September Is A Busy Festival Month

Madison Chautauqua
headlines events in Kentuckiana

Ben Fronczek
Staff Writer

(September 2001) Madison, In – When the first Chautauqua premiered in Madison in 1901, many probably did not think that 100 years later it would become one of the region’s largest festivals. More probably did not think it would become the highlight of a weekend of festivals.

Madison Chautauqua

But one certain weekend of September has grown into a mecca of events that all take place in the downtown historic district. From music to art to books, the weekend of Sept. 21-23 offers something for just about anyone.
In 1901, the first Chautauqua was a week-long event. The tone of the festival was extremely different from today’s juried arts fair. Patrons camped out at the present site of the Madison Country Club to witness speakers and live entertainment.
Over the next 28 years, Chautauqua became an annual fixture in Madison. It started to lose popularity around 1929, and that was last year it was held in Madison’s far west end. It wasn’t until the late 1960s when a downtown festival returned to Madison.
Old Court Days premiered in 1968. It was started by the late Helen Gourley, a Madison antique dealer. Later in the 1970s, Madison’s chapter of the Pilot Club took over its sponsorship. Today, it is held twice a year – May and September – around Madison’s Courthouse square. Booths are set up displaying crafts ranging from woodwork to baskets to jewelry. This year, Old Court Days will run Sept. 21-23.
Old Court Days had already taken shape when Madison jeweler Oscar Bear pushed for a Main Street sidewalk art fair in 1970. Three years later, his efforts, combined with a group of Madison artists, teachers and merchants and the Madison-Ohio Valley Arts Council, led to rejuvination of the Madison Chautauqua. It eventually moved west to Mill Street then south along the riverfront and the Lanier Historic Site. Over the last three decades, Chautauqua has been mostly known for its juried art exhibitors and riverfront food fest. The performing arts aspect has been rejuvinated over the past decade.
This year’s Chautauqua will feature 275 exhibitors and 20 performing entities. The street festivities will take place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22-23. There will be a classical music concert by the Madison Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22.
The eve of Chautauqua will be celebrated with Tim Krekel and Kasualties, an adult contemporary band that plays rhythm and blues. The outdoor concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 on the Madison riverfront and will be the final performance of the annual summer Music in the Park series sponsored by Madison’s Main Street Program.
A third festival, Harvest Celebration Festival, sponsored by Lanthier Winery, has also seen rapid growth in its seven-year existence. This eighth annual event is expected to attract top quality exhibitors and combine wine tasting and food with live entertainment on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23. The festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Winery owners Chris Lanthier and Tami Hagemier use the proceeds to promote local artists and this year will donate a portion to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
The annual book sale, sponsored by Friends of the Library, also returns to the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, located at 420 W. Main Street. Friends of the Library is an organization that creates special library programs, which are funded in part by proceeds from the sale.
Available at this year’s sale are a variety of different books plus videos and magazines. The sale takes place in the library’s auditorium from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 20-21; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 22; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 23.

• For more information on events taking place Festival Weekend in September, contact the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956.

• For information on Lanthier Winery’s Harvest Celebration, call 1-800-419-4637.

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