Building on the 19th-century tradition established on the shores of New York’s Chautauqua Lake, Ohio Chautauqua is a five-day community event that combines living history performances, music, education, and audience participation into a one-of-a-kind cultural event the entire community will enjoy.
Daytime activities feature stimulating adult programs and hands-on workshops for youth hosted by local community organizations. Each evening, family and friends gather as live music fills the air. Then, a talented performer appears on stage, bringing a historic figure to life through personal stories and historic detail. This enriching and delightfully entertaining experience is perfect for every generation. With its warm, nostalgic vibe, this truly unique experience is sure to open minds and start conversations.
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. US President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America.”
By 1915, at the height of the Chautauqua Movement, nearly 12,000 communities had hosted a Chautauqua. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the movement died out. Most historians cite the rise of car culture, radio, and movies as the causes.
A handful of independent Chautauquas survived and are thriving again while others are being resurrected. Leading the way, several state humanities councils have organized Chautauquas over the last two decades. Ohio Humanities established Ohio Chautauqua in 1999 as part of its mission to to help individuals and communities explore, share, and be inspired by the human experience. The tour now travels to four towns in Ohio each summer.