American Presidents Film & Literary Festival set for Sept. 25- Oct. 3

Press Staff Writer

        An award-winning political cartoonist will be the keynote speaker at the third annual American Presidents Film & Literary Festival, which will take place Sept. 25 and Oct. 1-3 at various locations in Fremont.
        The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is one of the organizers of the festival, and some of the events will take place there.
        The festival will include original films, a play based on the life of a White House butler, a red-carpet event that includes dinner and craft beer tasting, lantern tours of Spiegel Grove with living history presenters and more.
        Arthur “Chip” Bok, a syndicated political cartoonist through Los Angeles-based Creators Syndicate, will speak during the Red-Carpet Event on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 5-7:15 p.m. at The Strand Concert Theater. His talk will focus on the role that the press, specifically political cartoonists, plays during a presidential administration. Using a variety of cartoons created by him, as well as other cartoonists, Bok intends to discuss the political nuances displayed in the artwork. He will also emphasize the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
        Bok’s cartoons appear worldwide in publications, including The Times of London, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek. His work has earned him numerous awards, including Best Editorial Cartoonist 1995, 1999 (National Cartoon Society) and the Berryman Editorial Cartooning Award 1993 (National Press Foundation).
        Bok’s talk is made possible through a grant from Ohio Humanities as part of Hayes Presidential’s “The Press & The Presidency” exhibit. Ohio Humanities is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed by this exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
        Another feature of the festival is the play, “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” on Saturday, Sept. 25, at The Little Theater at Fremont Ross High School. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the play begins at 7 p.m. The play is based on the life of Alonzo Fields, White House chief butler who served four U.S. presidents and their families – Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
        Fields was the grandson of a freed slave who grew up in an all-black town in southern Indiana. He was forced by the Great Depression to give up his dreams of becoming an opera singer and accept the job at the White House, where he quickly was appointed chief butler. Famous guests through Fields’ years included Winston Churchill, Marian Anderson, Errol Flynn and the king and queen of England. As Fields says in the play: “It was like being in the front row and watching the passing parade of history.”
        Culled from Fields’ private papers, diaries and interviews, “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” has played at major theaters across the country, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, where it premiered, and Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The play is written by James Still. The production stars Tyre’k Hyde as Fields and is directed by Lois Eisenhard. Both are affiliated with the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin.
        Tickets for “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” are $12 for adults, $10 for ages 18 and younger.
        The annual wreath-laying ceremony at President Rutherford B. Hayes’ tomb at Spiegel Grove also will take place this year as part of the festival. Military representatives sent by President Joe Biden will lay the wreath and speak during the ceremony. The event will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, and is in honor of President Hayes’ birthday, which is Monday, Oct. 4. Admission is free.
        For a full schedule of festival events and films and to buy tickets for festival events, visit Tickets also can be purchased with cash only at the door of each venue, subject to availability.


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