Join Ohio Humanities for Modern Legends, the 20th annual tour of Ohio Chautauqua!

An exciting mixture of education and entertainment, Ohio Chautauqua will travel to four historic communities across the state this summer. The tour begins in Piqua (June 5-9). Evening performances will take place under the Hance Pavilion, erected after WWI to showcase the popular traveling Chautauqua shows of the era. The tour then goes to the beautiful Ohio River town of Gallipolis (June 12-16), where Ohio Chautauqua returns for the seventh time since 2006. Rossford (June 19-23) has made Chautauqua a tradition since they first welcomed the troupe to its Veterans Memorial Park and Marina in 2013. The tour ends back on the banks of the Ohio River in the charming village of New Richmond (June 26-30), where residents are dedicated to preserving the area’s rich history. New Richmond hosted Ohio Chautauqua in 2015.

Discover what other Ohio Chautauqua events you can attend on the individual community pages.

2018 Characters

This summer, Ohio Chautauqua will explore the theme Modern Legends. The program showcases historical figures from the mid-twentieth century whose lives and work left a larger-than-life imprint on the American Psyche.


Susan Marie Frontczak (cq) as Erma Bombeck for Chautauqua 2018. 1/29/18

Ohio Chautauqua kicks off each week on Tuesdays, when Susan Marie Frontczak portrays Erma Bombeck (February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996). Bombeck captured—with great poignancy and humor—the daily life of a new American phenomenon: the suburban housewife. Believing you had to be able to laugh at life to get through it, she captured the essence of the housewife’s daily struggles in her column “At Wits End” three days a week, eventually appearing in 900 newspapers across the country and in books such as “I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression” and “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.” She brought to American awareness the life of millions of women whose lives otherwise often felt invisible and taken for granted.  She let women across America know: You are not alone. In fact, we number in the millions. I, too, am an American housewife, and I will laugh by your side.


Fred Blanco (cq) as Cesar Chavez for Chautauqua 2018. 1/29/18

Wednesday evenings Fred Blanco brings Cesar Chavez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) to the stage. Chavez was a labor and civil rights activist and reformer who, with Dolores Huerta, founded the United Farm Workers labor union to protect the rights of migrant workers. Chavez brought national attention to his cause by organizing non-violent protests, boycotts, legislative reform efforts, and hunger strikes in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. In 1968 he went on a widely publicized 25-day fast promoting non-violence, which ended with an outdoor Roman Catholic mass. For thirty years Chavez tenaciously devoted himself to the problems of some of the poorest workers in America. The movement he inspired succeeded in raising salaries and improving working conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.



Sally Ann Drucker (cq) as Betty Friedan in Chautauqua 2018. 1/29/28

On Thursdays this June, join Dr. Sally Ann Drucker as she presents Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 – February 4, 2006), a leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States. Her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. In 1966, Friedan co-founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which aimed to bring women “into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men.” Regarded as an influential author and intellectual in the United States, Friedan remained active in politics and advocacy for the rest of her life, authoring six books.


Dr. J. Holmes Armstead as Benjamin O. Davis Jr.Fridays will feature Dr. J. Holmes Armstead as American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis Jr. (December 18, 1912 – July 4, 2002). Davis was the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force. On December 9, 1998, he was advanced to four-star general by President Bill Clinton. During World War II, Davis was commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe. Davis flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47, and P-51 Mustang fighters. Davis followed in his father’s footsteps in breaking racial barriers, as Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was the first African American general in the United States Army.



Jeremy Meier as Robert F. KennedyEach week will wind up with a Saturday evening performance of Bobby Kennedy by Jeremy Meier. Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968) was an American politician and lawyer who served as a United States Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968. He was the 64th US Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, serving under his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, Kennedy was a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency; he ran on a platform of racial and economic justice, non-aggression in foreign policy, decentralization of power, and social change. A crucial element of his campaign was an engagement with the young, whom he identified as being the future of a reinvigorated American society based on partnership and equality.

Ohio Chautauqua 2018: Modern Legends


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