The Chautauqua festival is returning to Fernie to celebrate the town’s culture, heritage and community.
The festival has been limited and modified for the past two years, but will be back in full swing from Sept. 9 to 11, according to Rebecca Hall of the Fernie Heritage Museum, which is the main organizer of the event.
“We are delighted to bring it back in its full capacity and be able to have an open festival again after the last couple of years,” she said.
The collaborative, all-ages festival focuses on arts, culture and heritage, she said, with the idea to educate people about those things.
“It’s based on an older event (Dominion Chautauqua) that used to happen here 100 years ago.”
Hall said one of the key components is that they invite guilds and artists to display and demonstrate their work.
Events will be taking place at different locations throughout town, but the main location will be on the lawns around City Hall.
Tents will be set up for the guilds and activities, including tents for children activities, as well as a stage for live performances.
The first (and anchor) event will be the ‘Women of Michel’ gallery opening, to be held on Friday (Sept. 9) at 11 a.m. at the museum.
Related to the Women of Michel event is an opening reception, artist panel discussion, Ghost Schools of Michel-Natal, and Dancing in the Dark.
Other events include Fernie’s Got Kid Talent, a viewing of the Fernie and District Historical Society’s behind-the-scenes work (they have an artifact centre under the Catholic Church they will be showcasing for the first time), the Shred Kelly Story with Sage and Time, two days of arts and crafts with the Fernie Visual Artists Guild, Spinners and Weavers, and Quilt Guild, heritage displays and walking tours.
Most of the events are free, with a few exceptions. The museum will be open by donation instead of having an admission charge.
“Fernie has so much to offer in terms of heritage and culture,” Hall said, speaking to the near-140 year history of the town.
“So much has happened here and we have this wonderful, vibrant arts community. There’s just so much to display, and we just want to celebrate that, share that, share the heritage, share the history of the area, why we’re here — why we were here in the first place, and why we’re still here.
“It’s just a really good opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate all of those aspects.”