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Archive for Friday, April 13, 2007

Baldwin City to host Chautauqua

April 13, 2007

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— History will come alive in Baldwin City once again.

Last summer, the Battle of Black Jack celebrated its sesquicentennial east of town. And this year, Baldwin City will host a different historical festival.

In June, the Kansas Chautauqua will roll into town for its weeklong experience.

"It's a festival celebrating local history," said Tony Brown, Baker University psychology professor and co-coordinator of the event. "It's a really low-key kind of thing. This is a way to bring history to life with historical re-enactments. It's a really attractive way to learn about history and it's coming to us, we don't have to travel to it."

Baldwin City is one of two towns to host the event this year. Medicine Lodge's Chautauqua will be June 11 to 17 while Baldwin City's is set for June 18 to 24 on Baker University's campus.

Dave Hill, MidAmerica Bank president and co-coordinator of the event, said he is thrilled to bring the festival to Baldwin City.

"We are lucky to be one of the two towns selected this year," Hill said. "Baldwin gets looked at nicely because of its historical significance. It will be a fantastic event."

The main attractions to Chautauqua are historical presentations, planned each night from June 21 to 24.

The 2007 Kansas Chautauqua includes presentations about "Bar Room Smasher" Carry Nation, poet Langston Hughes, newspaper editor William Allen White and controversial goat-gland doctor J.R. Brinkley.

Kansas Humanities Council professionals will portray the famous Kansans under a tent each day. Following the opening presentation each evening, the audience can ask questions of the famous historical figure as well as the scholar who created the portrayal.

The professionals won't be the only people acting during the festival. There will be a chance for children to do their best impressions of local historical figures. A youth camp will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 18 through 22 for children who have just completed grades four through six.

"They are going to try to pick people from Baldwin City's past," Brown said of the campers. "The kids will present their characters to the group preceding the featured speaker Friday."

Brown also said local residents will have a chance to share their Kansas history stories with a national oral history group. Some stories will be chosen for the national archive and may be played on National Public Radio.

"We want to promote it as a family event," Brown said. "There will be tents for kids to play in as well as tents for people to tell their own personal story about their history in Kansas. The evening events will be packed with a lot of stuff for people to interact."

For those who crave more history, Chautauqua has got it. There are two local history workshops on June 21 and 22 for anyone wanting to learn more. There will also be adult workshops at 10:30 a.m. on both of those days. And tours of sites of historical significance will run all day June 23.

The festival will wrap up June 24 with the final presentation on Brinkley, which will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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