Two wonderful towns have been selected for the final year (sob) of Humanities Nebraska's Free Land? Chautauqua. In 2012 we started in Beatrice (with the original Homestead Act, signed by President Lincoln, on display at Homestead National Monument) Papillion and Grand Island gave us unforgettable memories in 2013, and last year we were hosted with great style by Norfolk and Gering-Scottsbluff.
This summer look for the 5-person troupe in Alliance from June 10 to 14 and Kearney from June 17 t0 21. Both are seasoned Chautauqua towns so we know it will be a grand finale. If the week opens with Willa Cather again this year, as it has for the past two years, Cather presenter Betty Jean Steinshouer is looking forward to being on stage for her 60th birthday. June 10 will also be the release date for her long-awaited Chautauqua Companion Book, Life Lessons with Willa Cather: Wit & Wisdom for the Journey.
All the original company will be together again - Warren Brown coming in from Illinois to moderate as Mark Twain, Patrick McGinnis from Oklahoma as Grenville Dodge, Paxton Williams from Iowa as George Washington Carver, Karen Vuranch from West Virginia as Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Nebraska's own Taylor Keen as Chief Standing Bear.
Ride Into History marvels Ann Birney and Joyce Thierer (pictured below with Betty Jean Steinshouer) will again arrive early in each town to magically transform the community's kids into Youth Chautauquans. Their performances on Friday evening are always a high point of the week for all ages.
Early 2015 Florida Dates with Betty Jean Steinshouer
1 p.m. January 24 Freedom Public Library, 5870 SW 95th Street, Ocala On Hemingway: Three Views (Willa Cather, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Gertrude Stein)
7 p.m. February 18 Catherine Hickman Theater, Gulfport (sponsored by the Circle of Friends, Gulfport Public Library) Yankee Ladies in Florida (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas)
7 p.m. February 24 Venice Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall) 111 Firenze Street, Venice Marjory Stoneman Douglas & Florida's Ban on Convict Leasing
5:30 p.m. March 6 Useppa Island Historical Society (members and guests) A Florida History Chautauqua (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjory Stoneman Douglas)
6 p.m. March 10 The Villages Lifelong Learning College - Eisenhower Center ($18 nonresidents) Willa Cather Speaks
2 p.m. March 11 Leesburg Public Library 100 E. Main Street Leesburg On Hemingway: Three Views