The success of the Chautauqua? It was all about programs

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of three articles preceding The Clear Lake Chautauqua Revisited to be held at City Park on Saturday, Aug. 17,  from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and hosted by the Clear Lake Historical Society and Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.  This week’s focus is a look at Clear Lake Park, the programs and the people that made our Clear Lake Chautauqua a summer destination for so many.

by Beth Ann Schumacher

president of the Clear Lake Historical Society

As we learned in last week’s article, the “Mother Chautauqua” was located on Lake Chautauqua in New York and its idea of providing summer learning was eagerly embraced by many ministers, including Rev. John Hogarth Lozier the presiding elder of the Northwest Iowa Methodist Episcopal Conference, who were anxious to offer the same style of learning provided by the camp meeting/Chautauqua back “west.”

In some parts of the U. S. the new Chautauquas called themselves “daughters” and others were identified as independent assemblies.  Clear Lake was one such independent assembly and when the Clear Lake Camp Meeting and Assembly Chautauqua was established in 1876 it was the first assembly in the state of Iowa.  Independent assemblies owned their own camp meeting grounds or parks generally near lakes and/or wooded areas with space for camping.   People came to Clear Lake Park for the camp meetings/Chautauqua to attend lectures, musical events, plays, and non-denominational religious learning opportunities.

The Clear Lake Chautauqua provided real educational opportunities with specific weeks dedicated to agriculture, homemaking, music lessons and the like.  However, it was the program in the Pavilion that was often the draw for the Chautauqua in Clear Lake as it

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