The Scopes Festival will bring back one of its early reenactment presentations in 2022, under the direction of director with a particular love for stories about historical events.

The Scopes Trial: Monkey in the Middle, by Dayton playwright Gale Johnson, will be presented four times in the Rhea County Courthouse July 15 to 17. Tickets for the show are on sale online at www.rheaheritage.com.

Director Dan Buck comes to the festival with a love of theater and history. Dan just completed his 12th year a professor of theater at Lee University where he teaches and directs.  In addition to his Lee productions, he writes and performs all kinds of theater. “Monkey in the Middle” represents the 72nd work that he has directed, written, or performed in. 

Dan believes his love of history is rooted in his love of stories. Some of his past works have explored topics such as the Salem Witch Trials, the Civil War, artist Mark Rothko, and World War I veterans from his hometown, Cleveland, TN. 

Dan’s production company, Tiger Leap Productions is dedicated to “inciting joy and wonder” through podcasts, live productions, and events. 

Dan and his wife Rachel Anne love trivia and crosswords and have two adult boys in college. 

For more information about Monkey in the Middle and the Scopes Festival, visit the website, www.rheaheritage.com.

2022 is going to be a great year for Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation and the events we produce. First of all, we will have Nokian Tyres Summer Nights in June instead of July. Every Friday night in June the Historic Rhea County Courthouse outdoor stage will come alive with some fantastic music for the public to enjoy free. yes , I said free! Just bring your chair or blanket and settle in under the 100 plus year old shade trees and relax.

A few food vendors will be available to serve up some outdoor food such as hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, nachos, ice cream,….well , you get the picture! No need to go home and fix supper, it’s here! No better way to enjoy an evening of food and music with your family and friends.

Ready to get dressed up and have a night out with other adults? June 18th is your opportunity. Get your flapper dress and your gangster suit ready to take you back to 1925. A cocktail supper that would make Gatsby himself proud. Show off your Charleston or Foxtrot on the dance floor while the Inman Jazz Band plays tunes of the time. Try Al Capones favorite cocktail or have a glass of champagne while you mingle with friends or have a picture made to remember your time in the 1920’s.

This is our annual fundraiser for the preservation of our Historic Courthouse and to help fund the 2025 Centennial Celebration in our hometown.

July 15, 16 and 17 the talented local cast will entertain at four performances of “Monkey in the Middle” in the courtroom where the Scopes evolution Trial took place in 1925 in the heat of a Tennessee July. You won’t have to experience the heat of the courtroom back then but you can be transported to the time that saw William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow go head to head in a packed courtroom filled with excitement and emotion.

Feel the tension as John Thomas Scopes watches what was suppose to be a simple court case explode into a media circus broadcast around the world for the first time ever. You will come away with a new understanding of the events and a new appreciation for the history of our town.

Friday evening you can stretch your legs walking down Market street to see the beautiful cars at the Scopes Cruise In, then relax at Centennial Park while five singer/songwriters entertain. Have some food and check out the vendors.

The 34th annual Scopes Festival will keep the carnival feel of the occasion alive on Saturday as we expand our festival in 2022 to accommodate 3 entertainment stages. Enjoy Bluegrass music on the Courthouse stage, country/rock music on the centennial stage and dance, storytelling and taekwondo on the Market street stage.

2nd Ave will be teaming with food vendors while the courthouse lawn on the 2nd Ave side will have a variety of craft and resale vendors for your shopping pleasure. Demonstration crafters will be found in front of the courthouse and children’s activities will be all around the square.

Have you ever seen chicken races or tried your hand at catching a greased pig with a $50 bill tied to it’s neck? Here’s you chance!!!! Want to pet a piglet, lamb, calf or a cais (baby Alpacka or Llama)? We got you covered! After eating a nice cool piece of watermelon, how far can you spit a seed? Far enough to win a prize? let’s see!!

There will be something for everybody. The whole family will have a day to remember .

Have you wondered why we don’t have a gospel concert outdoors in the summer? Well, wonder no more. August 27th is Gospel Saturday. Starting at 11:00 am the singing will start and last until 7:30 pm. Local gospel singers will lift your spirits and feed your soul! A couple of food vendors will be there for your convenience throughout the day. Bring your chair and join us for a great day of gospel music. If this event is well attended, we will make it an annual event.

We did a Radio Theater performance in 2021 in the courtroom in conjunction with Pumpkin Fest. We plan to do this again in 2022. The production will be “War of the Worlds” I am very excited about this production. I have heard about it so much but have never experienced it. I think it will be fantastic.

In December, in conjunction with Christmas at the courthouse, we will do the radio Theater production again, “It’s a Wonderful Life” . It was well attended and got great reviews from those who gave us feedback. The sound effects in these productions is so good. No computer generated sounds, just man made sounds reminiscent of the Radio shows in the 40’s and 50’s.

Yes, we at Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation, are pleased with the events we have planned for you this year. Come join us for fun, education and food.

