This article originally appeared in the Mt. Vernon Register-News
By Rick Hayes
MT. VERNON — — Jefferson County Historical Society is welcoming back Illinois Road Scholar performer Chris Vallillo next month for a flashback to the music of Stephen Foster.
The program is entitled, “Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Music.” The program will be held free of charge at 1 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Historical Village at 1411 N. 27th St.
Vallillo, of northwestern Illinois, presented a program at the Historical Village in 2011 called, “Abraham Lincoln in Song” that was well received, according to the Village’s Director of Community Relations Jamie Wheeler.
“When we saw he was offering this other program, we thought it would be a good fit for us, and an opportunity to bring him back,” Wheeler said.
The event is being produced in part by the Illinois Humanities Council’s Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, a program that provides organizations statewide with affordable, entertaining, and thought-provoking humanities events for their communities. A roster of speakers, hailing from 16 different towns and cities across Illinois, present topics in history, culture, literature, music, politics, law, science, and more.
“The contagious passion our speakers have for their topics is what makes this program so dynamic and appealing. We don’t need to change lives; we just want audiences to feel curious again,” stated Mallory Laurel, the IHC’s coordinator.
Wheeler said through the Illinois Community Council and its funding, the Historical Village is able to provide entertainment from individuals “who have an expertise in some topic related to the humanities.” Wheeler said the Council provides a list of programs to local organizations and museums, followed by an application process.
“Usually, these programs are way out of our price range so the Illinois Humanities Council helps fund the event,” Wheeler said. “The money goes quickly, and once they [the IHC] runs out of money, the program is cut off. We were fortunate that we got our application in quickly and got the money.”
The IHC is supported by state, federal and private funds.