After our month of May, Team PIP needed to get away and relax. So when we were invited to the First Annual Bloggers Symposium at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY, I knew it would be the perfect chance to do just that. Let’s review our overnight at the cultural hot spot in our old school sorority style, shall we?
CON: #PIPBloggerFail: We were asked to arrive at Athenaeum Hotel at the Chautauqua Institution by 4PM to be ready for a 5PM blogger happy hour. Unfortunately, we got a later start than planned and didn’t arrive at the Symposium until after 5:30. I was bummed to miss out on some of the background and historical information provided by key staff members.
PRO: As we enjoyed a tasty four-course dinner, Hans and I sat with several Chautauqua Institution staffers. They gave us our own personal introduction to what the organization is all about:
- Jack – the Director of Recreation and Youth Services – filled us in on all the fun recreational activities, including the two golf courses which Hans was very interested in learning more about.
- Matt – the Publications Editor – gave us the scoop on the Institution’s newspaper, The Chautauquan Daily.
- Jordan – the Lecture Associate – shared what goes into planning the Institution’s nine week lecture series: over 200 guest lectures speak in 9 weeks each summer.
CON: It wasn’t even 7PM before I was seriously missing this guy:
PRO: At dinner, Jordan mentioned he also had a golden retriever. Turns out his two year old golden retriever was also named Grady!!! After our meal, Jason ran home and got his VP of Fuzz. What a pup!
CON: I was losing steam as the day turned to night and wasn’t fully up for the games and socializing at the Youth Activities Center. I was grateful to crash at 9PM and watch a great PBS documentary on the Institution. I have a copy of this documentary on DVD c/o of the Institution. If you want it, I’ll send it to you as a “thank you” gift for reading – first come, first serve!
PRO: My crankiness was gone after a good night’s rest. The hotel provided another fine meal in the AM that was consumed while chatting with Marty – the Director of Programming – about what the Institution had to offer artistically. The main components being:
- Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra
- Chautauqua Opera Company, “the oldest continuously producing summer opera company in the US”
- Chautauqua Theater Company, the “baby” of the group, founded in 1983
- Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, and
- Chautauqua Dance
Jazzed by all that creativity & fueled by eggs and hash browns, we were were ready to start on our tour of the grounds:
We started at the Amphitheater, the home of the Institution’s signature program – its morning lecture platform:
“Presented at 10:45 a.m. every weekday during the summer, lectures attract more than 3,000 people to the Amphitheater to hear experts deliver a keynote address based on a weekly theme ranging from domestic and foreign policy to science and ethics to arts and culture.”
The weekly themes are set over a year in advance. Check out the nine themes for 2011:
- WEEK ONE: Global Health and Development as Foreign Policy
- WEEK TWO: Government and the Search for the Common Good
- WEEK THREE: American Intelligence: Technology, Espionage, Alliances
- WEEK FOUR: A Case for the Arts
- WEEK FIVE: 21st Century Women: The Road to Social and Economic Growth
- WEEK SIX: Iran: From Ancient Persia to Middle East Powder Keg
- WEEK SEVEN: The U.S. Economy: Beyond a Quick Fix
- WEEK EIGHT: Sparking a Culture of Creativity and Innovation
- WEEK NINE: The Path to the Civil War
This is only one part of the wide array of educational programming available at the Institution. There really is something for everyone! After leaving the Amphitheater, we all loaded on to a bus for the formal guided tour:
CON: My legs were getting antsy and Team PIP might have skipped on out on the end of the bus tour. It was just too nice of a day to not be walking around the property!
PRO: During lunch back at the hotel, I noticed this tweet:
Never one to turn that offer down, we met with Chef Ross Warhol – the culinary mind behind all the food served at the Institution. At the very least, I wanted to thank him for accommodating my gluten intolerance during my visit. We discussed a lot of “foodie” type things, but I was excited to hear about their emphasis on locally sourced products.
As a feature at their Chautauqua County Farm to Table Experience events, “Chef Warhol will use primary ingredients obtained from local and regional farmers to create basic family meals along with some high-end or haute cuisine demonstrations. Participants will learn how to source, design and prepare a special culinary event that can be recreated in their own home.”
Chef Ross kindly invited us to return this summer to check out their President’s dinners, where they get a chance to show off their more advanced culinary abilities. I will be taking him up on that offer!
Following our meeting with Chef Ross, we borrowed some bikes from the hotel and got our ride on:
…where I found my dream house:
…and eventually the bookstore where we had some fun:
CON: I fell in love with a LOT of stuff at the bookstore, including Chautauqua Institution Under Armor hoodie that was $70. #SweatshirtFAIL
PRO: I reigned in my retail monster and rewarded myself with some frozen yogurt from the local iced treat hot spot:
A tasty end to a fun visit to Chautauqua Institution!
LONG STORY SHORT: I knew the Chautauqua Institution was a beacon of education and artistic knowledge, but I wasn’t aware just how much occurs during their nine week summer season. It’s pretty awesome to think that more than 170,000 people visit in those nine weeks in the name of life long education. I was so inspired by the concept that I’m already planning my return visit this summer. Thanks again to all the kind folks at the Chautauqua Institution for their hospitality!
Check back next week for a peek into another fun attraction in the Lake Chautauqua region: the Southern Tier Brewing Company! SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!
Full disclosure: I was invited by Chautauqua Institution to attend their First Annual Blogger Symposium & to spend an overnight at the Athenaeum Hotel. Lodging, meals, beverages and recreational activities were provided. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.