Have you always wanted to speak with a significant person from our great nation’s history? Now is your chance! As the summer begins to wind down, each and every year crowds gather for a special event under the big tent at Aims Community College in Greeley. High Plains Chautauqua combines history, the humanities and theater where attendees have the chance to engage in conversation with personalities from the past.
This unique event involves a full week of educational fun (for all ages) starting at 8:00am with coffee and conversation and running until dark with live performances.
With this being the 100th anniversary of the First World War, this year’s theme is Echoes of World War I.
What Exactly Is Chautauqua?
Beginning in the late 1800’s with the New York Chautauqua Assembly, and gaining in popularity through the late 19th and 20th centuries, Chautauqua is an adult education movement that combines culture, entertainment and community into one. Once called “the most American thing in America” by Theodore Roosevelt, Chautauqua combines speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, politicians, writers and all significant community members of all professions and walks of life into an educational performance with purpose.
Circuits, or tent, performances traveled to over 10,000 communities to speak to more than 45 million people throughout Chautauqua’s peak in popularity.
High Plains Chautauqua
High Plains Chautauqua was launched in Greeley in August of 2000 and has quickly grown to become a cherished event in Northern Colorado with an attendance of more than 7,000 each year.
Every year the program chooses a special theme in which program characters and events reflect significant people of that time. Historic interpreters that represent one of these characters are themselves scholars, actors, play-writers, novelists and more who share their expertise. Many of the individuals performing this year have participated in Chautauqua performances for over a decade and specialize in the characters they are portraying at High Plains Chautauqua.
High Plains Chautauqua encourages community involvement through book clubs with recommended readings for each character, encouraging you to get get to know each individual before performances and familiarize yourself works of the characters.
In addition to adult performances, Chautauqua supports our Northern Colorado and greater area students through a nationally recognized Young Chautauqua Program that involves students in the grades 4 through 12 in which young scholars research and portray historical figures. Students are responsible for performing a monologue in addition to a question and answer session with the audience all while in character. These students study all aspects of their character’s creative works and life through research, rehearsal and performance.
Through their hard work these students spread interest and knowledge of American history with peers and the community. The program helps students to learn both educational and life skills such as self-confidence, self-esteem, research skills, presentation skills and more. You will truly be amazed by the presence each student brings to their character, from the realistic costumes, to personalities and mannerisms.
Echoes of World War I Characters:
This year sparks a special theme with the 100th anniversary of World War I. Relating to our Colorado community, what is special about this year is the performances by The Legendary Ladies of Colorado.
Out of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) founded the Republic of Turkey. He created a modern state that would grow under his successors into a viable democracy.
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was the first female Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel The Age of Innocence. She worked tirelessly to aid France, her adopted home, during WWI: collecting money and supplies, writing articles, and establishing aid societies.
Supreme Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, General John “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948), modeled what it meant to be a modern American military officer.
Although Winston Churchill (1874-1965) is best known for his leadership as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II, he played several important roles during and after World War I that greatly influenced the tactics and weaponry employed during the war and affected the re-mapping of the Middle East after the war.
Emily Griffith (1868-1947), founder of The Opportunity School in Denver, believed everyone deserved an education regardless of age, race, gender, or background. Her school was a place where children and adults, especially immigrants, could come to learn during the day or night.
Admired for her spirit and organization, Ellis Meredith (1865-1955) advocated for woman suffrage in her daily column in the Rocky Mountain News and helped Colorado became the first state in which men voted for and approved woman suffrage in 1893.
Dr. Susan Anderson (1870-1960) moved to Fraser, Colorado gravely ill from tuberculosis and survived. Dedicated to public health, ‘Doc Susie’ dealt with the mysterious, deadly Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 that spread like wildfire during the last months of The Great War
A soldier in the German army during World War I, Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) was haunted by his experience. Ten years after the war, he wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, considered one of the greatest war novels of all time.
Initially determined to keep America out of the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) eventually provided energetic leadership in mobilizing the American people and the economy for a total war effort. In the aftermath, Wilson championed the creation of a League of Nations in 1919.
A fiery orator and gifted writer, Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was a polarizing figure either admired for her rebellious activism or denounced as a dangerous anarchist.
As head of the Food Administration during World War I and later chief of the American Relief Administration, Herbert Hoover (1874-196) earned worldwide acclaim for his humanitarian efforts. Yet as President at the beginning of the Great Depression, his policies failed to provide relief for desperate citizens.
Sergeant Henry Johnson (1892-1929) was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Honor in 2015 for his heroic efforts during World War I. Johnson, an African American, was named “one of the five bravest soldiers in the war” by former President Theodore Roosevelt.
View the detailed program guide at: HighPlainsChautauqua.org