Colors of Chautauqua Festival Offers Myriad Ways to Explore the Natural and Cultural Landscape of Southwestern New York

A day-long tour of Amish country is just one of 40 workshops offered during the Colors of Chautauqua fall learning festival.

The new Colors of Chautauqua fall learning festival, October 5-21, 2012, in Chautauqua County, NY celebrates both the brilliant colors of the season as well as the culture of lifelong and leisure learning in southwestern New York State. Many of the workshops offered explore the natural and cultural nuances of this southwestern New York region.

Several workshops study the landscape through the perspective of canvas or lens. Participants might learn about color theory, composition, how to look for good landscapes as well as create movement through painting with instructors Audrey Dowling on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution and Thomas Annear overlooking the vineyards at Johnson Estate Winery. The grounds of Chautauqua include a beautiful lake, charming Victorian houses, landmark buildings, a small bubbly creek in a picturesque ravine, boats stacked on the shore, trees in full fall glory, fall gardens and many other choices as subjects. Along Lake Erie, the escarpment provides grand views and a spectacular backdrop, while the vineyards overlay a grid work across the rolling lake plane. The basics of photography will be taught using vineyards and landscapes as inspiration with James Hoggard, or the 12,000 year-old Allenburg Bog with nature photographer Gary Cuckler.

Beneath the landscape lies soil rich in both history and nutrients left by retreating glaciers. Rainbows End Herb Farm and Green Heron Growers will both offer workshops using herbs grown in the region, teaching about the plants, how to harvest and use them to their fullest potential with preparation of foods and herbal medicines. At Jamestown Community College, educators from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will offer instruction on using free software to improve the habitat in yards for birds and wildlife. Participants will plan a garden while learning about their own property and about becoming stewards for the watershed. The workshop, “Creating Habitat”, will introduce participants to a new social media tool called YardMap, designed to allow users to map their yards while sharing their interests in gardening, landscaping and wildlife watching with others.

Many of the workshops will be presented as tours and or talks. The Lifelong Learning Center at SUNY Fredonia will offer the chance to take a tour of Amish country and meet members of the region’s Old Amish community with stopovers at a blacksmith, quilt shop, toy factory and bake stand. At Johnson Estate Winery, Wholesale Manager Bob Dahl will lead a bicycle tour along the grand lake vistas of America’s Grape Country, visiting three of the region’s wineries along the way. In Jamestown and Fredonia, the Fenton History Center and Festivals Fredonia both offer tours through historic cemeteries where costumed and knowledgeable guides will tell stories of the residents buried within. Well-known authors and divers, Mike and Georgann Wachter will present a talk about the pristine and perfectly preserved shipwrecks that occurred on Lake Erie where a sunken treasure of history lies along the bottom. There is even a whiskey seminar at Webb’s Captain’s Table featuring five whiskeys from New York State.

Descriptions of all the workshops offered during the Colors of Chautauqua can be found on the Chautauqua County Visitors’ Bureau website calendar as well as in a downloadable version of the program guide. Both are available at Registration information is also available online or by calling 866-908-4569.

Colors of Chautauqua is a learning festival promoted by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and held in collaboration with Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown Community College’s Center for Continuing Education, SUNY Fredonia’s Center for Lifelong Learning, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Economic Planning and Economic Development, as well as area businesses including Webb’s Resort, Johnson Estate Winery, Portage Hill Gallery, and Camp Chautauqua. Chautauqua County is located in the southwestern corner of New York State with New York’s largest grape growing region, five lakes, Victorian and Amish communities, and Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown. For more information and a schedule of vacation learning events during the Colors of Chautauqua as well as throughout the year, call 1-866-908-4569 or visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau website at

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