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Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Evening at the Waxahachie Chautauqua

A few weeks ago, my in-laws bought tickets for an Old Fashioned Singing at the historic Chautauqua Auditorium in Waxahachie. All I knew was that all of the hymns would be pre-1950. Not something I would normally go to, but the in-laws, especially my mother-in-law loves gospel singing, and she didn't want to go alone, so we agreed to go. I had forgotten about it until Hubby reminded me while we were out shopping yesterday afternoon. By then I really didn't want go even though I'd always wanted to see the inside the building too as this is the oldest Chautauqua Auditorium in the state. But since the in-laws get out so seldom, go we did.

This photo was taken about thirty minutes before the performance started, because the in-laws wanted to be early. The interior really is something to see, as much of it appears to be originial, although I know it underwent restoration in 1975. It smelled of memories and old wood, not an unpleasant smell at all.

The Chautauqua Auditorium was built in 1902 in a time when there were many like it. For two weeks every year, the Chautauqua Assembly provided education, art and entertainment for local residents. The last in Waxahachie was in 1930. During it's heyday, they had entertainers such as Will Rogers, William Jennings Bryant, and politicians and performers from around the United States. People came by train and set up tents on the grounds to be near the events. It must have been great fun and a break from their everyday farm lives.

I didn't really know what to expect at this event as mother-in-law only said it was a singing, and just hoped it wasn't like the off-key singing of the 5th Sunday Singings of my youth. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a concert type performance and the singing was wonderful. The singers were local people and at least two of them were from mother-in-law's church, which is where she bought the tickets. There were moments of humor between songs but the focus was on the beautiful harmony of the group, and their solos. The singers were in semi-costume, although I'm not sure what era they were trying for.

When we picked up the in-laws, mother-in-law came out carrying a quillow which she said she was going to sit on unless it got cold. She said another woman in the church told her the benches are hard and she should take a cushion. She should also have passed that information on to us so we could have brought the cushions from our patio chairs. The benches weren't bad at first, but they are not built for people with bad backs. At the end of the first hour, my sciatic nerve was screaming and no amount of turning could relieve it. I looked around and no one else seemed to be squirming in their seats, and very few brought cushions. I thought I could stick it out to the end, but when the end came, my left leg was numb from thigh to toe. I felt sorry for the performers who were also sitting on hard benches on stage. But as Hubby pointed out, they stood up every few minutes and we didn't have that option.

I took a naproxen when we got home, and rested on an ice pack, and today I am much better. At least I can sit in a chair again. If I ever go again, I'll know what to expect. They will have more performances this year which I assume will be the same as last night: June 10-12, September 9-11, and November 11-12.



  1. Glad you are feeling better. The Chautauqua looks like a neat place.

  2. Glad you are better. Hard seats really are difficult with bad backs!


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