Ever wonder what it was like to travel alongside Lewis and Clark as they trekked across the western United States, mapping out new territory? Or command a fleet during a naval battle over Lake Erie and be named a hero as a result? “Ohio Chautauqua 2013: When Ohio was the Western Frontier,” presented by the Ohio Humanities Council, offers you the chance to find out.
June 2013 Issue
Connecting Past to Present
Ohio Chautauqua engages audiences in explorations of our history.
Stopping in five cities throughout the state (Madison, July 2–6; Rossford, July 9–13; Bexley, July 16–20; and Coshocton, July 23–27), the Ohio Chautauqua brings you face to face with some of our state’s most notable historical figures from the 19th century.
“We wanted a theme that would resonate with people,” says Ohio Chautauqua coordinator Fran Tiburzio. “Last year marked the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and Ohio played such an important role. So to be able to celebrate the impact on the frontier was especially meaningful to us at the Ohio Humanities Council.”
Ohio Chautauqua will offer a variety of workshops for children and adults. Taking center stage are scholars portraying naturalist and folk hero Johnny Appleseed; frontier aristocrat Margaret Blennerhassett; Iroquois leader Chief John Logan; York, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition; and Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie.
The series includes fun and fascinating classes for all ages, in which those depicting historical figures present different aspects of their character’s personalities and links to history: For example, Sylvania’s Jeremy Meier, who plays Oliver Hazard Perry, talks about the importance of the “Star Spangled Banner,” and explores its meaning for us. At the conclusion of his program, children are invited to create flags displaying the important symbols in their life.
“Our scholars have spent so many years researching their characters, they are able to answer using the person’s own words,” says Tiburzio. “You can ask [Johnny Appleseed] a question and get [Johnny Appleseed’s] answer.”
Scholars also step out of their roles and answer questions the character wouldn’t be able to, such as how they died. Additionally, educators have the opportunity to discuss their research and offer unique perspectives about the life of the character being portrayed.
Since 1999, the Ohio Humanities Council has created a Chautauqua tour. Competition among Buckeye cities is fierce and includes a comprehensive application process, followed by site visits. Tiburzio then makes recommendations based on her findings.
“I see the facilities [towns] have and meet the people we’ll be working with,” she says. “We want to make sure the events are held in places that are used to putting on huge programs.”
“This is something that appeals to people of all ages — kids, parents, friends and neighbors,” Tiburzio adds. “We call it ‘edutainment.’ And that’s what it is. It’s education and it’s entertainment.”
For more information, visit, ohiohumanities.org/ohio-chautauqua.