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Madison Chautauqua

This year’s art festival to feature
Cirque du Chautauqua theme

Turners Circus performers to highlight entertainment

(September 2017) – Ever since taking over as co-coordinators for the Madison (Ind.) Chautauqua Festival of Art last year, Amy Fischmer and Jenny Straub have implemented several changes and continue to do so for this year’s event, set for Sept. 30 – Oct. 1.

Madison Chautauqua

• 10-5 Sat. - Sun., Sept. 30 - Oct. 1 in Madison, Ind.
• Information:
1-800-559-2956 or (812) 265-2956 or visit: www.MadisonChautauqua.com
• Watch for RoundAbout’s Madison Chautauqua Guide on our racks Friday, Sept. 22 - Oct. 1!

The first major change this year was moving the festival dates back one week to continue to precede the St. James Court Art Fair in Louisville, Ky. Many exhibitors travel the country on a circuit and follow up their weekend stay in Madison, Ind., with a trip to old Louisville. As a result, all other festival-related events in Madison have moved their dates to coincide with the 47th annual Chautauqua.
Achieving a second major goal was increasing the number of exhibitors in the show. After having seen the number of exhibitors drop to as low as 168 three years ago, this year’s registration is nearing 240. To accommodate the increased number of booths, the show layout has been re-arranged and more spaces have been added along the south side of Vaughn Drive and farther west up the river road toward Mill Street, Fischmer said.
“We can take up to 250, but that would be a lot,” she said. “I’ve been associated with Chautauqua for eight years, and I cannot ever remember it being this big during that time.”

Photo provided

Gretchen Wilkins and her daughter, Hannah, perform an acrobatic act as part of Turners Circus of Louisville, Ky.

Last year’s 225 exhibitors was a good first step in increasing the size of the show from the 180 who participated the previous year.
In yet another change, the coordinators and all-volunteer committee chose a vintage theme for this year’s show: Cirque du Chautauqua. To promote this theme, they hired Turners Circus of Louisville to hold performances both days on the South Lawn of the Lanier Mansion, which sits in the heart of the show footprint. Turners Circus director Terri Kendall says the acts will consist of such things as juggling, acrobatics and stilt walking. In between the main shows, the performers will do spontaneous acrobatics. The circus will complement the free musical entertainment that is always part of the art show.
“We wanted the circus acts to look vintage, and they were able to do that, so that’s who we hired,” Straub said. This will be the first time Chautauqua events have been held on the South Lawn. Entrance will be on the side streets, since the lawn is surrounded by a stone wall.
“We will have a billboard there displaying the show times and other information,” Straub said.
To promote the vintage theme, the Chautauqua committee selected one of Madison artist Patty Cooper Wells’ vintage bicycle paintings to serve as the festival T-shirt design. The Chautauqua limited edition poster design, meanwhile, was created by Madison artist Tammy Beach. She submitted a painting of the Lanier Mansion during its 1800s heyday.
The T-shirts and posters will be available for sale at the Chautauqua Information Tent at First and Broadway during the two-day festival. Beach will be available to sign the 150 limited edition posters at two signing times on Saturday, Sept. 30 – 10-11:30 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. In previous years, 250 limited edition posters were produced. The posters are $45 each, and for the first time, 100 small 11x14 size posters will be sold for $25 each.
Besides short- and long-sleeve T-shirts offered at $16 and $21, respectively, the committee will be selling hooded sweatshirts for $30.

Photo provided

Tammy Beach (left) created this year’s Chautauqua poster, while Patty Cooper Wells created the T-shirt design.

Yes another addition to this year’s show is a shuttle to run the length of Main Street – from Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar on the east end of town to Red Pepper Deli on the west end. This will be in addition to the Madison Trolley, which has always operated over Chautauqua weekend. The Chautauqua Shuttle will be two vans provided by Chandler Chevrolet with rides priced at a cost of $1 per ride or $5 for the weekend per person (any age). The Madison Trolley charges $2 to ride all day with multiple boardings.
If you are parking on the hilltop at the Madison Consolidated High School, the Chautauqua committee will continue to offer a shuttle bus service from the high school to the Chautauqua entrance at Vine and Main streets for a round-trip fee of $5 per person.
These changes follow those introduced last year, such as the Chalk Walk, where people of all ages can draw their own designs on Elm Street. First place in two younger age groups (8-under; 8-14) wins a T-shirt. First place in the 15-older category wins $100, a poster and a T-shirt.
To help promote it more, this year’s Chalk Walk is being positioned with the Kids Korner (activities area), which was previously located on Vine Street. That will also free up space for the additional exhibitors, Fischmer said.
Also last year, a new feature was having an artist create the judge’s awards that are presented to artists in various categories: Best of Show, Fine Arts (three places), Crafts (three places) and Best Presentation. Louisville glass artist Chad Balster created last year’s awards. This year’s awards are being created by metal works artist David Shadwick of Pods Forge, Ky.
Each year, three judges – selected by staff members at Hanover College – judge the show. Neither the exhibitors nor the committee members know who the judges are going to be. As a result of the growing list of exhibitors, last year there were no repeat winners in nearly all categories.
“We are getting a lot more fine artists and not as many functional artists – such as those who work in clay,” Fischmer said.
As always, Chautauqua will have several bands and individual musicians playing at various locations throughout both days. There will also be a large food court along Vaughn Drive that this year will be one of the biggest, having added several new vendors, Fischmer said.

More than 300 volunteers from dozens of local civic groups help put on the show, doing everything from parking cars to picking up trash and manning information booths. Organizers estimate that the juried art show annually attracts an estimated 65,000 people to Madison over the two-day event. Merchants also benefit, as do area restaurants and hotels.

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