Staff Blogger: Sarah Milheim, Advancement & Communications Coordinator


Frankie Valli Story - Donnie & HusbandThe Chautauqua Movement was a social and cultural phenomenon that permeated rural North America during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

At the height of its existence, these Chautauqua communities attracted millions to hear educators, preachers, explorers, scientists, politicians, singers and bands. Today, more than 15 Chautauqua communities thrive along the Chautauqua Trail.

The part of the Chautauqua experience that drew Donnie Estep, a first-time guest, to visit Lakeside was the “Let’s Hang On!” Frankie Valli Tribute Show.

Donnie’s nephew, Josh Eleazer, was performing in the show, so Josh invited the rest of his family to attend the concert. As a result, the trip turned into a family reunion at Lakeside.

Donnie made reservations at historic Hotel Lakeside. Making reservations was an easy process, and the wrap-around porch overlooking the water made the hotel a picture-perfect place to stay during the family’s first trip to the Chautauqua community.

Donnie and her husband, Chuck (pictured), are retired and have since switched their vacation habits from week-long trips to multiple three- or four-day trips.

In addition to their nephew performing in Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside offered two more essential components for the couple – relaxation and a community rich with history.

“It’s [Lakeside] unique in that it is self-contained,” shared Donnie. “All right there in one little package, like going on a cruise.”

Frankie Valli Story - Donnie & Husband 2During the couple’s visit, they enjoyed a variety of activities, including the Gladiolus Show in Hoover Auditorium.

Donnie and Chuck also participated in less structured offerings, like strolling Lakeside’s Business District. They perused some of the gift shops and stopped for ice cream at The Patio Restaurant, which offers guests Toft’s hand dipped ice cream.

After experiencing all Lakeside had to offer, sitting on the porch visiting with relatives was their favorite memory made in Lakeside this past summer. In one word, Donnie described Lakeside as “relaxing.”

With the Frankie Valli Tribute Show returning on May 23 to Hoover Auditorium during the 2015 summer season, there is a good chance the Estep family will plan another trip to Lakeside.

Lakeside Chautauqua is a unique experience for each individual. We invite you to experience our Chautauqua community this summer in your own way; reconnect with family, renew spiritually, expand intellectually, unleash your creativity or challenge yourself physically.

The opportunities are endless. You will soon realize why Lakeside Chautauqua has remained an annual tradition for generations of families.

Now it’s your turn to join The Front Porch conversation. What’s the first performance or show you attended in Hoover Auditorium? What’s your favorite summer activity in Lakeside? Tell us in the comments below.