Winfield Digital Collections

Winfield, Kansas

Let's raise the tent on Chautauqua


Let's raise the tent on Chautauqua


Chautauqua Assembly


Brief synopsis of the history of Winfield Chautauquas, held in Island Park from 1887-1924, with dates and times of current programs. This program, "From Sea to Shining Sea", is free to the public from June 25 to 29, 2004.


Seth Bate/Courier


The Daily Courier


Winfield Public Library, Winfield, Kansas USA









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Seth Bate/Courier, “Let's raise the tent on Chautauqua,” Winfield Digital Collections, accessed December 9, 2023,

Let’s raise the
tent on Chautauqua
By Seth Bate
Chamber president
“We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trod. The good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment to determine, and these little vessels contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or to defend ourselves. ” — Meriwether Lewis.
I can’t say that I know much about what the Lewis and Clark journey was like. Most of my inside information comes from the old Bob Newhart routine, with Lewis snapping, “Don't call me Merry!”
I expect to gain insight into that moment in American history and a lot more with this week’s return of Chautauqua.
T h i
Chautauqua, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” uses storytelling and costuming — all grounded
in extensive historical research — to teach about six important figures in American history. Starting Friday, each evening will open with music by local performers, then an in-character presentation by a Chautauqua actor. The presentations are free, and concessions will be sold in the park by local organizations.
Augmenting the evening performances are lectures, presentations and activities each day throughout the community. A complete schedule is available in the chamber office at 205 E. Ninth or online at ( (look in the documents center).
Last in Winfield in 1984, Chautauqua has been a fixture in Winfield’s Island Park. According
to local historian Roland Mueller, Winfield was known as one of the leading Chautauqua towns in the nation. From 1887 to 1924, there was a Chautauqua gathering in Winfield each year. These gatherings drew hundreds of families who often camped on the grounds. The Chautauquas included music, art. drama, literature and lectures on politics and current affairs.
This isn’t the place to list all the sponsors, volunteers and underwriters who are making this possible, but they include the Kansas Humanities Council, the Winfield Public Library, Winfield Convention & Tourism and the Winfield Historical Society. Details from transportation provided by Winfield Motor Co. — to getting to
power sources at Island Park — thanks to Mark Olney and the City of Winfield — have required attention.
You can help, too. Volunteers of all ages are needed at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to raise the Chautauqua tent. The experts tell us that we need a minimum of 75 people, and more hands make for lighter work! An ice cream
social will follow.
Here are the week’s evening programs:
•5:30 p.m. Thursday. Tent raising.
•6:45 p.m. Friday. Music by Wind, Wood & Wire, followed by William Clark.
•6:45 p.m. Saturday. Pianist Phyllis Hearn, followed by Tecumseh.
•6:45 p.m. Sunday. Singer Debbie Badley with Jessica Callison, Donnelle Sommer and Tom Hoeffgen, followed by York.
•6:45 p.m. Monday. Singers from the Walnut Valley Men’s Chorus, followed by John Jacob Astor.
•6:45 p.m. Tuesday. Autoharp player Ida Finney and friends, followed by Sacagawea. The community is asked to help pack up the tent and chairs following Tuesday’s performance.

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