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By Karen Hendricks, Gettysburg Festival PR/Marketing Director

Bob Newhart, now in his 50th year in show business, brings his legendary comedic wit to the Gettysburg Festival on Saturday, June 18.  His name is one of the biggest to ever grace the Festival stage, right up there with James Earl Jones, who visited the Festival in 2009 to narrate A Lincoln Portrait accompanied by full orchestra.  Newhart will indeed step out onto the very stage where Jones performed two years ago, at Gettysburg’s beautiful Majestic Theater.

This classic funnyman blazed a trail with a trademark deadpan style, perhaps best summarized by Julia Keller, Cultural Critic of the Chicago Tribune:  “He’s the king of the shrug, the dean of the deliberate stammer, the prince of the sideways peep.”

In fact, Newhart has been quoted as saying, “This stammer got me a home in Beverly Hills, and I’m not about to screw with it now.”

Throughout his career, Newhart and his stammer appeared on America’s funniest television shows numerous times:  The Dean Martin Show (24 times), The Ed Sullivan Show (8 times), guest hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (a whopping 87 times), and hosted Saturday Night Live (2 times).  Additionally, many Americans remember him as Dr. Robert Harley in the longtime 1970’s television series, The Bob Newhart Show, and as Dick Loudon in the popular 1980’s television show, Newhart.

The cast of "Newhart," circa the 1980's

In 2002 Newhart was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Mark Twain Prize is an award presented to humorists who, like Mark Twain himself, “make a significant contribution to American humor.” Previous winners of the Mark Twain Award were Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner and Whoopi Goldberg. Later this year, Will Ferrell will be awarded the 14th Annual Prize.  The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who “have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain.”

Mark Twain

Twain himself could have been describing Bob Newhart when he said, “The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it.”

According to Newhart’s 1988 biography, if he hadn’t taken a gamble with comedy he would still be an accountant: “Keep in mind, when I started in the late fifties, I didn’t say to myself, ‘Oh, here’s a great void to fill—I’ll be a balding ex-accountant who specializes in low-key humor.’ That’s simply what I was and that’s the direction my mind always went in, so it was natural for me to be that way.”

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask this comedy legend a handful of questions recently:

Q:  The Gettysburg Festival is thrilled to welcome you to our civil war era town.  Have you visited Gettysburg previously?

A:  Some years ago while I was appearing at Valley Forge, my son Tim and I took a car to Gettysburg and visited the battlefield and environs.

Q:  You are considered an “icon” of American comedy.   To what do you attribute your success and longevity in this business?

A:  A willingness to adapt to changes in comedy over the years.

Q:  How has the business of comedy shifted over the past 50 years?

A:  It began with Laugh In and the pace of comedy.   There has been a shortening of the audience’s attention span.

Q:  We all know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine.”  Do you think people need a laugh now, more than ever, due to the economic downturn and tough times?

A:  More than ever, people need to laugh.

You are guaranteed to do just that, June 18 at the Gettysburg Festival—join us!

By Miriam Grinberg, Gettysburg Festival Visual Arts Intern, Gettysburg College Class of 2011

Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about the 2000 film Chocolat is the whimsical theme music composed by Rachel Portman, whose score truly transports the audience to beautiful southern France. Portman’s score, as well as the film itself, were internationally acclaimed and together nominated for no less than five Academy Awards. It’s easy to understand why; from the picturesque scenery of rural France to a stellar cast, Chocolat is a visual delight.

Directed by Lasse Hallström and based on the 1999 novel by Joanne Harris, Chocolat centers around the story of Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), an independent spirit and young mother who wanders France with secret chocolate recipes passed down to her by her mother of Mayan ancestry. She arrives with her young daughter Anouk in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, a small and traditional village, and opens up her own chocolaterie . . . during Lent. Her boldness shocks the conservative villagers, including the devout Mayor Comte Paul de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), who begins a campaign against Vianne’s business. However, as Reynaud soon discovers, many of the villagers are willing to break Lent to try a taste of Vianne’s delectable confections – and even Reynaud himself finds that resistance is difficult.

