Bailey Troutman, from Anderson, is one of 33 women selected to represent the annual festival, during the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, the world’s most famous auto race. The 500 Festival Princess Program is no less prestigious than the race itself, and has sought out the most civic-minded, academically driven Hoosier college women since the 1950s. A record 350 applied for the honor.
“To be part of something with this kind of legacy, and that is well-respected in our state, gives me a platform that I would not have as a student or an athlete,” Troutman said. “To me, it is one of the greatest honors I have ever received. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Troutman, a member of IU Kokomo’s first golf team, wanted to be a festival princess because of the volunteer and networking opportunities. She plans to go to law school after completing her bachelor’s degree in communication arts, and is interested in sports law. The program connects her with people who will be able to help her start that career.
Princesses are selected through an application and interview process. The skills she learned in her communication arts classes helped her with her interview, she said.
“I credit a lot of my success to the program and classes I’ve taken here,” Troutman said.
She has never been to the Indianapolis 500, and looks forward to experiencing it for the first time through this program.
“This year is the 100th running, and that is huge,” she said. “I can’t believe my first time at the 500 will be like this. I’ve been told I will never have the same experience after this year.”
In addition to the race, she is most excited to participate in the 500 Festival parade. The princesses ride on a float in the nationally televised event.
She was inspired to apply by IU Kokomo alumnae Alexis Nash, who was a princess last year, and Danika Smith and Brittany Royer, who served in 2014.
Nash sent a note to her at orientation, with advice she plans to follow.
“She said to do as much outreach as I can, and to get to know the other women, because they will be some of your best friends for the rest of your life.”
She’s already started her outreach efforts, meeting with the Saved by Typing group, which serves children with disabilities. She also plans outreach at an Anderson food pantry where she previously volunteered, and is looking for opportunities in the Kokomo area.
Troutman noted that she will have a busy schedule, with the spring golf season and princess activities, but that Coach David Hancock and her teammates are supporting her.
“This could give some positive attention to our team, which is great since it is our first year,” she said. “This has been a big year for me, with my hole in one during the fall season, and now the 500 festival.”
It will be a busy time for her parents, Doug and Melissa Troutman of Anderson, as well. Her sister graduates from high school the same day as the Breakfast at the Brickyard, at which one princess will be crowned 500 Festival Queen.
Each 500 Festival Princess receives a $1,000 scholarship, and volunteer at 500 Festival events and Indianapolis Motor Speedway functions, including pre-race ceremonies and the Victory Circle celebration.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.