Nichols Park in Jacksonville to host the 2023 Chautauqua this Friday through Sunday


Nichols Park in Jacksonville will be the site of the 2023 Chautauqua, a free, family-oriented event running tonight and tomorrow.

Entertainment under the big tent will include music, storytelling for both children and adults, juggling and magic, and presentations about life in Morgan County during the nineteenth century.

Plenty of food vendors will be on hand for the celebration that starts Friday evening at 6:00 and continues all day on Saturday.

Schedule of events:

Friday, September 1st

6 pm | Wild Columbine: 17th-19th Century parlor, Civil War, and traditional music. Performed by Emily Wheeler on Mandolin, Megan Thornberry on violin, Sally McDaniel Smith on flute, and William Furry on guitar.

7 pm | Brian “Fox” Ellis presents William Herdon Speaks: Lincoln’s law partner William Herndon wrote one of the most important and controversial biographies of Abraham Lincoln. Herdon conducted dozens of interviews with people who knew Lincoln personally. Brian Ellis brings to life the many stories from Lincoln’s life as a lawyer.

Saturday, September 2nd


9 am | Mike Anderson: The combination of music, storytelling, and humor has made Mike Anderson one of the most sought-after performers in Jacksonville.

10 am| | Wild Times Exotics: Come to see, touch, and experience animals at the Chautauqua.

11 am | Troy Roark: Troy’s show is full of juggling, magic, and a huge dose of humor. From his “Flaming Torches of Death” to his signature “Ping Pong Ball Trick,” Troy consistently leaves his audiences laughing to the point of tears.


1 pm | Reg Ankrom presents Stephen Douglas, and Morgan County: Born in 1813 in Brandon, Vermont, Douglas went to study law. Afterwards, he decided that Illinois was his future. He first moved to Winchester in 1833, but soon moved to Jacksonville and received his law license. In 1835, the General Assembly appointed him as State’s Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit in Morgan County.

2 pm | Jacksonville Community Summer Band: Come hear our own local musicians play your favorite songs.

3 pm | Dr Joe Squillace presents Morgan County Poor House: The Morgan County Poorhouse and Farm in Jacksonville, Illinois served a wide array of persons with various human, mental, and social needs, a product of the intellectual and religious surrounding community. What is revealed is an institution that struggles, like in today’s institutions, to meet the needs of those living in poverty with resource constraints and the current knowledge base of how to address complex needs. The Morgan County poor farm often served as a model institution for the rest of the state of Illinois.

4 pm | Illinois College Jazz Combo: The Jazz Ensemble features many of our most talented musicians. The group specializes in diverse contemporary styles such as jazz, swing, blues, rock, and Latin music.

5 pm | Dinner Break: Enjoy a food truck or bring your own meal while you listen to the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band on the Veranda of the pavilion.

6 pm | The 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band: Re-created in1996 by musicians from Central Illinois, like the original band, the musicians were recruited from the same geographical area in Illinois and come from all walks of life.  The band is an authentic re-creation of the actual Civil war Era band that was mustered at State Normal University in 1861.

7 pm | George Petticrew presents The Buffalo Soldiers.George Pettigrew is the Executive Vice President of the KC Buffalo Soldiers Chapter and Cochairman of the new Fort Leavenworth Museum Project. He is certified as an oral storyteller and U.S. Navy veteran. The Buffalo Soldiers, as they became known, were Black cavalry infantry regiments, formed after the civil war to “police” the growing populated West. Jacksonville’s Connection to the Buffalo Soldiers is General Benjamin Grierson who served as Colonel of the 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldier” Regiment.

8 pm | Tom Irvin presents Sangamon Songs: Irwin has set to music the 1893 diary entries of Glen Ludlam. Ludlamwas a teenager who once lived at Irvin’s farm in Sangamon County from 1880-1894.

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