published Friday, July 15th, 2011

24th Scopes Festival offering bluegrass, historical drama

DAYTON, Tenn.—Bluegrass musicians will compete for solo and group titles in this year’s “Battle of the Pickers!” competition during the 24th annual Scopes Trial Play and Festival this weekend.

Banjo and guitar players will take to the stage at 3 p.m. Saturday in Centennial Park in downtown Dayton. Participants should drop off entry forms at the Rhea County Welcome Center or submit by 2 p.m. Saturday in the park, said organizers. There is no entry fee.

Festivalgoers can sample and learn the old-fashioned method for homemade peanut butter and hand-cranked ice cream at The General Store’s booth.

The Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society members will present Curtis Lipps’ play, “One Hot Summer,” for the third year at the downtown courthouse.

Attendees will revisit the soda fountain conversations at F.E. Robinson’s Drug Store and witness excerpts from the animated 1925 Scopes Trial, which centered on the prohibition of teaching the theory of evolution.

Before last year’s festival, Lipps said he wanted his play to “detail the history that hadn’t been taught.”

Since joining the cast this year as F.E. Robinson, newcomer Chris Beam said he’s learned that “[Robinson] was willing to do anything he could to keep the town alive.”

Historical Society member Tom Davis said that he’ll give a “tour of historical sites,” which includes Dayton’s former Aqua Hotel, Magnolia House and Cedar Hill Hospital, between 3 and 6 p.m. Friday.

Various downtown merchants will offer discounts throughout the weekend.

Angie Kerr, owner of The Gathering Place, will offer up to 50 percent off on selected items all day Friday.

Mansfield’s Diner co-owner Jan Tipton will offer a $15.99 plate special, which includes two entrees, drinks and desserts.

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