“This has been a labor of love,” said Ray McKinniss, general chair of the committee that helped bring Chautauqua to Gallipolis with the Ohio Humanities Council. He also thanked the many sponsors who made the show possible.
“It's rewarding because we get to reach so many people,” said Fran Tiburzio, director of public relations for the Ohio Humanities Council. “The tent, living history, and costumes have a unique way of touching people. It's a great way to bring the community together with something meaningful to support.”
“I'm getting tired of hearing about the West and the Indian Wars out there, when the battles in Ohio were ten fold of anything they've seen and took place one hundred years before but nobody knows about it,” said Dan Cutler, who portrays Chief Cornstalk.
“Anytime you get interested in a field and start running into information that knocks you out or blows you away, you want to share it. The history here is unbelievable and it's good for the kids. I look forward to a time when someone mentions Custer and I hear a kid say, ‘let me tell you the real story',” said Cutler.
The goal was to give the youth of Gallipolis a positive, first hand experience of history. During Tuesday's Youth Workshop at the Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library, Karen Vuranch told stories as Clara Barton, engaging over 55 listeners.
The group will be in town until Saturday, with a Youth Workshop at 10:30 a.m. and an Adult Workshop at 2:30 p.m. everyday at the library. Each evening there will be entertainment under the Chautauqua Tent in the Gallipolis City Park at 6:45 p.m., and a first-person historical portrayal at 7:30 p.m.. After each portrayal, the audience is allowed to ask questions of the actors while they remain in character, then they are able to ask the actors additional questions, answered from a historical perspective.
The event is free with water, ice cream and popcorn costing just five cents.
Tuesday night, each of the five characters gave a short preview of their act, then Dan Cutler took the stage as the famous Chief Cornstalk. He told of his people, their culture, and their battles. The crowded tent gave a standing ovation at the end of his performance, and asked him many questions such as: how old were you when you couldn't fight anymore, how many people were in your tribe, and did you really put a curse on Point Pleasant.
Cornstalk assured the audience that he saw the land as his mother, and he did not place a curse on the area.
Wednesday evening will feature Francisco Pizarro, Thursday will feature Ernie Pyle, Friday will be Clara Barton, and Teddy Roosevelt will be on Saturday.