An award-winning political cartoonist will be the keynote speaker at the third annual American Presidents Film & Literary Festival, which will take place Sept. 25 and Oct. 1-3 at various locations inFremont.

The festival will include original films, a play based on the life of a White House butler, a red carpet event that includes dinner and craft beer tasting, lantern tours of Spiegel Grove with living history presenters and more.

Arthur “Chip” Bok, a syndicated political cartoonist through Los Angeles-based Creators Syndicate, will speak during the Red Carpet Event on Saturday, Oct. 2, at The Strand Concert Theater. The event is from 5 to 7:15 p.m.

His talk will focus on the role that the press, specifically political cartoonists, play during a presidential administration. Using a variety of cartoons createdby himself, as well as other cartoonists, Bok intends to discuss the political nuances displayed in the artwork. He will also emphasize the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Bok’s cartoons appear worldwide in publications, including The Times of London, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek. His work has earned him numerous awards, which include Best Editorial Cartoonist 1995, 1999 (National Cartoon Society) and the Berryman Editorial Cartooning Award 1993 (National Press Foundation).

Bok’s talk is made possible through a grant from Ohio Humanities as part of the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums’ special exhibit, “The Press & The Presidency” exhibit. Hayes Presidential is one of the festival organizers. Ohio Humanities is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed by this exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Another feature of the festival is the play “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” on Saturday, Sept. 25, at The Little Theater at Fremont Ross High School.Doors open at 6 p.m., and the play begins at 7 p.m. The play is based on the life of Alonzo Fields, White House chief butler who served four U.S. presidents and their families: Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Fields was the grandson of a freed slave who grew up in an all-black town in southern Indiana. He was forced by the Great Depression to give up his dreams of becoming an opera singer and accept the job at the White House, where he quickly was appointed chief butler. Famous guests through Fields’ years included Winston Churchill, Marian Anderson, Errol Flynn and the king and queen of England. As Fields says in the play: “It was like being in the front row and watching the passing parade of history…”

Culled from Fields’ private papers, diaries and interviews, “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” has played at major theaters across the country, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre (where it premiered) and Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. This play is written by James Still. The production stars Tyre’k Hyde as Fields and is directed by Lois Eisenhard. Both are affiliated with the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin.

The annual wreath-laying ceremony at President Rutherford B. Hayes’ tomb at Spiegel Grove also will take place this year as part of the festival. Military representatives sent by President Joe Biden will lay the wreath and speak during the ceremony. This event is at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, and is in honor of President Hayes’ birthday, which is Monday, Oct. 4. Admission is free.

Tickets for all paid events are available online at americanpresidentsfilmfestival.org and are priced as follows:

  • Play: “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” $12 adults/$10 ages 18 and younger
  • Film blocks: $7 per film block v Lantern tours with living history presenters: $10
  • Two-day film pass (gives access to all film blocks): $30
  • Red Carpet Event: Dinner and keynote speaker: $35
  • All-access pass (includes “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” lantern tours, all film blocks, Red Carpet Event): $85

*Tickets also can be purchased with cash only at the door of each venue subject to availability.*

Event sponsors are Crown Battery Corp. and Hal & Diane Hawk; Crescent Manufacturing Co.; and Albrechta & Coble, Ltd.

Award sponsors are Otto Gonzales & Dr. Iracema Arevalo. Film Block Sponsors are 1st Choice Portable Staging and Dr. Greg DeRodes. Friends of the Festival are Holland CPA.

The American Presidents Film & Literary Festival is organized by the Liberty and Learning Foundation, Fremont City Schools, Birchard Public Library and Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

The festival is committed to providing a place for expanded national and international understanding of the history and current events that have and continue to shape and influence the President of the United States. Utilizing the site and community of America’s first presidential library and museum, filmmakers, film professionals and authors will inspire audiences to explore, understand, critique and analyze the people, places, politics and power surrounding the American Presidency.

For information, visit americanpresidentsfilmfestival.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter at @ampresfilmlit.