May Festival: A Royal Tradition

Ninety-five years of transforming traditions will be displayed in Grover Museum’s new exhibit, “May Festival: A Shelbyville Tradition.”
The exhibit, which runs from Saturday, April 3 through early June, will focus on the history of this unique event, which began at Shelbyville High School in 1924.
Guests of the exhibit will find photographs and newspaper clippings from Lela (Rimstidt) McKeand, a physical culture (now physical education) teacher at SHS in the 1920’s. Lela and George Small, the music director at SHS, are credited with creating the event which was held during National Music Week. The event celebrated the talents of students across Shelbyville, honored the senior class and raised funds for the music department. In late spring of that year, seniors selected representatives to the May Day Court, and a queen was selected to be announced the evening of the festivities.
As guests will see in the exhibit through dresses, pictures and interviews with past court members, May Festival is a special tradition in the Shelbyville community that has gradually changed over time. Several women have shared similar stories of dreaming of participating in the event as young girls while attending the event with the entire family. For many families, their participation in the event has spanned generations.
The longevity of the event allows for an interesting prospective on changing fashion since the early 1920’s. Although the silhouettes have largely remained the same with varying widths of ball gowns, each dress provides a unique glimpse at the popular styles of their respective time period. The simplicity of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the ruffles and bows of the 1980’s and the extensive beading of the 1990’s can all be seen in the nearly 30 dresses that will be on display.
For more information on the upcoming exhibit, please contact the museum at 317-392-4634.