Chautauqua Wins National “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” USA Today Contest

Aerial view of central lakeside Chautauqua grounds and Chautauqua Lake's north basin. Image via the Chautauqua Institution / Facebook page.

CHAUTAUQUA — The Town of Chautauqua and Chautauqua Institution has won the “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” USA Today Contest.

Nominated among American small-town gems such as Taos, New Mexico, and Saratoga Springs, New York, Chautauqua never relinquished the No. 1 spot in the “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” contest while standings were visible, until about a week before the end of the voting period.

As Institution staff simultaneously prepared to launch a collection of five completely new online properties in lieu of an in-person season in 2020, several Chautauqua County partners stepped forward to help lead a get-out-the-vote campaign.

“It’s a tremendous honor for Chautauqua to win this national contest, especially among such an amazing array of fellow nominees. We’re so grateful to all of our dedicated community members here in Chautauqua County and all over the country for helping in this effort,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. “We’re immensely proud of the cultural scene we provide at Chautauqua Institution: We explore the best in human values and uplift art and voices that our world needs to see and hear. This is further affirmation that the work we do matters.”

Town of Chautauqua Supervisor Don Emhardt agrees. “This recognition is extra special because it suggests Chautauqua is not only a great place to visit, but it’s also a wonderful place to live year-round,” Emhardt said.

Chautauqua’s win is the third national distinction a Chautauqua County entity has scored within the past eight months.

In December 2019, the Village of Fredonia was chosen as the featured town of Season 5 of Hulu’s “Small Business Revolution” series.

The National Comedy Center was named “Best New Museum” in a USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice contest in February.


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