Chautauqua Wawasee regularly teams with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum to provide programs focused on local (Syracuse-area) history, typically related to archaeology, Native American artifacts, and people. Feedback Forms are provided at these events so we can receive feedback on program quality, speaker quality, etc. including requests for desired future programs. Our most frequent request is to provide More Programs on Local History. This is what prompted the Wawasee Walk Down Memory Lane project.

The 2023 program will attract an audience to view three historic videos:

1. A 1937 video of someone cruising in a boat videotaping the Wawasee shoreline and lakefront cottages as they cruise
2. A promotional video for the Spink Wawasee Hotel (built in 1926, closed in 1947)
3. A 1957 video of the Chinese Gardens and cottage on Wawasee

After the showing, attendees will be invited to share their memories via an Open Microphone; these will be recorded and limited to 5 minutes at this venue, but invited for a longer session at the Syracuse-Wawasee Historic Museum to record the individual’s memories as oral history. The event’s promotion will discuss the need for additional “home movies” that might be stored in attics, closets, basements, etc. This will be requested at the event too, with the hope that more historic video material will emerge. The Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum will borrow (take temporary possession) to process materials that emerge. With the owner’s signed approval, local home movies would be digitized and made available for public showing at phase two 2024 event.

WHEN: July 22, 2:00 – 3:30
WHERE: Syracuse Community Center

The Treaty of Paradise Spring, originally known as the Treaty of Mississinewa, was negotiated just two blocks from the current location of the Wabash County Museum. The treaty ultimately made way for the Michigan Road and the Wabash-Erie Canal. Papakeechie’s Reserve was one of several reservations created by this treaty. Many of the Native people who negotiated on behalf of the Miami and Potawatomi lived very close to or within what would become Wabash County.

About the Presenter: T.J. Honeycutt

TJ Honeycutt is the ex-Director of Archives and Outreach at the Wabash County Museum. He is a lifelong resident of Wabash County, a graduate of Manchester University with a Bachelor’s in History and Economics. He left Wabash to pursue a career in e-sports broadcasting after college, but in early 2017 returned to Wabash to work with history at the Museum in early 2017. TJ specializes in local and Russian history.


Date and time:

Thursday, August 31 · 6:30 – 7:30pm EDT


Syracuse Community Center

1013 North Long Drive Syracuse, IN 46567

Reserve your seats HERE.

“First Ladies, First!” to be presented at Wawasee High School

By Mary Hursh

Martha Washington and Abigail Adams were the wives of the first and second presidents of the United States, and, so much more!
These two women shared similar passions, which those in attendance at the “First Ladies, First!” program at Wawasee High School auditorium will learn. All are invited to this 2023 Patriotic Speaker Series event presented by Chautauqua-Wawasee from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 25. After the program, the annual Patriotic Pops concert on the lawn of the Oakwood Inn on Lake Wawasee will begin at 7:30 p.m. Carol Spacht and Kim Hanley, reenactment actors from the American Historical Theatre, will play Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, respectively. Because they are both experienced costume historians and seamstresses, they will be wearing costumes they made.

Martha Washington was born on June 2, 1731 at Chestnut Grove Plantation in Virginia. She married Daniel Custis in 1750. After his death, she married George Washington in 1759. When the Revolutionary War began, Martha worked with George at the Continental Army winter campground at Valley Forge as his secretary. She copied his letters, knitted for soldiers, and visited hospitals. Her passion was to raise money to help pay for uniforms and food for the soldiers. When George became president, Martha held public gatherings every Friday to receive members of Congress, dignitaries, and local citizens.
Abigail Adams was born on November 22, 1744 in Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although she did not receive a formal education, she could read and write and always championed women’s rights and the right for all to get a better education. She lived through the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Over that time period, she took care of the family farm and even made musket balls for soldiers out of melted utensils. Her letters to her husband John detailed life on the home front during the Revolutionary War. John became vice-president in 1788 and president in 1798. She, as well as Abigail Adams, promoted gender equality in public education, and equal rights for all people. She took the significant step of leaving a last will and testament claiming ownership of and the right to bequeath money that she had earned through her investments. “Abigal Adams just ended up in the right place at the right time for history to find her worthy,” said Hanley.

“Even though Martha Washington and Abigail Adams were of different backgrounds as far as socio-economic status, education, community involvement and lifestyle, they were both excellent managers of their home-economy. Both rose to the occasion presented to and required of their formidable husbands,” said Hanley. Carol Spacht, who will portray Martha Washington, studied theatre at Villanova University and graduated from Eastern University with degrees in literature and theatre arts. As a historic interpreter, she portrays several women from history. “Martha was a resilient woman. She was not afraid to speak her mind and make her own decisions,” said Spacht.

