The Charles Logsdon Historic Downtown Walking Tour begins its 32nd year Thursday in Elizabethtown.
At 7 p.m. each Thursday from June to September, the walking tour brings the history of Elizabethtown to life with costumed characters portraying historical figures who lived in or visited Elizabethtown during its history.
There are 12 stops and the tour typically lasts a little more than an hour.
Educators and historians Charlie Logsdon and Bob Beimdick wrote the original script for the tour, long-time tour actor Charlie Skees said.
“They knew the rich, varied and widely encompassing history of this area,” he said. “They also knew that costumed characters bringing the history alive would be a true crowd pleaser.”
Last season, Skees said the tour hosted a record crowd of more than 1,275 people.
“The personal element of having a live character interpret history is much more intriguing than reading a brochure,” he said.
Skees is one of the many volunteers who return each year to portray characters on the tour.
“These volunteers are a rare breed of dedicated, historically minded individuals,” he said.
Tim Asher, Skees said, has portrayed almost every part in the script over the years. Others like Tony Bishop and D. Dee Shaw come back every year in “sickness and health,” he said.
This is John Scott’s 32nd year on the tour, he said.
Others such as Judge Kelly Easton and former actor Julia Richardson, who played Aunt Beck for years, helped write their own script when asked, he said.
“Some return each year because Charlie Logsdon expected it of his handpicked originals,” Skees said. “The newer volunteers, as in 20 or less years, show up each season, rain or shine, large or small crowd, and put their hearts into a performance for participants from returning locals to those from all over the United States and various foreign countries.”
During Skees’ many years on the tour, he remembers one interesting night when the performance became a little too real for onlookers.
Carrie A. Nation, then played by Velma Sarver, came around the corner from the scene of J.R. Neighbors Saloon.
“Velma was hooping and hollering, covered in blood after being supposedly accosted by neighbors with a bar stool,” he said of the scene she was portraying. “Traffic on the square stopped momentarily and one concerned person stopped his truck and exited the running vehicle.”
On top of that, instructors and students from a martial arts studio that used to be around the corner came to offer help.
“Hearing the ruckus and noticing the stopped traffic, the instructors and class of young students dressed in their uniforms and belts exited the studio to see if they could be of assistance,” he said. “It was quite a colorful episode that evening.”
Along with those who have been a part of the tour a long time, there are new members to the crew.
Kerrie Lewis is sharing the role of Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln with Shaw, alternating different weeks. It’s Lewis’ first year with the tour.
“I am looking forward to working with this group and I appreciate their dedication and contribution to our downtown energy,” she said. “I am also looking forward to meeting those folks on the tour — always appreciate our visitors and I am happy to be a part of welcoming them and sharing the events and tales of early Elizabethtown.”
She said the tour remains popular because of its “historical veracity.”
“The costumes have to be authentic within the time period and the storytellers bring history to life,” she said. “Because I am a huge advocate of theater, I believe the costuming and performance aspect adds power and dimension to the stories of our past.”
Admission is free on the tour.
Tavern in the Garden also will return to the Cunningham Gardens behind the Brown-Pusey House for live music and a cash bar available 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays during the summer.
For more information, call 270-982-2209.