By Randi Somers
The Seattle-based New Old Time Chautauqua, coming to Homer Friday and Saturday, blends juggling, magic, folk and new music, acrobatic dance, circus, Sousa marches and hula-hoops.
The event starts with two parades Friday. The first one starts at 5 p.m. on the Spit and the second one is slated for 6 p.m. to wend down Pioneer Avenue and conclude at the WKFL park across from city hall.
On Saturday at the Homer Middle School multipurpose room, coordinating with the chautauqua, the library is holding their ice cream social for youngsters, 11 and younger, who have at least 16 stamps in their summer reading passports. Youngsters need to bring their passports to participate in the social.“We have about 240 kids registered, 60 teens and 60 adults,” librarian and coordinator for the summer reading program, Claudia Haines, said.
Following the library party, free workshops begin there at 2 p.m. The first set of workshops includes Partner and Group Acrobatics with Vernon Coffey and Fallon Burner and mask making for all ages.“Come have fun, bring your sense of humor, your imagination and a sense of whimsey,” they advise. “A few feathers, sequins, colored markers and a dash of imagination and voila, a magical masterpiece.” Supplies and assistants are provided to help participants create their own masks. Also on deck is juggling with Justin Credible for all skill levels. And Pom Collins will be hosting a song circle. Participants are invited to bring musical instrument and join in an old-fashioned song and story swap.
Erin teaches quilting at another station and elsewhere in the multipurpose room Daniel Sloan conducts contact juggling.
Round two of the workshops will be held from 3 to 3:45 p.m. They include magic with professional magician Joey Pipia for ages 7 through adult; Clay Mazing, ukulele; slack rope walking (and juggling and unicycling on a rope) with Esther DeMonteflores; creative writing collaborative with Mary Langham teaching “the renga,” a poetic form where each poet adds a stanza that springs from the previous one, a meshing of minds, sort of like improvisation theater. Leona Marchand teaches poi spinning and Vanessa Vortex, hula hooping. “How many hoops can you do at once,” she asks. “There’s only one way to find out.”
At the Vaudeville show Saturday night, magician Joey Pipia, acrobat Shandella, Chautauqua Jugglers and hula hooper Vanessa Vortex will entertain along with the house band Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Chamber Band/Orchestra.
The New Old Time Chautauqua website gives the history of the chautauqua, which started as a means of spreading culture to rural areas before the advent of electronic entertainment. A “Chautauqua” was an original American form of entertainment and education, a cultural force which also led to adult education. Teddy Roosevelt called it “the most American thing in America.”
Tens of thousands of people attended traveling Chautauquas in small towns across mostly rural America to see the latest entertainment and hear the noted speakers of the day at the turn of the twentieth century. Audiences enjoyed vaudeville, music, opera, Broadway plays and speakers such as Mark Twain. At one point, there were hundreds of traveling Chautauquas touring the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement was named for a lake in upstate New York that was the site of the first chautauqua which was basically Sunday School teachers lecturing in parks on the moral issues of the day. The content was expanded as music, theatre and well-known speakers were added, making it more of a cultural movement. With the advent of radio, television and movies the traveling shows diminished. But the New Old Time Chautauqua has been around since 1981.
The Friday workshops and parades are free here.
The Saturday evening Vaudeville show in the high school gym starts at 7:30 p.m. In addition to bleacher seating, there will be 200 folding chairs.
Admission is youth $5 adult (over 18) $10 and $25 for a family. Tickets are available in advance at HCOA office and the Bookstore and on line at www.homerart.org.
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