Three interesting facts about Martha are that historians believe Martha was probably left-handed and was forced to write with her right hand causing poor
penmanship; Martha’s beautiful needlework survives in the collections of Mt. Vernon; and Martha outlived all her children.For her presentation, Spacht will wear a 1790s hand-sewn silk gown. She will carry a period-appropriate fan. “Storytelling engages the imagination. The storyteller poses the question but encourages the listener to formulate his or her own response. Storytelling brings the past into the present with vibrancy,”
said Spacht.

Kim Hanley received her BFA degree from the State University of New York at Fashion Institute of Technology in the History and Restoration of Applied Arts. She began interpreting Abigail Adams with the American Historical Theatre in 1999. She has shared many portrayals of such women as Betsy Ross, Annie Oakley, ad Grace Coolidge with many historical and educational institutions around the country. She is an actor, singer, dancer, and costumer whose specialty is historical fashion.

When: Sunday, June 25th at 4:30 pm

Where: Wawasee High School Auditorium

Admission: FREE!



During April, we hosted a three-part series on the past, present and future of Religion presented by Dr. Michael Spath, executive director of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace. These well-attended presentations were held in the Jennings Auditorium at the Greencroft Community in Goshen – the first time we hosted an event outside of Syracuse.

You can watch a replay of each presentation on the Chautauqua Wawasee YouTube channel by pressing HERE.

During the first session, Dr. Spath explained how during the Paleolithic period our ancient ancestors associated women with the mystery of creation.
Blood was the basis of clanship. Through birth, women were transmitters of the clan’s blood and its spirit. Menstrual blood was used to fertilize fields in the Spring and used in healing. Women were responsible for the harvest because they knew the mystery of creation. They were the personified symbol of all life – the embodiment of all nature and the generative powers of the Earth including the cycle of fertility, creation, growth, preservation, and death. Mother Earth.

During the second session, Dr. Spath explained many of the common themes found in the religions developed during the axial age (800-200 BCE).
With urbanization, power shifted from the priest and king to the marketplace with greater social inequality and economic exploitation. In addition, Iron Age wars created chaos. In response to these trends, religions began to call people to seek higher community goals and inward reality. Cooperative behaviors (compassion and charity), sexual behaviors (chastity and monogamy), economic behaviors (condemnation of conspicuous consumption and greed) and parenting behaviors (investment in children) originated during the axial age. Humans were also becoming self-conscious. Increased urbanization led to a crisis of individuation – no longer members of a clan, we became individuals who coexist in an urban setting with people from different backgrounds

This led to:

  • a crisis of morality – no longer shared norms, we have to negotiate new norms
    among diverse crowds with a focus on ethics, empathy, and individual rights;
  •  a crisis of meaning – the individual must look inward to answer the questions of
    purpose and meaning; and
  • a crisis of mortality – without the presence of tribal ancestors, when the unique
    individual dies, what happens next?

During the third session, Dr. Spath discussed the future of religion in these post-modern times as people are looking for new narratives.  Pre-modern thought considered religion as science and myth as fact and history with a focus on tribal consciousness. Modern thought shifted to individualized consciousness in response to the Enlightenment and modern science. With increased globalization, Post-Modern thought embraces pluralism, multiculturalism and diversity, with a heightened Earth consciousness.

Will religion’s new story be a story of human dignity and compassion, a story embracing all sentient beings as sacred, a story of awe, and a story that celebrates our love affair with our mother, the Earth?

Again, you can watch a replay of each presentation on the Chautauqua Wawasee YouTube channel by pressing HERE.

Chautauqua-Wawasee and Syracuse American Legion Post #223 are proud to present Taps Across the Water; a Memorial Day tribute that acknowledges and honors the sacrifices made by veterans and those who have fallen while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This solemn event will feature solo and echo renditions of Taps, and the participating musicians will include members of the community and surrounding areas, such as veterans, community bands, high school students, educators, and professionals.

The tribute will take place on Sunday, May 26th, (at dusk) at 9:09 pm, and will feature buglers playing Taps simultaneously, strategically placed on Wawasee, Syracuse Lake, and Papakeechie Lake. A jet fly-over will precede the playing of Taps.  Attendees can expect to hear Taps on all three lakes. To ensure that the tribute is given the respect it deserves, we kindly request that everyone observe one minute of silence starting at 9:08 pm, immediately prior to the performance. The musical director of this moving event is Dr. Matt Murdock, an esteemed educator who resides in North Webster.

We hope that you will join us for this moving and meaningful tribute, as we pay our respects to those who have served our country with honor and distinction.

Beautiful photo, courtesy of Larry Baumgardt.


What: Memorial Day Tribute
When: May 26, 9:08pm – 9:09pm
Where: Your pier, pontoon, shore at public areas, Lakeside Park, Oakwood

Follow us on Facebook or call 574-377-7543 for more details.



