Local chautauquas lined up to teach, entertain
Named after the town in New York where the practice originated, the chautauqua harkens back to a brand of entertainment widely popular in rural America through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. How the chautauqua is presented can vary, but generally it emphasizes community building through education and entertainment.
The Wrangell Ranger District and museum have sponsored theirs since 2005, after one was held to celebrate the Forest Service Centennial. The presentations proved popular enough to continue doing, and over the past decade have encompassed a wide variety of topics.
“It’s a great platform if people have a hidden, secret expertise we didn’t know about,” explained Corree Delabrue, district interpreter at WRD. “You find out something about your neighbor that you maybe didn’t know before.”
The Thursday evening chautauqua has proven a good platform for locals to share their specialized knowledge, or to showcase interesting trips and hobbies.
This year’s set of presentations kicked off on Feb. 4, with volunteer firefighter Steve Prysunka showing off his dog Katilli. The retriever is undergoing search and rescue training, and has already been employed in local emergency operations.
After a couple of bye-weeks, tonight in the Nolan Center at 7 p.m. Bob Lippert will share a recent adventure he made to the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine. He made the arduous but beautiful journey by bicycle from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Telegraph Creek.
On March 3 resident Mark Robinson will share his knowledge of garnets, the precious gem Wrangell is most known for.
The Garnet Grit Betties roller derby team will give a brief history of their sport on March 10, illustrating its progression from underground spectacle to a more mainstream sport.
On March 17 biologist Martin Hutten will present on Wrangell’s many mosses, his area of expertise.
Carrie McCormack will share her RV adventures on March 24, and author Bonnie Demerjian will teach what there is to know about local rock art on March 31.
Further presentations may be held in April, depending on public interest. Those interested in putting on a presentation of their own are invited to contact either Delabrue at the Forest Service office at 874-7550, or else Nancy or Terri at the museum at 874-3770.