In the late nineteenth century, adults gathered in large tents to hear lectures, see performances, and listen to sermons. Tent Chautauquas, as these adult education programs were known, traveled throughout small towns in America. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has kept the Chautauqua tradition alive with its annual tent show. This year, the event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the nineteenth amendment.
The 22nd annual Chautauqua tent show will be held for two weeks in September. The first week’s events will take place at the Zwaanendael Museum, and the second week will take place at the New Castle Court House Museum. All activities will be held in an outdoor tent, following the Chautauqua tradition. Guests will be expected to abide by COVID-19 safety procedures including social distancing and hygiene practices.
This year’s program “Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change” will explore the women’s suffrage movement and the fight for gender equality. Theatrical performances and re-enactors will bring to life scenes from the movement in Delaware. Performers will also portray famous suffragists like Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt.
The Chautauqua tent show is co-sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael and New Castle Court House museums, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and the New Castle Historical Society.
Events will run September 10 and 11 in Lewes and September 19 and 20 in New Castle.