Ohio Chautauqua comes to town

Ohio Chautauqua performer Dianne Moran plays Olive Ann Oatman during a living history performance July 3.

Ohio Chautauqua performer Dianne Moran plays Olive Ann Oatman during a living history performance July 3.
By Kristin Rover
Sun staff

Residents of New Richmond were able to step back in time July 1-5 while performers with Ohio Chautauqua presented stories through the eyes of historical figures.

A theater tent was set up on the waterfront in the village, and hundreds of guests enjoyed the performances throughout the four-day event.

“We haven’t been in Southwest Ohio for a long time,” Fran Tiburzio, Ohio Chautauqua coordinator, said.

Tiburzio said bringing Ohio Chautauqua to a town is a competitive process. She said this year New Richmond had a strong application, and the fact that it is the village’s bicentennial helped secure the event.

“It’s wonderful for us to help celebrate their bicentennial,” Tiburzio said.

Tiburzio said the village has been wonderful to work with through the process.

The event included adult and children’s workshops each day at the New Richmond branch of the Clermont County Library as well as live music and a performance at the tent each evening.

The living history characters featured in the performances included Edith Russell, Martin Luther King Jr., Olive Ann Oatman, Henry David Thoreau and J.G. Bruff.

Hank Fincken, troop leader for Ohio Chautauqua, played J.G. Bruff during the event.

Fincken said the performance is divided into three parts including the character sharing his or her story, a question and answer session with the audience, and additional information about the character presented by the actor.

“It’s very interactive,” Fincken said about the performance. “It’s living history.”

Fran Johnson, a New Richmond resident, came to an evening performance with her husband, Wayne. She said she also attended one of the adult workshops earlier in the week.

“I was really impressed,” Johnson said about the workshop.

Johnson said she is glad the village was able to host Ohio Chautauqua.

“It’s a great opportunity for the town,” she said.

Greg Roberts, with Historic New Richmond, said the village was glad to have Ohio Chautauqua and is hoping to host them again soon.

“It was definitely a competitive application process,” Roberts said. “We were able to demonstrate that we had strong support, not just in New Richmond, but in the county.”

Roberts said their goal was to have the tent full each night of the event, and they came close.

“Being our first time hosting it, there are things we think we can improve,” Roberts said.

He said they were pleased with the turnout though and are anxious to have Ohio Chautauqua back as soon as possible.

“There is still a buzz around town as to how nice it was,” he said.