It’s the Jon and Rick show Thursday

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The highly anticipated talk tomorrow night by Jon Meacham at The Coeur d’Alene Resort is sold out.

That’s 700 prized seats, every one accounted for.

While Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize winner and famed speaker, will draw all the attention, a bearded fellow sitting quietly in the audience deserves a standing ovation.

His name is Rick Ardinger, and if you’ve never heard of him, that’s OK. He’s not a headline grabber. He’s the guy who has been attracting the headline grabbers and strengthening the state’s bond with the humanities for a quarter of a century.

Ardinger announced in July this is his last go-round as executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council — the folks who, with help from their many friends, have been bringing nationally renowned writers, historians and speakers to Boise since 1997 and Coeur d’Alene since 2004.

Under Rick’s leadership, many thousands of Idahoans have been able to experience the humanities on a level generally available only in major metropolitan areas. One of the best parts of the deal is that many of those benefitting from these experiences are students and teachers who get to interact with Rick’s brilliant, accomplished and eloquent visitors.

IHC has grown in part because of a $1 million fundraising campaign that Ardinger helped lead, but the nonprofit has blossomed too by its intimate relationship with patrons like the 700 who will enjoy a splendid meal and lecture tomorrow night. While many local volunteers deserve much of the credit for creating such beautiful music, the conductor has been Rick Ardinger.

IHC’s goal is to promote greater public awareness, appreciation and understanding of the humanities in Idaho. It receives no funding from the state, relying instead on support from people like you.

The biggest crowd yet for an IHC dinner and lecture in Coeur d’Alene will greet Jon Meacham. It’s fitting that the huge audience will be on hand to bid Rick Ardinger farewell.

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