Scopes Trial reenactment July 15-17
June 09, 2006

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Bryan College and the Dayton Chamber of Commerce will present the 18th annual Scopes Trial Festival July 15-17 at the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton.

The festival centers around a dramatic reenactment of the 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial, which pitted college namesake William Jennings Bryan, defender of the authority of the Bible, and Clarence Darrow, America’s foremost defense attorney of the time, in a courtroom battle over whether John Scopes taught that humans were descended from a lower order of animals.

The reenactment, an adaptation of the trial transcript, is presented at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the courtroom where the trial was held. Tickets are available by calling the Dayton Chamber of Commerce at 423-775-0361.

Area musicians will present selections of traditional Appalachian music on the courthouse lawn throughout the weekend. Crafters will display and sell a variety of items, and refreshments will be available.

In addition to the courtroom drama, the festival this year will include the Scopes Stroll, a promotion by merchants in the downtown area on Friday; children’s games, organized by area Girl Scout troops, and pony rides on the courthouse lawn. Following the Stroll, the merchants will present the movie “Old Yeller” in Centennial Park adjacent to the courthouse.

Saturday’s activities will see the music, crafts and pony rides continue, with the addition of displays of antique cars and equipment, and a demonstration of lye soap making.

“There has been a lot of media interest in the trial this year,” festival Chairman Tom Davis said. “Earlier this year Smithsonian magazine had a major article on the trial; we have had visits from Irish National Radio and National Public Radio; Bryan's Dr. Richard Cornelius and Dr. David Fouts have been interviewed on Moody network’s Open Line program; and the History Channel was here July 9 to film part of our reenactment.

“The Scopes Trial was a significant event in American history, not to mention Rhea County’s history,” he said. “We hope individuals who are interested in this event, and in the issues that the trial raised, will come to Dayton this weekend and see for themselves what happened here in 1925.”