High Plains Chautauqua returns to Aims with a nod to American trailblazers

Two years have passed since then Chautauqua’s High Plains A large white tent has been spotted on the lawn of Aims Community College, raising historical figures right in our backyard.

Fortunately, the wait is over as the 2022 High Plains Chautauqua kicks off with “Becoming America” ​​from 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1 through Friday, Aug. 5 on the athletic field at Aims Community College, 5401 W. 20th St. to be

“Yes, it’s been two years and we’re definitely excited to have it back,” said event coordinator Barbara Broderius. Last year we were online, but I wouldn’t say it was successful. “It’s always difficult and of course in 2020, we didn’t have that at all.”

The program features a number of performers portraying historic American icons who helped shape our country through their contributions to democracy, culture and technological advancements.

Becky Stone will play the famous American dancer, singer and actress Josephine Baker at the 2022 High Plains Chautauqua. (Photo by High Plains Chautauqua)

“When our committee got together, we thought that because of the challenging past few years in our country, a theme that highlights America and where we come from and the struggles of the past would be a good theme for this year.” Broderius explained. We wanted something that covered a variety of areas in time and US history. “We also wanted something that highlighted the West because this year is the 100th year of the stampede.”

Boy, if you’re not familiar with High Plains Chautauqua, you’re really missing out on a great event. Before Covid, the event attracted between 700 and 900 people a night for performances.

Since 1976, state humanities councils across the country have hosted Chautauqua events in which scholars portray various historical figures. Chautauqua events educate as well as entertain community members of all ages through their performances, bringing the past into the present.

Actors and actresses who participate in Chautauqua events are dedicated not only to providing audiences with information about their characters, but also to recreate each character’s personality, costume, and reality. Much of the information presented in the shows is not usually found in history books and adds to the appeal of the program.

High Plains Chautauqua is held every summer at Aims Community College.
High Plains Chautauqua returns to Aims Community College in Greeley on Monday, August 1st. (Greely Tribune file photo)

Along with providing interesting information, Chautauqua researchers employ their historical character’s clothing, speech, behavior and other characteristics to truly give audiences a true-to-life performance.

At the end of each performance, audience members have the opportunity to ask the characters questions, giving attendees a glimpse into the minds of these fascinating historical figures and the researchers who portray them.

Check out some past High Plains Chautauqua performances on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN3iL2CvuPk.

This year’s characters include Annie Oakley, Alexander Hamilton, Josephine Baker and other historical figures, as well as performances by young Chautauquans portraying Audrey Hepburn, Thomas Paine and Delores Bacca and Alexis de Tocqueville.

Evening performances begin at 6:30 pm with an introduction followed by a short performance by a different young Chautauqua musician.

“We have four different Chautauqua musicians for each night, and on Monday afternoon we have all the young Chautauquans who performed at Centennial Village perform under the big tent for a daily program,” Broderius said.

The adult Chautauquans take the stage for the main performances at 7 p.m., and the event ends at 9 p.m. each night.

The evening performance schedule for High Plains Chautauqua 2022 is as follows:

  • Monday, August 1 – Hal Bidlek as Alexander Hamilton, Jessica Downing Ford as Abigail Adams
  • Tuesday, August 2 – Legendary Ladies as Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Elaine Goodale Eastman and Kathryn Leigh Bates, followed by David Fenimore as Woody Guthrie
  • Wednesday, August 3 – Becky Stone as Josephine Baker and Larry Bonds as Werner von Braun
  • Thursday, August 4 – Angel Vigil as Elle Vaccaro and Elsa Wolfe as Annie Oakley

Thursday’s performances conclude the annual event with Family Night. Family Night will include a variety of activities for family members of all ages prior to the Chautauqua performance.

We really focus on the West for family night. “So we will have interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for the whole family.” Broderius said. “We’re going to have different groups, like the central conservation area that’s going to have a display, the Department of Natural Resources is going to have a dirt tent that people can walk through, the powder training center is coming and they’re going to have skulls and furs and professors. . Gardeners will be there and talk about the plants and herbs that were grown during the colonial era. So, yes, there are many different activities.”

Larry Bonds as German-American space engineer Werner von Braun.  (Photo by High Plains Chautauqua)
Larry Bonds as German-American space engineer Werner von Braun. (Photo by High Plains Chautauqua)

In addition to the nightly performances, the event includes a variety of daytime programs, such as coffee and chats with Chautauquans, presentations by Young Chautauquans, educational presentations and youth programs at local libraries as well as at the community college.

Some of the event sponsors include the Weld Trust, City of Greeley, Dick and Reva Bond, FMS Bank, Centennial Rotary Club, Greeley West FFA and Point Source Audio.

Jessica Downing Ford will play Abigail Adams.  (Photo by High Plains Chautauqua)
Jessica Downing Ford will play Abigail Adams. (Photo by High Plains Chautauqua)

Seating will be provided, but attendees may bring blankets and coolers to picnic around the tent before the performances begin.

I’m looking forward to all the performances, but I’m especially looking forward to opening night with Alexander Hamilton and Abigail Adams. “I think it’s going to be a really fun night,” Broderius said. I’m also looking forward to the last day, covering the West. I’ve always admired Annie Oakley and learning El Vaquero will be really fun.”

Hayden Hein portrays Charles de Gaulle at the 2018 High Plans Chautauqua event.  (Regards/High Plains Chautauqua)
Hayden Hein portrays Charles de Gaulle at the 2018 High Plans Chautauqua event. (Regards/High Plains Chautauqua)

Admission to all Chautauqua events and parking is free and all ages are welcome to attend.

For more information on the 2022 High Plains Chautauqua, schedule of events and performer biographies, visit www.highplainschautauqua.org Or call the Greeley Chamber of Commerce at (970) 352-3567.

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