GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Chautauqua will be making its sixth visit to Gallipolis City Park and raising its iconic red and white striped tent to house evening festivities and educational performances for its June operating season.
“Ohio Chautaqua is presented by the Ohio Humanities Council,” said Debbie Saunders Bossard Memorial Library director.
According to Saunders, who is also the Gallia County Ohio Chautauqua Committee chair, the event is slated to hold performances every evening in the park from June 21-25 with local music performances starting at 6:45 p.m. and living historical presenters starting their performances at 7:30 p.m.
Scholars are going to perform in-character presentations as historical figures Chief Cornstalk, Mary Shelley, Dian Fossey, Marie Curie and President Theodore Roosevelt.
Chief Cornstalk was known for being a leader of the Shawnee and for his involvement in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Historians remember Mary Shelley as the author of “Frankenstein.” Dian Fossey is remembered for her extensive work with mountain gorillas. Marie Curie served as a renowned physicist and chemist who pioneered research in radioactivity, and President Theodore Roosevelt was known for his endorsements of American natural conservation.
Ohio’s Chautauqua events always center around a theme and this year’s is focused around exploring the natural world.
According to the Ohio Humanities Council website, “After their debut in 1874 as a summer class for Sunday School teachers, Chautauqua assemblies quickly expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. Chautauqua assemblies brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is ‘the most American thing in America.’”
The Chautauqua movement lost steam during the Great Depression. Some suggest this was due to the rise of radio and movies. Some Chautauquas have remained important community gatherings for individual areas, whereas others are being brought to life again. The Ohio Humanities Council created the Ohio Chautauqua in 1999 and it has been touring Ohio since.
Saunders said that youth workshops recommended for children 8 years old and older will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Bossard Memorial Library in correspondence with the given historical person featured by the Ohio Chautauqua that day before the evening performance. Adults will have a workshop at 2:30 p.m. the corresponding day.
Chief Cornstalk will be featured June 21 followed by Mary Shelley on June 22, Dian Fossey on June 23, Marie Curie on June 24 and President Roosevelt on June 25.
Ray McKinniss, the late local philanthropist and Bob Evans Farm manager, was widely known for his involvement in bringing the Ohio Chautauqua to Gallipolis and the Ohio Valley. Event organizers intend to honor his memory under the red-and-white tent in June.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.