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May 17, 2013

Chautauqua Festival set for this weekend

21st annual event brings steamboat culture to life

JEFFERSONVILLE —

Jeffersonville’s status as a river town has long been established, and for the 21st time, it will be celebrated with live music, arts and craft booths and steamboats.

This weekend, May 18 and 19, the Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville will be hosting its annual Victorian Chautauqua celebration. The two-day event held each year at the museum grounds, 1101 E. Market St., will again feature live music, mansion tours and a variety of merchant booths selling their wares.

“It is a major fundraiser for the museum each year,” said Keith Norrington, director and curator of the museum.

The event is patterned after the original Chautauqua, which was in Lake Chautauqua, N.Y., in 1874.  A variety of goods will be available from artisans, with the only requirement being that the goods are handmade, Norrington said.

“A lot of people ... look forward to this event every year because of the handmade gifts,” he said.

Booths like Steampunk Jewelry and Naught me, a nautical-themed booth from Captain of the Belle of Louisville Pete O’Connell, will be set up for the two-day festival, as well as 18 different authors selling their books. 

In addition to the craft booths, Victorian Chautauqua will host its annual antique show in the Carriage House, as well as a garden perennial and herb sale — staples of the event. The museum will also feature its Victorian cafe again this year.

Norrington said the event is important to the region because generations of Clark County residents were dependent upon, or worked in, the shipyard across from the Howard Steamboat Museum dating all the way back to 1834.

“Jeffersonville is here because of the river,” Norrington said. “It just does me a lot of good to see people appreciate the heritage. I really appreciate people coming out and supporting [the museum and festival].”

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