In its third roundup of Best Small Towns to Visit, Smithsonian magazine named Chautauqua, NY number one in 2014 for the number and quality of learning opportunities available. See below for ten ways to learn during Chautauqua in Bloom, a season of learning throughout Chautauqua County from May 24 to June 20, 2014.
Take a class in improv, stand-up comedy, how to draw Lucy, or even playing the conga with the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy and Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Center in Jamestown. Workshops will be offered again in August during the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy in Jamestown, August 6-10, 2014.
Take a guided walk with the Fenton History Center and learn about Jamestown’s history. Walking Tours of Jamestown begin Saturday, May 31st and are held each Saturday through September. Each week offers one of four two-hour tours which are rotated throughout the season and include Jamestown’s Lake View Avenue, the Old Northside (current downtown area), Jamestown’s Hidden Alleys, and Jamestown’s Early Industry.
Attend the Roger Tory Peterson Bird Fest in Jamestown and explore the area where the young naturalist, author, and artist was first inspired to study nature. He went on to author 50 Field Guides to birds and flowers which are still used throughout the world. The birding festival takes place Jun 6-7, 2014.
Register early and enjoy one of several popular beer themed learning adventures. Join Head Brewer Dustin and Director of Research and Development Joe at Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood and Be a Brewer for a Day. This hands-on experience lasts a full eight hours and explores the brewing process from grains to finished wort and tastings. Learn to grow your own hops from pre-planting to harvesting, processing, and marketing with experts at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland. At EBC West in Fredonia, learn about the history of brewing and winemaking, different styles of beer and wine, and flavor profiles while delighting in a five course meal paired with craft brewed beers from Ellicottville Brewing Company and local wines from 21 Brix Winery.
Attend a lively celebration of Baroque music over three days at the annual Bach and Beyond Music Festival in Fredonia and the acoustically-ideal, authentically Victorian, 1891 Opera House. This year’s program highlights the music of J.S. Bach along with his son, C.P.E. Bach and includes concertos for flute, oboe and piano. Ticket holders are also invited to engaging and educational pre-concert conversations with Artistic Director/Conductor Grant Cooper and selected festival musicians who will discuss the essential elements of the performance, the music’s historical context, and impressions and reflections of the performance’s artists.
Learn what inspires artists and how they use the creative process during the Chautauqua Lake Erie Art Trail’s Open Studio Tour over two weekends, May 24-25 and May 31-June 1. The tour is self-guided and free. Participants will meet the artists who live along the beautiful and inspirational Lake Erie shoreline, creating works in painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and textiles inspired by the landscapes that surround them.
Take a workshop with a local artist and create your own works of art. Photographer James Hoggard invites students into the vineyards and a cemetery for lessons on improving photography. Artist Audrey Kay Dowling will spend an afternoon with students drawing and painting in the natural beauty of Panama Rocks, a half-mile long ridge of 60-foot high rocks that form caves, crevices and passageways in an ancient forest. Painter Thomas Annear makes use of SUNY Fredonia’s College Lodge for lessons in Plein Air painting.
With five lakes and 50 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, water is central to leisure activities in Chautauqua County. Spend a day at Memorial Park in Dunkirk during the Great Lakes Experience Festival on June 21st and learn about the environment and ecology of the Great Lakes. On June 14th, bring the family and take part in Marina Day at Chautauqua Marina in Mayville. Water themed workshops will be offered throughout the day in including a Musky fishing class, fly tying workshop for children, and a youth fishing contest.
With the largest grape growing region in the U.S. outside of California, wine themed workshops are a natural fit for Chautauqua in Bloom. Take a walk through the vineyards with winery owner Fred Johnson of Johnson Estate Winery and learn about growing grapes and making wine followed by a brunch and wine pairings. Co-owner, Jennifer Johnson, showcases her iris gardens with tips on gardening while participants enjoy a French picnic with baguettes, cheese and wine. The French theme continues with a Winemaker’s Dinner: Romance in France with chef and cookbook author, Marc Berarducci on June 7th. At Liberty Vineyards and Winery in Sheridan, owners Gary and Pam Burmaster and consulting winemaker, Bob Green, will share sold out wines from the winery’s library featuring vertical tastings of Barrel-Select Noiret. Participants will see how weather conditions, aging and other factors affect a wine’s flavor profile by comparing tastings from several vintage years.
The Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution will host its annual preseason Spring Farm-to-Table Dinner on Friday, May 30th. Prepared by Executive Chef Travis Bensink, the five course dinner features ingredients produced in Chautauqua County. Dine with local farmers, winemakers and brew masters. Learn about the ingredients available in the county, how they are grown or raised, and how to source and acquire them. Each course is paired with a local wine or beer. Chautauqua Institution’s regular program season and special studies classes begin June 21, 2014.
Additional workshops include whiskey tastings, kayaking tours, nature walks, an Amish experience, and even a few lectures. Chautauqua in Boom is promoted by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and held in collaboration with area businesses and educational centers. For more information and a schedule of vacation learning experiences during Chautauqua in Bloom as well as throughout the year, call 1-866-908-4569 or visit www.tourchautauqua.com.