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News Release

Date: June 6, 2007
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 240-567-7970; Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

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Famous Figures from History Come Alive at Montgomery College Chautauqua
Four-day Event, July 10–13, at MC-Germantown Features Actor/Scholars Portraying Julia Child, Cesar Chavez, George Washington Carver, Upton Sinclair

EDITORS: For high-resolution images to accompany this release, visit

    Famous figures from American history will come alive once again this summer at Montgomery College’s annual Chautauqua celebration, from July 10 to 13, at the College’s Germantown Campus. This family-friendly event weaves together music, theatre, and history to create educational entertainment. The Chautauqua series of programs, themed this year as “Food for Thought,” will take place at 7 p.m., underneath a tent on the Germantown Campus, at 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown, Md. In case of rain on any of the four evenings, the performances would be moved inside to Globe Hall, located within the campus’s High Technology and Science Center. All performances are free and open to the public.

    Each Chautauqua program will begin with a short musical performance by a local musician. Next, an actor-scholar will take the stage to portray a historical figure—with this year’s portrayals featuring author Upton Sinclair, scientist George Washington Carver, activist Cesar Chavez, and chef Julia Child—whose career involved food or the food industry. The actor-scholars modify their clothing, hair, and speech to give audiences the illusion that they are listening to the actual historical figure during their time.

    Born in Baltimore, Upton Sinclair was an American novelist, most famous for writing “The Jungle” in 1906. The book, about conditions in the Chicago meatpacking industry, led to the implementation of the Pure Food and Drug Act. George Washington Carver was a renowned agricultural scientist who developed a method for crop rotation and discovered innovative uses for the peanut, soybean, and sweet potato. Cesar Chavez was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who co-founded what became the United Farm Workers. Using the knowledge and skills gained at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris, Julia Child went on to teach American television audiences the art of French cooking for half a century.

    The Chautauqua movement began in the late 1800s as a training program for Sunday school teachers. Taking its name from a lake in upstate New York, the Chautauqua quickly expanded and became known for educating adults in the arts and humanities. At the turn-of-the-century, Chautauqua lecturers and entertainers traveled across the country, bringing their style of education to small towns. When Americans increasingly replaced live entertainment with television and movies, the Chautauqua movement dwindled.

    During the 1970s, the dying form of entertainment got a new breath of life. The Chautauqua re-invented itself as a public humanities program. Through these dialogues, scholars take on the persona of a historical figure to educate and entertain audiences of all ages.

    The Montgomery College Chautauqua 2007 program schedule is as follows:

    · Tuesday, July 10, 7 p.m.

    Classical guitar performance by Ellen Cherry

    An Evening with Upton Sinclair, portrayed by Doug Mishler

    · Wednesday, July 11, 7 p.m.

    Banjo and vocal performance by Dan Mazer, also known as “Banjer Dan”

    An Evening with George Washington Carver, portrayed by Paxton Williams

    · Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m.

    Guitar and vocal performance by Andrew McKnight

    An Evening with Cesar Chavez, portrayed by Fred Blanco

    · Friday, July 13, 7 p.m.

    Folk music performance by Paula Monks

    An Evening with Julia Child, portrayed by Mary Ann Jung

    Montgomery College is one of six colleges around the state of Maryland that host the annual Chautauqua programs each summer. “Chautauqua 2007: Food for Thought” is sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs.

    The Montgomery College Chautauqua site is accessible to persons with disabilities. Sign language interpretation services can be accessed by calling 410-685-0095 by June 21. For a complimentary reader, with a history, bibliographies, and timeline on each character, call the Maryland Humanities Council at 410-685-0095.

    For more information on the Montgomery College Chautauqua, call 240-567-7746 or visit

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves nearly 60,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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