could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Chautauqua, Part 2

Time Period covered

1907 – 1920 – had one every year
1921 – 1922 – skipped
        April 1, 1921 – Kearney Chautauqua Association voted 3-1 to not have it
            President and treasurer planned to be out of town during the summer
                Treasurer also the man who handled tent rental
1923 – Had one
1924 – Skipped
1925 – 1928 – Had one every year
1929 – None – Ended nationwide in 1932

Chautauqua Park Property


Sept. – Dream
of extending Chautauqua park over Capitol Hill, extensive landscaping with trees, flowers, walkways and a lake.

Oct. – Stock to raise funds for purchase of 80 acres were now available in amounts from $1 up and could be made payable in four installments.


Mar. – Shares $1 each, $250 raised so far. Goal $5000.

Aug. – Still planning to purchase property to make a permanent park north of Third Ward
        12-15 acres which would be fenced, planted to trees and grass and artificial lake
        At a cost of $5000.
        When more money was raised a permanent pavilion could be built.
Such was the enthusiasm that $1000 worth of stock shares in the corp. were sold the last afternoon.
        Final accounting showed expenses over income of about $400.

Sept. 1 – S C Bassett suggestion
        Chautauqua needed a park and holds its session in June or July
        County fair should be held in the county seat,
                needs the same kind of facilities only with more buildings to display its exhibits
                holds its session in August,
        The two should consider joining efforts

Oct. – Association called for payment of subscriptions so 14 acres of land north and west of the park could be purchased at a cost of $2400.


Over the winter three blocks were purchased just north of Third Ward Park
        Options on a fourth “where the large tent had stood in the last two years. “
        Intend to put a small lake in the north end of the land.

        It was thought the city would be able to help in the beautification of the area since the Chautauqua only two weeks out of the year and the public can use it the rest of the time.
        Won’t be able to afford to build the pavilion this year.

June – City Council passed an ordinance to form Kearney Chautauqua Park.
        Close 31st & 32nd St. between 5th & 7th Ave.
        Close 6th Ave between 33rd St. and the alley between 30th & 31st St.
        [area north and west of original block that was Third Ward Park]

Aug – There was enthusiasm for building the lake on their property.
        A contractor estimated cost of dirt moving.
        Water would be piped from the east end of Kearney Lake.


Apr. – A contractor began the work of Parking the Chautauqua. [basically planting grass]
        Included planting 500 trees around the grounds

July – “Improvement of Chautauqua park has gone forward as far as the funds in hand would permit. Two rows of trees have been set out around the entire tract…..”

Aug. – Chautauqua association and Commercial Club leaders met.
        Commercial Club asked City Council to revive its park plan.

        Commercial Club voted to sell $500 in stock to complete horticultural landscape plans including a fairly large lake north of Third Ward park which could be used for skating by children whose parents feared the depth of Kearney Lake.

        Plans currently before the City Council were to make this park a sort of fairgrounds where the county fair or fall festivals could be held.


Feb. – City Council passed ordinance to put a bond issue up for vote
        $40,000 for parks including purchasing a strip of land [location not given]
            to enlarge Chautauqua park and make improvements including a large auditorium
        The fair association could build a track and such buildings as they deemed necessary for holding fairs.

Apr. – Park Bonds are Defeated.
        Lost by about 600 votes, getting about 25% of votes cast.

Then Chautauqua moved around in Kearney

1919 – held on the High School grounds. [This would have been Longfellow down town]

1920 – back at the Chautauqua grounds.

1921 – The Association is out of debt and owns 11 acres of inside property [inside the city limits?] 

        [Location not given] [Is 3 blocks = to 11 acres?]

1923 – New brown tent to be pitched on the half block immediately east of St. James school.

1925 – 1928 - “at the old Chautauqua grounds at the Third Ward park.”

Noteworthy Chautauquas

Dates July 4-12.
        Each evening to conclude with moving pictures. Different each night.

        In past years surrounding towns in the county have had celebrations but Kearney has been relatively quiet.

        This year the Fourth of July program will end with a “monster display of fireworks.”
            $500 collection of fireworks.

Program for July 4
        10 a.m. parade including fire equipment,
                then hose race to throw water,
                hook and ladder exhibition,
                high dive,
                all kinds of races.
        2 p.m. to Chautauqua park for afternoon program.
        9 p.m. Grounds open for free admission to fireworks.

Some problems.
        Kearney Day attendance lower
            [Afternoon] Speaker, Sen. Morris Brown could not attend.
            Evening program had a conflict with another event in the city.
        Saturday attendance lower
            Afternoon, Ringling Circus performed
            Evening a storm cancelled the program altogether.

Draft boys were guests at first Chautauqua performance

July 25, 1919 – “As a substitute number for the lecture on ‘Problems of the Air,’ by Lieutenant Andrew Nielson, who for some reason was not able to make the trip by airplane to Kearney….......”

        Chautauqua was an important part of Normal School summer program
        Held the last week of the Normal School session.

        July 29, 1920 – One of the Chautauqua speakers agreed to give the commencement address at the Normal School.
        Friday, July 30, 1920 – Large crowd expected for Sunday afternoon and evening performances.

            People were reminded that city ordinance prohibited sale of tickets on Sunday

            They should buy them ahead if time.

Chautauqua Aug. 20-25

        Big problem – Chautauqua and fair to be held at the same time.
            Chautauqua management did not check of fair dates until it was too late to change bookings.
            The fair included three days of horse racing

            "See exhibits at fair between Chautauqua programs."

        As a result - “The Chautauqua was a financial failure this year….”

July 6 – Guarantors of Chautauqua to meet that evening.

            Important that all 50 be there.
            Rumors that Chautauqua has been cancelled are not true.

July 1927 – Fifteen guarantors showed up and elected officers.
            They decided that any profit would be donated to Harmon Field.

Aug 9 – [last day] For the first time in 10 years the Chautauqua was expected to go over the top financially.
            Profits would go to Harmon Field.

[post event evaluation] Chautauqua declared a success.
        They had thought there would be a small amount left over

            but with some expenses higher than expected they broke even.
        But all were excited about next year.
        Profit for Harmon Field expected next year.

Sept. 18, 1927 – Sum of Sixty-Two Cents is Cleared
        Chautauqua Association Gives it to Harmon Field


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Revised: 02/08/2018