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Delaware’s 24th annual Chautauqua tent show

September 8, 2022 - September 9, 2022

Step right up and mark your calendars! Entertainment, and the artists that brought it to life, will be explored in Delaware’s 24th annual Chautauqua tent show — “That’s Entertainment!” — which will take place on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 and 9 at Zwaanendael Park located next to the Zwaanendael Museum at 102 Kings Highway, in Lewes.

Admission for all Chautauqua events is free and open to the public. For information, contact the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov, or the New Castle Court House Museum at 302-323-4453 or mailto:NCCHmuseum@delaware.gov.

A unique mixture of education and entertainment, Chautauqua events in both locations will be held under a large tent and will feature theater, music, dance, film, visual arts, lectures and more. Highlights of the four-day event include actor-historians from the American Historical Theatre portraying Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Ichabod Crane on Sept. 8, 10 and 11 respectively, and a concert of songs from the Underground Railroad on Sept. 9. A complete schedule of Chautauqua activities will be published in August. (Activities on Sept. 10, 11 at other locations)

Chautauqua takes its name from a series of adult education programs that were first held at a campsite on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in upstate New York during the late 19th century. Chautauquas spread throughout America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries bringing speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day to a wide cross-section of the nation’s rural and small-town population. Circuit Chautauquas (also known as Tent Chautauquas) were an itinerant manifestation of the movement. Programs would be presented in tents pitched in a field near town. After several days, the Chautauqua would fold its tents and move on to the next community. The popularity of Chautauquas peaked in the mid-1920s, after which radio, movies and automobiles brought about the gradual disappearance of the movement by the 1940s.

Reborn in the 1970s as a vehicle for humanities education, modern Chautauquas are organized around a core program in which re-enactors take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including George Washington Carver; Lucretia Mott; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mark Twain; Woodrow Wilson; Teddy Roosevelt; Abraham Lincoln; Amelia Earhart; Dolley Madison; Eleanor Roosevelt; Edgar Allan Poe; the Lone Ranger; John Philip Sousa; and Delaware’s own Pvt. James Elbert, Maj. Allen McLane, F.O.C. Darley and Clifford Brown.

“That’s Entertainment!” is co-sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael and New Castle Court House museums, and the New Castle Historical Society. Partial funding is provided by Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the State’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.


September 8, 2022
September 9, 2022


Zwaanendael Park
102 Kings Hwy.
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