First word of Missoula’s first chautauqua came in the spring of 1913.

Six Big Days, a big ad in the April 8 Missoulian trumpeted. Three Programs Daily. Twenty Splendid Attractions. Our Chautauqua Comes in July.

Apparently, people back then didn’t understand chautauquas much more than we do now. At the bottom of the ad was a hazy explanation: “This is not a street fair and not a revival meeting.”

There was the headline on July 16, six days before the “Six Big Days” began, when promoters were having trouble selling $2.50 season tickets: 

Many are Ignorant of Chautauqua Meaning. Missoulians Do Not Have Understanding of Coming Entertainments.

Not that the concept hadn’t been batted around for a while.

In June 1893, a column in the

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