See birds of prey, create trash can art during Waxahachie Chautauqua event

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You can see birds of prey up close and enjoy decorating large trash barrels during the Waxahachie Chautauqua event taking place September 25, 2021 next to the Chautauqua Auditorium in Getzendaner Park.

The event begins at 8:00 a.m. when individuals and groups will decorate large, 55-gallon drums that the City of Waxahachie will place in parks and public spaces throughout the city. The drums and the painting supplies will be provided, and participants will bring their family-friendly ideas that they can express on the blank canvas of the steel barrel. Participants are also welcome to bring their own art supplies, but spray paint will not be allowed because of the drift hazard it presents. Participation is limited to the two dozen or so drums available on a first-come first-serve basis.

Chautauqua participants will have a chance to decorate trash barrels for the city’s parks and public spaces. Photo submitted by the Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society.

“The cans become a park property and will be distributed around the parks — if you go to Getzendaner Park, you’ll see the bunches of them there. You’ll see some out at the lake,” says Kirk Hunter, president of the Chautauqua Preservation Society which is hosting the event.

The trash can decoration is open to anyone, from children to adult, but Kirk says kids under 14 need to be accompanied by an adult. The art needs to be free from obscenities and civic-minded with no overt displays of religious themes or controversial content.

At 10:00 a.m., a crowd-favorite gets underway when the Last Chance Forever Bird Conservancy based in San Antonio will present a birds of prey show featuring eagles and hawks performing amazing feats of flight and offering viewers the chance to see beautiful, intelligent raptors up close.

An eagle minds a trainer during the birds of prey show hosted by the Chautauqua Preservation Society on Waxahachie, Texas. Photo submitted by the Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society.

Kirk says this is the 20th year that the birds of prey show will be presented since the annual Chautauqua event began in 2000 and that year after year, it draws a large crowd.

“It really is a spectacular presentation,” he says.

Admission to both the trash can art session and the birds of prey show are free.

The Chautauqua Preservation Society of Waxahachie is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that’s in charge of the preservation and use of the historic Chautauqua Auditorium located in the shaded 22-acre Getzendaner Memorial Park in Waxahachie.

Historically, the Chautauqua movement began in the U.S. in 1874 when religious leader John Hill Vincent founded an educational summer retreat on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in New York for the purpose of training church Sunday school teachers. The annual event grew into a cultural and educational movement that spread throughout the states and reached Texas in the late 1800s and Waxahachie by the early 1900s.

Back then in Waxahachie, event participants camped out in Getzendaner park and attended presentations at Chautauqua Auditorium. The annual event lasted for 31 years, making the local Chautauqua the longest running of all the locations. Waxahachie’s auditorium is the only remaining structure associated with the movement left in Texas.

Waxahachie’s Chautauqua Auditorium is the only remaining structure associated with the Chautauqua movement left in Texas. Photo submitted by the Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society.
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