Alfred Molina as Mayor Reynaud

Described as “a sinfully scrumptious bonbon” by critic Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine, audiences may also have trouble resisting the charms of the film and its heroine, Vianne. Binoche truly brings out the character’s fighting spirit against accusations of heresy, her kindness to others outcasted by the villagers, and her passion for chocolate.  She is supported by other A-list actors, including: Alfred Molina, the mayor perfectly divided over his faith in God and his lust for sweets; Judi Dench, tragically funny as a cynical grandmother disallowed from seeing her grandson due to being a “bad influence”; and even Johnny Depp as an Irish gypsy with whom Vianne shares her feelings of ostracization.

Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche as Vianne and Roux

Portman’s score becomes, in itself, like another character in the story; it weaves through periods of intense drama and periods of light humor effortlessly, and it is difficult to imagine the film without her iconic music attached to every second of every scene. Hallström’s direction is also extremely effective in taking the audience both through sweeping overhead shots of the village as well as intimate close-ups without ever losing the central focus: the characters themselves.

At Chocolate Sinema on June 15, Festival attendees will get the chance to experience this delightful film followed by a decadent chocolate reception including petit fours, fondue, and even coffees and martinis infused with chocolate. If the movie doesn’t get your mouth watering for chocolate within the first 30 minutes, then seeing this display of delicacies will most definitely do it! Don’t miss out on this exclusive culinary event catered by the Festival’s Artistic Director for the Culinary Arts, former White House Chef Walter Scheib.

For more information on this event, feel free to contact the Festival at (717) 334-0853 or check our official website for details.

By Elizabeth Palmer, Gettysburg Festival PR/Marketing Intern

This year’s culinary event Chocolate Sinema brings something new to the Festival. For the first time in the Festival’s four-year history, a culinary event has been designed in conjunction with a classic film. Festival-goers will be able to savor the heartwarming story of Vianne Rocher in Chocolat while being tempted by the promise of a chocolate reception upon the film’s conclusion. Chocolate Sinema is the first culinary event to feature a menu designed entirely around my favorite part of a meal—dessert!

From Halloween to Valentine’s Day, ice cream to cookies, mousse to candy bars, I am crazy about chocolate. While I have always been a chocolate lover, I have never realized its health benefits. Since chocolate is made from plants, it contains many of the same nutrients as dark-colored vegetables, including flavonoids. These are compounds that can lower blood pressure and balance certain hormones in the body. Flavonoids may also act preventatively against cancer: they can help reduce cell damage that could potentially lead to tumor growth. Additionally, flavonoids act as antioxidants, which prevent heart disease and the effects of aging. Antioxidants are especially prevalent in dark chocolate, which contains almost eight times the antioxidants of strawberries!

Dark chocolate also contains many other health benefits. Studies have shown that enjoying one small dark chocolate bar a day can lower cholesterol by 10%. Not only does dark chocolate carry with it physical health benefits, but also emotional benefits. Consuming dark chocolate stimulates the body’s production of endorphins, which release feelings of pleasure and well-being. Dark chocolate is also full of serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. Eating chocolate will certainly elevate your mood and keep you happy!

Chocolate cheesecake

For those of you concerned about the fat content of chocolate, place your worries aside. Dark chocolate is composed of three types of fats: oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. While this seems like a lot, studies have shown that only one of these fats, palmitic acid, has negative effects on the body.  Stearic acid is a saturated fat with a neutral effect on cholesterol and oleic acid is an example of a healthy monosaturated fat. If fat content is still a concern, avoid chocolate containing nougat or caramel in favor of more natural ingredients such as orange peel or nuts. This will help cut back on excess sugar and fat.

Chocolate mousse

While chocolate has been given a bad reputation, many studies have determined its wide range of health benefits. My personal favorite is a study proving that chocolate may have a positive effect on math skills. In 2009, a study at Northumbria University in England concluded that people count backwards better after drinking hot chocolate containing 500mg of flavanols. This is because chocolate improves blood flow to the brain. Who knew chocolate could improve your mathematical abilities? It seems like there is a health benefit in dark chocolate for everyone—in case anyone needed an excuse to indulge in this decadent treat.

Chocolate Sinema will be a great opportunity to put these benefits into use. The reception has been designed to feature a bounty of chocolate-themed delicacies, including artisan chocolates, pastries, fondue, petit fours and even martinis and coffees infused with chocolate. Chocolate Sinema will leave you feeling satisfied—by the richness of Chocolat and by the chocolate confections themselves.

