Aspen’s history will be celebrated next month with a week of events that itself could be history making in terms of the volume of information presented in varying, creative ways.
Aspen Historical Society (AHS) celebrates its 50th anniversary July 8-12 with “Chautauqua Aspen,” featuring character acting, restored historic footage, all-star panels, fun learning for the kids and, of course, yoga. Most of the activity is free and will take place under a tent that will sprout on the grounds of the society’s Wheeler/Stallard Museum at 620 W. Bleeker St. in the West End.
The society promises “five days of irreverent fun and thoughtful conversation,” according to a press release. Daily keynote speakers include author Ted Conover, Michael Kinsley, Randy Udall, Buffalo Bill Museum Director Steve Friesen and AHS Board President Tony Vagneur. Keynote speakers will take the stage at 7 p.m. each night, and tickets are $20. The week is moderated by Dr. Patricia Limerick, director of the Center of the American West.
Each day will begin with “Morning Response,” a series of body-bending classes including yoga, Zumba, tai chi and aerobics designed to stimulate the senses before the mind. These sessions will be followed by “Morning Coffee,” during which local speakers Walter Isaacson, Dick Durrance, Gina Murdock and Wally Obermeyer will host informal discussions over coffee and pastries.
People who love Aspen and the movies can spend the rest of the morning viewing short films and newly digitized archival footage from the AHS collection in the big top, while young students participate in the Young Chautauqua camp next door. Kids age 9 to 18 will research a historical figure all week to present on Saturday.
Each afternoon, a set of four historical Aspen figures will come back to life during character presentations. Local actors resurrect D.R.C. Brown, Bil Dunaway, Jerome Wheeler, Fritz Benedict, Gretl Uhl, Isabel and Stuart Mace, Fred Iselin, Mrs. Gillespie, Lou Deane, Fabi Benedict, Joan Metcalf, Elizabeth Paepcke, Hunter Thompson, Herbert Bayer and Freddie Fisher. Afterward, students from the Aspen Music Festival & School will offer an evening respite on the lawn. Character presentations will run from 3:30-6 p.m. and tickets are $10 per day.
At night, guests are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag and snacks for “Cinema from the ’60s,” starting at 9 p.m. AHS will show films that have withstood the test of time-since 1963. Screenings will be “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Pink Panther,” “Dr. Strangelove,” and “King of Hearts.”
A single-day pass can be purchased for $25, and a four-day pass is available for $100. Visit aspenhistory.org to view the complete schedule and purchase tickets, or call 970 925-3721.
Chautauqua was a movement in the 1900s which brought cosmopolitan culture to small towns across the west. Traversing the country, traveling entourages unloaded into towns to deliver messages of education and enlightenment to large crowds.
This year, the Aspen Historical Society celebrates its 50th birthday. The society was founded in 1963 with the mission to enrich the community through preserving and communicating the town’s remarkable history. AHS maintains four historic sites: Wheeler/Stallard Museum, Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum, and the ghost towns of Independence and Ashcroft. Another site is being planned for a museum at Lift One, at the base of Aspen Mountain.