Chautauqua County is home to a variety of vacation learning opportunities aimed at rejuvenating the mind, body and soul.
Smithsonian magazine has named Chautauqua the "Best Small Town to Visit in 2014." The decision was based upon the number and quality of learning opportunities available to residents and visitors.
For the past several years the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau has celebrated the concept of Chautauqua County being a place for lifelong leisure learning by aptly naming it the "World's Learning Center."
Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield offers a number of learning adventures that take place in the vineyards and are accompanied by food and wine tastings.
Submitted photo by Johnson Estate Winery
Visitors to the annual Roger Tory Peterson “Birding Festival” exploring the landscapes that inspired a young Peterson to study natural history.
Submitted photo by Ed Bernik
Brewing experiences and tours at Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood are popular events during the spring and fall learning festivals.
Submitted photo by Ed Bernik
Feed the mind, body and soul at Chautauqua Institution.
Submitted photo by Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau
According to Andrew Nixon, executive director of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, the title reaffirms tourism expert Roger Brooks' 2008 indication that the region is a prominent learning vacation destination.
"That's even if people don't know they are going to learn on vacation," Nixon said. "It starts with Chautauqua Institution, but other experiences include: the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, learning programs at area wineries, pairings of wineries with restaurants, food foraging combined with food preparation, the Jamestown Audubon, the Cornell Grape Research Facility's hops conference and much more."
Due in part to the recognition, as well as a desire to celebrate Chautauqua Institution's 140-year-old tradition of lifelong learning, a "Chautauqua In Bloom" season of learning will be held throughout Chautauqua County from May 24 to June 20. Dozens of experiential workshops, ranging from comedy, birding and music; to art, brewing and wine and food pairing, will be held throughout the four-week festival.
Mountain Film and Book Festival
When: Today at 7 p.m.
Where: Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown
For More Info:
484-7070 or www.reglenna.com
What: "12 Angry Men"
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Spire Theatre, 317 E. Third St. in Jamestown
For More Info:
484-7135 or in-spire.us
What: Collaborative Exhibit and Benefit For IONA's Army
When: Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11:55 to 4 a.m.
Where: Cibo's, 100 E. Third St. in Jamestown
For More Info: "Cibo's Collaborative Exhibition" on Facebook
What: Derek Davis and Barry Edwards
When: Friday, 9 p.m.
Where: Yesterday's, 103 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood.
For More Info: "Derek Davis and Barry Edwards" on Facebook
What: "Colonize" Exhibit
When: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 3rd on 3rd Gallery, 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown, and Dykeman-Young Gallery, 100 E. Second St. in Jamestown.
For More Info: 484-7070 or visit www.reglenna.com, 483-5772 or visit www.dykemanyounggallery.com.
This promotion leverages "leisure learning" experiences available in Chautauqua County, which will take place just prior to the opening of the Chautauqua Institution season, Nixon said.
"This fits our goal of utilizing the learning vacation concept beyond the gates of Chautauqua Institution, and at different time periods than its nine weeks," Nixon said. "In addition, these courses and experiences typically also rely on aspects of Chautauqua County that we are well-known for: wineries, agritourism, lakes and arts."
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau also hosts a similar leisure learning promotion in the fall called "Colors of Chautauqua." Details on the festivals can be found at www.tourchautauqua.com or by calling 866-908-4569.
According to George Murphy, vice president and chief marketing officer for Chautauqua Institution, the role of Chautauqua as part of the "World's Learning Center" concept is two-fold.
"One is to give the tag-line credibility, but also to give it critical mass - almost somewhere you can anchor it," Murphy said. "I think if you look at our nine-week program here, and we talk about our programming as bringing together a community of lifelong learners, that's actually our positioning. We do that by delivering a lecture series and a host of other courses and things with the crux of it being people who want to come in and leave here learning something they didn't know before."
Chautauqua Institution is known for its morning and afternoon lectures, camps and clubs for kids that stress physical as well as mental health. It also hosts more than 100 special studies courses each week throughout its season. According to Murphy, between 600 and 800 people participate in courses held by community experts in hopes of developing a skill that could range from computer related to cooking, music enhancement or writing, basket weaving and painting - a wide spectrum.
"It's a great community effort, and at it's heart it's people learning more to develop a skill they didn't have," Murphy said.
Accessibility has also always been a concern of Chautauqua Institution, which is why it offers a variety of ways for visitors from all walks of life to enjoy its services. Some examples of affordable programming include: free admission Sundays, children under 12 for free anytime, 50 percent off admission community appreciation nights that usually feature the arts, a family entertainment series, and affordable camps and clubs programs. The decision to make its services available to as many people as possible allows Chautauqua Institution to honor the Smithsonian's naming of Chautauqua as "Best Small Town to Visit in 2014."
"The criteria that they laid to choose were communities that enrich their members through the arts, theater, special education or learning; it somewhat validates the positioning that we have in ourselves - it was a perfect alignment," Murphy said. "I liked it because their audience is sort of our audience, so getting that message out through their network validates what we've been saying that what we've been doing all along."
Chautauqua Institution is located off Route 394 between Mayville and Stow. For more information call 800-836-2787 or visit www.ciweb.org.