Scopes Festival News

Cancellation Notice of 2020 Festival and Concerts

We deeply regret to announce that the Scopes Festival and Summer Nights concerts are cancelled for 2020.
Because of guidance from the State of Tennessee and concerns about potential risks to our patrons, the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation believes that it is in the best interest of all concerned not to present the concerts and festivals this year.
We are grateful for the support we have received in the form of individuals looking forward to the concerts and festival, and the commitment of performers and vendors to help produce a full schedule of activities.
Our intention is to rebound in 2021 and present another outstanding series of concerts in July, and a full-blown Scopes Festival the third weekend of July. Please check back with us early in 2021 for further updates.

Scopes 2020 – Adapting to COVID-19

The Scopes Festival will look different this year, but it’s still on schedule as a one-day event for the third weekend in July.

“Saturday, July 18, will see a day full of outdoor activities for the whole family,” Festival
Chairman Tom Davis announced. “We are planning demonstrations of crafts that were a part of everyday life in the 1920s, live music, storytelling, and even a watermelon-cutting. We also hope to have some characters from the Scopes Trial drop by and talk with guests about their impressions of Dayton.”

Social distancing directives and other COVID-related issues made it impossible to begin
rehearsals for Front Page News, the central feature of the festival. Questions lingered about being able to accommodate a crowd in the courtroom where the play has been traditionally presented. In the end, it was decided that the play was not possible for 2020’s festival.

Bluegrass bands will perform on the courthouse lawn during the day, and vendors are being invited to sell their wares. “We also plan to have games for the whole family,” Davis said.

“This has been a difficult change in plans for us to make,” he admitted, “but we believe we will have an event that will help all of us get outside and celebrate as our community recovers from the pandemic’s impact.”

The Scopes Festival and the Nokian Tyres Summer Nights concerts scheduled each Friday in July, are made possible by major funding from Rhea County, the City of DaytonNokian Tyres and the Tennessee Arts Commission.


107 Main St
​ Dayton, TN 37321

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