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Programs attract a loyal following

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Each day at Chautauqua is full of events, many occurring simultaneously. The clarion bells on the square chime at 8 a.m. and the three buses and open-air tram begin their runs, but some activities are already under way.
The farmers market opens at 7 a.m. followed by a bird walk and talk. Episcopal services and a Catholic Mass are scheduled and a program on the "Spirituality and Psychology of Frederick Buechner" are all available before the devotional hour officially opens the day in the 5,000-seat amphitheater.
The main lecture of the day follows the devotional program in the amphitheater. During lunch, many sit on the lawn at the square and listen to band music. Others take their brown-bag lunch to informal gatherings at the denominational houses surrounding the square.
The afternoon lecture begins at 2 p.m. at the Hall of Philosophy, another open-air venue about five blocks south of the amphitheater. After the lecture, there are more program offerings and several walks scheduled. Boating and swimming are always permitted at four beaches at the lake.
The evening entertainment during Week Six, "Belief in America," included: The Audubon Quartet, the North Carolina Dance Theatre, a symphony orchestra performance with Alexander Gavrylyuk, a prize-winning pianist from Australia, a production of the opera, "Vanessa," Hootie and the Blowfish concert, two stage plays and a musical review, a variety of lectures on art, music, poetry and prose and a different first-run film each evening.
Visiting each year
Chautauqua has a loyal following with many people staying for the nine-week season. One woman from Los Angeles said that she and her husband bought a condo in 1980 and that she has stayed the whole summer every year. The only time she missed was the week of her husband's funeral. A gentleman said that he and his wife have come for a week each year for 25 years. "But, I've had it with all this ballet business," he said. "If she wants to come next year, she can come by herself."
The grand hotel, the Athaeneum, has been in continuous service for 125 years.
So, some things stay the same while others change. Cell phones and laptops are everywhere. And, the only "Hootie" you used to hear was while walking through the woods at night.