On Stage

Creative Exchanges

A chautauqua for all ages

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

If your summer checklist involves goals such as finally learning how to make a campfire, taking a walk on the beach, dancing in the streets, trying your hand at clowning or juggling, or enjoying live entertainment from talented regional performers, the New Old Time Chautauqua’s Washington State Parks Tour has you covered on all accounts.

As part of a monthlong circuit throughout Washington state, the longtime creative collective will be in our corner of the region June 28-30, bringing along all-ages mirth and merriment via educational experiences, food and entertainment—not to mention a border-hugging parade featuring costumed jugglers, unicycle riders, dancers,  faeries and other merry-makers, along with community groups and NOTC’s lively marching band. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, Chautauquas have long been a popular form of summer diversion in America, with an aim to promote community through education. When traveling Chautauquas used to come to a town, people would stop their normal activities to engage with their fellow citizens, discuss issues of the day, experience nature, listen to and play music, watch theatrical acts and share food with friends and neighbors.

President Teddy Roosevelt once said Chautauquas were the “most American thing in America,” and a look at the following weekend’s lineup shows he was on to something.

First, the Chautauqua crowd will visit the Lummi Nation on Thurs., June 28, for programming in collaboration with the tribe. Starting at 9am the following day—Fri., June 29—Birch Bay State Park will be the scene of a community service project. At 4pm, workshops will presented by park staff and partners at the park’s British Petroleum (BP) Heron Center.

Once you’ve learned how to catch crabs, take pictures of birds and signed your kids up for a variety of craft projects, a potluck at the BP Heron Center will follow—as will speakers, live music and an evening of dancing. 

Get some rest that night, because you’ll need to be at Blaine Middle School by noon on Sat., June 30 to take part in (or watch) the aforementioned parade making its way to Peace Arch Historical State Park. From 1-4pm, three sessions of 45-minute interactive workshops will take place at the park, featuring topics including juggling, acrobatics, mask-making, trash-fashion creation, samba dance and drumming, folk singing, magic, clowning, discussions on alternative energy, health education, storytelling and more.

At 7pm, a “Really Big Show” will cap off the weekend of events at the Blaine Performing Arts Center, 975 H St. Comedians, acrobats, jugglers and others will do their best to entertain those in attendance, bringing the month of education and performances to an end (at least until next summer).

“The idea of the Chautauqua-Parks partnership is to renew ties and to foster goodwill between nearby towns and their local state parks,” says Paul Magid, a founding member of the NOTC and the Flying Karamazov Brothers. “The New Old Time Chautauqua and Washington State Parks share common goals—to promote community through education and experience by being a catalyst for cultural and creative exchange surrounded by the beauty of nature.”

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