And then, like a slanting sunlit shower,
The pageant glittered across the plain,
And the turf spun back, and the wildweed flower
Was only a crimson stain.
And a dreamer’s eyes they are downward cast,
As he blends these words with the wailing blast:
‘It is the King of the Year rides past!’
And Autumn is here again.
— from “The King” by James Whitcomb Riley
GREENFIELD — The Riley Festival is one of the largest craft festivals in the state of Indiana, drawing thousands over the weekend with entertainment, food, and many vendors selling handcrafted items and more. The event celebrates the birthday of James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier Poet,” who was born in Greenfield on October 7, 1849. The festival begins on October 3, and runs through the 6th. Hours are 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 3, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Oct. 4 and 5, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 6. The event is free.
Highlights of the festival include the Parade of Flowers, featuring the Greenfield-Central Community School’s elementary students marching downtown to to place bouquets of flowers around Riley’s statue. This tradition is 65 years old, and will be held on Oct. 4 at 12:45 p.m.
Each year one of Mr. Riley’s poems is selected as the theme for the Festival. This year’s theme is “The King.” The Ameriana Riley Festival Parade will be on Saturday, Oct. 5 beginning at 11 a.m. with over 75 units marching from the high school through downtown to Riley Park.
Throughout the festival, there are poetry reading contests, a fine arts exhibition, a living history encampment on the 4-H Fairgrounds, and special entertainment in the Greenfield Banking Company Entertainment Tent. This year, there will be an old-fashioned 1800s baseball game on Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Riley Park, Apple St. at U.S. 40 — see how the game was played back in the day! There’s a special Riley Fun Zone for Kids on the north side of U.S. 40 up to North Street for kids of all ages.
Over 460 exhibitors will be set up on the streets around the 100 year old courthouse. Mr. Riley’s statue was placed in front of the courthouse in 1918 and is the focal point of the Riley Festival.
A donation fee shuttle runs from the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds to the east entrance of the Festival around the courthouse. Please leave your pets at home; only service animals are permitted at the festival.
For more information, visit www.rileyfestival.com or call 462-2141.