Bishop Hill is unique in that they hosted a live Chautauqua August 22, but due to state rules, they limited attendance to 50 people and quickly sold out. So the Bishop Hill Heritage Association is working with the Butterworth Center Deere-Wiman Home to also present a virtual Chautauqua this week. They will host History in Person: A Virtual Chautauqua Festival on August 25th, 26th & 27th, 2020, featuring three nights of historic portrayals, music and conversations with noted living history scholars & performers. The free event is hosted online but pre-registration is required at All programs are streamed CST.

“Imagine bringing the world’s writers, thinkers, scientists, and emancipators into your living room,” said Brian “Fox” Ellis, executive producer of History In Person: A Virtual Chautauqua Festival. “With many of the live Chautauqua performances postponed due to Covid19, we are working together to create an immersive on-line experience with music, historic portrayals and conversations to invite audiences to engage with living history at home.”

The online festival kicks off on Tuesday, August 25th at 6:30pm with music from Heartland Connections. The program begins at 7:00pm CST with “Literature: A Revolution of Words,” an exploration of how great literature has changed the world. On the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, we’ll hear from two generations of suffragists & writers, Julia Ward Howe portrayed by Jessica Miller, and Caroline Nichols Churchill, portrayed by Liesl Jensen. Then Brian “Fox” Ellis will bring to life the old gray bearded poet Walt Whitman telling tales of the Civil War, his relationship with Lincoln and the stories behind his famous poems, Leaves of Grass, followed by an interactive Q & A with the performers. The evening is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association.

On Wednesday August 26th the program will look at “Science: The Legacy of Discovery.” exploring how science challenges us to rethink our world. Sponsored by The Deere – Butterworth Foundation, in partnership with PBS affiliate WQPT, folks are invited to watch a brief preview of Ken Burns’ new documentary The GENE at 6:30 pm CST. Then Charles Darwin takes the stage to regal the audience with tales of his travels and travails as he circumnavigated the globe on HMS Beagle, equal parts stand-up comedy and the most fascinating look at the scientific process. At 8:00pm, Susan Marie Frontczak joins the conversation online, first with clips from her critically acclaimed digital theater production Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit With Marie Curie followed by an interactive engaging with Fox on the importance of bringing science to the stage through historic portrayals.

On Thursday, August 27th, music by Heartland Connections will open the program at 6:30pm followed by “Emancipation: The Promise of Freedom,” an interactive conversation on what freedom meant in Colonial America and what it means to us today. With two unique perspectives performed live online, we first will hear from Francis Tasker Carter, Colonial America’s Aristocracy, and the wife of a founding father, who freed more than 500 slaves, the largest single emancipation up until the Civil War. Then we hear this same story as told by Sarah Cooper, a Freed Woman whose freedom was snarled in a legal challenge. Darci Tucker and Sheila Arnold, who portray these women, have both worked at Colonial Williamsburg and now tour the country bringing her-story to life as independent artists. The Jacksonville, Illinois Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, home of the Prairieland Chautauqua is sponsoring this evening.

“If you are intrigued by the intricacies of civil discourse and sometimes wish you could ask questions of notable people from our past, then join our conversation where history is invited to talk back.” says Fox.

History In Person: A Virtual Chautauqua Festival is free to register online with donations as optional. Please visit for the full schedule and to RSVP. The event is produced by Fox Tales International and co-produced by Live Story Productions with sponsorship by Heartland Connections, The Bishop Hill Heritage Association, The Deere – Butterworth Foundation, WQPT, Jacksonville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and STEM on Stage.

Tuesday August 25th – Literature: A Revolution In Words
6:30pm: Pre-show Music
7:00pm: Young Chautauquans Voices of the Mosaic
Julia Ward Howe (Jessica Miller)
Caroline Nichols Churchill (Liesl Jensen)
7:30pm: Walt Whitman (Brian “Fox” Ellis)
8:00pm: Live Q & A with re-enactors
Sponsor: Bishop Hill Heritage Association

Wednesday August 26 – Science: The Legacy of Discovery
6:30pm: Ken Burns documentary The GENE
7:00pm: Charles Darwin (Brian “Fox” Ellis)
8:00pm: Exclusive Clips from Humanity Needs Dreamers:
A Visit With Marie Curie, (Susan Marie Frontczak)
8:15pm: Susan & Fox discuss performing science
8:30pm: Q & A with presenters
Sponsors: The Butterworth Center Deere -Wiman Home, WQPT, and STEM On Stage

Thursday August 27 – Emancipation: The Promise of Freedom
6:30pm: Pre-show Music
7:00pm Francis Tasker Carter: American Aristocracy (Darci Tucker)
7:30pm Sarah Cooper, a Freed Woman’s Story (Sheila Arnold)
8:00pm: Q & A with Presenters
Sponsor: Jacksonville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau

Registration required. Sign in at