PIQUA — Chautauqua will be returning to the city of Piqua with the addition of day programs and more evening performances next week.
Chautauqua is a five-day event featuring scholars performing as famous historical figures, educational programs, and live music. Piqua’s first Chautauqua event since the mid-1970s was held last year and sponsored locally, but this year, Piqua will be hosting one of four Ohio Chautauqua events sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council.
Diana Thompson, executive director of the Miami County Visitors Bureau, said the Ohio Humanities Council selects communities from across the state to host Chautauqua events. The three other Ohio cities that will host Ohio Chautauqua events are Gallipolis, Rossford, and New Richmond.
“Last year was a smaller version,” Thompson said. “This is a statewide-run organization doing it.”
Additionally, any member of the Ohio Humanities Council across the state is invited to attend the Ohio Chautauqua events. “It’s a broad reach that we have this year,” Thompson said.
The Ohio Chautauqua evening performances will be held at Hance Pavilion in Fountain Park in Piqua, 1300 Forest Ave., from June 5-9. The doors open and music begins at 6:15 p.m., and the characters take the stage at 7:30 p.m. each evening.
• Tuesday, June 5 — Scholar Susan Marie Frontczak will portray Erma Bombeck, a popular newspaper columnist in the 1970s who published 15 books before she passed away in 1996. “Frontczak’s portrayal of Bombeck highlights the humorist’s role in making the middle-class American housewife into a legend,” a press release from the Miami County Visitor’s Bureau states.
The Fries Band will also perform prior to Frontczak’s portrayal of Bombeck.
• Wednesday, June 6 — Scholar Fred Blanco will portray Cesar Chavez, “best-known as founder of the United Farm Workers labor movement,” according to a press release. “He inspired succeeded in raising salaries and improving working conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.”
The Gotham City Brass Quintet will open for Blanco’s performance.
• Thursday, June 7 — Scholar Dr. Sally Ann Drucker will portray Betty Friedan, “noted for sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century,” according to the Miami County Visitor’s Bureau. Friedan was also the co-founder and first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Acoustic Friends will perform prior to Drucker’s portrayal of Friedan.
• Friday, June 8 — Scholar Dr. J. Holmes Armstead will portray Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Davis was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force. Some of his missions included escorting bombers on air combat missions over Europe.
Music will be provided by the American Kings.
• Saturday, June 9 — Scholar Jeremy Meier will portray Robert F. Kennedy, a politician and lawyer from Massachusetts. He managed his brother John F. Kennedy’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in addition to serving as attorney general and junior senator from New York.
Music will be provided by the Piqua Civic Band.
Chautauqua to offer day-time seminars
There will also be daytime programs held in Troy, Sidney, and Piqua as well.
“They have the scholars come in to two day-time programs,” Thompson said, explaining that they each host one for youth and one for adults. “It’s more enlightenment and education about that topic that the scholar will be performing.”
During the daytime programs, the scholars will teach about the characters they are portraying. “They do the topic, but they don’t do it as the character,” Thompson said.
The educational programs are also held on different days than their correlating evening performances to allow the scholars to prepare for their evening performances. “We have placed these daytime programs all over,” Thompson said.
The daytime programs include:
• Jeremy Meier: Kennedy Men: Father and Sons — 1 p.m. June 5, Amos Public Library, 230 E. North St., Sidney, for adults.
• Fred Blanco: Character Development for Chautauqua — 2:30 p.m. June 5, Piqua Public Library, 116 W. High St., Piqua, for youth.
• James Armstead: The Airplane, Flying the 20th Century — 1 p.m. June 6, WACO Museum Center, 1865 S. County Roard 25-A, Troy, for youth.
• Sally Ann Drucker: Feminism Then and Now — 2:30 p.m. June 6, Sidney Historical Society, 201 N. Main St., Sidney, for youth.
• Susan Marie Frontczak: Hooked on Humor — Bringing humor to your stories — 1 p.m. June 7, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W Main St., Troy, for adults.
• Fred Blanco: Zoot Suit Riots — 2 p.m. June 7, Edison State Community College, 1973 Edison Drive, Piqua, for adults.
• Jeremy Meier: Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy — noon June 8, Piqua Public Library, for youth.
• Sally Ann Drucker: Women in Advertising Media — 2 p.m. June 8, Piqua YWCA, 418 N. Wayne St., Piqua, for adults.
• James Armstead: America Emerges as a World Power 1940 -1970 — 11 a.m. June 9, Troy-Miami County Library, 419 W. Main St., Troy, for adults.
• Susan Marie Frontczak: Legendary Children’s Stories from the mid-20th Century — 2 p.m. June 9, Piqua Public Library for youth.
“The whole thing about Chautauqua is that it’s a really educational, comprehensive day,” Thompson said, encouraging attendees to come every day to the free programs and evening performances.
“They’re absolutely spectacular,” she said. “All of the topics are well-researched.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org