The annual Chautaqua Assembly is one of the best events of the year — especially if you like history, community and the opportunity to spend a day in one of the most beautiful parks in Texas.

The 2013 Chautauqua Assembly will take place Saturday, Sept. 29 at the history Chautauqua Auditorium in Waxahachie’s Getzendaner Park.

Having been a member of the national automotive press for the past 25 years and a national syndicated car columnist, this year’s theme is a subject I happened to be pretty passionate about — “Car Crazy: An American Love Affair.”

Earlier this week I met with Maureen Moore and George Cole (who also happens to be my neighbor and good friend). Both are board members with the Chautauqua Preservation Society and filled me in on this year’s assembly.

If you like cars — or have ever used a car — you won’t want to miss this year’s programs that focus on the past, present and future of our automotive transportation system.

The assembly kicks off Friday (Sept. 27) with a free special screening of the Disney movie “Cars” in Getzendaner Park at 8 p.m. Earlier in the day, historian Hank Fincken will appear at the Ellis County Museum in character as Henry Ford.

Saturday’s assembly features a number of presenters and special events, including demonstrations of auto mechanics and pinstriping from Carl’s Custom Cars; the Texas State Technical College automotive department Viper, Midlothian Classic Wheels and the Dallas Model A Club.

And one of the “must-see” events of this year’s Chautauqua Assembly is the Texas A&M University Debate Team who will discuss the topic “Will self-driving cars be good for society?”

There’s so much to see, so much to do, so much to learn.

Mark your calendars now.

We’re going to be conducting preview interviews with several of this year’s presenters next week. I can hardly wait. So stay tuned to the Daily Light for more information.

The Chautauqua

The Chautauqua Preservation Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic Chautauqua Auditorium located in Getzendaner Park, as well as its rich history.

The Chautauqua movement was developed near the turn of the 20th century as a way to bring educational programs and entertainment to rural America, which hosted programs called “Chautauqua Assemblies” that would draw thousands from neighboring communities.

Scores of auditoriums were built around the nation during the late 1800 and early 1900s, with only a handful of the original buildings remaining today — one of which includes the octagon-shaped Waxahachie facility.

For more than a decade, the Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society has hosted an annual Chautauqua Assembly in the fall, each year selecting a theme with events included lectures, demonstrations and entertainment.

2014 Chautuaqua Sssembly

Friday, Sept. 27

Noon — Historian Hank Fincken will appear as Henry Ford at the Ellis County Museum.

8 p.m. — Free showing of the Disney movie “Cars” at Getzendaner Park

Saturday, Sept. 28

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. — Cars and related demonstrations in Getzendaner Park (Midlothian Classic Wheels, Dallas Model A Club, Carl’s Custom Cars, Texas State Technical College Automotive Department, tent with children dressed in period clothing showing Chautauqua history).

Noon — Opening ceremonies: Waxahachie Old-Fashioned Singers followed by keynote presentation of “Road to the Future: Texas Transportation Tomorrow.”

1 p.m. — (Auditorium) Texas A&M Debate Team “Will self-driving cars be good for society?”

1 p.m. — (Tent) “Ten Greatest Car Scenes in Movie History”

2 p.m. — (Auditorium) “Automotive Perspectives” from Ed Wallace

2 p.m. — (Tent) “Chemistry in Action: The Power of Combustion!”

3 p.m. — (Auditorium) “America’s Music Through the Windshield of Detroit”

3 p.m. — (Tent) “Negros and Cadillacs: An American Folktale”

4 p.m. — “Fit to a ‘T’: A Conversation with Henry Ford

5:30 p.m. — Waxahachie Community Theatre presents “Taffeta Memories”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming week, look for more stories highlighting several of this year’s Chautauqua Assembly presenters. But please, mark your calendar now. You won’t want to miss it!

Neal White is the Editor of Waxahachie Newspapers Inc. Contact Neal at neal.white@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1457. Follow Neal on Facebook at Neal White – Waxahachie Newspapers Inc., or on Twitter at wni_nwhite.