Family fun on tap for Chautauqua

BETHESDA — A little piece of Epworth Park has been in David Logan’s family for more than a century, and today he is heading up plans for an annual homecoming celebration there.

Logan, whose grandfather bought a Victorian cottage at the tranquil site in the center of Bethesda in 1915, is treasurer of the Epworth Cottage Owners Association and chairman of the Chautauqua Homecoming Days & Bethesda Festival. He is excited about this year’s extensive lineup of entertainment, vendors and food for the two-day event, which happens Saturday and Sunday.

“We will have a lot of food and entertainment,” Logan said, rattling of a list of selections including chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, coney dogs, sausage gravy and biscuits, beans, cole slaw and desserts. “It’s geared toward all facets of the family.”

He pointed out that in addition to about 35 craft vendors who are expected to be on site, the festival includes a Saturday morning fishing tournament for children ages 4-12 with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Each participant will receive a free rod and reel, he said, and prizes will be awarded to the most successful anglers. Hazen Masonic Lodge 251 sponsors the tournament.

Another important sponsor of events is St. Clairsville-based Murray Energy Corp. Robert E. Murray — chairman, president and CEO of the largest underground coal mining company in the nation — and wife Brenda are natives of Bethesda and often lend their support to community causes. Logan said Brenda serves on festival committees while her husband helped secure a symphony performance for the festival.

“Epworth Park is an area that is very near and dear to the hearts of the Murray family,” Murray Energy spokesman Gary Broadbent said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to support the festival, which is great for the community. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the summer.”

Spirit of America miniature train rides are being offered both days of the 29th annual event, and two parades will be held Saturday. The first, at 11:30 a.m., is the Children’s Bicycle Parade for those 13 and under with lineup at Virginia Street. At noon, the Festival Parade through the village will follow with lineup at 11 a.m. on Virginia Street.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble is the featured entertainment. The Shuman Family Band plays country, folk and rock music in the park beginning at 6 p.m.

“It’s very musical,” Logan said of the entire celebration, which he also said winds down Saturday around dusk.

Sunday’s schedule includes concessions and vendors, a morning worship service at 10:45 a.m. at the park auditorium, a car show from noon to 4 p.m. at Lake and Virginia streets and a lasagna dinner and other activities at noon. The Almost Famous band will perform at 2 p.m. at the auditorium.

Epworth Park was founded in 1870, according to Logan, and has hosted Chautauqua events modeled on the adult educational and religious movement that began at Chautauqua Lake, N.Y., for many years in the early 20th century and for the past 29 years. The 17-acre site owned by the East Ohio Methodist Church Conference, which Logan refers to as the “Garden of the Oaks,” once featured a three-story hotel and still is home to numerous historic cottages. Logan said the goal is to provide a community event appropriate for people of all ages.

Epworth Park’s main entrance is located at 215 N. Main St. in the village.

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