Chautauqua 1912-1931

The Piqua Chautauqua was the city‚Äôs longest running community festival.¬†The Piqua-Community Chautauqua Association held their first festival at Fountain Park from August 16 until August 25, 1912.¬†The festival grew in popularity and after World War I, a permanent pavilion was built in the park (today known as the Hance Pavilion).¬†Local and imported talent competed for the attention of Chautauqua goers.¬†Local talent included the Piqua Drama League, the Piqua Band under Phil Gates, and the Elks Glee Club.¬†International presentations were represented by the Star Russian Company (vocal group from the Soviet Union), the Ramos Mexican Orchestra and the Gypsy Troubadours.¬†Speakers were a main draw for Chautauqua and included Billy Sunday, Lowell Thomas and numerous senators, governors, and other public figures.¬†Camping was allowed in the park, but a 1917 program stated that ‚Äúall tent holders will furnish their own electric light bulbs‚ÄĚ.¬†The Association held their last Chautauqua in 1931.¬†The American legion Drum Corps took over for an additional two years, but could not make a go of the festival during the Depression.¬†A small revival of Chautauqua was organized in 1975 and 1976 by Don Smith on the Piqua public square.