Join us for a powerful celebration of faith, hope, laughter and love with a sparkling performance from the Ball State University Singers showcasing music that is encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring!

Friday February 10th, 6pm-7:30pm
Wawasee High School Auditorium
1 Warrior Path, Syracuse

General admission seats and VIP seating is available.

Click HERE to purchase tickets.

Five Things You Should Know About Chautauqua-Wawasee

The Mail-Journal recently sat down with Mark Knecht, the President of Chautauqua-Wawasee, to talk about their organization and future plans.

Mail-Journal: What do you want readers to know about Chautauqua?

Knecht: Well, a lot of people don’t know who we are and what we do, so that would be a good place to start.

Mail-Journal: Ok, let’s start with that.

Knecht: Our primary goal is to help make Syracuse and the region a great place to visit, work, live and raise a family. We try to do this by offering unique programs consistent with the four Chautauqua pillars: Arts, Education, Faith and Recreation.

Mail-Journal: That’s a very broad scope. How do you decide on programming with the pillars?

Knecht: Yes, it is very broad. So, we try to pick specific voids no one else is providing. For example, we have a Patriotic Speaker series around July 4. We brought an Abe Lincoln re-enactor one year, Thomas Jefferson this year and next year it will be Abagail Adams and Martha Washington. We’re excited!

Mail-Journal: Does Chautauqua-Wawasee do this all on its own?

Knecht: No. our goal is always to partner with another organization or two or sometimes more. As an example, for our Old Fashioned Christmas program, we team with the Town of Syracuse, the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Oakwood Resort and Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation. It’s a huge effort led by Kip Schumm. Nearly 1,000 people attended in 2021. It’s always best to work as a team.

Mail-Journal: That makes sense. Looking back on 2022, what are you particularly proud of?

Knecht: Oh, that’s a tough one. The Fine Arts Festival is very successful. But I’d say I heard more comments about “Taps Across the Water at Dusk” program than any other program. We still have some areas on the three lakes where people have come out to listen, and couldn’t hear it. We’ve got to work on that again next year…The wind is a big factor affecting how far sound travels.

Mail-Journal: What kind of programs do you have in the Faith Pillar?

Knecht: This year Cliff Kindy is conducting a workshop around the question “what if Christians were as passionate about peace as warfighters are about war”. Cliff is an amazing person who lives his faith. He’s traveled to dangerous trouble spots around the world with Christian Peacekeeper Teams and will share some of his stories and experiences on September 28 as part of the National Chautauqua Conference meetings.

Mail-Journal: What’s that all about?

Knecht: We will be hosting the National Conference of North American Chautauqua organizations at the end of September. Chautauqua-Wawasee is one of 19 independent Chautauqua organizations. We all get together once a year to share ideas and learn from each other. This is the first time the National Conference is being held here in Syracuse.

Mail-Journal: How does Chautauqua-Wawasee function, since most of its programs are free to attend?

Knecht: 95% of the work is done by volunteers…Chautauqua’s and the partners we team with. We want as many people as possible to have access to our programs, so making them free to attend works best. Our funding comes from the Howard and Myra Brembeck Foundation, Kosciusko County Community Foundation, Harkless Foundation, Lilly Foundation and from donations received during our annual fundraising campaign.

Mail-Journal: How do people learn about the programs and events you offer?

Knecht: We publish an e-newsletter called “Five Things You Should Know” …five times a year. It’s a quick read. Our website, is always up-to-date, and we regularly post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Thank you to The Mail-Journal for allowing us to post this article. 

2022 Chautauqua Wawasee Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration

Chautauqua Wawasee Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration – 2022

Chautauqua-Wawasee’s annual event for mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, and kids of all ages!

Santa, live nativity, Grinch, Frosty, plus other characters, chapel reading of the Christmas story, live reindeer, musical groups, family photo booth, caroling, and more!  Come early to enjoy the music and festivities.

What: Outdoor family Event – dress for warmth
When: November 26, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: Oakwood Resort, Syracuse, Indiana
Cost: Free

Visit our Facebook page or call 574-377-7543 for more details.



Northern American History Series

Chautauqua-Wawasee and the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum are once again collaborating to offer a 3-day series of educational and entertaining programs focused on northern Indiana native American history. All programs are free to attend.

Thursday, September 1- 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Using Maps to Unlock the Past (1866 – 1903)

As Kosciusko County Surveyor, Mike Kissinger, has done a great deal of historical research and will share his findings and interest in Kosciusko County and the lakes area. Of special interest are old maps, Indian reservations, old schools/homes, and the stories of past residents.

About the Presenter: Mike Kissinger

Mike is a lifetime resident of the North Webster area and lives on the property that family acquired from the U.S. government in 1845. A 1979 graduate of Wawasee High School, he has worked in the County Surveyor’s Office for the past 41 years, Mike was licensed as a Professional Surveyor in 1999 and was selected as the County Surveyor when his friend & mentor, Richard Kemper, retired in 2015.


