The gem that is Trumbull County was shining brightly in July of 2004.
An enormous red-and-white tent was set up beside the Kinsman House on Mahoning Avenue, the scene for the Ohio Humanities Council's cultural event Ohio Chautauqua. The five-day program downtown combined living history with entertainment. Scholars-in-residence portrayed prominent figures in one-person performances followed by questions from the audience posed to the characters, then to the scholars.
This was so successful that handling the crowds - about 500 each day - was a challenge.
Warren became one of five host sites across the state after individuals from the Ohio Humanities Council toured the Riverwalk Amphitheater and surrounding amenities, such as the Harriet Taylor Upton House, the Kinsman House, the Riverwalk, Pioneer Cemetery, Courthouse Park, Women's History Park, The Packard Museum, Trumbull Art Gallery, the Underground Railroad Exhibit, the two-centuries-old Edwards House, the historic First Presbyterian Church, and the wondrous architecture of the entire downtown.
They were impressed that year. They have been impressed ever since.
Ohio Chautauqua will return this month to Warren for the fourth time with the theme ''When Ohio Was the Western Frontier.'' The Tribune Chronicle, Trumbull 100 and the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library are among those who will sponsor the event as part of the newspaper's 200th anniversary celebration.
This year's theme was inspired by the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and its importance in Ohio. The speakers will portray naturalist and folk legend Johnny Appleseed, frontier aristocrat Margaret Blennerhassett, Iroquois leader Chief John Logan, Lewis & Clark expedition member York and Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie.
The Chautauqua traveling program took its name from the original series of 10 shows begun in 1874 at the original Chautauqua Institute on the lake of the same name in New York.
At the turn of the century, chautauquas were known as national forums for open discussion of the latest thinking in politics, economics, international relations, literature, science and religion. The traveling tent chautauquas died out with the advent of motion pictures and the automobile. They regained popularity in the mid-1970s when humanities scholars began assuming the costumes and characters of historical figures.
Trumbull County is a great place for such culture. These efforts to bring arts and entertainment downtown deserve overwhelming support.
(Ohio Chautauqua will be in Warren from July 24 to 28, the final stop on a five-city tour. In addition to the evening programs in the tent set up along Mahoning Avenue N.W. next to the Kinsman House, the library will coordinate daytime activities to complement the touring portion.)