The Fernie Chautauqua returns to its weekend format for the 6th annual celebration of culture, heritage and community in Historic Downtown Fernie on the weekend, of September 10-12, 2021.
Hosted by several of Fernie’s cultural institutions — including the Fernie Museum, Heritage Library, Senior’s Centre, Mountain Market and Arts Guilds — the event features local and visiting entertainers, a peek at the cultural fabric of Fernie, and a taste of the season all centered around one of Fernie’s most iconic heritage buildings – Fernie City Hall.
Chautauqua was a travelling institution that began at Chautauqua Lake, New York, with roots in Canadian Methodist Temperance rallies. Events were held in Fernie from 1917 to 1935.
Chautauquas carried education, inspiration and entertainment across North America and consisted of musical numbers, lectures, dramatic productions and magic or puppet shows.
This year’s event will be a scaled-back festival in line with current Provincial Health Guidelines. To assist in managing attendance, most events require tickets but many are free. Full information and ticket links available at ferniechautauqua.com or from the Fernie Museum.
The live entertainment lineup features four-JUNO nominated blues musician Tim Williams on Friday evening. Tim returns to Fernie from his Calgary base with his wonderful blend of pre-war blues, old-time country, Hawaiian, Mexican and zydeco rhythms and his collection of instruments. His latest recording, Catfish (with Kevin Belzner and Big Dave Maclean, under the group name BMW), reached number one on CKUA Radio.
Following Tim, the weekend continues with the Sookanie Singers, a singing and drumming group with Sioux and Kootenay heritage who have been performing across North America for over 20 years. The weekend rounds out with The Audielles, an 8-person female vocal ensemble from Fernie with magical harmonies and toe-tapping tempos, plus DJ Jay Ray on decks to accompany Sunday’s Harvest Market.
Chautauqua Kids at Fernie Heritage Library features hosted storytimes in the garden on Friday and Saturday, plus a self-guided storywalk, curbside craft with pickup available throughout the day and an online guide to follow along with, and a heritage photobooth so you can create some fun historical family photos on Chautauqua weekend.
A key part of Chautauqua is offering insights into arts and heritage through interpretation, demonstrations and workshops. This year’s schedule is packed with informative, educational, and entertaining sessions for all ages. Meet some of Fernie’s Heritage Buildings with ‘Church & Court’ hosted by Terri Tombosso or take a fascinating walk with Lindsay Vallance to learn about the 1908 Great Fire or the infamous rumrunners of the Crowsnest Highway. Sign up for a workshop and learn to perfect your phone photography with Gabriela Escobar Ari, or unleash your urban sketching skills with Karen MacDonald. Meet the artists of the Fernie Spinners & Weavers Guild and Visual Artists Guild and watch as they demonstrate a series of skills from ancient spinning techniques to bookbinding to illustration.
A special Harvest Market on Sunday will feature a cornucopia of local produce and artisan wares. Find pottery, soap, jewellery, fruits, vegetables, preserves and so much more from enthusiastic local growers and artists and learn about efforts to promote food security and encourage local growing and making. The festival draws to a close on Sunday with the 50/50 draw – make sure to pick up your ticket to history by noon, ahead of the 2pm draw!
Please follow safety signage and information provided by organisers at the event. While this is a different kind of event to the one Fernie usually enjoys, organizers and volunteers have worked diligently to put together a festival for all to enjoy. Show your love of Fernie’s community, culture, and heritage at the 6th annual Fernie Chautauqua!
Fernie Chautauqua is sponsored by Heritage Canada, City of Fernie, Teck and Park Place Lodge.