Updated: July 30, 2013 6:59AM
Shades State Park is a rustic park with a lot of beauty, a lot of history and with a tradition that is being revived: Chautauqua.
Saturday will be the second annual Chautauqua at Shades State Park, held in honor of the park’s 66th anniversary celebration.
“This is a small version of the old Chautauquas that happened here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This area used to be on a circuit that brought four or five days of educational and entertainment programs here. This event will be in that old style, under a tent, and with entertainment from that period,” explained Barbara Tibbets, an interpretive naturalist at Turkey Run and Shades state parks.
The first Chautauqua was held in the 1870s as an educational summer camp for Sunday school teachers on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in New York. The format of education at an outdoor camp proved popular and quickly expanded to include families and programs traveling to rural areas. “The Shades, near Waveland, Indiana” was a stop on one of these circuits of traveling Chautauquas.
The program on Saturday will begin at 1 p.m. CDT and go into the early evening.
“We’ll start out under a big tent with a flag ceremony by the American Legion. Next there will be a program about “shades” of the past with legends, some gruesome though none verifiable, about some goings on here in the past,” Tibbets said.
For example, she said one of the legends involves an infamous battle with the Miami and the Potawatomi Indians battling over territory in an area near what is now Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, leaving that sacred land to hold the battle.
“The program will also include a magic show, not the razzle-dazzle magic of today, but magic from the time period of the old Chautauqua circuit. We’ll also have a couple of breaks in the program when old fashioned games and activities will be available. There will also be an animal program with some pretty wild sounds.”
The event schedule also includes a program about Richard Lieber, called the “father of Indiana state parks.” A storyteller will continue the program over dinner, a ham and bean supper offered for a free will donation.
“The evening will end with a Native American Drum Circle. Members of the Miami Nation will be here, and they might even have some dancers,” Tibbets said.
Shades State Park is about a three-hour drive from northwest Indiana and a 15-minute drive from Turkey Run State Park. Tibbets described the two parks as similar with great scenery and wonderful hikes, but said that Shades is more primitive and has a lot of waterfalls that are always running, including a unique concave waterfall. Primitive camping is available at Shades, and canoeing is available nearby.
“Shades is more isolated and natural, like stepping back in time. And the Chautauqua event is a way to touch base with simpler times of the past.”
Admission to the Chautauqua is free with park gate admission of $5 per Indiana plated car. For more information, go online to www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2970.htm or call (765) 597-2654.