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Clay Jenkinson returns to Vail Symposium portraying two presidents on two nights

Historian Clay Jenkinson in character as Thomas Jefferson, who he will portray at the Vail Symposium on Monday, Aug. 30.
Special to the Daily

Historian Clay Jenkinson is one of Vail Symposium’s most popular guests, portraying historic figures in a larger-than-life experience. In August, Jenkinson returns to Vail for two special fundraising events. Jenkinson’s presentations have become the national model for scholars interpreting historical figures in the Chautauqua format. On Monday, Aug. 30, he will portray Thomas Jefferson at Donovan Pavilion and on Tuesday, Aug. 31, he’ll bring Theodore Roosevelt to life at the Chapel at Beaver Creek.

“Clay is the rare educator who can combine teaching with theatrical performance,” said Vail Symposium director of programming Claire Noble. “For those interested in time travel, Clay’s portrayal of historical personalities will transport them to the time of Jefferson and Roosevelt.”

Monday, Aug. 30 – Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was arguably one of the most accomplished Americans to have ever lived. Five decades of public service included serving as president of the new United States, vice president, secretary of state, diplomatic minister, congressman, governor of Virginia and still others. He was a lawyer, architect, writer, farmer, gentleman and scientist. Jefferson was also a man of contradictions: He was a champion of freedom and democracy while also owning slaves.



In this special event, historian and Jefferson Hour creator Clay Jenkinson channels Thomas Jefferson, delivering a stirring performance before answering audience questions first as Jefferson and then as Jenkinson. Wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

Tuesday, Aug. 31 – Teddy Roosevelt

Sickly as a child, Theodore Roosevelt was determined to extract the most out of life. His triumph over his infirmities converted him into an advocate for the strenuous life. His biography contains enough adventure for multiple lives: New York City police commissioner; South Dakota rancher; New York governor; Spanish-American War hero; Vice-president and, ultimately, president of the United States.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Jenkinson as Theodore Roosevelt, who he will portray on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Special to the Daily

Following the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the youngest President in the nation’s history at 42 years old. Known as a man of vigor and purpose, he brought that attitude into the White House. As president, Roosevelt is best known for progressive reforms, trust-busting and an aggressive foreign policy. For those out West, his enduring legacy is as the originator of America’s magnificent national park system.

President Theodore Roosevelt will be brought to life as Jenkinson first appears to the audience in character as President Roosevelt. Following remarks as the 26th president, he will then take questions as Roosevelt; in the final segment, Jenkinson will come out of character and answer audience questions as a modern-day historian.

“Clay Jenkinson is a master storyteller and we are honored to have him share his talent, expertise and passion for history with our community,” said Kris Sabel, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “These special evenings are fundraising events; they provide an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about these historical figures and support the Vail Symposium and our mission. Our supporters have commented on how they enjoyed both his portrayal of John Wesley Powell in 2019 and this different approach to a fundraising event.”

About the speakers

Clay Jenkinson is a humanities scholar, author and social commentator who has devoted most of his professional career to public humanities programs and is considered one of the most entertaining public speakers in the United States. His performances are always humorous, educational, thought provoking and enlightening, while maintaining a steady focus on ideas. Jenkinson is widely regarded as one of the most articulate public speakers in the country and he brings a humanities perspective –partly learned as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University– to everything he does.

Jenkinson is one of the nation’s leading interpreters of Thomas Jefferson. He has lectured about and portrayed Jefferson in 49 states over a period of over 20 years and is the host of the nationally syndicated weekly radio program The Thomas Jefferson Hour and the author of such books as “Becoming Jefferson’s People: Re-Inventing the American Republic in the Twenty-First Century” and “Theodore Roosevelt In The Dakota Badlands.”

Jenkinson is the Director of Dakota Sky Education, Inc., Chief Consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University and a consultant for The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.

More information: Please visit vailsymposium.org/events for more information and to purchase tickets.

IF YOU GO…

What: Clay Jenkinson: One Man, Two Nights, Two Presidents

When: Monday, Aug. 30 and Tuesday, Aug. 31. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., program starts at 6 p.m.

Where: Donovan Pavilion and the Chapel at Beaver Creek, respectively


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