2017 Oklahoma Chautauqua



Cowboys and Cattle Trails


Locations & Dates:

Altus, May 30 - June 3

Tulsa, June 6 - June 10

Enid June 13 - June 17

Lawton, June 20 -June 24


Michael Hughes as Jesse Chisholm

Tuesday, June 20 @ 7 pm

Jesse Chisholm, a half-Cherokee trader from Tennessee, built up what had been a military and Indian trail into what became known as the Chisholm Trail during the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drive era.


Sally Drucker as Bettie Matthews Reynolds

Wednesday, June 21 @ 7 pm

Reynolds was one of the first women to take the Goodnight-Loving Trail, going from Texas to California, and she drove her own wagon. She was married to George Reynolds, a cattle rancher who, as a young man shortly after his Civil war service, encountered a Kiowa raid led by Satanta.


Jim Armstead as Thaddeus Dunkley

Thursday, June 22 @ 7 pm

Dunkley, an illiterate black cowboy, worked at Charles Goodnight’s cattle ranch, staying with Goodnight for 40 years at a time when most cowboys only worked five years. He drove cattle along the Goodnight-Loving Trail.


Vanessa Adams-Harris as Johanna July

Friday, June 23 @ 7 pm

July was a black Seminole woman who developed her own method for taming horses and worked stock during the cattle trail era.


Doug Mishler as Hanging Judge Isaac Parker

Saturday, June 24

The fabled Hanging Judge was the law in Oklahoma Territory for the cattle drives. He was responsible for hanging hundreds of men, and adjudicated over 13,000 cases during his term as a federal judge.


Lawton Chautauquas


2019: Spanish Connection with the New World (June 17 - 22)

2018: Going Forward from World War I (June 18 - June 23)

2017: Cowboys and Cattle Trails

2016: The Cold War: The Early Years

2015: The Dust Bowl: Strong Winds, Strong Characters

2014: A Crisis of Confidence: The War That Changed the World

2013: Anything Goes: America in the 1920s

2012: Behind the Screen: Hollywood's Impact on American Culture

2011: It's All Make Believe: Hollywod's Golden Age

2010: The Wounds of War: A Tale of Two Americas

2009: Lincoln's Legacy of Equality: Voices on the Fringe

2008: A Time for Every Purpose: America in the 1960s

2007: OK Centennial: 100 Years of Oklahoma Heroes

2006: Throw the Book at 'em: Outlaws and Authors of Oklahoma

2005: Portraits of the Renaissance: Poets, Pirates and Playwrights

2004: Civil War: Love and War

2003: Lies and Compromises: America in the 1850s

2002: From Sea to Shining Sea

2001: Behold the New Century

2000: The Evolution of the West: Myth and Reality

1999: 1895-1920: The Age of Excess and Opulence

1998: Early America: The Struggle for Freedom

1997: Prime Times, Scoundrel Times: Post War America

1996: The Progressive Era: 1890-1920

1995: Voices of the '30s: Defining Modern America


What Is Chautauqua?

Modern-day Chautauqua programs present a variety of historical enactments, workshops, and informal discussions. Evening performances include first-person presentations and time for audience questions to the historical figure in-character and to the scholar portraying the character. Ten daytime workshops and five evening lectures explore the cultural and political nuances of the era. The events are all free of charge, and are targeted to audiences of all ages, cultures, and socio-economic demographics.


The first Chautauqua Assembly took place on July 1, 1874, and was located on Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown, New York. John Heyl Vincent (1832-1920), secretary of the Methodist Sunday School (and later bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church) and Lewis Miller (1829-1899), an Akron, Ohio businessman, were the two founders. The Chautauqua Assemblies, which began as summer camp meetings, were held under the sanction and direction of the governing Sunday School Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


It didn't take long for an eight-week educational camp to become popular. Within a decade, the Chautauqua assemblies (or Chautauquas, for short) sprang up all over the United States, bringing learning, culture and entertainment to small towns and villages. Over the years, the range of subjects at the Chautauqua grew. Prominent personalities were paid to give speeches on religious, political and scientific topics, such as Samuel Clemens and William Jennings Bryan.


Circuit Chautauquas, also called Tent Chautauquas, began in 1904. The programs were performed in tents for a few days, then folded up and moved to a new location. By the mid-1920s, when circuit Chautauquas were at their peak, they appeared in more than 10,000 communities.


In 1976, Everett Albers, Executive Director of the North Dakota Humanities Council, launched the modern Chautauqua in America. It was expanded from the original traveling tent with one-person presentations to a group of five scholars who present historical characters in a first-person dramatic performance. Each scholar performs one evening presentation in character and two daytime workshops from the scholar's own perspective. This was the start of a new movement, resolving the dilemma that faced many humanities organizations: how to make it possible for scholars to interact with the public in an open and accessible forum.


The Oklahoma Chautauqua returned to Lawton in June 2008. By 2012, the Lawton Chautauqua Committee decided to bring the evening performances inside because of the extreme hot weather. The City Hall auditorium was decided on as a perfect venue.



Main Library • 110 SW 4th Street • Lawton, OK 73501 • 580.581.3450

Branch Library • 1304 NW Kingswood Road • Lawton, OK 73505 • 580.581.3457