The Pennsylvania Chautauqua, which held many of its summer programs last year via Zoom due to COVID-19 concerns, is resuming in-person activities this year with a full slate of events.

The Chautauqua has been a mainstay of Mount Gretna culture and learning for more than a century. Many of its events—including lectures, recitals, workshops and film screenings—are held at the Hall of Philosophy, 212 Gettysburg Ave., by the Jigger Shop.

“After a year of low activity limited by COVID-19 restrictions, the 129-year-old institution is preparing for a full summer season beginning in mid-June,” Chautauqua spokesman Joshua Groh said in a June 9 release. “Chautauqua visitors may look forward to the return of several beloved programs.”

Many Chautauqua programs are free to attend, although donations are encouraged.

“Call us optimists, but we look forward to seeing you in person and catching up in ‘real time’ this summer,” Chautauqua Foundation chairwomen Sue Hostetter and Lynne Davies said in a letter to participants.

Last year, despite the pandemic, the organization was able to run virtual programs and keep the Chautauqua tradition alive.

They stressed the importance of donations to keep the programs afloat.

“We have a 128-year winning streak,” they said. “We didn’t break it last year and plan to keep it going!”

Special events are scheduled throughout the summer, listed below.

  • “History on the Porch” at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at the Mount Gretna Area Historical Society
  • “A Guided Walk around Chautauqua” starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 3, at the Visitor Information Center
  • 4th of July Celebration & Band Concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 4 at the Playhouse
  • “A Guided Walk around Campmeeting” starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 10, at the Tabernacle parking lot
  • A Photo Scavenger Hunt beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 17 (call 717-507-2667 for information)
  • “From Conewago Creek to the Chesapeake” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 20
  • Dog parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 24, at Soldiers Field
  • Mount Gretna School of Art Student Art Show at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 25 (mgsoa.org for details)
  • “Mutts Gone Nuts” at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday, July 29 at the Playhouse (gretnamusic.org for details)
  • Architecture Walk beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 31, behind the post office
  • Mount Gretna Tour of Homes, tentatively scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 (check gretnamusic.org for details after July 1)
  • Vegan Cooking Class at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12
  • “History on the Porch” at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Mount Gretna Area Historical Society
  • “End of Summer” picnic at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29 (RSVP by Aug. 26 by calling 717-964-1956).

Tuesday book reviews begin at 10 a.m. at the Hall of Philosophy (unless noted), with refreshments available 15 minutes before the start of each session. Sessions run weekly beginning June 15 and ending Aug. 10, and are presented by Lebanon Valley College faculty members. A complete list of books and authors to be featured is available online here.

A series of three organ recitals will be held at 7 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays. A $5 donation is requested.

  • Rachel Schulz June 16
  • Grant Wareham June 23
  • Daniel Dorty June 30

Supper clubs will be held at 5:30 p.m. and cost $25. BYOB. Dinner will be provided by Chef-on-the-Go, and reservations are requested five days before the event.

  • Celtic music by Charlie Zahm June 21
  • Jazz by Gavin Horning and Tim Brey July 19
  • Original music by Jolene Windmiller Aug. 30.

The “Great American Poets” series runs Fridays at 10 a.m., led by Jesse Waters from Elizabethtown College.

  • A Brief Introduction to Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Georgia Douglas Johnson June 18
  • Gwendolyn Brooks with poet/musician Keith Flynn June 25
  • Imamu Amiri Baraka July 2
  • Maya Angelou July 9
  • Joy Harjo (current U.S. Poet Laureate) July 16
  • Jerico Brown (2019 Pulitzer Prize winner) July 23
  • Richard Blanco (Latino Inaugural Poet for Obama administration) July 30
  • Amanda Gorman (current Inaugural Poet) Aug. 6

Public health consultant Janice Balmer will lead eight weekly interactive classes on “Redefining Wellness Post-Pandemic: Leveraging the Eight Dimensions of Health,” focusing on the physical, environmental, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, financial and occupational. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. on Mondays, June 21 and 28, July 5, 12 and 19, and Aug. 2, 9 and 16. Preregistration is required, and fee is $120. Call 717-507-9249 or email janicehallbalmer@msn.com for more info.

The Religious Discussion Series is free, although donations are appreciated. The sessions are at 10 a.m. on Thursdays and, with one exception, are in the Hall of Philosophy.

June 24, Kathy Snavely reviews “Eve,” William Paul Young’s second book of the Creation narrative. July 1, historian Jim Dibert gives examples from Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Baptist authors for “A Christian Historian’s View of the Bible.” And July 29, at 411 S. Eighth St., Lebanon, Rabbi Sam Yolen will conduct a tour of Beth Israel Synagogue and explain the significance of its interior.

The Friday Night Series will be held at 7 p.m. most weeks.

  • “Women & Children Last” June 25
  • “James Buchanan & Thaddeus Stevens: Lancaster Neighbors but Not Friends” July 2
  • “Innocent,” a talk by Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence, July 9
  • “Life Without Privacy” July 23
  • “PA Dutch Powwowing” July 30
  • “Major Dick Winters’ Band of Brothers” Aug. 6
  • “Local Ironmasters: Huber, Stiegel, Coleman” Aug. 13.

