GREENFIELD — Two first-time Riley Festival queen contestants landed in the top two spots at the annual pageant on Sunday.

Claire Bishop, a 17-year-old senior at Greenfield-Central High School, was crowned queen in a field of seven contestants at the H.J. Ricks Centre in Greenfield.

Emmy Mills, a 17-year-old junior at Greenfield-Central High School, was named Riley Festival Princess.

Taylor Shelton and Samantha Andis were also chosen to serve on the court as Queen Candidates. Andis took the honors for Miss Congeniality while Mills was named the Personal Choice winner.

It was a small but talented group of contestants in this Riley Festival pageant, which selects a court of young ladies to preside over the annual Riley Festival that kicks off the first Thursday in October.

“I’m so proud of all of them,” said Shelton’s mother, Amanda Jackson, who was among the crowd of 40 or so who watched the public portion of the pageant Sunday afternoon.

Her youngest daughter, 7-year-old Iris, was there to support Shelton by sporting her own tiara and red dress to match her big sister’s red evening gown.

Each pageant contestant took a turn crossing the stage in formal wear as well as an outfit chosen to depict their personal goals or interests.

For the personal interest category, Bishop wore a dress she made herself as a 10-year 4-H member.

“Sewing has been part of my life for the past 10-12 years,” Bishop told the audience, as she paused at center stage.

Mills sported a white lab coat to illustrate her hopes of becoming a pharmacist.

Both girls said they look forward to the opportunity to serve their community as members of the Riley Festival queen’s court.

Katrina Greene, who chaired this year’s pageant committee, said the queen’s court members play a vital role in serving as ambassadors for the popular festival which celebrates James Whitcomb Riley, a renowned poet who was born in Greenfield in 1849.

“The festival celebrates the deep roots and rich history of this community, and the queen’s court always does a great job of conveying that,” said Greene, who enjoys seeing the young women attend festival events each year in their sashes and crowns.

“These are upstanding young women. They’re like celebrities to young kids,” she said.

While presiding over Sunday’s pageant, last year’s queen, Lauren Silcox, said serving on the court last year was an unforgettable experience.

“You have the opportunity to represent yourself but the festival as well,” said Silcox, who believes Riley’s heritage is one worth celebrating.

As the audience waited on the judges’ decision Sunday, Silcox read Whitcomb’s poem, “Little Orphant Annie,” which serves as the theme of this year’s festival.

“It has been a pleasure to serve Mr. Riley as queen,” she said.

Bishop is looking forward to doing the same. On Nov. 12 she’ll represent the festival at the Indiana State Festival Association’s scholarship pageant at Greenfield-Central High School, where festival queens throughout the state will compete for over $3,000 in scholarship money.

This year’s Riley Festival returns to the streets of downtown Greenfield Oct. 6-9. For information, visit jwrileyfestival.com.

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