Kentucky Chautauqua Program Plans 20th Anniversary Celebrations At State Parks

Jul 28, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Humanities Council is celebrating a significant milestone this year; the twentieth anniversary of its Kentucky Chautauqua Program.   KHC Executive Director Virginia Carter recently stopped by the WUKY studios to talk about an upcoming promotion with Kentucky State Parks called History & Humor, Hummin’ & Strummin’ 2012.

Question:  For those who don’t already know, what is the Chautaqua Program?

“It’s a series of one-person living history dramas that are as much education as they are entertainment.  They go anywhere, anytime, for all manner of audiences and they are all about Kentucky’s rich history and culture.”

Question:  These people assume roles of everyday Kentuckians, all the way to Abraham Lincoln?

“Yes.  And that’s what really is important because the Kentucky Humanities Council is telling Kentucky’s story, and that necessarily, has to be all of Kentucky’s story.  So we have the famous, like Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln, and the not-so famous like Anna Mac Clark, of Lawrenceburg who wound up being the first black commander of an all-white unit, and helped integrate the military during World War II.  We also have famous people who not everybody recognizes as being from Kentucky.  For example Grandpa Jones of Hee Haw and the Grand Ole Opry hailed from Henderson.”

Question:  Explain the rigorous process performers go through before assuming a historical character.

“Before we put them in our catalog and say that they are good enough for Kentucky audiences, we support the development of these programs over the length of a year.  Everybody consults a drama scholar, a humanities specialist, a costume consultant, and that’s the same whether the aspiring performer has a PHD or is an accomplished actor.  We do this to everyone and we review them twice before an audience of experts and the general public just to make sure they know their subject.”

Question:  Talk about the upcoming events with Kentucky State Parks.

“Through our partnership, we will be traveling 950 miles to go from one corner of Kentucky to the other to deliver to each region a special 20th anniversary Chautauqua event.  Each evening from 6 to 10, rain or shine, we will have under the big tent, four abbreviated Chautauqua programs, and in between we will have music….it’ll be a family event, it’s free to the public, and it’s for anyone and everyone who ever wondered what it would be like to be part of history.”

Question:  August 1 – 5 at which state parks?

“We’ll begin at Lake Barkley, from there to General Butler, then to Carter Caves and Cumberland Falls, and wrap up at Old Fort Harrod.”