Department of Tourism
Lincoln Presenters Are in Demand as Bicentennial Approaches
Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of monthly news releases about events leading to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial in Kentucky.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – In the land of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, the lanky, bearded man is king. Or at least very much in demand, as the bicentennial of the 16th president’s birth approaches.
For example, take Cliff Howard of Frankfort. Howard, tall and trim at 77, is busy these days fulfilling requests for appearances as the Kentucky-born Lincoln. Dressed in the stovepipe hat and black suit Lincoln favored, and with his gray beard died black, Howard bears a striking resemblance to the great emancipator. He finds himself occupied with requests for appearances at schools and colleges, museums, historic homes, church and civic groups, receptions, parties and sundry other special occasions.
Howard also has an advantage over many other Lincoln presenters: his wife, Joan, interprets Lincoln’s Kentucky-born wife, Mary Todd. Joan designs and sews her own costumes for her interpretations of Lincoln’s controversial and sometimes misrepresented wife.
“It’s something we can do together, a common interest,” Cliff said.
“We’ve met many wonderful people and presented in places we’d never have been able to go otherwise,” Joan added.
The Association of Lincoln Presenters estimates there are about 150 men in the U.S. who interpret Lincoln, according to the group’s web site. Twenty-odd women are serious Mary Todd Lincoln presenters.
Since first taking on the role of Honest Abe as a scoutmaster in 1985, Cliff Howard has become so interested in Civil War-era history that he now interprets Confederate President Jefferson Davis as well. Howard frequently appears as Davis in a mock debate about the causes of the war with Lincoln presenter Jim Sayre of Lawrenceburg, Ky. Joan presents Davis wife, Varina Howell Davis.
Along with other presenters, the Howards look forward to the kickoff of the bicentennial at the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site near Hodgenville on Feb. 12, 2008.
The Howards have traveled throughout the Midwest and eastern seaboard to present their interpretations of two of Kentucky’s and the nation’s most important historical figures.
Both the Howards have had other careers as Kentucky school teachers and state administrators. Joan is still employed by the Kentucky Department of Education.
“I do it on my vacation time,” she said. “We’re lucky to break even. It’s a labor of love.”
However, with bookings as far as five years in advance, the Howards plan to continue their love affair with Kentucky history.
For more information on the Howards, email them at email@example.com or call 502-223-9970.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.