Crosslake Chautauqua: Experts share their knowledge with the public


Every summer for the past 10 years, the Crosslake Community Center has hosted the Chautauqua program, a once-monthly series of classes on varying topics. Every Chautauqua is different, open to the public, and free.

Topics over the years have varied greatly. One class brought in Marla Spivak, one of the nation’s leading authorities on bees. Another brought in local sculptor and metalworker Jeff Kreitz. Even though this summer will be the last for the Chautauqua program, four great classes are scheduled. Each starts at 1:30 p.m., and refreshments are served halfway through the program.

On May 11, Alden Hardwick will present “Unexplored Territory,” a program on nearby vacations you never thought to take. Alden, a Crosslake resident, has for years been embarking on short trips to interesting locations all within a short drive of Crosslake. He’ll share some of his favorite locations with the group, and plans to include a handout outlining his favorites.

On June 8, Bob and Char Wrobel will speak about their wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center in Garrison, Minnesota, called Wild and Free. Wild and Free is a non-profit that’s completely supported by donations. They’ve rehabilitated all sorts of wild animals, from large animals like bears, deer and wolves, to small animals, like squirrels and robins. They’ll talk about what they do and their experiences with wild animals. To get a taste of Wild and Free’s work, take a look at their Facebook page

The history of Breezy Point Resort will be discussed at the July 13 Chautauqua, with guests Dave Gravdahl, general manager of the resort, and George Rasmussen, public relations director. The story of the resort was told at Chautauqua once before, when Albrecht said the event drew its most-ever listeners. Around 180 people attended a similar presentation in 2010. This summer Gravdahl and Rasmussen will once again discuss the history of a resort so successful it now has a city named for it.

Albrecht said he’s really looking forward to the Aug. 10 Chautauqua, when Carroll Henderson of the DNR’s nongame division will present “Swan Song,” the story of how he nearly single-handedly brought trumpeter swans back to Minnesota. Trumpeter swans were once on the decline in Minnesota but have made a stunning comeback. Henderson will share the story of how he brought breeding pairs of trumpeter swans from Alaska back to Minnesota, where the birds have thrived. Today, Albrecht said, Minnesota has 12,000 loons and 17,000 trumpeter swans.

“He’s an incredible person. I’ve never met anybody with such passion for what he does,” Albrecht said of Henderson.

Every Chautauqua program is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Usually the program starts with an hour of speaking, followed by a break for cookies, ice cream, lemonade and coffee, and concluding with a one-hour question and answer period. All Chautauquas are filmed with the intention of placing them in the Crosslake Library for rental.

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