The 9th Annual Wawasee Fine Arts Festival at Oakwood is an annual event that features a diverse range of fine art, including pottery, watercolor, oil painting, jewelry, and specialty art made from natural materials such as wood, glass, or metal to create beautiful, one of a kind pieces. This year, the number of artists has grown, jumping from 28 to 35, ensuring there will be plenty to see in 2023! All art has been juried to ensure suitability for this event. We strive to provide “fine art” products from true artisans, so you’ll be sure to find that perfect treasure to take home.

The festival will take place outdoors (rain or shine) in a beautiful lakefront park setting at Oakwood Resort in Syracuse, Indiana. Various activities, both recreational and artistic are available for children, so we encourage you to bring the whole family along to enjoy the day as there will be something for everyone.

Food and drinks will be available from on-site vendors or you may visit Oakwood’s Pier & Back Porch Restaurant

WHERE: Oakwood Resort 702 E. Lake View Road Syracuse, Indiana
WHEN: May 27th, 2023  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Religion: Where It Came From, Where It’s Heading, and How It Continues to Change the World

We are beyond pleased to present this three-part series led by Michael Spath D.Min., Ph.D., which explores why understanding religion is important for our faith today, as we continue to search for meaning and understanding of our place in the universe.
Michael Spath is the founder and executive director of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace. He holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree in New Testament.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy it!
Should you wish to view each part of the series separately, please click one of the links below.

First video in series- April 13th, 2023- Click HERE.

Second video in series- April 20th, 2023- Click HERE.

Third video in series- April 27th, 2023- Click HERE.


***In addition to support from Chautauqua Wawasee, other participating organizations are:
College Mennonite Church, Assembly Mennonite Church, Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen College Campus Ministries,
Lifelong Learning Institute of Elkhart, and the Greencroft Communities.

Chautauqua-Wawasee invites you to apply to our juried fine arts festival. To apply as an exhibiting artist, please complete the application by May 1, 2023, or take advantage of the Early Bird Discount and submit your application prior to April 1, 2023. 

Booth space: 12’x12’ $125 per space, plus $25 application/jury fee (per medium).

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $100 per space, plus $25 application/jury fee if received by April 1, 2023.

• Artists will be considered pre-juried if they were juried for any previous Wawasee Fine Arts Festival and will be displaying the same medium in the 2023 Festival. Only juried artwork will be allowed to be exhibited.

• Artist set-up on Saturday, May 27th begins at 6:00 a.m. Booth set-up MUST be complete by 8:30 a.m., and please allow yourself enough time to be completely torn down by 5:00 p.m. You will be able to drive right up to your booth area to set up and tear down, however, we ask that you PLEASE have your cars off the lawn at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the festival (8:45 a.m.)!

• Early set-up on Friday, May 26th is available from 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Because of other events held at Oakwood, it is very important that we stick to these times.

• All artists will transact their own sales and are responsible for complying with state and local sales tax regulations.

• White tents are preferred but not required.

• Special needs requests will be accepted but not guaranteed.

• Cancellations must be made in written form (mail or email). Cancellations prior to May 15th, 2023 will receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be made for any act of God, local authority or weather-related cancellations of the event.

• Volunteer booth sitters will be available for your short-term needs / breaks.

• Wawasee Fine Arts Festival at Oakwood takes place rain or shine.

• No security for Friday night setup.

• Sorry, no access to electricity is available


Art Festival Application 2023

Chautauqua-Wawasee and the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum will once again enjoy local historian Ann Garceau as she narrates a cruise of Lake Wawasee highlighting “Points of Interest” aboard the SS Lillypad II.

This event is always popular so get your tickets early. Ann will share her knowledge about historic hotels, events, property owners, restaurants, entertainment venues, boat taxis, marinas, other points of interest and little-known facts as the SS Lillypad proceeds around the shoreline of the lake. Snack food will be provided along with a cash bar.

Date and time:


The Frog Tavern 1116 South Harkless Drive Syracuse, IN 46567

Tickets for this event are SOLD OUT.  Please keep your eyes open for details on our fall cruise in September!

WACF Earth Day

Love Nature? Love butterflies? This is the topic to be explored at one session of the upcoming Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s Earth Day Festival on May 6th, 2023. WACF is organizing more than twenty educational, fun, hands-on programs and activities to be held outdoors at WACF Education Center south of Syracuse.

Plan to stop by the Chautauqua-Wawasee booth because they need your help to save the Monarch butterfly!

You will learn from the butterfly lady herself, Cindy Gackenheimer, Flutterby Gardens, Claypool, as she shares about the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the Monarch migration pattern this year, and practical steps you can take to help the Monarch. The booth will provide a “kid-friendly” hands-on learning
experience where participants can play a migration game. Also, a special craft is offered which involves stamping the butterfly life cycle on a take-home canvas bag, along with free pollinator seeds to plant which attracts butterflies to your garden or landscape for years to come.

Cost: Free
When: Saturday, May 6,  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where: Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, located at 11586 IN-13, south of Syracuse.

Check back here, or on Facebook for updates, or feel free to give us a call at 574-377-7543.