NOW Gen SummerFest helps ring in Old First Night celebrations


NOW Generation’s SummerFest brought together the youngest Chautauquans and their families in a picnic that helped kick off Old First Night’s many celebrations throughout Week Six. 

“This is a chance mid-summer for people to pause for some food,” said Carrie Zachry, former NOW Gen president, “and to make new friends while saying ‘hey’ to some old ones.”

After the Old First Night Run/Walk last Saturday morning, families gathered at the Youth Activities Center for a picnic of breakfast foods and family-friendly activities. The aim was to form new, and foster older, connections between Chautauquans.

“(It’s) an opportunity to catch up with friends,” said Amanda Steere, a NOW Gen council member. “For my husband, it’s people he’s grown up with, and it’s a chance for me to see people I only see once a year. We are all in similar phases of life to make connections.”

Sean Smith / staff photographer LuLu Rogers watches Jude Katen takes his turn at a game of billiards at the NOW Generation SummerFest last Saturday at the Youth Activities Center following the annual Old First Night Run/Walk.

SummerFest is a multigenerational gathering that provides an opportunity for fellowship, friendship and learning. For Steere, connecting with all generations, with all levels of life experience, is the best part.

“That’s what I like about it the most,” Steere said. “You get the advice from the people who’ve been through it, and you get to help those who are about to go through whatever season you’re in.”

With the setting of the YAC, SummerFest allowed for parents to reminisce on their time at Boys’ and Girls’ Club and for their kids to play freely.

“It’s about engagement and connecting people. … The YAC is really a grounding place for so many Chautauquans, and getting together here just gives everyone a little place of home,” Zachry said. 

NOW Gen hosts many family-friendly events throughout the summer season. From Week One to Week Seven, Wednesdays at the Water brings together families with children ages zero to 10. Tuesday Toddler Time at Timothy’s Playground is another chance for young families to get together. Other upcoming NOW Gen events include a Family Picnic on Thursday, Aug. 11, also at Timothy’s Playground. 

“As much as I love these larger events, I like the opportunity for the young families to get to know each other and just say ‘I’ll meet you,’ or ‘I’ll see you on the water on Wednesdays,’ ” Steere said. “I know that (my son) Martin is going to be with other kids, and these will be the kids he spends every summer with for the rest of his life.”

Tags : CommunityNOW Gen

The author Cassidey Kavathas

Cassidey Kavathas, a Buffalo native, is a rising junior journalism student at St. Bonaventure University. This is her first summer at the Daily. She is covering Advancement, Institution administration, the board of trustees, the CPOA and dance. She serves as editor-in-chief at her college’s newspaper, as well as news director at her college’s radio station. Cassidey has previously reported for PolitiFact NY, The Olean Times Herald, TAPInto Greater Olean and St. Bonaventure University’s advancements office.