Annual Scopes Trial Festival back this July

L to R: Bob Ochsenrider, Dan Young, Rick Dye, Aaron Barth, Wes Byrd, David Tromanhauser, Terri Ritter, Larry Lively, George Miller in the 2016 production of “Front Page News.’ Photo by Fernando Decillis for Smithsonian Magazine.

The biggest summer event in Rhea County, the Scopes Trial Festival, will be back this July to celebrate Dayton’s rich history as host of “The World’s Most Famous Trial”. Thanks to the hard work and creativity of people involved this year the Scopes Trial Festival is geared to be better than ever.

The Scopes Trial Festival is an annual event the county puts on to celebrate arguably the most significant event in Rhea County’s history, the infamous Scopes Trial that took place in the Rhea County Courthouse in July of 1925.

Scopes Festival Chairman Tom Davis is ready and excited to get this year’s Scopes Festival underway.

“This will be our 29th festival. Everybody seems to have a good time and the people involved work really hard to make it fun. How better to learn history than to have a good time while you’re doing it,” Davis said.

The festival launches Friday, July 14th and will go through Sunday, July 23rd.

It kicks off that first Friday with music and craft vendors at the courthouse at 5 p.m and the first showing of the play will begin at 7 p.m.

Davis encourages everyone in Rhea County to come enjoy the play, Front Page News which is produced by the highly acclaimed Cumberland County Playhouse.

“It’s always interesting to see the play come together and see how the director and cast tweak it each year. I always look forward to it,” said Davis.

“I don’t think anyone has ever walked out of the play saying they were bored,” Davis added.

Saturday, July 15th, will be the day of the first ever bluegrass competition portion of the Scopes Festival.

Music will begin at 11 a.m, and there will be two more showings of the play at 1 p.m and 5 p.m. Music and the competition will last until around 11 p.m.

Festivities on Sunday, July 16th, will begin around noon with music and crafters at the courthouse. There will be another repeat performance of the play at 2:30 p.m.

The bluegrass competition isn’t the only new event that will be added this year, as there will also be a quilt show the first weekend of the festival in the courthouse, put on by the craft vendors.

The following weekend, Saturday, July 22nd and Sunday, July 23rd there will be more opportunities for people to catch the play. There will be two showing on Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m, and the last showing will be Sunday at 2:30.

“I encourage people to come and enjoy the festivities and the play. It’s really a significant part of Rhea County history, Tennessee history, and American history,” says Festival Chairman Davis.

For more information on Rhea County’s first ever bluegrass competition, please visit

To order tickets to

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