West End: Feast of Forks set for this weekend

FORKS — The second Feast of Forks set for this weekend features an old American tradition — Chautauqua.

Chautauqua was once a widespread form of community outreach for healthcare in the 20th century.

Now, Chautauqua refers to an entertaining family-oriented program focusing on education and culture.

Beginning Friday, the festival will consist of live musical performances, vendors and a softball tournament.

A parade with the theme “Everybody's Welcome” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

All community members are invited to participate in the parade, which starts at Forks High School and marches along Spartan Avenue

All day Saturday, the Forks Airport will host a fly-in featuring various new and antique aircraft.

An automobile show, flea market and salmon bake will also be part of the festivities.

This year's Feast of Forks festival showcases New Old Time Chautauqua.

“Originally health care providers and teachers went to rural communities to educate them about health through entertaining, vaudeville-type performances,” said Linda Melhoff, president of West Olympic Council for the Arts — the group sponsoring the event.

“This group is trying to revive this.”

New Old Time Chautauqua has been striving to make Chautauqua popular again.

The group, consisting of 60 performers, health care professionals and educators takes time off work to perform educational shows in communities throughout the United States.

“The vaudeville-style show is going to be really exciting,” Melhoff said. “It is wonderful family entertainment and gives people a chance to see something that one may have seen a long time ago but not today.”

Melhoff said the show includes performances by the Flying Karamazov Brothers, who have performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

New Old Time Chautauqua will perform a free show preview at Forks Community Hospital for long-term care patients at 10 a.m. Friday.

On Saturday, more than 55 Chautauqua volunteers will conduct various workshops.

The group will perform another preview on the East Bogachiel Way Stage at 3 p.m., following the Feast of Forks parade.

The official performance on Saturday will be at the Forks High School commons.

Tickets for the two-hour vaudeville show cost $3 a person or $10 per family. Children younger than six are admitted for free.

“I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the wonderful family entertainment,” Melhoff said. “They will see a type of entertainment they normally don't see.”

Chautauqua is named after a lake in New York state where the first event took place.

Melhoff said the name originates from the Seneca Indians.

In 1874, Lewis Miller and John Vincent began a summer camp for Sunday school teachers in northwest New York. They believed that learning should be a lifelong process for people of all ages and education levels.

By 1932 the Chautauqua movement had all but died out, partly due to the economic strain the country was suffering.

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