1974 – For the first time, the Riley Festival had an official theme – “The Old Swimmin Hole”. It seems appropriate that this would be the first theme as this was the first poem to bring success to James Whitcomb Riley.
Pamela Sue Chapman Jones was chosen Queen of the 1974 Festival. More activities were added so more manpower was needed to help put on the Festival. The Home Arts Show was begun and was sponsored by the Hancock County Farm Bureau. J.B Stephens remained Chairman of the Festival. The Ol’ Fiddler’s Contest was re-organized. County wide participation has always been stressed and as the Festival grew this became even more important.
1975 – The Riley Festival Association became a member of the Statewide Festival Association. This group learns from one another. They have two workshops a year and all the Festivals who are members meet and discuss ways to improve and add individual Festivals.
J.B. Stephens became Co-Chairman of the Bi-Centennial Committee in 1975, so leadership of the Riley Festival was given to Reverend Carl Riley a local Baptist Minister. Elly Myers became secretary of the Chamber of Commerce at this time, so she was also secretary for the Festival.
The theme this year was “Out to Old Aunt Mary’s”. Cathy Glidewell was selected to be Riley Festival Queen. The Board of Directors were: Chet Ballinger, Bert Bradley, Larry Bragg, Joannie Bowen, Max Catt, Robert Eagleston, Norma Harland, Bruce Kinnell, Joan Murphy, J.B. Stephens, Robert Wampler, Dorothy June Williams, Sally Williams, Robert Strickland, Treasurer. The Riley Museum was dedicated this year also.
Events were growing each year and this year was no exception. Some events included Go-cart races, Flower Show, Talent Contest and Poor Jacks rides.
1976 – The Festival Chairman was Rev. Carl Riley. Tickets for the Mayor’s Breakfast sold for $2.75. Guest speakers for the breakfast were former Greenfield Mayors, Berry Hurley, Cliff Fields and Bill Blue. “Old Glory” was the theme. Approximately 1800 grade school children from Greenfield marched in the Flower Parade.
Due to a scheduling conflict the Home Arts Show had to be moved from the Memorial Building to the Rody’s Building. The show also featured classes for crafts with a bicentennial or patriotic theme.
Cowboy Bob, Channel 4 television personality, was the Grand Marshall for the parade. A contest was held looking for 2 assistants to lead his dog, Tumbleweed in the parade, while he rode his horse, Windjammer.
Gwen A. Kinnett Cochard was crowned the Queen of the Riley Festival. Other events included the Heiken puppets who performed in the Entertainment Tent and go-cart races.
1977 – The theme for the year was “When The Frost Is On The Punk in…” Luann Mohney was crowned the Queen. Interesting footnote, Luann was accompanied to the Mayor’s Breakfast by her Mother and stepbrother, Ronnie McKenzie, who is the great-great grandson of the famed Little Orphant Annie. Phil Eskew, former IHSAA Commissioner was the featured speaker at the Mayor’s Breakfast and Kenny Fhur entertained with his feats of magic.
This year also included a costume contest sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Kappa Kappa Sigma Sorority. Go-kart race was sponsored by the Jaycees. The Home Arts Division of the Riley Festival was moved to the Riley Museum this year.
B. Stephens and Joannie Bowen co-chaired the Festival. This was also the start of the Riley Run. There were approximately 90 vendor booths this year.