Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chautauqua is Coming to North Platte

Chautauqua will be in North Platte on June 23 through 27 2010 (Yes, that's NEXT year!) in Cody Park.

Chautauqua information from the Nebraska Humanities Council press release:


Chautauqua began as a summer school for Sunday School teachers in Chautauqua, New York, in 1874. By the turn of the 20th century, Chautauqua had developed into a nationwide traveling educational and entertainment program. Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.”

Traveling Chautauquas in the late 1800s and early 1900s brought the world to rural communities across the nation, including those in Kansas and Nebraska. Chautauqua combined programs of political oratory and lectures about health, science, and the humanities with entertainment, such as opera singers and stage performances of Shakespeare. Well-known speakers and politicians such as William McKinley, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Howard Taft, and William Jennings Bryan toured the Chautauqua circuit. Audiences heard about national issues and discussed their views with their neighbors. For many rural Kansas and Nebraska towns, Chautauqua week was the most important week of the year.

What is Chautauqua now?
Kansas - Nebraska Chautauqua explores the lives, hopes, dreams, and history of the Chautaqua Movement from the 1930's, also examining

The Nebraska Humanities Council rekindled their state’s Chautauqua tradition in 1984 with modern Chautauquas that use public forum and discussion to focus on a particular historical era. Rather than use contemporary speakers, the modern-day Chautauqua features history professionals portraying famous figures from the past. In the spirit of the original traveling Chautauquas, the Kansas and Nebraska Humanities councils have brought their programs to rural and remote communities that may not have direct access to humanities or cultural centers.

Chautauqua in Kansas and Nebraska has become an important tradition and a signature program for both councils. Chautauqua provides an introduction to public humanities programs for rural audiences, creates lasting partnerships between the state councils and the towns that host events, and fosters long-term interest in the humanities among their citizens.

The Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties Chautauqua features first-person portrayals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Senator Huey Long of Louisiana, Pentecostal leader Aimee Semple McPherson, Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, and humorist Will Rogers each evening at 7:30 PM under the Chautauqua tent. Following each presentation, the audience has an opportunity to ask questions of the famous historical figures as well as the scholar who created the portrayal.

In addition to evening tent programs, the Chautauqua features a variety of daytime programs for all ages. Daily adult workshops offer an in-depth look at issues from the 1930s and examine their impact today.

Youth can engage in the history of the 1930s and their community through a variety of workshops, including the five-day Youth Chautauqua Day Camp, young people (grades 4-8) will be historians, researchers, and scriptwriters as they prepare to present their own historical characters on the Friday night of Chautauqua. The Youth Chautauqua Day Camp is presented by Ride Into History, a historical performance troupe.

The Dust Bowl, a traveling photography exhibition from Humanities Texas will be on display in each community. In the 1930s, Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers captured the people and landscape of the Dust Bowl. Forty years later, photographer Bill Ganzel located and re-photographed the survivors, combining his work with the FSA photos for a book and exhibition.

If you have a Chautauqua near you, be sure to go. It's a lot of fun and very entertaining. If not, make plans to visit North Platte in June of 2010.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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