History Alive…Chautauqua presents an afternoon with Eliza Tibbets—SoCal pioneer in Big Bear Lake

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Eliza Tibbets, a founder of the city of Riverside and a pioneer of California’s citrus industry, is the historical character to be portrayed by Sandra Petterson during the 2017 History Alive…Chautauqua program
Eliza Tibbets, a founder of the city of Riverside and a pioneer of California’s citrus industry, is the historical character to be portrayed by Sandra Petterson during the 2017 History Alive…Chautauqua program

History Alive…Chautauqua joins Old Miners Days for the 18th season

The Friends of the Big Bear Library keeps Chautauqua alive in Big Bear Lake

See Petterson breathe life into her characterization of Tibbets alive at the Riverside Mission Inn Hotel during the holiday season

Eliza Tibbets, a founder of the city of Riverside and a pioneer of California’s citrus industry, is the historical character to be portrayed by Sandra Petterson during the 2017 History Alive…Chautauqua program presented by The Friends of the Big Bear Library as part of the 2017 Old Miners Days celebration in Big Bear Lake. The History Alive…Chautauqua program will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, at Summit Christian Fellowship Church, 41965 Garstin Drive, Big Bear Lake, (across the street from the library.) A reception will immediately follow at the library at 41930 Garstin Drive, Big Bear Lake.

During special opportunity drawings attendees of The Friends of the Big Bear Library History Alive…Chautauqua program will have an opportunity to win a free brunch and tour of the historic Mission Inn.

This History Alive…Chautauqua event presented by The Friends of the Big Bear Library is open to the general public at no charge. Reservations are not required; however, seating is limited and early arrival is recommended. For more information, please call the library at (909) 866-5571.

This year’s historic figure portrayed in The Friends of the Big Bear Library History Alive…Chautauqua program, Eliza Tibbets, was an activist in Washington, DC, for progressive social causes, including freedmen’s rights and universal suffrage before heading west. As a leader bringing the citrus industry to Redlands, she successfully cultivated the area’s first two Washington naval orange trees. Eliza Tibbets was also a spiritualist and frequently hosted séances.

Petterson is a California native and was for many years a Big Bear Lake resident. Sandra currently lives in Riverside and serves as a docent at the historic Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside where she portrays Tibbets during the hotel’s annual Festival of Lights.

(The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa hosts an annual Festival of Lights celebration as a free, six-week-long Christmas holiday extravaganza featuring one of the nation’s largest holiday light collections of its kind in the city of Riverside.)

Sandra graduated from Big Bear High in 1981 and followed in her father’s footsteps, enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Petterson served in the Navy Reserves for 20 years. She retired in June of 2016.

Petterson has an associate’s degree in accounting from San Bernardino Valley College, a bachelor’s degree in interior design from The Art Institute of California and is working towards her master’s in interior architecture. She is currently a partner in an advertising agency in Riverside where she currently resides.

See more about Old Miners Days: the Big Bear Old Miners Association and its Miss Clementine Pageant at http://www.bigbear.net/big-bear-miss-clementine-2017/.

Chautauqua Meetings…

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chautauqua was an adult educational movement bringing entertainment and culture for the community. A tent would go up and speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day would present programs. After several days, the Chautauqua would fold its tents and move on.

By the mid-1920s, when circuit Chautauquas were at their peak, they appeared in over 10,000 communities to audiences of more than 45 million; by about 1940 they had run their course.

Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America.”

The popularity of the Chautauqua movement can be attributed in part to the social and geographic isolation of American farming and ranching communities. People in such areas would naturally be hungry for education, culture and entertainment, and the Chautauqua Movement was a timely response to that need in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

However, by the turn of the century, other entertainment and educational opportunities, such as radio and movies, began to arrive in American towns to compete with Chautauqua lectures. With the advent of television and the automobile, people could now watch or travel to cultural events previously available only in urban areas and the Chautauqua Movement lost popularity.