Miami Hamilton Partners with City Awarded Ohio Chautauqua for Summer 2016

Local history buffs and mavens of culture should take note that Teddy Roosevelt, Marie Curie and a caravan of scholars will be coming to Hamilton next summer for the Ohio Chautauqua.Ohio Chautauga Logo

Hamilton is one of four cities around the state selected for the 18th annual Ohio Chautauqua, a week-long program of cultural enrichment and education. "The Ohio Chautauqua is a traveling living history program," explained Fran Tiburzio, coordinator of the event for the Ohio Humanities Council. "Each evening we have a different living history performance under a big red-and-white striped tent, and during the daytime our scholars present fun hands-on workshops for kids and adult programs like lectures in different venues throughout the community."

The tent will be set up on the Hamilton Campus of Miami University. "It will be a full week of events," said Sarah Templeton Wilson, the Regional Campus's assistant director of advancement, who led the local effort to bring the Chautauqua to town. "The evening programs will always be at the Miami Hamilton Campus and during the day the re-enactors will go out to different community spots. We will partner with community organizations, including Partners in Prime, the Lane Library, Pyramid Hill, Miami Hamilton Downtown and the Butler County Historical Society to try and get a lot of different audiences from senior citizens to little kids," Templeton Wilson said.

The dates of the 2016 Ohio Chautauqua have yet to be arranged, Tiburzio said, and must be coordinated with the other host cities for 2016--Rossford, Gallipolis and Brimfield--but will be around late June or in July. More living history speakers will also be announced with the theme of "The Natural World."

"The evening starts with some musical entertainment, then our scholar comes out on-stage, in costume, tells some stories from his life, then takes questions in character," Tiburzio said. "So people in the audience will get to ask Teddy Roosevelt what made him go West, and what did he really think of the Rough Riders. Then the scholar steps out of character, that way he can answer question that the character would not have answered himself."

Communities must apply for the Ohio Chautauqua in a competitive process that includes a site visit. Tiburzio said the Miami Hamilton Campus team "knocked it out of the ballpark" when she came to town. It was the second time Miami Hamilton applied.

"The first year they were turned down just because the competition is so fierce," she said. "But because the community is undergoing an arts renaissance and has such a strong interest in history, I think they are really going to glom onto this program. After 17 years of site visits, you get a feel for where it's going to work and where it is’t, and Hamilton was completely positive all the way."

Hosting a Chautauqua coincides with a movement on the regional campuses to generate more alumni involvement, especially with programming that will appeal to families, but that the event should have a broad impact across the community and Southwestern Ohio in general.

Hamilton City Council member Kathleen Klink, who served on the site visit committee, said that the event will showcase both Miami Hamilton and the city at large. "Attendees will be able to enjoy the events while also engaging with Hamilton amenities, a wonderful experience for families," Klink said. "This event brings together those interested in history and Ohio and Hamilton remains a key contributor to the history of our region and state."