Children’s programs this summer include “Fairy Tale Morning,” an ice cream breakfast beginning at 9:30 a.m. June 26, at the Hall of Philosophy, followed by a story and parade at 10. Children ages 10 and under should be accompanied by an adult.

At 10 a.m. Thursdays, June 24 through Aug. 5, Pat Steely will lead Yoga for Kids at Stacey’s Place Gazebo, Chautauqua Playground. Open to grades 1 and up.

Gretna Music for Kids and Gretna Theatre’s Kids Series are both held at Mount Gretna Playhouse. In the music series, children can hear a master storyteller with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra (11 a.m. July 3), be amazed by three young musicians who have made it their mission to get young people excited about classical music (11 a.m. July 31) and watch a 15-year-old banjo prodigy pluck and pick like you have never seen before (3 p.m. Aug. 14). Tickets are $5, more info at gretnamusic.org.

The theater series includes one-hour productions for children in kindergarten through grade 6 (and their adult friends). Details on the series are available online at gretnatheatre.org.

Here’s the summer’s series of art lectures. Unless otherwise noted, all are at the Hall of Philosophy.

  • “Put this design in your carpet” by Robert Werbicki, Monday, June 28, 7:15 p.m
  • “The Beginning, Middle and Now: Content in the Paint” by Mark Lewis, Wednesday, June 30, 10 a.m.
  • “The Embodied Qualities of Books” by Suzanne Dittenber, Monday, July 5, 7:15 p.m.
  • “Sure as the Vine” by John Michell, Wednesday, July 7, 10 a.m.
  • “Approaching the Unknown” by Ophir Agassi, Monday, July 12, 7:15 p.m.
  • “Journey to the Promised Land” by Todd Kelly, Wednesday, July 14, 10 a.m.
  • “Painting Life” by Amanda Mills, Monday, July 19, 7:15 p.m. (Mount Gretna Heights Community Building )
  • “Time takes no time in a story” by Melanie Johnson, Wednesday, July 21, 10 a.m.
  • “All questions answered, no mysteries solved” by Stephanie Pierce, Monday, July 26, 7:15 p.m.
  • “Incessant Search for Subject” by Michael McCaffrey, Wednesday, July 28, 10 a.m.

Also in this summer’s art series, Gloria Mast selects several regional museum collections to highlight:

  • “Alphonse Mucha, Czech Artist,” Wednesday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m.
  • “Personality in Paint: A look at the work of DeKooning, Soutine and Van Gogh, based on the current exhibition at the Barnes,” Wednesday, Aug. 11, 10 a.m.
  • “Understanding the Art & Crafts Movement Using the Fonthill Castle and Mercer Tiles,” Wednesday, Aug. 18, 10 a.m.

Sunday worship services will be offered at 10 a.m. Sundays from July 4 through Sept. 5 (excluding Aug. 22) at Mount Gretna Playhouse. A variety of ministers and musicians will be featured each week.

The film series runs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Popcorn is provided, and donations are appreciated. Selections this year are from 1933 and are “Flying Down to Rio” on July 7, “Footlight Parade” on July 14, “Queen Christina” on July 21 and “Employees’ Entrance” on July 28.

Chautauqua University for a Day will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 10. Registration is due by July 5.

Cost is $50 and includes programs, a morning blueberry buckle and lunch.

The day will feature talks from historian Dr. Donald Koones, who will discuss Michelangelo and give a detailed, step-by-step review of the Sistine Chapel’s famed ceiling; mycologist Dr. Tina Ellor, who will review the history of mushrooms, their health benefits, varieties and cultivation; renowned climate change scholar Donald Brown, who will focus on the public’s understanding of the ethical obligations of governments, organizations and individuals to respond to the crisis; and art historian Beth Lennon, who created RetroRoadmap.com to highlight cool vintage places, good places to eat and retro fun.

Mary Hernley continues a half-century-long tradition of providing beautiful blooms to Mount Gretna. Bring a favorite vase for a flower arranging session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 27. Fee is $25 and will support Mary’s charity.

There’s also Mah Jongg on the Porch of the Hall of Philosophy at 1 p.m. Mondays through Sept. 6. All levels of player are welcome; for more information call 717-964-2299.

Yoga with Stephanie Bost runs Wednesdays at 4 p.m. through Sept. 15. Fee is $8, call or text 717-269-2455 for more information.

The Bird Club meets at 9 a.m. Fridays, year-round, in the Chautauqua parking lot. Bring binoculars, call 717-964-3412 for information.

Chautauqua programming is supported by the Stewart Society, a group of citizens dedicated to the organization’s mission; Society membership requires a $50 donation. For information on event registration, the Stewart Society or other details of the summer schedule, contact the Chautauqua at pachautauqua@gmail.com or call (717) 964-1830.

Organizers note that public health guidelines are in flux, so participants in Chautauqua activities should check the Chautauqua Facebook page, pachautauqua.info or mtgretna.com for updates.

The Chautauqua movement began in 1875 in New York before expanding to Pennsylvania in 1892, when organizers identified Mount Gretna as an excellent second location. Since then, the small, tight-knit community has become a statewide haven for the arts, hosting concerts, theater productions and the annual Outdoor Art Show in August.

More information may be found online at pachautauqua.info.


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Full Disclosure: Joshua Groh is a reporter with LebTown, but he was not involved in the assigning, writing, or editing of this story.

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