Ohio Chautauqua In Lakewood 2013: Witness To Western Frontier history

More than 2,000 people journeyed back in time over the course of five nights during Ohio Chautauqua 2013: "When Ohio Was the Western Frontier" in Lakewood Park June 25-29, sponsored by the Lakewood Historical Society and Ohio Humanities Council. The big red and white striped tent in Lakewood Park drew hundreds of people under its flaps each night and brought a festive spirit to the city, despite several nights of rain and even thunder and lightning.

“The event was again an overwhelming success this year,” said Ohio Chautauqua Committee Chairwoman Ann Bish, who brought the idea of Lakewood hosting the Chautauqua to the Lakewood Historical Society for the first time in 2011, and again this year.

Each night under the tent, local musicians -- many students from the Lakewood City Schools -- regaled the audience with musical pieces from the Revolutionary War period and later. Groups included Lakewood High’s Vive L’Four singing quartet; the Webb Trio; Will Crosby, Diane Virostko  and Duncan Virostko; Four Seasons String Quartet; Luke Lemmeier  and Grace Lazos; Foster Brown; and Lakewoodite Gary Rice on the banjo.

“The music was wonderful,” said Bish. “We have so many talented musicians in Lakewood.”

Following the music, riveting stories presented in first-person character were told by the trained actor/scholars who travel with Chautauqua. Hundreds packed the tent each night to listen to Johnny Appleseed, frontier aristocrat Margaret Blennerhassett, Iroqouis leader Chief John Logan, Lewis & Clark expedition member York, and the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry.

In addition to the crowds at the tent each night, adults and kids turned out for programs at the Beck Center for the Arts and the Lakewood Public Library on aspects of the Western frontier such as Indian life, nature-based artwork, slavery, stories of the birth of the United States Navy and more. The programs drew not only Lakewood residents, but history buffs from across Northeast Ohio.

Expanding on the great success of the 2011 Ohio Chautauqua in Lakewood, the Historical Society offered a prize package that included two Opening Night tickets to “Disney's The Lion King” at PlayhouseSquare, two vouchers to the 2014 "Come Home to Lakewood" House Tour, complimentary overnight stay at the Wyndham Cleveland at PlayhouseSquare, private tour of Lakewood's Templar Motors Factory Building, Display and Archives for four, and more. Annette Cirino of Euclid was the winner of the Prize Package drawing.

Another new feature of this year’s Ohio Chautauqua was appearances from several gourmet food trucks. We were also lucky to have great food from Lakewood restaurants and concessions from the Kiwanis Club.

In thanking the volunteers, nonprofit groups, sponsors, city officials and many others who made the Chautauqua event possible – not to mention all those who attended the events -- Bish spoke for the entire Lakewood Historical Society when she said, “Lakewood is the greatest community ever.”

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 8:59 AM, 07.10.2013