The 33rd annual Chautauqua in the Park will be this weekend, Sept. 9-10, at Simpson Park in Chillicothe.
The 33rd annual Chautauqua in the Park will be this weekend, Sept. 9-10, at Simpson Park in Chillicothe. This annual event, sponsored by the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, and presented by Hedrick Medical Center, has a wide variety of entertainment, activities, artists, crafts and food. “We have over 120 booths this year from throughout Missouri and the Midwest,” said Crystal Narr, executive director of the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce. “Many artists and crafters are signed up to showcase and sell their products to the estimated 6,000 people who attend Chautauqua each year from a multi- state area. “We also have a very loyal returning vendor group and are excited that they have joined us again this year along with new ones to freshen up the mix.” Wood crafts, clothing, accessories, jewelry, photography, ceramics/pottery, painting and many other types of fine arts and crafts are all represented throughout the festival. More than 120 craft, food and children’s booths have registered to date and calls are still received daily requesting information about exhibiting hand-crafted items or attending this festival. One unique part of the festival, the Traditional Arts area, sponsored by Bachman Cattle Farm, showcases the talents of spinners, weavers, metal artists and many others who take a craft back to its roots, and demonstrate at the festival. This area will again have demonstrators and vendors. “The Traditional Arts part of the festival is organized each year by Zelma Cleaveland. She is the driving force behind this area and we are so grateful. This year the area will showcase over 20 different traditional arts, some of which will include hands on participation from onlookers,” stated Narr. A crowd favorite from 2016 will be back again this year and will be adjacent to the Traditional Arts area and will showcase the Mountain Men. The Reeter family will have a fully viable camp set up complete with open fire, house dwelling, tools and anything else they would have needed to live back in the early days. The Chillicothe Area Arts Council and its administrator, Mary Lou VanDeventer, are the architects of the entertainment each year at the Chautauqua. They schedule a variety of local and regional artists who share their love of music with the audience. Many different genres are represented – country, bluegrass, rock, jazz, Christian and gospel – and according to VanDeventer, “We feel that there is something for every family member to enjoy in the entertainment showcased over the weekend,” VanDeventer said. “It is a wonderful concentration of talent in Simpson Park for the Chautauqua. Come sit under the large tent in front of the stage and enjoy the entertainment!” The Arts Council also has a storyteller in the Traditional Arts area that will perform throughout the festival. There will also be many activities for children during the festival, especially in the Children’s Area sponsored by Hy-Vee, which will include a petting zoo presented by the Chillicothe FFA, face painting, and inflatable games and activities. A wide variety of food will be available both in the food court and throughout the park on the trails. Many of the organizations that sell food at the Chautauqua are non-profit groups in the Chillicothe area that raise money to support charitable efforts throughout the year. Simpson Park is closed for the festival from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. No car or truck traffic, golf carts, bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards, recreational scooters, etc., owned by the general public are allowed in or through the park for the safety of all participants. Vendor set up time is provided on Friday afternoon and evening and on Saturday morning and vendor vehicles will be allowed during those times. Parking for attendees is available in and around the park, with a limited number of handicapped spaces available for those individuals with a handicapped license plate or official handicapped permit. Those needing handicapped parking for assistance should enter through the Walnut Street gate of Simpson Park. Another transportation alternative is offered again this year. A shuttle service – made possible this year by Calvary Baptist Church and Free Methodist Church – will be available from 10 a.m. until 4:45 between Citizens Bank & Trust downtown parking lot and the east Washington Street entrance of the Park on Saturday. “Our 2017 Chautauqua volunteers will be wearing pink shirts this year,” commented VanDeventer, “If you have questions or need information at the festival, stop by the information tent in the center of the park, or look for one of our 130 volunteers. We are so lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer group.”