradition that excites her the most.

“I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the festival,” she said. “I think that’s such a good opportunity to share what our festival is about to somebody who doesn’t know about it, and to share with them what are town has to offer.”

If someone would approach her asking what the festival entails, “I would say it’s in honor of Mr. James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet,” she said. Lauren encourages both visitors and locals to visit the James Whitcomb Riley Home and Museum on Main Street, and to learn more about how much of Riley’s poetry is tied to Greenfield.

Her favorite part of the home tour is peeking inside a miniature door to look for glowing goblins’ eyes, based on one of Riley’s poems inspired by growing up in the home.

Samantha is also excited to champion Riley and his namesake festival as a member of the queen’s court.

She got her first taste of the festival after moving to Greenfield from Franklin in the sixth grade, and she’s been a big fan ever since.

“When I moved out here I had no idea about the Riley Festival,” said Samantha, 16, a sophomore at New Palestine High School. “I knew about James Whitcomb Riley, but when I went to the festival for the first time I had the best time. Honestly, that’s when I became very fond of living here,” she said.

“I met the sweetest people I’ve ever met and made amazing friends,” said Samantha, who had nothing but good things to say about competing in the festival queen contest this year.

She and her fellow contestants have become fast friends, she said, and they look forward to being great ambassadors for the Riley Festival.

Most outsiders think of mostly cornfields when they think of Indiana, Samantha said, but having a former poet laureate from Greenfield gives the city something special to celebrate.

“Riley went against what everyone else was doing at the time. He didn’t get married and have kids, and he went out and made a name for himself. In spite of being in a place that may have felt insignificant at the time, he really did make a difference here,” she said.

This year’s festival queen pageant was held in September at Trinity Park United Methodist Church in Greenfield.

Greene said to look for next year’s pageant details to be posted in the spring, by the end of the school year. The pageant is open to young women ages 16 to 20. For information, visit RileyFestival.com.

Here is schedule of events and entertainment at the Riley Festival:

Friday, Oct. 8

8-9 a.m. — Festival Opens

9 a.m.-9 p.m. — Photography, Home Arts & Quilt Show and Fine Arts Exhibits open

9 a.m. — Greenfield Christian Church Boutique and Bake Sale

8:30 a.m.-9:30 pm — Shuttle Bus from 4-H Fairgrounds to the Festival Area

10 a.m.-6 p.m. — Riley Boyhood Home open for tours (normal admission fee)

12:30 p.m. — Parade of Flowers

9 p.m. — all Exhibits and Vendors Close

Saturday, Oct. 9

7 a.m. — Mayor’s Breakfast at Trinity Park United Methodist Church.

9 a.m. — Festival Opens

9 a.m.-9 p.m. — Photography, Home Arts & Quilt Show and Fine Arts Exhibits open

8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. — Shuttle Bus from 4-H Fairgrounds to the Festival Area

9 a.m.-6 p.m. — Greenfield Christian Church Boutique and Bake Sale

10 a.m.-6 p.m. — Riley Boyhood Home open for tours (normal admission fee)

11 a.m. — Riley Festival Parade kicks off at Greenfield-Central High School

6-7:30 p.m. — Open Mic Poetry Readings — GBC Entertainment Tent

9 p.m. — All Exhibits and Vendors Close

Sunday, Oct. 10

10 a.m. — Church Service at Greenfield Christian Church

10:30 am-5:30 p.m. — Shuttle Bus from 4-H Fairgrounds to the Festival Area

11 a.m. — Festival opens

11 a.m. — Photography, Home Arts & Quilt Show and Fine Arts Exhibits open

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wilkerson Dance Studio

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Apostolic Pentecostal Church — GBC Entertainment Tent

2-4 p.m. — Riley Boyhood Home open for tours

2 p.m. — Riley Birthday Celebration — Riley Museum garden

3-4 p.m. — Riley Festival Awards Program — GBC Entertainment Tent

3:30 p.m. — Photography and Fine Arts exhibits close

3:30-4:30 p.m. — Photography exhibits are released

3:30-4:30 p.m. — Fine Arts exhibits are released

4 p.m. — Home Arts & Quilt Show closes

4:30-5:30 p.m. — Home Arts & Quilt Show exhibits are released

5 p.m. — Festival closes

ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE

Three places in the festival area — the Entertainment Tent, the Rock Stage and the Gazebo — will play host to events.

Entertainment Tent

6:30-9 p.m. — The Woomblies Rock Orchestra

Friday, Oct. 8

5-5:30 p.m. — Little Miss and Mister Pageant

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Ricochet Cloggers

7-9:30 p.m. — Polka Motion

Saturday, Oct. 9

Noon-1 p.m. — White River Cloggers

1-2 p.m. — Laura Hayden School of Dance

2-3 p.m. — Brenda Faith

3-4:30 p.m. — Musicality Arts

4:30-6 p.m. — Jennier Mlott

6-7:30 p.m. — Poetry Readings

8-10 p.m. — Elvis Tribute, Todd Berry

Sunday, Oct. 10

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Apostolic Pentecostal Church

1-2:30 p.m. — 4 The Light

3-4 p.m. — Awards

Rock Stage

Friday, Oct. 8

6-7:30 p.m. — Haley Jonay

8-10 p.m. — The Flying Toasters

Saturday, Oct. 9

6-7:30 p.m. — Craig Moore

8-10 p.m. — JAMBOX

Gazebo

Friday, Oct. 8

5-7 p.m. — Bobby Wiggins X2

7-9 p.m. — Dave Muskett

Saturday, Oct. 9

1-2 p.m. — Michael Adams

2-3 p.m. — Kurt Hodgin

3-4 p.m. — Joe Shelton

4-5 p.m. — Kenn Aull

5-6 p.m. — Albert Williams

6-7 p.m. — Kenn Aull

7-9 p.m. — Dave Muskett

FESTIVAL PARKING

Free Riley Festival parking is available at a number of parking lots and along city streets. Visitors should take care not to block residents’ driveways; vehicles could be towed.

Free parking is also available at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, where guests can take a shuttle to the festival for 50 cents per ride.

Parking lots are available at the following locations:

HARVEST MARKET LOT

On the southeast corner of Pennsylvania and South streets

WOLF LOT

On the east side of Pennsylvania Street, just south of the Pennsy Trail

COUNTY ANNEX LOT

South of the Hancock County Annex on American Legion Place, just north of the Pennsy Trail

For more information, visit RileyFestival.com.