This year is the 96th anniversary of the Scopes Trial and the 32nd year of a Scopes Trial reenactment. I was involved in the very first play and remained part of it for 20 consecutive years, first as Tom Stewart, then Clarence Darrow for the next 19 years. I also was director the last five of those years. The reenactment has evolved over the years, and continues to do so; this year is no different, primarily due to Covid. 

Because we were unsure of the production happening until the last couple of months, this version is a scaled-down model. But it tells the story and gets to the meat of the how and why the trial came about. I want to thank Rick Dye and Tom Davis for getting this back up and going, and also for the opportunity to be asked to step back in as director along with portraying William Jennings Bryan. And a big thank you to the cast for their heart and drive to make this happen. I hope you, the audience, can take with you some of our history from our small town and see that the issues that were debated in 1925 are still being debated today.

Thank you, and enjoy the show.
Tony McCuiston

Rhea Heritage Foundation, in partnership with Nokian Tyres, will have an open mic  Local Talent Showcase at Nokian Tyres Summer Nights 2021.

Every Friday in July local talent will have the opportunity to perform for the public, opening for the main event bands, from 4 o’clock until 5:30. Any genre of music is welcome, and the performance can be a solo or a group. The performer can have musical accompaniment or can have a trac cd.

Each performance will be given 10 to 12 minutes to shine on the courthouse stage. Two performers will be selected from the first 4 nights performances to open for the Nashville based band Runaway Home on finale night. Rhea county has so many talented people that deserve to be heard. So, we want to provide the outlet for that. Applications are available upon request from the Foundation at rheaheritagefoundation@gmail.com. Get your application in soon as there will be limited time slots available. 

Concert nights are July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. 

As we begin to get back to life as usual, the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation is planning for the 2021 Nokian Tyres Summer Nights Music Series as well as the Scopes Trial and Bluegrass Festival. 

“We are proud to have Nokian Tyres partner with us as our sponsor for Summer Nights 2021.” Said Dorothy Anderson, Administrative Assistant and Event Coordinator. “I think this outdoor event will be a great way to come together again as a community and still observe covid protocols.”

Every Friday night in July the Rhea County Courthouse stage will come alive with some great music from Rhea Springs Revival, Mother Legacy, Michael Seabolt Band, Brandon Maddox and straight from Nashville on the finale night, Runaway Home. 

There will be e-raffle giveaways every night leading up to a set of Nokian Tyres on the finale night. The more nights you attend the more chances you have to win.

There will be something new this year, an open mic time every night from 4:00 until 5:30 to showcase local talent. “We have so many talented people that we felt this would be a good outlet” added Ms Anderson, “We hope to add this as an annual part of the concerts if we have good participation. Applications can be obtained by emailing us at rheaheritagefoundation@gmail.com

Scopes Festival will be a one day event on July 17th from 10am until 8pm. There are many activities and games planned for everyone’s enjoyment. Food vendors and crafters, watermelon cutting and seed spittin contest and of course music all day long from some toe tappin bluegrass bands including Double Cross and Mt Laconte Jug Band. 

The Scopes Trial Play will be a bit different this year. It will be a shortened version of the usual play but will still be presented in the Rhea County Courthouse main courtroom. Seating will be in compliance with the covid protocols for distancing. Ticket prices will be $5.00 for general seating, $8.00 for reserved seating and $6.00 reserved seating for organized groups. Tickets can be purchased on the website, scopesfestival.com

We deeply regret to announce that the Scopes Festival and Summer Nights concerts are cancelled for 2020.
Because of guidance from the State of Tennessee and concerns about potential risks to our patrons, the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation believes that it is in the best interest of all concerned not to present the concerts and festivals this year.
We are grateful for the support we have received in the form of individuals looking forward to the concerts and festival, and the commitment of performers and vendors to help produce a full schedule of activities.
Our intention is to rebound in 2021 and present another outstanding series of concerts in July, and a full-blown Scopes Festival the third weekend of July. Please check back with us early in 2021 for further updates.

The Scopes Festival will look different this year, but it’s still on schedule as a one-day event for the third weekend in July.

“Saturday, July 18, will see a day full of outdoor activities for the whole family,” Festival
Chairman Tom Davis announced. “We are planning demonstrations of crafts that were a part of everyday life in the 1920s, live music, storytelling, and even a watermelon-cutting. We also hope to have some characters from the Scopes Trial drop by and talk with guests about their impressions of Dayton.”

Social distancing directives and other COVID-related issues made it impossible to begin
rehearsals for Front Page News, the central feature of the festival. Questions lingered about being able to accommodate a crowd in the courtroom where the play has been traditionally presented. In the end, it was decided that the play was not possible for 2020’s festival.

Bluegrass bands will perform on the courthouse lawn during the day, and vendors are being invited to sell their wares. “We also plan to have games for the whole family,” Davis said.

“This has been a difficult change in plans for us to make,” he admitted, “but we believe we will have an event that will help all of us get outside and celebrate as our community recovers from the pandemic’s impact.”

The Scopes Festival and the Nokian Tyres Summer Nights concerts scheduled each Friday in July, are made possible by major funding from Rhea County, the City of DaytonNokian Tyres and the Tennessee Arts Commission.