By Miriam Grinberg, Gettysburg Festival Visual Arts Intern

Beech Springs Farm in Orrtanna, PA

On Sunday, June 12, the Gettysburg Festival invites culinary enthusiasts and quilters alike to attend “An Old-Fashioned Sunday Supper” at the beautiful (and local!) Beech Springs Farm in Orrtanna, PA. Designed as a nostalgic, farm-fresh dinner harking back to simpler times, this “Sunday Supper” features stunning summer views of Beech Springs as guests are seated at one long table overlooking the landscape. Accompanying the supper are a group of plein air (open air) painters creating works of art on the spot, along with traditional bluegrass music provided by the Friends Creek Pickers of Maryland.

An array of quilts designed by the "Peep Show"

Another unique aspect enhancing the traditional flavor of this event is an heirloom quilt display in Beech Spring’s 1860s-era barn. The quilts featured in this exhibit were all handmade by a group curiously called the “Peep Show” – or, as they describe themselves, “5 quilters, 5 friends, 5 peeps.”


Together, the five women of the “Peep Show” are Barbara Dombrowsky, Jill Coleman, Patsy Hartnett, Annette Ehly, and Judy Sorensen. These friends have quilted together weekly for almost 20 years and together have a combined 150 plus years of quilting experience. 

The Peeps’ talents range from traditional to innovative quiltwork, featuring everything from functional bed coverings to spectacular wall art and everything in between.  Their techniques include, but are not limited to, hand and machine quilting, piecing, and applique with both cotton and wool.  Each quilter designs and produces her own quilts,  but the constant interaction and support from the group adds both helpful inputs and challenges.


The Peeps combined their efforts for the Adams County Breast Cancer quilt of 2009.  Their work has been displayed at numerous quilt shows in Pennsylvania and at a special showing in 2010 at Harrisburg Area Community College.

An advanced "double wedding ring" quilt pattern

For more information on An Old-Fashioned Sunday Supper, please visit the Gettysburg Festival’s official website or call us at (717) 334-0853 for details. Tickets are in limited supply for this unique culinary (and quilting!) event, so order yours today!

By Karen Hendricks, Gettysburg Festival PR/Marketing Director

How many of you are making “bucket lists” these days?  It seems like a popular topic for discussion, and it’s always fascinating to hear what sorts of activities and travel ideas pop up on these “lists of a lifetime.”

One of the trends I’ve noticed is that people often tend to list those iconic travel destinations such as the Statue of Liberty.  In New York City recently, our family felt compelled to visit Ground Zero.  The millions of tourists flocking to Gettysburg every year are drawn by the site of the Civil War’s most pivotal battle.  Plenty of western U.S. destinations are making bucket lists:  the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Mount Rushmore.

"The Presidents of Mount Rushmore"

Here at Gettysburg Festival, we’re gearing up for an amazing theater presentation at the June Festival titled “The Presidents of Mount Rushmore.”  We are thrilled to welcome perhaps the top four presidential portrayers in the entire country, bringing memorialized Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt to life.  These four extremely talented and knowledgeable men will send shivers down spines as they are “reincarnated” on the stage of the Majestic Theater to talk about their roles in U.S. history, their views on the Constitution and much more.  The audience will even have the chance to ask questions of these iconic American presidents.  For more on this June 17 event, including ticketing links, click here.

The creation of Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a colorful tale.  Standing 5,725 feet high, Mount Rushmore was named in 1885 for New York lawyer Charles E. Rushmore.  Historican Doane Robinson of South Dakota is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills in order to attract tourism. It was sculptor Gutzon Borglum who chose the four presidents as subjects because he said they represented the first 150 years of American history.  His plan was to immortalize their likenesses as close to heaven as possible, holding them up as fine examples of leaders.

“The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”  -Sculptor Gutzon Borglum 

Jim Foote as Theodore Roosevelt

The actual work began on October 4, 1927.  It was fourteen years later, and after many funding challenges, that the monument was completed in 1941.  It took a combined workforce of 400  men to complete the task. Today nearly three million visitors visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial annually.

