- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

LINCOLN CITY, Ind. (AP) - A southwestern Indiana amphitheater that hosts outdoor musicals about Abraham Lincoln’s life has new management and a new director after officials suspended this summer’s performances.

The Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln State Park has been managed over the years by various entities, most recently the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association. That nonprofit group stepped aside in September, leading officials to suspend performances.

Now, the covered outdoor amphitheater about 40 miles east of Evansville, near the area where Lincoln spent ages 7 to 21, is under the management of the state Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.

The state agencies’ plans are to use the amphitheater for “a wider variety of programming” to boost local tourism, Office of Tourism Development spokesman Jake Oakman told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1HQbX21 ). Lawmakers set aside $207,000 in funding for the budget year that began July 1 and the same amount for next fiscal year.

In past years, the amphitheater staged a drama about Lincoln’s Indiana years, which is among the official events for Indiana’s 2016 bicentennial.

The Lincoln family’s log cabin no longer stands, but the homestead site is preserved at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, also within the park. That memorial includes the grave of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died when he was nine.

Marc Steczyk, the amphitheater’s new director, said he wants to “relaunch” with an October event, most likely a concert. And in early 2016, he hopes to announce details of the summer season, expecting a number of events

“The idea is basically to get as much use out of that facility as we possibly can,” he said.

The Rev. Jeremy King, past president of the Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association, sees the site management changes as a positive step that should bring greater resources and more stable funding.

King, a monk at the nearby St. Meinrad Archabbey, said the site is a source of pride for the state and for tourism officials, but some residents still may not know of area’s historical significance.

“In my opinion, it’s a sacred place because Lincoln walked those woods,” he said.


Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

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