Spotlight on Chautauqua County
As we head toward victory in 2020, one of our goals is to make our sprawling district feel like one big neighborhood. From Lake Erie to Cayuga Lake, we’re all in this fight together! With that goal in mind, our newsletter this week focuses on our westernmost county: Chautauqua! (Click here to vote for which county we cover next!)
With vibrant cities, picturesque towns and villages, abundant farmland, and five spectacular lakes, Chautauqua County offers a rich tapestry of all the things that make our district so special.
Tracy in Chautauqua
Tracy spent the past few months in Chautauqua meeting folks all over the county and strengthening the grassroots network that will help us win in 2020. With her boundless energy, Tracy met with local Democratic leaders, journalists, labor organizers, women’s groups, and business leaders. She spoke at Rotary Clubs, libraries, and community meeting spaces, and made many new friends. Team Tracy is ready to flip the district in 2020!
Tracy Connecting with Chautauqua folks at Stedman Corners Coffee Roasters in Lakewood.
FYI: From Fredonia to Owego
Our district is mighty in both spirit and size! 219 miles! That is the driving distance from Fredonia, in Chautauqua County, to Owego, in Tioga County, where Tracy will march next weekend in the Strawberry Festival Parade.
Your donation of $23 covers the cost of gas for one trip across the district. Can you chip in today?
Women’s Suffrage: A “Banner County”
As we commemorate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment (June 4, 1919), we tip our hats to the women of Chautauqua County who led the fight for women’s right to vote in New York.
In 1891 Chautauqua County was designated a “banner county” in the women’s suffrage movement at the annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. “Chautauqua County will go down in history as a leader in the suffrage movement,” wrote the editor of the Jamestown Evening Journal after the county passed the question of women’s suffrage by the widest margin in the state in 1915. [source]
Susan B. Anthony is seated in the middle row (third from center) in this photo from Woman’s Day at the Cassadaga Lake Spiritualist Assembly in 1894. Marion Skidmore, president of the Cassadaga Political Equality Club, stands in the center holding a banner celebrating women’s suffrage victories in Wyoming and Colorado (denoted by the two stars) [Source]
A Proud History of Service to Our Nation
Chautauqua County mobilized immediately after the United States entered World War I and World War II. The Defenders of Freedom project sponsored by the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown has recorded the stories of World War II veterans from Chautauqua and other counties in the Southern Tier. [Watch Videos Here]
Cultural Heritage in Chautauqua
Chautauqua county offers an abundance of cultural riches: home to the National Comedy Center in Jamestown (birthplace of Lucille Ball), an array of museums, and the Chautauqua Institution, which has offered summer programs of educational talks, music, and theater on Chautauqua Lake since its founding as a camp for Sunday School teachers in 1874.
Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, Block Party, Jamestown (Photo: Tour Chautauqua)
Lakeside in Chautauqua County
Our westernmost neighbors are never very far from the water with five beautiful lakes in their county: Lake Erie, Chautauqua Lake, Bear Lake, Cassadaga Lake, and Findley Lake. The shoreline of Lake Erie—stretching 50 miles from the peaceful shores of Barcelona Harbor Beach up to the sunbather’s paradise at Sunset Bay—features some of the prettiest sunsets in the district!
Sunset over Sunset Bay, April, 2019 (Photo: Tracy Mitrano)
From Bemus Point to Bear Lake, summer finds the residents of Chautauqua County fishing for bass, pike, and muskellunge (known as “muskie” amongst the locals), swimming, kayaking, or enjoying a lakeside fish fry or ice cream. Tracy recommends the Frosty Treat in Irving!
Hiking and biking trails include the Chautauqua Rails to Trails (CR2T)
, which has converted unused and abandoned rail lines throughout the county into off-road trails, taking trail users through wetlands, forests, pastures, and vineyards. Chautauqua is home to a spectacular array of Fourth of July celebrations
featuring live music, parades, and numerous opportunities to watch fireworks shine over the water.
Chautauqua Locals: Heather and Murl, Maple Springs
After moving away briefly in their twenties, Heather and Murl returned to Chautauqua County and now make their home in Maple Springs, where they take full advantage of Chautauqua’s natural beauty. In the winter, they love to cross-country ski at Long Point and through the backcountry. They are avid mountain bikers and belong to a group that rides at night under the full moon. In the warmer months, Heather and Murl recommend paddle boarding on the Chadakoin River, Findley Lake, Conewango Creek, and Cassadaga Lakes or floating a boat in Chautauqua Lake. When they’re not off-roading in their Jeep with the Enchanted Mountain Off-Road Club, you can find them enjoying the ever-expanding variety of great restaurants, breweries, and distilleries found throughout Chautauqua County.
Agriculture in Chautauqua County
Olde Chautauqua Farms, Portland, NY (Image Source)
Dairy and grapes are the two largest agricultural industries in the county. Like many in the district, Chautauqua farmers are struggling (See our recent Newsletter
for a dive into the issues facing farmers across the 23rd). Nonetheless, there is reason for optimism. Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Manager Educator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension for Chautauqua County, reports that local farmers are working hard to adapt:
“We’re seeing farms produce in areas that utilize the same assets as grape and dairy. We did lose some grape and dairy farms, but they went into use for something else. We saw an increase in beef farms with dairy farmers raising beef instead. We’ve seen an increase in fruit tree products like hops on grape farms. It’s exciting to see diversity…The dairy and grape farmers are not completely getting out, but they’re not putting all of their eggs in one basket.”