Chautauqua Connection

Bayside Arts, founded in 2016 by John Woolsey and others, continues a tradition that has been an important part of the community since its establishment, first as a Methodist Camp Meeting Association in 1849, and since 1915, as a Village Corporation.

The Chautauqua movement, an outgrowth of the Methodist camp meeting movement, was dedicated to providing
educational, cultural, and artistic experiences in a rustic setting.
The large auditorium built by the Camp Meeting Association in 1893, could accommodate over 1,000 people in attendance and was used, not only for religious services, but for Chautauqua lectures and entertainment as well.

In 1915, as the religious movement was losing steam, and more people were coming here to enjoy a vacation, Bayside was granted a charter by the Maine Legislature as a self-governing entity within the Town of Northport. One of the provisions set down by the legislature in the charter was that the Corporation should “contribute from time to time to features of athletic sports or entertainment of a character not forbidden by law.” Over the years this mandate has been fulfilled mostly by individual citizens, such as in 1927 when Bennet Ferguson donated to the Village the building that is now the Community Hall “to be used as a town hall and also for the presentation of moving pictures and such other types of amusement as may be thought desirable from time to time.”

In 2015, as Bayside was celebrating its centennial, John Woolsey chaired a committee charged with organizing various entertainment and cultural events that came to be known as “Centennial Wednesdays.” These events were a welcome return to the tradition of village-sponsored arts and entertainment and many villagers urged John to find a way to keep the momentum going. John’s response was to gather a small group of like-minded individuals together and the result of their efforts was Bayside Arts.

The Bayside Arts Committee has presented music of several genres, entertainment for children, movies, theater, ballet and other dance, poetry readings, a lecture on the art of cheese making and enjoyment, an opportunity for enthusiasts to dance under the stars on our basketball court with music provided by a local DJ.

Although our primary mission is to serve the Bayside community, all are welcome. We have had audience members from as far away as Millinocket. For the most part, our shows are offered free of charge, although we do pay most performers using funds generously donated by members of the community.

We are led by an active, dedicated board, and we would welcome the participation of additional residents who would like to help us continue the tradition.

Here are some playbills provided by the Bayside Historical Preservation Society