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Chautauqua Brings Education and Fun to Bishop Hill

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Bishop Hill’s ninth annual Chautauqua looks back at the history of the Chautauqua movement. Artistic Director Brian “Fox” Ellis said: The free festival will be held August 27-28 and hosted by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association in the village’s newly restored gazebo on the town square.

“Chautauqua” is an Iroquoian word with several meanings, including “a bag tied in the middle” and “two moccasins tied together.” It also describes the shape of Lake Chautauqua, located in southwestern New York, which served as the setting for his Institute of Chautauqua, the first educational gathering to become a major movement at the turn of the 20th century. The institution grew to include a distance learning course, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, designed to give working and middle-class people a “college outlook.” The Chautauqua movement developed a relationship between Chautauqua literature and Born out of scientific circles.

The festival kicks off on August 27th at 10am with the “Storytellers Bishop Hill Tour”. This is her 90 minute walking tour led by Ellis starting at her Inn at Twin Flowers. The tour circles the town and includes the story of its founding as well as some of its more colorful recent history.At 1pm in the park, Ellis performs Robert Her Ridgeway. Robert Ridgeway is an Illinois native who became the first full-time curator of ornithology at the U.S. National Museum. Ridgway was also the first author of Birds of North and Central America. Starting at 2pm, storyteller and author Stephen Hollen will bring Mark He Twain’s wit and humor to life with a lively mix of quotes, famous stories and lesser-known stories. Mark Twain was an instructor at Chautauqua. At 3pm, Michael Hart sings a song made popular by Fisk his Jubilee Singers. The program covers the history of black vocal music, including South Indian and West Indies field haulers and call and response work songs.

On Sunday, August 28th, the program begins at 1pm in the park with a rambunctious tour of Hammers and Picks and American folk music. John Wagner plays hammered dulcimer, banjo, guitar and harmonica. Jan Sams plays guitar and bass. William Hope added guitar and dobro. At 2pm, Ellis will perform Herbert as President Hoover in a program based on his book Fishing for Fun – and to Wash Your Soul. Hoover recalls stories of some of his favorite fish from fishing as a boy at West’s branch, several fishing jokes, and fishing stories with other world leaders, and uses fishing as a diplomatic tool. I’ll talk about how I used it as a Starting at 3pm, Stephen Hollen will bring his building in Buffalo to life with stories from the Old West.

All programs are held in the newly restored Gazebo in the Bishop Hill Town Square at the corner of Main Street and Bishop Hill Road in Bishop Hill, Illinois. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and friends, enjoy lunch at one of several restaurants, and visit the many shops and museums. For more information, call 309-927-3899, email, or click here.