The Big River Chautauqua

By Emily Sladek

Themed "Missourians Who Have Shaped History", the Big River Chautauqua is bringing history to the heartland for the 19th year running. The Big River Chautauqua is an annual event in Bonne Terre aimed at keeping history alive with a different theme and lineup of performers every year. The dates for this year are July 18-20, and it will be held behind Bonne Terre City Hall.


This years event will feature Mark Twain, George Washington Carver, and Harry S Truman on the three evenings, respectively. Before the performers take the stage, enjoy live music each day. The Chautauqua features covered seating, fans to keep cool, and is free to attend. Food vendors will be available as well.


The Chautauqua can be characterized as storytelling of sorts. Finding its beginning in the depths of history itself, it was founded in 1874 at the hands of a businessman and a minister who aimed to stimulate thought and discussion about critical political, social and River Chautauquacultural issues of the day. Persons taking the stage were as diverse as their stories. The range of lecturers included everything from humorists, to historians, to political leaders to church leaders, and a range of topics that often left audiences in stitches, tears, and wonderment. In its prime, theater was also added to the stage of the event, and most events across the country were met with musical entertainment.


The Big River Chautauqua is one of few Chautauquas that remain, as many died off after during the Great Depression and during WWII. Staking its claim as the longest continually running, privately funded show in the nation, the event has restored the age old tradition and has high hopes of many years to come.


Find out all of the show information on The Big River Chautauqua on their Facebook Page.

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