This year’s Chautauqua Day theme focuses on the role oil and gas have played in the past and present.

The assembly’s theme is “Oil and Gas In Our Region, with the event starting at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 24.

“The Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society chose this theme late last year because it is a story that is rich in history. The story is mostly unknown to people to Waxahachie and to North Texas in general,” Chautauqua board member George Cole said.

“The preservation society decided that we would try to gather as many resources as we could not only to talk about the history of oil and gas in the state but this area because it started in this area,” he said. “We wanted to look at the impact oil and gas had on the turn of the century when it was first discovered – and where we are today.”

The assembly, which is open to the public, will take place in the Chautauqua Auditorium, located in Getzendaner Park. The main speaker will be Dr. Tommy Stringer, vice president for institutional advancement and director of the Navarro College Foundation. Stringer will focus on Navarro County’s various contributions to the oil industry and the resulting social impact on the community.

Oil was first discovered in Navarro County in the city of Corsicana in 1894 by accident when workers were drilling for a water well. By the end of the decade, more than 500 wells were within the city limits and producing more than 800,000 barrels of crude per year.  Navarro County experienced a second oil boom in 1923 with the discovery of the Powell field 10 miles east of Corsicana and a third and smaller boom occurred in the early 1950s.

Cole said Waxahachie became a focal point in these discoveries because of the three railroads that operated in the city. An oil pipeline ran through the city and a refinery was established near the present location of the Texas Workforce Commission, at 1712 W. U.S. Highway 287 Bypass and Katy Lake, in the 1920s. 

A speaker from Texas Christian University will address the geology, including the Barnett Shale gas field, of Ellis and surrounding counties.

Either producer Mark Bullard or editor Chris Lyon will make a presentation on their documentary, “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future,” and show excerpts from the film, which follows the discovery of the largest natural gas field in the country in Louisiana.

A question and answer session will be held with all speakers after they conclude their presentations.

As part of the assembly, a car that runs on compressed natural gas will be on display for visitors to view.

Members of the Waxahachie Band Boosters will sell food in conjunction with Chick-fil-A throughout the day. A pie social event will be held in the evening hosted by members of Waxahachie CARE.

Music will be provided by the Waxahachie Jazz Band at 3:15 p.m., with the event with an evening performance by the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Jazz Band at 6:45 p.m.

Waxahachie Community Theater will present a short melodrama, “Mischief in the Magnolias,” at 4:30 p.m.

Admission to the melodrama is $5 and is included with an all-day ticket for the Chautauqua Assembly, which can be purchased at the door for $20. All day student tickets to the assembly, with a valid student ID, are $2.

Tickets can be purchased at Glenn’s Warehouse Carpets, located at 301 N. College St. in Waxahachie, or at the Ellis County Museum, located at 201 S. College St.

For more information about the event, visit the website at http://www.discoverculture.org.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.