It’s a word you don’t read or hear so much anymore but Chautauquas were popular entertainment events in small towns years ago.
Cardington hosted the final Chautauqua in the county in 1929. Before that, Mount Gilead residents had contracted for the first one in 1908. It was held under a tent at the county fairgrounds. This Chautauqua assembly with its mix of entertainment, education and a little religion offered something for everybody. These itinerant affairs, due to their popularity, came to Morrow County nearly every year for the next two decades.
The last Chautauqua, a five day event held in August, 1929, took place under a tent on the Cardington school grounds. The program offered two lecturers of national note, a classical music orchestra, a family of bell ringers, and a song and dance duo. Plays were performed on three evenings by theater troupes, one of the plays incorporated magic tricks as part of the plot.
There was also a junior Chatauqua program offred for the benefit of Cardington area children.
However, the Chautauqua had competition from nearby communities.
Ashley’s fair was held during three of the nights, the movie theater in Mount Gilead ran a double feature with sound (“talkies”} every night of the Cardington assembly and farmers had to get their harvest in.
Although the 1929 Cardington Chautauqua was well attended, it wasn’t enough to guarantee a return visit the next year. People were no longer interested in underwriting the costs to bring another Chautauqua to town.
The year 1929 closed the book on the Chautauqua in Morrow County.
In the end it was the radio, movies with sound and the Great Depression that killed off the Chautauqua. Following that there was a world war and soon after, television.
For our ancestors however, the Chautauqua offered a week of pleasing entertainment and thought provoking oratory, all at the low price of $1.50 for a season ticket.
Looking back at past May’s
May, 1962: Linda Ruehrmund of Cardington, placed third in the Morrow County Talent Show held at the Johnsville School. Linda played a flute solo.
Powell Hardware store on West Main Street held a going-out-of-business sale.
May, 1972: Dale Ebert Cardington-Lincoln senior, was selected as the best trombone soloist at the Big Walnut Jazz Festival; Elaine Thomas, Cardington-Lincoln senior, was named Morrow County Dairy Princess for 1972.
May, 1982: Gertrude Mack, retired librarian, was honored for her 54 years of service to the Cardington Public Library; Plans were announced to build the new Jeri-Ann Drive Inn on West Main Street.