Chautauqua: The Most American Thing in America

According to President Theodore Roosevelt, Chautauqua, where I spend my summers, “is the most American thing in America.”

President Roosevelt may well have been speaking about the traveling Chautauquas as well as the “Mother Chautauqua” planted on Lake Chautauqua in Western NY in 1874, after a period of great political crisis as well as religious ferment in the United States. The traveling Chautauquas took the ideals of education and culture all around the country, and some of you may even have heard about them from family members who participated.

You can read more about this unique history here, but today? Photos of some of “Mother” Chautauqua’s many flags.

In addition to planting flags everywhere, Chautauqua celebrates the July 4th holiday with a fabulous pop concert, ending with the 1812 Overture–and the popping of thousands of brown paper bags at the appropriate booming moments. Tonight we’ll participate in the local ritual of lighting torches around the lake while we watch distant fireworks displays in other lakeside communities.

I wish you a wonderful 4th, wherever you are and how ever you celebrate the history and ideals of your own country. I hope everyone, everwhere, makes this a day to consider and celebrate our shared core values and to recommit ourselves to living up to our ideals.


  1. Shelley C Bloomfield on July 4, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Your words helped, Emilie. Thanks, dear friend.

  2. Iris November on July 4, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Thanks so much– Chautauqua on the 4th was our favorite time for over 30 years. Our Miss Liberty Staue still stands in the yard at 23 Hazlett and you are welcome to take photos with her!!! Always remember her welcoming message!!!! Xxxxiris

    • Emilie Richards on July 4, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      I love your Lady Liberty. Hope to see you this summer.

  3. Lynn Ross on July 4, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    You are always so inspiring, Emilie! Thank you for being you. I’m glad you had a good Fourth. We did, also, in our own sedentary way. My mother spoke of the traveling Chautauquas, but she said that it was pronounced “Chah-taukka”. đŸ™‚ They weren’t aware of the “mother”. I have a very good picture of her taken at one.

  4. Joan Leopold on July 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Loved the pictures and your comments. I always being at the lake more on the 4th than any other day.

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