McCook will host "The Fifties in Focus" in 2022!

Chautauqua is a unique opportunity for communities to explore key time periods of history and culture that still affect our lives today. 

"The Fifties in Focus" • McCook • July 29 & 30, 2022

Fashion Show Magazine CoverRemember the 1950s? It was a decade that is often looked at with a sense of nostalgia and romanticism. But the 50s was also a time of sweeping change that can now be revisited with a more objective eye. Television, hot rods and rock-and-roll changed the way we spent our our free time. However, it wasn’t all idylic.

The Cold War tensions continued to escalate with the Korean War and flare-ups around the world. Superpowers competed in an unprecedented space race. The U.S. experienced a baby boom that strained domestic resources. Meanwhile, women and minorities navigated an unfriendly labor market, and the Civil Rights movement began to solidify. McCarthyism compromised families, friendships and working relationships.

In 2021, Ashland, Nebraska was our host site for these socially distant in-person and online events. Thank you, Ashland! 

The Chautauqua programs for Saturday evening, August were moved to the Ashland Public Library due to weather concerns.


There is limited parking adjacent to the tent site.  There is some parking available in the downtown area northwest and west of the tent and some limited street parking.  The Committee has also made arrangements for some overflow parking at the Ashland Ball Fields (follow signs on 14th St.) and attendees can use the nearby bike trail to walk to the tent (about 3 blocks).  If the weather conditions allow, we will have some designated handicapped parking by the tent and a drop-off point off of Silver Street.

Would you like to know when activities are added and plans for Virtual Chautauqua or August 6 & 7, 2021 are finalized? We'll also send trivia games and other fun 1950s-themed DIYs to enjoy.

August 6 & 7, 2021 - Ashland

Print or view the full schedule (pdf).

  • Family friendly
  • Multiple opportunities to explore the 1950s
  • Interact with experts, family members, neighbors, and friends
  • Free for everyone!

Humanities Nebraska presented this new style of Chautauqua to give participants multiple opportunities to explore the social, economic, political, and international changes of the 1950s. There was a variety of activities and events for Nebraskans of all ages to enjoy, led by various experts and scholars.

What is Chautauqua?

With origins in the late 19th century, Chautauqua combines oratory and lectures with literary readings and musical entertainment. In the past, these touring groups would entertain and inform people living on the plains about political and cultural happenings. The name itself comes from a resort community in New York State where in 1875, a summer program of lectures, sermons, and music attracted such enthusiastic audiences that within a few years similar programs sprang into existence for the public in other parts of the country. Today, Chautauqua upholds the tradition of offering entertainment, education, and community-based heritage. Humanities Nebraska has re-imagined Chautauqua to include contemporary experts offering insight regarding how historic events and achievements affect our lives today, along with scholars-in-residence presenting first-person portrayals of some of our most important historical figures. It’s family-friendly fun, history and activities for all ages.


Trivia Quizzes

More Resources

The 2021 Nebraska Chautauqua was sponsored in part by:

The State of Nebraska

The City of Ashland 

Ashland Public Library 


Ashland Chamber of Commerce

Farmers and Merchants Bank of Ashland

i3 Bank

Helen Raikes

Chuck & Shirley Niemeyer

In HIS Name Foundation

Ashland RV Campground

Ashland Historical Society

Ashland Area Economic Development Corporation

Lutton Law Office

National Title Company

Karen Stille

Glacial Till Tasting Room

The Roost

Strategic Air and Space Museum


…and the contributions of many other generous businesses, organizations, and individuals.