Written by Diane De Wit
Cultural events in Doon between 1910 and 1916 centered around the Chautaqua. Chautaqua, an old Indian word, was an educational and recreational event, which lasted several days. Doon offered the finest. Hundreds of visitors came from miles around to hear stimulating lectures and see celebrated musicians and actors perform. The programs, which lasted most of a week, prompted a spirit of celebration.
The midsummer Chautaqua demanded preparation. Local merchants encouraged their patrons to purchase new clothing. The Bonnie Doon Hotel offered comfortable accomodations to out-of-town guests. Banners were made, streamers hung. Pennants and flags were displayed to urge everyone to participate in the festivities.
Advertisements cited the advantages of Chautaqua. The entertainers were guaranteed to be clean and wholesome. No suggestive utterances or immoral jests would be made. The influence, the ads boasted, were all in the right direction.
With the promises of inspiration and quality entertainment, many flocked to see the shows. For $2.00 the cost of four bushes of corn, patrons could enjoy all ten assemblies.
Audiences were charmed by singing orchestras, and gifted violinists. Inspirational speakers from Denver and Omaha spoke eloquently on topics like "Society's Share in Crime." There were impersonators and novelty shows from as far away as New York and London. At a 1913 show, a native of India gave an oral travelogue about the "pagoda land."
Chautaqua promoters promised to help audiences enjoy life as well as make them wiser and happier. In the early 1900's it was a way for Doon farmers and merchants to sample big-city extravaganzas on their own main street.
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