Centennial Chautauqua Festival

Altus_Altus residents and visitors are going to gather under the big tent for a celebration of Oklahoma and its rich history.  They're kicking off the Oklahoma Centennial Chautauqua - a bit of living history.

It's a unique blend of education and entertainment, featuring many Oklahoma heroes.  History scholars portray the characters to tell us the story of their lives and even answer questions.    They study all kinds of letters, diaries, even movies in order to perfect their characters, just like English professor Doug Watson, aka Will Rogers.  "It's almost an all-encompassing kind of activity but one that I continue to enjoy," Watson said.

Chautauqua project director Kathy Hale says it's an opportunity to look at our history -- and the Chautauqua is a living history. "It's a dialogue between the characters of whatever period the Chautauqua is representing and the community and gives people the opportunity to hear them as scholars and as characters," Hale said.

Professor of History Bill Worley, aka Waite Phillips, one of the famous Phillips Petroleum brothers, says this is more than just another boring history lecture.  "We have a tendency to think that history's all names and dates, but history was people, and the things people did, the events they got caught up in, and the lives that they affected," Worley said.

The Chautauqua festival opened Tuesday night and runs through Saturday on the campus of Western State College in Altus.