Friday, September 2- 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Reenacting Richard Stone’s Journal (1827-1842)

In 1827, as some of the first white settlers in Noble County, Richard Stone and his family set up a trading post at the junction of two highly traveled trails, known today as U.S. 33 & SR 5. The Indian village of Chiefs Papakeechie and Wawasee was just six miles away. Using Richard Stone’s journal, reenactor Jim Hossler will relate the life and times at the newly established trading post.

About the Presenter: Jim Hossler

Jim has lived in Noble County for the last 30 years. He has been a member of Stone’s Trace Historical Society for the last past 14 years, and the President for the last 9 years. Stone’s Trace is a historic site in Noble County that has restored Richard Stone’s tavern and three other pre-Civil War buildings. He and his wife, Pam, have five children and six grandchildren. He says “I’ve always enjoyed history, and I love teaching the kids and the people about Stone’s Trace.” Read more at A “Vintage Christmas” is planned for December 3, 1:00 –4:00pm. Jim owns and operates a small trucking company.



Saturday, September 3-  SIX individual programs are listed below 

Bring Your Own Artifact 10:00 – Noon /Led by Jim Bickel & Michelle Eddington

Do you have an old artifact that you aren’t sure what it is or when/where it originated? Jim and Michelle are available to examine your artifact and
(hopefully) tell you all about it.

Tribute to the Eastern Woodland Natives 10:00 – Noon /Led by Dan Lima, reenactor of Eastern Woodland Natives

Veteran reenactor Dan Lima will delight you with the lives of Potawatomi Chief Five Medals and Miami Chief Wawasee and his brother Chief
Papakeecha whose reservation was located near present-day Indian Village in Noble County.

 “Life and Times of Five Medals” discussion 10:00 – Noon  /Led by Mike Judson at WACF Amphitheater

Mike Judson, president of Five Medals Living History, Inc., will discuss the life and times of the Elkhart River Potawatomi Chief Wonongaseah (a.k.a. Five Medals).  Five Medals led his people in the defense of their homeland from the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 to the War of 1812.

1774 French Marine 10:00 – Noon /Led by Joe Zdziebko

Joe Zdziebko, dressed as a 1750s French Marine will display and discuss his equipment, uniform, musket, furs, maps, etc. He will also talk about old
sayings that are still used today.

Flintknapping Hands-on Demonstration 10:00 – Noon /Led by Jeff Mesaros

Want to know how native American artifacts were made by hand? Jeff Mesaros will show you how. And here’s your chance to try making one!

Atlatl Weapon Demonstration 10:00 – Noon /Led by Jamie Clemons

The atlatl was a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart or spear-throwing and includes a bearing surface that allows the user to
store energy during the throw. Jamie will be demonstrating types from around the nation and allowing the public to participate with samples.


Details: or

Chautauqua-Wawasee is holding the 8th annual Wawasee Oakwood Fine Arts Festival on May 28 in the park of Oakwood Resort in Syracuse, Indiana. This Festival brings together over 30 local and regional artists from around Indiana and beyond. All art has been juried to qualify for inclusion in the festival.  The beautiful outdoor setting provides a family-friendly environment. Children’s activities and playground are available. Food vendors are onsite for snacks and lunch, with outside seating available. Attendance is free. Stop by the Chautauqua booth for a free gift. The Art Festival will take place rain or shine.

What: Wawasee Oakwood Fine Art Festival
When: May 28, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Where: Oakwood Resort, Syracuse, Indiana
Cost: Free to attend
Follow us on Facebook, or give us a call at 574-377-7543

WACF Earth Day Event

Love Nature?

“How do you know it loves you back?

Chautauqua Wawasee has a unique program for WACF’s Earth Day, April 30.  For the first time ever, Dani Tippman, Cliff Kindy and John Edgerton are collaborating to discuss a message of hope, harmony, and humility. 

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.  REMEMBRANCE: 

Water is Life; Human/Plant diversity makes us stronger. (Facilitated by Dani Tippman)

11:00 – 11:50 a.m.  DIALOGUE: 

How can we accept the coming difficulties of our distressed planet, so that we and our children can meet them with courage, empathy and resilience? (Facilitated by Cliff Kindy)

12:45 – 1:35 p.m. EARTH STORIES:    

Sharing stories about how we each are needed in the web of life, and how harmony and mutual understanding are vital to our survival. These ancient stories are now beginning to be validated by modern science. (Facilitated by John Edgerton)


Learn about Native American methods for plant diversification; organic farming techniques with water conservation and carbon-free methods; and ancient stories that are now beginning to be validated by modern science.  This program is free.

Chautauqua Wawasee will also have a booth where Cindy Gackenheimer of Flutterby Gardens in Claypool will share information about Monarch butterflies and how to attract them in your yard.  Free flower seeds will be available.

Earth Day


When: WACF’s Earth Day April 30, 10:00 – 2:00  

Where:  WACF Amphitheater