Annual Scopes Trial Festival Highlights Dayton History

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Scopes Trial Rhea County Courthouse

Relive one of the trials of the century at the annual Scopes Trial Festival in Dayton. In July 1925, schoolteacher John Scopes was put on trial in the small town for teaching evolution to his students, which was against the law. The hearing was quickly dubbed “The Monkey Trial” in nod to the animal’s role in the theory of evolution.

The town, which was experiencing financial problems, gained immense fame and advertisement from the trial, with over 200 journalists coming from around the world to cover the story. It was also the first trial ever to be broadcast live on national radio.

Experience the story for yourself at the Scopes Trial Festival, which features a play called “Front Page News: The Scopes Monkey Trial.” This dramatic reenactment focuses on the two main attorneys involved and even features excerpts from the actual trial transcript.

In addition to the play, activities include live music on the courthouse lawn, food and craft vendors, Charleston dance demonstrations and more.

This year’s Scopes Trial Festival takes place July 15-17 and 23-24, 2016, at the Rhea County Courthouse. For more information about the Annual Scopes Trial Festival, visit


  1. Theresa Zavadil

    April 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Could you please tell if the Scopes Trial Reenactment for 2013 is scheduled yet?
    My Mother and I are interested in attending.

    Thank you so much, Theresa Zavadil

    • Jessy Yancey

      April 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Theresa,

      Yes, the Scopes Trial Festival was canceled last year, but their website this year says it is slated for July 19-20, 2013.

      Jessy Yancey
      Tennessee Home & Farm

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