According to the National Park Service’s website:

  • Washington, being our first president, represents the BIRTH of our country.
  • Jefferson symbolizes the EXPANSION of the nation, being credited with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
  • Lincoln embodies the PRESERVATION of the nation in confronting the challenges of the Civil War.
  • Theodore Roosevelt represents the DEVELOPMENT of our country. He promoted construction of the Panama Canal.

Mount Rushmore, one of the largest forms of artwork in the entire world, was creating using an amazing system.  Borglum familiarized himself with life masks, painting, photographs and descriptions of the four presidents. He then created multiple models at a ratio of 1:12 which his workmen could use as guides. One inch on the model equaled one foot on the mountain.  Using the ratio guidelines, the workmen were able to determine how much rock to remove and where.  In fact, 90% of the heads were carved with dynamite.

Having an appreciation for the creation of this majestic monument, and the presidents it immortalizes certainly places it on my bucket list.  I hope to reach South Dakota one day, but in the meantime, I look forward to “meeting” the four presidents at Gettysburg Festival this June.  What better place to present “The Presidents of Mount Rushmore” than Gettysburg–gathering America’s most treasured icons of history in one of her most historic places.  Why not join us on June 17 and check a few items off your bucket list?

Dean Malissa as George Washington

By: Annie Marosits- Gettysburg Festival Children’s Arts Fair Intern, Gettysburg College ’11

Shonna Flanigan, founder of Adventure In Fun is a world class artist who creates unbelievable masterpieces out of balloons, elaborate face painting designs, and much more! Adventure In Fun, a one of a kind business, is highly sought after and has traveled as far as China and Germany to produce their stunning décor. We are thrilled to present her talents as part of Gettysburg Festival’s Children’s Arts Fair on Friday June 17th from noon until 6 PM at the Festival Main Stage.

As far as Shonna’s balloon work goes, it would be difficult to find anything quite like it. Imagine your typical balloon animal times…a million.  Her creations literally come to life due to their sheer size and fabulous craftsmanship. No detail is left out of place.  But Shonna creates a lot more than astonishing balloon animals. After browsing through the Adventure In Fun Facebook page, I came across realistic looking Disney characters, life size palm trees and flowers, elaborate archways, and dresses. Yes, dresses!

When I met with Shonna, I asked her how it was possible to create a wearable dress out of just balloons.  At first, she laughed, admitting it’s not an easy task—though most people don’t understand that.  “People think they can just call me up on the telephone and order a size six balloon dress. That’s not how it works,” she told me.  Shonna must travel to the client, size them herself, and then assemble the dress on sight. “It’s only good for one night,” she started, “they’ll never be able to wear it again after their night.”  When I asked Shonna how far she’ll travel to create a balloon dress for someone, she told me “As far as they want. If they’re willing to pay, I’ll go.”

But Shonna isn’t in Adventure In Fun alone.  Her children have jumped on the bandwagon, and, it seems, are in for the long haul.  Her oldest, Dustin, is 20 and a talented artist and lover of animals. He can also work with balloons, as well as walk on stilts! “He can do both at the same time, too,” Shonna laughed. In addition, Dustin has become an animal advocate, rescuing dozens of animals that otherwise would be put to sleep. His reptile obsession has become an interesting part of Adventure In Fun—the cold blooded creatures are often booked for parties and events. Shonna’s daughters, Alayna, 19, and Alysa, 14, are also involved with Adventure In Fun. They are both capable of fantastic face and cheek painting and also act as models to display Shonna’s work.  In addition, both girls have dressed up in some of the many costumes Adventure In Fun owns to provide entertainment at birthday parties. 

Shonna and the rest of the staff at Adventure In Fun don’t just stop at providing amazing art and entertainment, they also donate their time and services to well deserving causes!  Just recently, Shonna participated in a “Save Second Base” fundraiser against cancer, hosted in Fredrick, MD, donating her time and balloon art to the cause. It seems she’s more than a dedicated artist, but an avid supporter of community as well.

Be sure not to miss the talented Shonna Flanigan and company this summer at the Gettysburg Festival’s Children’s Arts Fair.  You can expect realistic-looking palm trees, high-flying monkeys, and larger- than- life bananas—all individually hand-crafted using balloons. Or, get your face or cheek painted and transform yourself into something magical. We can’t wait to see you there!

Shonna's Life-Size Balloon Art!