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Front Page » December 28, 2004 » Local News » Part Ii: Looking Back at the Arts in the History Of the C...
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Part Ii: Looking Back at the Arts in the History Of the County


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By KAREN TRUMAN
Chairperson, Emery County Arts Council

Welsh Choir, 1895, from Huntington and Cleveland won prizes for their singing. (Photo: Scofield, Utah)

Performing arts has always been important to the citizens of Emery County.

Music was Huntington's lifestyle. In 1884 the Marshal Band of Huntington was organized by Milas E. Johnson. A brass band was organized in 1886. They bought new instruments and blue suits trimmed with brass buttons.

About 1895, Thomas L Hardee came to Huntington to interest singers in joining the Nightingales of Cleveland to make a group worthy of participating in a competition held in Scofield. They traveled in covered wagons and buggies. They rehearsed during the trip and Professor Hardee said, "It can't be beat." The Scofield inhabitants called the singers "Hayseeds" but the day of the contest the judges gave first place to the Castle Valley "Hayseeds."

In the early 1920s, Everet Johnson organized a Men's Glee Club which entertained in almost every program there was. There were 27 members of the original glee club. Eighty-plus years later the Huntington Glee Club is still performing and very much in demand.

In dramatics, full length stage plays were produced each season between 1880 and 1900 in the old log meetinghouse. Entries in the account books of the old Johnson Brothers Store indicate that plays were being presented, theatre tickets sold, and that a dramatic company was in operation during this period. Play scripts were scarce and difficult to obtain so plays were copied in longhand from scripts borrowed from dramatic companies in other communities. All performers were amateurs who acted for the pleasure it provided to the communities.

The Huntington Dramatic Club was organized on Jan. 9, 1892 and consisted of 40 members. The members were listed with their own signatures at this organizational meeting.

A new dramatic organization came into existence in 1900 known as the Acme Comedy Company. It included many younger players of the community, but several of the older members of the Huntington Dramatic Club also joined. They prepared a repertoire of plays and toured throughout Castle Valley.

A name that emerges from the history and love of dramatics in Huntington is that of Elmo G. Geary who spent his life in the promotion of drama and musical entertainment in the area. He taught in Emery County Schools and College of Eastern Utah. The Geary Theatre there bears his name.

If you are interested in supporting the effort of the Emery County Arts Council or if you have special memories or photos of the performing or cultural arts in Emery County from the past, the Emery County Arts Council would like to hear from you.

Email responses to Karen at tinkerbell_1942@hotmail.com or call 384-2896.


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