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Trivia night to benefit Big River Chautauqua

The Big River Chautauqua will sponsor Trivia Night April 6 at Heritage Hall, 118 East School Street, Bonne Terre. Registration is a 6:30 p.m., with the game beginning at 7 p.m. Cost is $10 per person with up to 10 people per team. Pizza, soda, water provided.

The Big River Chautauqua, in its 19th year, will be held July 18, 19 and 20 behind Bonne Terre City Hall. The theme this year is How Missourians Shaped History.

Food will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m., pre-show entertainment will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the featured speaker at 7:30 p.m.

The idea behind the Chautauqua is to bring history to life in an entertaining and unusual way. Scholars, who have studied the life and times of historical figures extensively, portray the figures, dressing and speaking as the character throughout the show.

Chautauqua began with real-life performers who traveled the country telling stories of the events that made them famous. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying that Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America.”

The event takes its name from the very first Chautauqua, organized in 1874 by Methodist minister John Heyl Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller at a campsite on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in New York State. Circuit Chautauquas began in 1904 under tents in communities like Bonne Terre around the nation.

Chautauqua topics included current events, travel and stories. William Jennings Bryan, with his populist and evangelical message addressing topics such as temperance, was the most popular Chautauqua speaker, until his death in 1925.

If you would like to donate or become a member of the Chautauqua committee, you may contact Paul Williams, 573-358-5146 or Sherry Greminger at 573-431-5675.

It takes an estimated $14,000 each year to bring this event to St. Francois County and the Big River Chautauqua Committee is dependent upon donations from individuals and businesses.

Those who would like to mail a donation, should make checks out to Old Bonne Terre Inc., in care of Paul Williams, P.O. Box 105, Bonne Terre, MO 63628.

The Big River Chautauqua is the longest continually running, privately funded show in the nation. This will be the 19th year for the event which is held in Bonne Terre. The event is free to the public.

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