Dreams come true at Lakeside Chautauqua

Lakeside OH, jogging
Early run.

By Bruce Stambaugh

As I walked along the lakeshore on my morning stroll, the clock tower chimed “All is well with my soul.” I smiled at the apt anthem.

Indeed, that’s just how I felt. After all, I was at my favorite vacation spot, Lakeside, Ohio, the Chautauqua on Lake Erie.

My wife and I have spent a mid-summer week here every year since 1987. The last three years our daughter’s family has joined us.

Why do we keep going back to the same place when there are so many other marvelous destinations in the world to explore? The answer is simple. We love Lakeside.

It’s a dreamy place, a step back in time, a sanctuary of sorts, a retreat to escape from the hustle, bustle, and negativity of the other world to this dreamland. I could dream this dream every day.

I’m not alone in that sentiment. The usually sleepy town of hundreds morphs into a gated resort for 10 weeks each summer. Weekly visitors number in the thousands.

Why? Lakeside is a beautiful place. It’s a safe place where people don’t lock their doors, where children run free, where strangers smile and say hello, where families like ours gather for a respite generation after generation, year after year.

A quick check of car license plates reveals Lakeside’s universal appeal. Lakeside’s tranquility, setting, familiarity, and planned nurturing draw folks from Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, and Ontario, Canada and places beyond.

What lures them? The Chautauqua community’s four pillars of purpose ensure a variety of stimulating activities for every age. Religion, education, arts and entertainment, and recreation soothe the soul of each participant.

That’s true even if you decide to sit on a bench and read a book or quilt. The dreamy world that is Lakeside envelops you.

Ferries shuttle vacationers and delivery trucks back and forth on the waters from Marblehead to Kelley’s Island. Freighters wait their turn to take on their payload at the limestone quarry dock.

Joggers and walkers and parents with baby strollers amble along the shore, the busyness of home and work overwhelmed by the vestiges of this remarkable space.

Immaculate lakefront homes and cottages line Plum, Poplar, Maple, Walnut, and 2nd and 3rd Streets, and all the other gridded streets. The variety of their architectural styles and colors inspire passersby and artists alike.

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A stunning assortment of flowers and landscaping accentuates the historic homes and buildings. It’s like a different calendar photo on every block.

Folks gather in parks for sports, picnics, and introspection. Birds of all kinds cohabit with the humans among the tall trees and ornamental shrubs.

Children enjoy the kiddy pool and splash park while admiring grandparents smile and supervise from the parameters. Older siblings and parents play shuffleboard or listen to a noted lecturer. Kayakers and sailboats zip in and out of the little harbor near the dock, the magnet for all the Lakeside dreamers.

While teens and seniors sunbathe on the dock, three generations of fishermen angle for perch, smallmouth bass, and walleye. In reality, it’s sheep head, channel catfish, and white bass they reel in the most.

After the evening’s family entertainment at historic Hoover Auditorium, the little business district is abuzz with lovers of ice cream, caramel corn, and yummy pizza. All are satisfied.

In 1873, the founders of Lakeside dreamed of a place where people could gather to recreate, learn, create, and worship in a sacred setting. Because those dreams have come true in Lakeside Chautauqua, all is truly well for those who care to partake.

sunrise, Lakeside OH
Silhouettes at sunrise.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Red barn

redbarnbybrucestambaugh
Red barn. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

I had just finished photographing some early evening scenes along the Lake Erie shore in Lakeside, Ohio, when I came upon this brilliant red barn right next to the Historic Lakeside Hotel. Its beauty stunned me. How the sun highlighted the barn’s red color and white trim also grabbed my attention. I loved how the green leaves of the tree limb intersected and nicely contrasted with the bright red. More than that, my wife and I have vacationed every summer at Lakeside Chautauqua since 1987, and I couldn’t recall ever seeing this barn.

I have thousands of photos from this beautiful gem of a town. The surprise of finding this barn, once seemingly hidden, but revealed by the combination of fresh paint and good timing made it my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

Lakeside, Ohio: A relaxing place to be

Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Erik Beun of Berlin was typical of the many people from the Holmes County area who vacation at Lakeside, Ohio.

“It’s a relaxing place,” Beun said. Beun and his family were enjoying their sixth year at Lakeside. Beun also brought along his parents, Henry and Julie, for their first Lakeside experience.

Their family was emulating a scene seen thousands of times a year at Lakeside. They were tooling around the quaint village on bicycles. And why not? It’s an easy way to see Lakeside’s immaculate gardens, quaint old cottages, shady lakeside parks and amazing views of Lake Erie and its islands.

The Beun family by Bruce Stambaugh
Allison, Laura, Erik, Andrew, Henry and Julie Beun all enjoyed a bike ride around Lakeside.

Because Lakeside is a gated community during the summer months, it is a non-motorized vehicle friendly place. In fact, bicycles often go faster than cars. In part, that’s because once at Lakeside, the need for a car drops dramatically.

The place is so pretty, so quaint, so relaxing and the people so friendly there is no hurry to go anyplace. You are on vacation. Sit back, relax and enjoy. Many from the Holmes County area have done just that over the years.

Kent Miller of Millersburg started going to Lakeside with his parents when he was 10-years old. That was 1982. Now his son, Kyle, is 10, and has the same sort of fun that his father did.

Miller said the family likes Lakeside because it is “a safe haven for young families to go and relax for a week.” He said they particularly enjoy the amenities of doughnuts from The Patio Restaurant, and letting the kids shop at Marilyn’s, a store with an eclectic mix of clothing, candy and Lakeside souvenirs.

Shasta Mast, executive director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, and her family have retreated to Lakeside for 15 years. She said the most difficult decisions she has to make while at Lakeside are what book to read and when to get ice cream.

Beach and dock at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The small beach and Lakeside's extended dock entice swimmers and sun worshippers of all ages.

Like many other Lakesiders, Mast likes to read her book while sunning on Lakeside’s popular dock that juts out into Lake Erie. Others swim, with lifeguards provided during certain hours. Still others fish from the dock, while some simply choose to sit and watch the variety of boats sail or speed by. In the evening, the dock is crowded with sunset watchers with cameras at the ready.

Of course, the front porch is just as good for reading as the dock. It could be the house rented for the week, a bed and breakfast or the sweeping, screened porch of the historic Hotel Lakeside. They all provide peace, shade and plenty of congenial company.

fountain by Bruce Stambaugh
The fountain in front of Hotel Lakeside.

After all, Lakeside is the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, nurturing the body, mind and soul. That is what the Lakeside Association both promotes and provides for its visitors. Educational workshops, seminars, evening entertainment and worship can all be part of the Lakeside experience for children to adults.

Tennis, shuffleboard, miniature golf, running, walking and Frisbee are also available if exercise and competition are your game. There are businesses to spend your money if you want, and by the lines, a lot do. Specialty drinks, ice cream, homemade doughnuts, and Lakeside-specific clothing are all available.

Then, again, you can just adopt Erik Beun’s attitude and simply relax. That’s the Lakeside way.

Maxwell Hospitality House by Bruce Stambaugh
Maxwell Hospitality House, Lakeside, Ohio.

This article initially appeared in The Holmes County Journal, July 29, 2010.