Chautauqua makes for an entertaining Saturday at Trowbridge Park

By JACOB STARK  July 2, 2018 

Photographs by Jacob Stark / Waseca County News 

Clouds overhead threatened rain, but Chautauqua pressed on unimpeded last Saturday. For attendees, the day presented a variety of attractions in which to engage at Trowbridge Park, the scenic location behind Waseca Public Library. The location was chosen to celebrate the preservation of the park’s bandshell, and that structure got a lot of use for the event as a lineup of performers played to a crowd gathered on fold-out lawn chairs spread across the park.

This year saw the return of acts popular in previous years at the bandshell, such as naturalist and storyteller Al Batt. Dr. Galvin’s Northern Drawl returned to bring some bluegrass to the festival. Luke LeBlanc, a self-taught singer-songwriter who won the Dylan Days contest in Hibbing in 2008, also brought his own unique style, characterized as a "snowball of folk, Americana, country, blues, rock, Cajun, dixie-land all rolled into one." Pete Klug is a musician born in southern Minnesota who has performed in the Mankato area. He has also performed in Trowbridge before as one of the musicians who have become involved with Jamming in June, an all-day music festival started by local resident Jonathan Lynch in 2016. Klug took the stage later in the day for Chautauqua. New this year was Julie Johnson and the No-Accounts, which performed in the middle of the day. The band is based out of Minneapolis and brings a jazz, classical and blues influence. The day spanned from late morning to late afternoon, presenting younger attendees with the chance to get hands-on with some arts and crafts.

In addition to musical performances, attendees got to see Patrick Scully's "Leaves of Grass" prior to his performing it at the Guthrie next summer. Scully is an artist who co-created dance collective Contactworks in 1976 and later Patrick's Cabaret in in 1986. In"Leaves of Grass," Scully portrays Walt Whitman as he takes the audience through the poet's work and life. Chautauqua is organized by Waseca County Historical Society as "the cultural and historic recreation of the traveling lecturers and entertainers that came through Waseca starting in 1883" and is made possible by a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council and the Waseca Area Foundation.