Steamboat Springs John Stansfield has been told by audience members that he reminds them of their grandfathers. In Stansfield's case, it's a compliment.
"She said my vocabulary captured the time and vocabulary of the speech of that era," Stansfield said when describing the reaction of a women who heard him tell the story of Enos Mills.
What: Colorado Mountain College Chautauqua: Our Land and Heritage When: 5 p.m. Thursday, Yampa Valley Boys; 6 p.m. Thursday, John Stansfield's presentation; 5 p.m. Friday, Trevor G. Potter; 6 p.m. Friday, Linda Hogan presentation Where: Colorado Mountain College soccer field Call: 870-4447
Stansfield and author Linda Hogan will be presenters during Colorado Mountain College's Chautauqua, an annual event with a theme that focuses on local land and heritage.
On Thursday, Stansfield will portray Mills circa 1917. Mills was considered the father of Rocky Mountain National Park. He was a naturalist, speaker and conservationist who formed a strong attachment to Colorado's wildlife, mountains and wilderness. Stansfield's presentation will include stories about Mills' experiences at his home at the base of Longs Peak, his cabin at the base of Twin Sister Peak and other significant milestones in his life.
"He helped to develop people's natural history interpretation that became national park interpretation and even historic interpretation," Stansfield said. "I will also talk about his first climbing experience and how that shaped him into a lifelong mountain guide."
Stansfield has been a professional storyteller sine 1979 and often tells stories about the 19th century in first person. He usually dresses like the character he portrays.
"I will have on a white shirt with a high collar, a dark tie and vest, knee wool socks and Wellington-style boots," Stansfield said. "It's a pretty usual uniform of that time."
Mills was involved in the fight to create the Rocky Mountain National Park, which Stansfield said is one of the most recognizable human institutions in Colorado along with the Air Force Academy.
Stansfield has been storytelling for 27 years because he said it's a natural activity for humans.
"We are hard-wired that way, and that's how our species developed," Stansfield said. "And I like the fact that it's carrying on an age-old tradition and at the same time it's a new dynamic mix of old, traditional, ancient and brand new. I always say there is no such thing as an old story to a new audience."
Award-winning poet, essayist and novelist Linda Hogan will be speaking and giving a reading at 6 p.m. Friday. Chautauqua program director Rebecca Potter said Hogan is a powerful and inspiring speaker whose writing is very lyrical. Potter expects the same quality from Hogan's oral presentation.
"She has written several books of all different genres and is a nominee of the Pulitzer Prize," Potter said. "She writes about a sense of place, a connection to the land and she writes from a Native American perspective because she's part Chickasaw Indian."
The Yampa Valley Boys will kick off the Chautauqua with an acoustic cowboy campfire performance at 5 p.m. Thursday. Trevor G. Potter will play American roots music at 5 p.m. Friday.
"We wanted to offer an educational and cultural opportunity for the Steamboat community," Potter said. "We wanted to do it for free so people could come and enjoy the music and the speakers, and we wanted it to be entertaining and educational."