Wednesday, July 05, 2000

Chautauqua festival celebrates history

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WILMINGTON — Thomas Edison will appear in Wilmington this week, with industrialist John D. Rockefeller, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, women's rights activist Victoria Woodhull and baseball icon Branch Rickey.

        Their characters will be portrayed during Ohio Chautauqua 2000, a revival of the Chautauqua movement that captured Wilmington's — and America's — interest in the late-19th and early 20th centuries.

        During the portrayals of “Ohio Voices,” each scholar-performer will give a major evening performance and two daytime workshops.

        Varied special exhibits and presentations, from painting to craft-making, also will be at Wilmington College Tuesday through Saturday.

        The program, organized by the Ohio Humanities Council and other state and local groups, is being promoted by the Ohio Bicentennial Committee.

        “It's an excellent opportunity to showcase our community,” said Debbie Stamper, director of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

        The original Chautauqua, founded in 1874 at Lake Chautauqua, N.Y., became a popular summer festival celebrating the arts and humanities. Regional Chautauqua centers spread across the country, devoting programs to music, literature, dance, drama, science and many other subjects.

        At its peak in 1921, the Chautauqua movement sold 40 million tickets in 9,597 towns. Wilmington College was a Chautauqua site from 1910 to 1932.

        College President Dan DiBiasio said it's fitting that the new Chautauqua — one of five being held around Ohio this summer — is at the school.

        “The Chautauqua ideal of supporting arts and humanities programming for the public is an integral part of Wilmington College's heritage ..., ” he said. “I feel the entire county and region will benefit greatly from this unique summer event.”

        Programs will run from noon to 9 p.m. today and Thursday, 2 to 9 p.m. Friday and 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the college and other places in town. For more information, call the visitors bureau at 1-800-4-A-VISIT.


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