Vern Frykholm has appeared throughout the Puget Sound region as George Washington, portraying the first president in parades, at schools, for local festivals, and Veterans’ events. This July, Frykholm will head east to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, where he will portray Washington during Independence Day weekend, on July 3 and 4.
Frykholm first appeared as George Washington in February of 2012 at the local George Washington Inn’s annual birthday tea for the founding father. Since then, he estimates he has made more than 400 presentations to about 25,000 people. Most of those have been in western Washington, though he appeared at the Historical Novel Society’s North America conference in 2019 near Washington, D.C. and made school appearances in Lincoln, Neb.
The opportunity to portray Washington at Mount Rushmore is a special honor, Frykholm said. In 2015 he visited the monument on Independence Day to observe another Washington portrayer, Carl Closs of Pennsylvania, who has presented there for several years. It was a highlight to meet with Closs and the other portrayers, Fritz Klein as Lincoln, Gib Young as Theodore Roosevelt, and Tom Pitz as Thomas Jefferson.
To improve his knowledge and understanding of Washington, Frykholm has read more than 50 books, and follows current research by historians of that era.
He has also visited many of the historical locations associated with the first president, such as his birthplace in Virginia, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Virginia where Washington served in the colonial House of Burgesses, Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, and the sites of several battles from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.
Frykholm most frequently appears in fifth and eighth grade classrooms — currently using Zoom. “My goal is to educate, entertain, and inspire,” Frykholm said.
“I often present students with the challenges and problems Washington faced in his youth—the loss of his father at age 11, his family’s relative poverty as his widowed mother raised six children, and his lack of formal education. These were powerful factors in shaping Washington’s character.”
On his website, georgewashingtonspeaks.com, Frykholm is developing a series of videos which can be used in classrooms, to be followed by Zoom sessions to answer questions.
This would allow him to interact with classrooms beyond the Puget Sound region. School presentations are done free of charge. The website recordings are also accessible to the general public.
Frykholm can be reached at 360-460-9302 for more information.