Monday presentation explores Perry-Mansfield history |

Monday presentation explores Perry-Mansfield history

Margaret Hair
This historical shot shows dancers during the camp's early years. Today, the camp offers summer programs in variety of disciplines to children of all ages.

— At the start of each summer, the staff members at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp watch "A Divine Madness."

The 1979 PBS documentary about Perry-Mansfield founders Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield focuses on the history of the camp, offering a biography of its two founders and including footage of the one-time hunting ground filmed by Portia Mansfield herself.

Staff members are asked to watch the 30-minute documentary to get a better idea of the 97-year-old tradition they are carrying forward, Perry-Mansfield Executive Director June Lindenmayer said.

"There are actual interviews of the ladies on camera, which is lovely because all of us like to be able to hear their voices, hear their stories, because we take a lot of inspiration from that film," Lindenmayer said.

A screening of "A Divine Madness" is part of a Women's History Month program presented by Tread of Pioneers Museum and Bud Werner Memorial Library. The March program also features a historical display by Tread of Pioneers, a presentation about Perry-Mansfield by Lindenmayer and a collection of women's history-related books from the library. A children's program is at 4 p.m. Monday, and an all-ages program is at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Both events are free and in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

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Tread of Pioneers has hosted an educational Women's History Month event each year for the past six years, said museum executive director Candice Bannister. Sometimes the program has featured monologues by local actors performing as key Routt County women, and sometimes the event has hosted a Front Range performance group focusing on Western women.

"This year, we decided to try something a little different and go back to the local women focus, and in thinking about some of our more notable women in Steamboat Springs history, of course Perry-Mansfield and Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield come to mind," Bannister said.

Through the historical film, museum display and Perry-Mansfield presentation, Bannister hopes the Monday event, "The Women of Perry-Mansfield," gives the audience a sense of the camp's history and programs, she said.

"I think that even though a lot of residents are familiar with Perry-Mansfield, I don't know that they're aware of just the incredible magic and world-renowned level that exists and has existed out at Perry-Mansfield," Bannister said. "There's this small space out in the middle of Northwest Colorado in Steamboat Springs, but it's been a famous place not only for graduates coming from it, but teachers going to it."

Associate reference librarian Jackie Kuusinen plans to put together a display of books about women in Routt County or written by women from Routt County for the event, Kuusinen said. Lindenmayer said she hopes to have time to answer questions about Perry-Mansfield's programs and history.

Founded in 1913, Perry-Mansfield offers summer programs in the performing arts for children of all ages. Among the faculty, guest artists and students who have come through the camp are Agnes de Mille, Dustin Hoffman, John Cage and Stephen Schwartz. Learn more at

If you go

What: The Women of Perry-Mansfield

When: 4 and 5:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library

Cost: Free

Call: 879-2214

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