As the mercury approached 100 degrees Saturday afternoon a comfortable crowd settled in at the Elkton United Methodist Church to open the 2012 Chautauqua. The sponsor for the annual event, the Maryland Humanities Council, is bringing three famous figures from the past to the area to explore the War of 1812.The local kick-off, sponsored by the Cecil County Tourism Office, found about 250 people intently listening as Alan Gephardt brought Francis Scott Key to life. The American lawyer and amateur poet penned the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, which became our National Anthem.
For nearly an hour this Marylander, a participant in some of the nation’s most stirring events, dramatically told the first-hand story of our second war with Britain and the Battle of Baltimore. After the 19th century gentleman finished his formal remarks, the audience enthusiastically peppered him with questions. The evening also included a talk on Cecil County during the conflict.
If you missed this engaging show you missed a superb portrayal, but two more historical characters are still on the schedule. This afternoon at 4 p.m., there’s a visit from Rosalie Stier Calvert, a member of a wealth Maryland family whose extensive correspondence illuminated life on the Calvert plantation leading up to and during the War of 1812. Sunday afternoon, it’s Mary Pickersgill, the Baltimore flag-maker who stitched the Star Spangled Banner Flag that flew over Fort McHenry will visit Elkton.
Chautauqua is brought to the state every summer by the Maryland Humanities Council. It is something many people look forward to each year.