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home : columnists : betsy reason July 23, 2017


7/17/2017 4:00:00 AM
Phyllis Davis is a tradition
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonPhyllis Davis plays the piano at the 4-H Fair Queen Contest Friday night.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Phyllis Davis plays the piano at the 4-H Fair Queen Contest Friday night.

By Betsy Reason
Editor


Noblesville's Phyllis Davis won't ever divulge her age. But she will tell you that she's been playing the piano since she was 3 years old.

And that she has been playing for the Hamilton County 4-H Fair Queen Contest for at least 50 consecutive years.

The Times newspaper archives has her playing at the contest since 1968, a year that I believe she told me one time when I was interviewing her. In fact, she was honored in 2014 for 46 years at a celebration that included presentation of a wristwatch.

That would make this year's her 50th year playing. But conversation with Phyllis and her son, Sid Davis, at Friday night's Queen Contest, has me questioning and possibly correcting that year, to 1966, when she took over the piano for her predecessor.

"I've loved it, and the girls' evening dresses are so beautiful," said a smiling Phyllis, who still plays the piano every day. "I enjoy playing.".

Every year for the past, at least 50 years, she has been playing songs from memory on the piano during the Queen Pageant, and then again during the Fair's Fashion Revue, which is this Friday at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville. The 4-H Fair opens Thursday and continues through July 24.

Phyllis almost didn't have the opportunity this year to play when the pageant committee made a decision to use recorded music instead of having Phyllis play the piano.

The rumor got out. When I heard about the decision last Wednesday, I immediately called the 4-H Fairgrounds, then the Queen contest coordinator, then I wrote an email, hoping that the rumor wasn't true, and that Phyllis could play at least one song for Queen contest, to keep her tradition alive.

I heard back from the Fair Office Thursday, saying that they were reaching out to Phyllis to see if she was interested in playing a song. She ended up playing quite a few songs, during the scholarship and nine- and 10-year 4-H'er recognition and when the Queen contest judges were out of the room making their decision.

I know that I am not the only one who wanted to see her tradition continue.

"I'm just happy that she's here tonight. I think it was just a big misunderstanding," said State Rep. Kathy Richardson of Noblesville.

"I heard, through the grapevine, that things had changed," she said.

Richardson and County Commissioner Steve Dillinger escorted Phyllis into the building on Friday, along with Phyllis' son, Sid Davis.

Both, along with Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt, passed on an invitation to the Noblesville Mayor's Ball so they could be at the Queen contest, and to see Phyllis play the piano.

"I wasn't going to miss it," Dillinger said.

They were all glad to see that everything worked out. And so was the audience.

Phyllis played "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Careless," "My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me," "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," "Moon River," "Tennessee Waltz" and other old favorites.

She said she wasn't upset if she didn't get to play anymore at the event. She knows that times change.

Phyllis said, "They're doing it different...Whatever they want to do is OK with me."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.





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