CHAUTAUQUA - Area residents will have the opportunity to celebrate the brilliant colors of the fall season as well as the culture of lifelong and leisure learning by participating in the Colors of Chautauqua fall learning festival.
The two-week festival, held Oct. 5 through Oct. 21, will feature workshops that explore the natural and cultural nuances of the southwestern New York region.
According to Stephanie Burdo, communications coordinator for Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, these workshops have been enthusiastically received by past participants during the Chautauqua in June festivals, and are fun ways to experience the region - both the people and the landscape.
A day-long tour during the Colors of Chautauqua provides the opportunity to meet members of the Old Order Amish community.
"In 2011 we started the three-week Chautauqua in June festival with the intention of building tourism in the spring and fall," said Burdo. "As we were planning the spring festival last year we decided to try for a fall one as well. It plays off the peak fall foliage season in Chautauqua County, the world's learning center theme, and the idea of vacation and leisure learning."
Several workshops study the landscape through the perspective of canvas or lens. Participants will learn about color theory, composition, how to identify good landscapes as well as create movement through painting with instructors such as Audrey Dowling on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution and Thomas Annear overlooking the vineyards at Johnson Estate Winery. The basics of photography will be taught using vineyards and landscapes as inspiration with James Hoggard, or the ancient, 12,000 year-old Allenburg Bog with nature photographer Gary Cuckler.
"We want to feature the beauty of the area as well as the diversity that is offered here locally," said Burdo. "That includes the artists, wineries, breweries and the whole range of things that we as Chautauquans represent. That's why we've found people who are experts in their field, or have done it for a very long time to host the classes. We're taking people who are here year round doing their thing, and concentrating those resources to highlight what they do. And, the idea wasn't to have all the events located at Chautauqua Institution, but rather to bring that idea of lifelong learning outside the Institution to make it county wide."
Rainbows End Herb Farm and Green Heron Growers will offer workshops using herbs grown in the region, teaching about the plants, how to harvest and use them to their fullest potential with preparation of foods and herbal medicines. At Jamestown Community College, educators from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will offer instruction on using free software to improve habitat for birds and wildlife. Participants will plan a garden while learning about their own property, and about becoming stewards for the watershed. The workshop, "Creating Habitat," will introduce participants to a new social media tool called YardMap, designed to allow users to map their yards while sharing their interests in gardening, landscaping and wildlife watching with others.
"Participants can choose to sign up for as many workshops as they want, or just one, and each class has its own cost," said Burdo. "The fall tends to be more of a weekend travel type of season; so the workshops are generally focused around the weekend - with a few exceptions. They range from a couple hours to up to seven hours."
A number of the workshops will be presented as tours and or talks. The Lifelong Learning Center at SUNY Fredonia will offer the chance to take a tour of Amish country and meet members of the region's Old Order Amish community with stopovers at a blacksmith, quilt shop, toy factory and bake stand.
At Johnson Estate Winery, wholesale manager Bob Dahl will lead a bicycle tour with lake vistas in America's Grape Country, visiting three of the region's wineries along the way. In Jamestown and Fredonia, the Fenton History Center and Festivals Fredonia both offer tours through historic cemeteries where costumed and knowledgeable guides will tell stories of the residents buried there.
Well-known authors and divers, Mike and Georgann Wachter will present a talk about the pristine and perfectly preserved shipwrecks that occurred on Lake Erie where a sunken treasure of history lies along the bottom.
There is even a whiskey seminar at Webb's Captain's Table featuring five whiskeys from New York state.
While these classes and workshops are occurring, participants also have the opportunity to explore the rich cultural and community-based events occurring in the county during the fall season.
"You could take a class and then go to the Harmony Historical Harvest festival, the fall festival at Peek'n Peak, or go to a farmers market," said Burdo. "Anyone should be able to find something that will appeal to them."
Descriptions of all the workshops offered during the Colors of Chautauqua can be found on the Chautauqua County Visitors' Bureau website calendar as well as in a downloadable version of the program guide. Both are available at tourchautauqua.com. Registration information is also available online or by calling 866-908-4569.
Colors of Chautauqua is a learning festival promoted by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and held in collaboration with Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown Community College's Center for Continuing Education, SUNY Fredonia's Center for Lifelong Learning, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Economic Planning and Economic Development, as well as area businesses including Webb's Resort, Johnson Estate Winery, Portage Hill Gallery, and Camp Chautauqua.