Saturday marks the return of Chautauqua, an annual event of enlightenment and education.

“Catch the Wind” is this year’s theme, incorporating the mystery and power of one of nature’s primary elements.

As with previous themes, the idea “just kind of chooses itself,” board member Greg Gorman said. “We often start with one or two really strong ideas of a presenter who can come and do something that is compelling and interesting.”

The board had decided it would host a John Phillip Sousa reenactment concert this year as its evening session and the decision to bring back the Dallas Wind Symphony kicked off a discussion that grew from musical instruments to wind as a poetic force and literary device as well as the topic of wind power.

Gorman notes last year’s theme of storytelling developed in a similar fashion, after various components fell into place relating to the different ways a tale can be told.

The 2007 Chautauqua keynote speaker will be WFAA-TV meteorologist Steve McCauley, whose presentation, “Wind and Weather,” will focus on why and how. Dr. Carol Reynolds, who lectures for the Meyerson Symphony Center and Bass Hall, will follow with “Wind Notes,” a discussion on wind music.

A returning crowd favorite - and one appropriate also for the wind theme - is “Birds of Prey,” a raptor flight demonstration by Last Chance Forever, a bird conservancy.

“The birds of prey is always a big deal and people like to see that,” Gorman said, noting another popular aspect this year should be the evening’s concert. “This is a reenactment of a concert that Sousa might have done had he actually played at the Chautauqua as he had planned.”

History notes the original Sousa concert was canceled by local officials after they decided they didn’t want him to play on a Sunday.

Other offerings during Chautauqua will be “Shakubachi Flute Music” with Stan “Kakudo” Richardson in performance and Dr. Mark Busby from Texas State University’s Center for the Study of the Southwest. This Ennis native and English professor will lead a discussion on how wind has shaped the Texas culture, remarking on works by several notable authors.

Ken Starcher, director of Alternative Energy Institute, wraps up the day’s lectures with a discussion on wind power and renewable resources.

An evening dinner break has been scheduled at 6, with a barbecue dinner available for purchase. The evening also includes the annual pie social to benefit Waxahachie CARE, with the concert to run from 7-9 p.m.

The favorite part of Chautauqua for Gorman is the opportunity to “engage people with culture and knowledge they otherwise might not pursue.”

“I think that’s the aspect of our organization that I really, really like,” said Gorman who, along with other board members, encourages people to try the Chautauqua experience.

“We try to do this in such a way as to make it appearing to a large number of people,” he said. “This is not a high-brow organization. We’re not an elite, snobbery thing. What we’re after is to get people in a meaningful way to something they might not think to pursue.

“People may come here thinking they don’t know what they’re going to get out of it, but they always leave feeling they did get something,” he said. “And they end up coming back the next year and tell us to please let them know what we’re doing from year to year.”

After Hurricane Rita’s far-reaching effects hampered the experience two years ago, board members are keeping an eye on the forecast.

“We’re praying for good weather,” he said, saying weather conditions are looking favorable for a successful, well-attended event.

All events are at the Chautauqua Auditorium, with the exception of the birds of prey demonstration and the barbecue dinner and ice cream social, which will be on the grounds of Getzendaner Park.

All-day general admission tickets are available at the door at $10 for adults and $2 for students.

Evening-only concert tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students.

Chautauqua will be held rain or shine. For more information, call (972) 937-8887 or visit online at

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