Chautauqua Days coming

TRAINS and horse-drawn buggies no longer convey people to Bethesda and Epworth Park for Chautauquas, but reminders of those days and more are scheduled next weekend.

Musical entertainment, varied foods, antiques, crafts, a 5K walk/run, miniature train rides, contests, a classic car show, tree stump wood carving and a worship service are only some of the activities for the Epworth Park Chautauqua Homecoming Days and Bethesda Festival.

The second annual 5K run/walk is dedicated to the memory of Tim Zdanski, and a couple in their 90s will be parade marshals for Saturday’s festival parade.

Zdanski, who was Bethesda police chief for 37 years and was named “Belmont County Chief of the Year” in 2006, died last year. He was instrumental in creating the Sexual Predator Internet Initiative Task Force.

The marshals for Saturday’s parade will be the Rev. Eugene Williams, 94, and his wife, Martha, 90. They also will be recognized at the outdoor auditorium in the park, which is sometimes called the “Garden of the Oaks.”

Williams became pastor of what was the Christian Church of Bethesda, Belmont 26, in 1942, and he married Martha McCormick in that church in 1943. The couple, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year, previously resided in an Epworth Park cottage and have continued to visit over the years. Williams was an Air Force chaplain for 21 years, retiring as a colonel in 1962. They now reside in Denton, Texas, where they have lived with their daughter, Gretchen, for 35 years.

“We are excited about the quality of talent at our three free concerts this year,” said Jack O’Neil, president of the Epworth Park Cottage Owners Association. “Will’s Creek, Almost Famous and the National Pike Pickers are all homegrown groups that draw large audiences.”

Indicating the food at the celebration is very popular, O’Neil also said that more than 40 vendors are expected to draw a large crowd, and the white elephant sale always is popular. The fishing contest was expanded last year and again is on the schedule.

The upcoming celebration, in part, obtains its name from the Chautauquas held at Epworth, and planning for those events began in 1890. These involved public lectures, concerts, Bible classes and dramatic performances.

In “History of the Camp Meeting and Chautauqua Movement at Bethesda, Ohio,” the Rev.. Francis S. Smith wrote, “A day at Chautauqua was an event to be remembered. The street was lined from the depot to the entrance (of the park) with stands. … Banners were flying. The band played from the second floor porch at the hotel and from the bandstand across the lake. … The hitching space across the lake was often filled.”

Those attending the upcoming celebration will see the cottages at the park, enjoy the fountain which has graced the lake for approximately 30 years and have a chance to reminisce under the majestic oaks.

Chautauqua Homecoming Days and Bethesda Festival Schedule


8 a.m. – The white elephant sale opens.

8 a.m. – Concession stand at the park entrance opens for breakfast with coffee, doughnuts and biscuits with sausage gravy.

8 a.m. – The second annual Chautauqua Days 5K Run/Walk is planned with registration beginning at 8 in the park shelter area at the corner of Lake and Virginia Streets.

9 a.m. – Registration starts for a “Footprints in the Park” fun walk for all ages and a health fair, both at the Epworth Center.

9 – Crafts and antiques available.

9 – The “Spirit of America” miniature train will provide rides around the park.

9 – Epworth Park memorabilia and baked goods available.

10:15 – Bicycle decorating contest for ages 13 and under will begin at the former grade school. Prizes will be awarded.

10 – Festival parade lineup to begin at the former grade school with the parade planned at 11. Awards will be presented.

After the parade, chicken barbecue dinners will be available at the United Methodist Church, and the park concession stand will feature chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, coney dogs, kraut dogs or sloppy joes, homemade potato salad, baked beans, root beer floats, ice cream and apple dumplings.

11:30 – Youth’s and children’s activities will begin at the Epworth Center.

Noon – Children’s fishing contest for ages 12 and under at the lake.

1 p.m. – Jeff Roscoe of Flushing to demonstrate the art of tree stump wood carving.

1 p.m. – Brat sandwiches available at the auditorium.

1:45 – Parade marshals’ recognition at the auditorium.

2 – Wills Creek to entertain at the auditorium.

3 – Children’s games for those 10 and under at the gazebo.

7 – Almost Famous to entertain; award-winning banjo artist Stephen Moore of Bethesda heads the group.

SUNDAY, July 14

10:45 a.m. – Worship service in the auditorium with Pastor Tom Detling of the Bethesda United Methodist Church as speaker.

11:30 – Spaghetti dinner and other foods at the concession stand.

Noon – White elephant sale opens

Noon – Antiques under the Oaks and craft sales continue.

Noon – “Spirit of America” train rides begin.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Registration under way for the Classic Auto Show, located on the west side of Epworth Park and sponsored by the Bethesda-Belmont-Morristown Rotary Club. The show is from noon to 4 p.m. There is a $7 registration fee and dash plaques will be for the first 50 entries. Category winners will be given an award. Disc jockey Frank Prebec will provide the music. Food and beverages are also available plus a 50-50 event.

Noon – Hog roast and ribs dinners available from the Bethesda Festival Committee.

1-4 p.m. – Xtreme Entertainment with inflatable games and Slip & Slide water games (weather permitting).

(The car show, hog roast/ribs dinners and inflatable game events are planned in the park area at the corner of Lake and Virginia streets.)

1 p.m. – Jeff Roscoe to demonstrate tree stump carving.

1-4 p.m. – Tour of cottages. Each year, some park residents graciously open their cottages for viewing. Tickets may be purchased near the concession stand.

1 p.m. – Brat sandwiches available at the auditorium.

2 p.m. – National Pike Pickers to entertain at the auditorium.

Those having questions may call 740- 484-4716 or email