Fun and games for families in the community: Chautauqua Foundation to celebrate Chautauqua Institution’s birthday in Bestor Plaza

Chautauqua Community Band founder and director Jason Weintraub conducts the Chautauqua Community Band on Tuesday, August 1, in Bestor Plaza. OLIVIA SUN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

From noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, on Bestor Plaza, the Chautauqua Foundation will hold various festivities to celebrate Chautauqua Institution’s birthday leading up to Old First Night. The Institution turns 144 this year, and the Foundation hopes all Chautauquans will get into the birthday spirit.

“Chautauqua’s birthday celebration is especially exciting because the already-magical grounds come alive in an even more magical way,” said Leah Stow, assistant director of the Chautauqua Fund. “Old, long-lasting traditions with new activities sprinkled in throughout the day make for a fun celebration that Chautauquans of all ages can enjoy.”

Traditionally, Chautauquans light up their porches on OFN evening, so the foundation will be selling luminaries with LED candles for $5 each. The community is also invited to make a gift to the 2018 Chautauqua Fund and be entered into a drawing for an OFN giveaway, an afternoon half-day pontoon boat rental from Sports Club. The winner will be announced Tuesday night in the Amphitheater.

On Tuesday, August 7, and for a limited time, a special matching gift opportunity is available to those joining the Bell Tower Society by establishing a recurring gift at a minimum of $25 per month to the Chautauqua Fund. For each new qualifying Bell Tower Society membership, the Edward L. Anderson Jr. Foundation will donate an additional $250. Current Bell Tower Society members who increase their monthly commitment beyond $25 per month or their prior level of support, whichever is more, will also qualify. This match will be offered for the first 60 donors who qualify.

Other festivities on the plaza include a Chautauqua Community Band performance at 12:15 p.m. on Monday, Aug 6; a Day of the Dead mask coloring craft to go along with the animated film, “Coco,” which will be shown on the plaza Tuesday evening; as well as yard games like cornhole, KanJam and a photo booth with props. A special preview of Tuesday’s evening’s Family Entertainment Series performance by Theatre of Varieties will take place during the afternoon’s festivities.

Longtime Chautauquan and supporter of the Chautauqua Fund Herb Keyser will be selling lemon tarts, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the fund. Children are invited to host a lemonade stand or musical act to raise funds.

“Tuesday will be a wonderful day to celebrate Chautauqua and its founding,” said Megan Sorenson, associate director of the Chautauqua Fund and Foundation Communications. “With a longstanding tradition of people making a ‘birthday gift’ to support the Chautauqua Fund on Old First Night, we also want to express gratitude for the community support that makes Chautauqua’s diverse programming and this whole enterprise possible each year.”

For more information about the role of philanthropy at Chautauqua, or this family-friendly celebration of Chautauqua’s birthday, please contact Leah Stow, assistant director of the Chautauqua Fund, at 716-357-6405 or

Tags : bestor plazaChautauqua Foundationchautauqua institution

The author Matthew Steinberg

Matthew Steinberg is a rising senior at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, studying communication arts, journalism, and Spanish. He will be copy editing for the Daily this summer, and in his free time enjoys spending way too much money at TJ Maxx, longboarding on roads that he shouldn’t and ranting about politics.