Colorado West Chautauqua

History Alive!

(formerly Two Rivers Chautauqua)

That’s the Way It Is: The Baby Boom Years

  • Walter Cronkite performed by Larry Bounds
  • Walt Disney performed by David Skipper
  • Julia Child performed by Karen Vuranch
  • And the Grand Valley History Players with characters such as Minnie Pearl and Zelda Fitzgerald

Go to the event page with poster here.

Friday, September 13

Evening Performances 

6:00 pm Doors open at the Historic Avalon Theatre Tickets available here
6:30 pm Kai Symons as Woody Guthrie Young Chautauquan performance
7:00 pm Karen Vuranch as Julia Child Professional Chautauquan • More about Karen/Julia Child here
8:00 pm David Skipper as Walt Disney Professional Chautauquan • More about David/Walt Disney here

Saturday, September 14

9:00 am Coffee with the Chautauquans Mesa County Libraries, Main Branch Community Room
11:00 am Panel discussion with Larry Bounds on Walter Cronkite Avalon Theatre 
Noon Grand Valley History Players Avalon Theatre 
12:35 pm

Grand Valley History Player

Jessica Downing-Ford as Abigail Adams

Avalon Theatre 
1:00 pm

Young Chautauquans

  • Kai Symons as Woody Guthrie
  • Albert Booth as Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Ansley Wagner as Kate Slaughterback
  • Anthony Booth as Chief Justice Earl Warren
Avalon Theatre 
2:00 pm Panel discussion with David Skipper on Walt Disney Avalon Theatre 
3:00 pm

Young Chautauqans

  • Kimbelle Nelson as Kate Slaughterback
  • Elie James as Annie Oakley
  • Davis Sleigh as Miles Davis
  • McKinley Baum as Corrie ten Boom
Avalon Theatre 

Evening Performances

6:00 pm Doors open at the Historic Avalon Theatre Tickets available here
6:30 pm Anthony Booth as Chief Justice Earl Warren Young Chautauquan performance
7:00 pm Grand Valley History Players  
8:00 pm Larry Bounds as Walter Cronkite Professional Chautauquan • More about Larry/Walter Cronkite here


Learn more about Chautauqua and our event in the sections below.

Click the titles below to expand more content:


Chautauqua takes its name from a movement that began near Lake Chautauqua, New York, in the 1800s. It began with Sunday school teachers gathering for a week of study, but it became a touring program through which local communities could enjoy traveling speakers, politicians, plays, and music. Many communities still have the Chautauqua parks where these outdoor events were held, usually under a big tent. We’ve been told that at its height in 1924, Chautauqua programs visited over 12,000 towns and entertained over 32,000,000 people nationwide. But new technologies – radio and TV – led to the demise of the old-fashioned Chautauqua.

Today, Chautauqua has been reinvented as a way to bring the humanities, especially history, back to life. Organizations across the country bring in professional scholar-actors (Chautauquans) as historical characters, bringing history to life for their audiences. Local talent provides a great variety of daytime programs. These modern-day Chautauquas are usually sponsored by state humanities councils and other non-profit entities.


Two Rivers Chautauqua got its start in 2006, thanks to the Museum of Western Colorado, Colorado Humanities, and local donors. It is a two-day event held each year on a Friday and Saturday.

You’ll notice that some of our Chautauquans portray very well-known American icons; others are not so well-known. We believe that part of the fun of Chautauqua is learning more about our country’s history through historical figures we may not know so well, or at all. Here’s a year by year theme:

  • 2006 – The Call of the West with Kit Carson, Jessie Benton Fremont, Teddy Roosevelt, and Marie Curie 
  • 2007 – 1776 with Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Jefferson, and Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
  • 2008 – World War II with General George Patton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Ernie Pyle 
  • 2009 – Larger than Life with Irene Castle, P.T. Barnum, Coco Chanel, and Babe Ruth 
  • 2010 – The American Civil War with Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, and Robert E. Lee 
  • 2011 – Lighten Up! with Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, and Will Rogers
  • 2012 – Inventive Minds with Henry Ford, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Albert Einstein, and Dr. Seuss
  • 2013 – Colorado Riches! with Margaret “Molly” Brown, Otto Mears, Teddy Roosevelt, and el vaquero, Diego Martín 
  • 2014 – American Dreams with Alexander Hamilton, John James Audubon, Jane Addams, and Rosa Parks
  • 2015 – Rascals and Rogues with Benedict Arnold, Belle Starr, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Huey Long
  • 2016 – Character Forged in Conflict with Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Nikita Khrushchev
  • 2017 – Western Voices with Laura Ingalls Wilder, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mark Twain
  • 2018 – WWI: The War to End All Wars with Erich Maria Remarque, Emma Goldman, and General Jack Pershing