Silt Historical Park celebrates rich history with Chautauqua |

Silt Historical Park celebrates rich history with Chautauqua

Jessica Cabe
The Silt Historical Park's annual Chautauqua event takes place on Friday and features storytelling and demonstrations that will take you back 100 years.
Courtesy of the Silt Historical Park |

If You Go...

What: Chautauqua

When: 2-8 p.m. on Friday

Where: Silt Historical Park

How Much: Free (donations appreciated)

Silt is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a town this year, making the Silt Historical Park’s annual Chautauqua more poignant than ever.

A chautauqua is an assembly for education and entertainment by lectures, concerts and demonstrations, and the historical park has been putting one on each year for decades.

“The park started coming together in 1980, and they started Chautauqua shortly after,” said Bill Smith, member and former president of the Silt Historical Society and one of the Chautauqua’s organizers. “I’ve been involved for almost 20 years, and they’ve done the event every year I’ve been a part of it.”

The Silt Historical Park is a collection of old historic buildings that have been donated and congregated in one area to preserve Silt’s past. There will be a number of demonstrations going on at the Chautauqua, Smith said.

In one building, a settler’s cabin from 1910, there will be a woman in the kitchen cooking on an old wood stove or making candles. Outside on the porch, people will be doing laundry in wash tubs, and women will be weaving wool or quilting.

“Basically what we’ll be showing at that location is what home life was like 100 years ago,” Smith said.

Other demonstrations include a cowboy explaining the cattle industry, a woman in an old country store explaining how shopping has changed, a blacksmith, a woman in a one-room schoolhouse explaining how education worked a century ago, a railroad display with demonstrators talking about how the construction of railroads built up the town of Silt and more.

The Chautauqua actually began on Thursday with a more structured day of demonstrations for seven classes of third graders in the school district. But Friday’s event will be more laid back, allowing the general public to walk through the park, talk with demonstrators and see demonstrations on request. There will be free Dutch oven cooking from 5 to 7 p.m., and donations are appreciated.

Smith said it’s important to preserve Silt’s history, and with the town’s 100th anniversary this year, he thinks now is a perfect time to gain an understanding of how we got here.

“This park preserves our past,” he said. “It allows — particularly young people, but also a lot of newcomers or tourists in the area — it allows them to get a feeling for what life was like in the valley 100 years ago.”

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