Ohio Humanities selected Milan as a host city for Ohio Chautauqua 2019 Tour after the township successfully hosted the event in 2017.
“They were impressed by the turnout that summer. It was a much bigger crowd than they expected from a first-time host,” Milan Township trustee Dan Frederick said.
Ohio Humanities chooses four communities each year to host the event, which features historians re-enacting famous figures from the past. Milan hopes to become a regular in the rotation of host locations.
“Milan has been a host site for us in the past and they brought great numbers,” said Chautauqua coordinator Samantha Chase. “We want to bring Ohio Chautauqua back to post host sites who have proven to be great partners.”
Frederick said Milan couldn’t do the event without the support of its major sponsor, the Lange Trust. The trust’s mission is to help provide culture and educational opportunity to the community free of charge.
“This event fits the mission of the Lange Trust perfectly,” trust chairman Sarah Prout said. “Chautauqua hits all three criteria and then it hits a fourth, it’s fun. The trust is glad to help provide that to the community.”
Other supporters of the event, include the village, Edison Local Schools, Milan Public Library, Milan Museum, Edison’s Birthplace, Lake Erie Shore & Islands and the Milan Chamber of Commerce. Members from each organization make up the planning committee.
In its application to host, the township spoke of Milan’s history as the birthplace of inventor Thomas Edison, a major grain port during the Milan Canal era and as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
“We would suggest that the summer of 2019 is the perfect year to bring Chautauqua to Milan to take advantage of a heightened sense of community pride and regional awareness,” the planning committee wrote.
The historical figures are chosen around a central theme, which changes every two years. When Chautauqua first visited Milan the theme was the Natural World.
“The event was a fantastic opportunity to introduce our historic village to visitors from across the state of Ohio,” the committee wrote in the application for 2019.
This year’s theme is Modern Legends and will feature five historic figures who “left a larger-than-life imprint on the American psyche.” It takes place June 11-15 under the Chautauqua tent in the village square.
Each night will feature a musical performance by local musicians followed by a re-enactment of a historic figure by a historian. People will be able to ask questions of the performer who will answer in character.
The following historic re-enactments will take place in order:
• Erma Bombeck: an author and writer of the popular newspaper column “At Wit’s End.”
• Benjamin O. Davis Jr.: the first African-American general officer in the U.S. Air Force.
• Julia Child: chef and author who popularized French cooking through her books and TV show.
• Cesar Chavez: a labor leader and civil rights activist who fought for workers’ rights.
• Robert F. Kennedy: a politician who served as the U.S. Attorney General and a senator.