The History of the Tent Chautauqua

The tent Chautauqua that High Plains Chautauqua recreates, the Colorado Chautauqua Association in Boulder and the Chautauqua Institution at Lake Chautauqua, New York were founded with the same ideals of educational enrichment and self-improvement, but their origins and format are quite different.

The first Chautauqua, in New York, originated in 1874 as a Methodist Sunday school teacher training camp and evolved into a popular educational summer camp for families. It is sometimes called the Mother Chautauqua because many independent "daughter" Chautauquas developed after the same pattern, in permanent facilities. At the height of their popularity several hundred existed, including Palmer Lake, near Colorado Springs, and the Boulder Chautauqua.

Colorado Humanities launched High Plains Chautauqua in Greeley in August 2000. It quickly grew to be a full five-day living history festival attracting attendance numbers of over 7,000 each year.