Chautauqua Days, Bethesda Festival held
By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
BETHESDA — The Chautauqua Days and Bethesda Festival kicked off Saturday morning with a fishing contest for children, then a parade took to the streets at noon.
Crowds took the opportunity to walk among Epworth Park’s cottages and purchase crafts from vendors in the festival’s 30th year.
Dirk Davis, of Hazen Lodge 251, and village administrator for Bethesda, said the fishing contest had a record number of door prizes and sporting gear to give away.
“Things are looking great. We had a good turnout, good donations,” he said. “It’s the most we’ve ever had donated. We spent $6,000 to $7,000 so far.”
In terms of participation, Davis said 156 signed up, and while 54 could not attend, 48 who did not pre-register were casting their lines at the pond. Davis said the festival normally sees 200 or more children fishing.
“Usually we bring in anywhere from 400 to 600 people into here. The kids come and the parents come and sometimes the grandpas come,” he said. “We move the crowd through the Chautauqua and that way they can shop. … The Chautauqua does a great job, the people in the Chautauqua Cottage Association.”
They recognized the largest fish and most fish caught in the eight-to-14-year-old category and two-to-seven-year-old category.
Davis added that people from across the county head to Bethesda for the festival.
“We welcome everybody here,” he said. “It’s open to everybody who wants to come.”
More attractions included fireworks Sunday night
Rick Burkhead, fiscal officer for the village and a member of the Hazen Lodge, said excitement was high.
“We’ve got several sponsors. … If it works out well and we can get sponsors, we definitely want to do it next year,” he said.
“We wanted to do something to raise money for the new fire truck we’re going to buy. We’re getting an $850,000 ladder truck we’re going to be ordering here in the next couple months, and we wanted to hold an event do a boot drive and raise money. We always wanted to do fireworks and this seemed like a good year to try it,” Burkhead said.
Burkhead added that the event got fairly good circulation on social media, with the event getting around a thousand shares on Facebook alone.
Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy and a sponsor of the event, was enjoying the festival at his cottage.
“Chautauqua is one of the events in the Tri-State Area that people should not ever miss. It’s been held now for over 100 years,” Murray said.