July 17 – Scopes Festival

Posted on July 17, 2015

Today a festival begins in Dayton, Tennessee.

Today there will be music, crafts, and vendors selling yummies for tummies on the courthouse lawn. Tomorrow there will be a scavenger hunt, a classic car show, a quilt show, a fine arts show, and crafts demonstrations. Tomorrow night there will be a musical concert. Sunday will be many fun, food, music, and crafts.

But the thing that separates this festival from most other local festivals is its focus on a very famous trial:

There is a lecture and discussion on on “Evolution in the Scopes Era” during the weekend. And then there is a play, held in a courtroom, called “Front Page News.” And this play is a historically accurate rendition of the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial, when famed lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan did legal battle about the teaching of evolution in biology classrooms.

The trial was way back in 1925, and yet it still pertains to political, philosophical, and legal battles today!

The festival organizers point out that many people don't know the truth about the Scopes Trial. Even though the court transcripts are readily available, many people depend on the misreporting done by some journalists at the time of the trial, or they assume that the play/film Inherit the Wind is true, but instead it is a fictionalized version of the Scopes Trial that is not historically accurate and was never intended to be.

I find it interesting to note that the play is put on in the very courthouse in which the trial occurred!

To read more about the Scopes trial, check out this earlier post

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