REPORTING: MICHAEL EDWARD MILLER
This year’s Scopes Trial Festival features a new look at the story behind Dayton, Tennessee’s most famous court case.
The festival starts on Friday, July 16th, , commemorating the 85th anniversary of Rhea County schoolteacher John Scopes being convicted of teaching evolution. Famously–perhaps infamously–the Scopes Trial was the basis for the play and the movie Inherit The Wind. During previous years’ festivals, Dayton residents re-enacted the real trial, highlighting what actually happened–how it compared to the Hollywood version.
But last year, Dayton residents started doing it differently.
Tom Davis is one of those residents–a member of the festival’s Steering Committee. He joins us to discuss what’s new.
Listen to the interview.
“One Hot Summer,” the dramatization of events leading up to the Scopes Evolution Trial in 1925, will give a look at the attitudes and circumstances that helped Dayton create what has been called “the world’s most famous court trial.” The play will be presented in the Scopes Trial courtroom of the Rhea County Courthouse at 8 p.m. on July 16 and at 3 and 8 p.m. on July 17.
MainStreet Dayton is combining forces with festival organizers to present “Heritage Friday” on Friday evening, July 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. downtown on Market Street. MainStreet Director Anna Tromanhauser explained that the organization’s regular First Friday event would fall on the July 4th weekend, so planners decided to move it to the Scopes weekend. Downtown merchants will be open extended hours with “vintage” promotions and specials at each of their locations.
“We’re working on a vintage car display for Friday and an antique tractor show for Saturday, with “living history” clothing and weapons by Bruce and Cheryl Peterman also on display, as well as 1920s music by our MainStreet DJ” she said. “Friday night at dark we plan to show the 1920s movie “Singin’ in the Rain” at Centennial Park and have popcorn and drinks for sale.”
Crafters have been invited to set up on the courthouse lawn for the festival, and music coordinator Tom Morgan said area musicians have been invited to perform from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Curtis Lipps, who wrote “One Hot Summer,” said the cast is hard at work preparing for the second annual presentation of this play. “Previous plays have done an excellent job of telling the story of what happened in the courtroom, but left people wondering why it happened in Dayton,” he said. “I wanted to answer that question while retaining a little of the courtroom dramatics when William Jennings Bryan took the witness stand and was questioned by Clarence Darrow.”
Tickets for “One Hot Summer” are available by calling the Dayton Chamber of Commerce at 423-775-0361 or will be available at the Rhea County Courthouse before each performance.