COVID-19 Update (May 14, 2020)

Posted on May 14, 2020

Dear Lakesiders,

As Governor Mike DeWine promised, there will be many changes to the ‘Stay Safe Ohio’ order coming through Friday, May 29. Last week, guidelines were issued by the State of Ohio that allow restaurants to slowly open.

Hotel Lakeside Dining Room Operations

The Hotel Lakeside Dining Room will offer carryout and delivery service starting Memorial Day weekend and will slowly transition to offer table side service at the hotel’s outdoor courtyard and dining room in the coming weeks. View the menu for Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend Activities & Hotels

Due to the State of Ohio’s ‘Stay Safe Ohio’ orders, we have modified our holiday weekend schedule of events to maintain the safety of our guests, residents, staff and community. This new schedule provides safe social distancing, while maintaining social closeness and human connection. See our list of new events and activities that celebrate the spirit of Chautauqua and the meaning of Memorial Day. In the case of inclement weather, all outdoor activities will be cancelled.

The Hotel Lakeside and Fountain Inn will not be operating during the holiday weekend. Guest reservations have been slowed by the pandemic and the ‘Stay at Home’ order that were in place until recently. Additionally, we are trying not to overload the grounds with too many guests while we all learn what social distancing means at Lakeside.

Information about safety protocols while visiting Lakeside will be announced soon.

Recreational Venues

The Governor’s re-opening plans still have not included guidelines or timetables regarding the opening of outdoor recreational venues, although he has indicated that the guidelines for reopening are being worked on and should be available soon. If you have been to Lakeside lately, you have seen that we are starting to prepare our recreational venues for the season. However, we cannot say exactly when these will open until the State of Ohio allows them to open and operate.

Lakeside’s Financials

This pandemic was not something that could be planned for. Even the State of Ohio has announced $700 million in budget cuts in response to the pandemic. Total revenue for Lakeside this year was budgeted to be $9 million. Roughly 72% of that funding comes in from April through August. Lakeside is expecting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce revenue by almost $3.9 million. That is a deep and difficult hole to climb out of.

Lakeside is taking this expected loss of revenue very seriously. We reacted swiftly to implement immediate cost reductions. Reductions in staffing and cuts in operating expenses and programming costs for this summer total $1.6 million. We were able to cut another $200,000 from project spending to bring the cost reductions to $1.8 million, but we are still left with a $2.1 million projected deficit ($3.9 million reduction in revenue partially offset by $1.8 million in cost cutting).

How do we intend to cover the $2.1 million deficit? Lakeside received a $650,000 forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Federal government’s stimulus package. Lakeside already had bank lines of credit of $1.1 million that are typically used to manage variations in cash flow. We will use those. Lakeside is supplementing that by acquiring an additional $500,000 bank line of credit. We have enough debt capacity to cover the remaining deficit, although it comes at a future cost of paying back that debt.

In response to this situation, we are also reaching out to the Lakeside community for help. We will need volunteers to help in many areas this summer. Please consider donating your time, and contact about projects and areas across Lakeside that are in need of volunteers.

Additionally, we have increased our fundraising efforts. Early donations we receive will allow us to avoid utilizing debt. We realize COVID-19 has impacted every Lakesider on various levels. We know you are figuring out your own financial situation and how that relates to your personal commitments along with giving to communities of faith and other charities. However, if you are willing and able, would you consider donating a gift today or committing a monthly gift to Lakeside? What you give today truly impacts the future of Lakeside. Thank you for your generosity.

As we have said before, it is going to be a difficult summer ahead. We are working to balance the financial needs of Lakeside with the needs and expectations of the residents and guests that make up the Lakeside community.

These projections are dependent upon Ohio continuing to slowly and safely reopen activities, our cost cutting measures being successful, and how the summer attendance and revenues play out. Please be assured that the Senior Staff, the Finance Committee and the Board will continue to assess the financial situation throughout the coming year and make appropriate adjustments in plans and expenses in order to prepare Lakeside to make a full “recovery” in 2021.

Please realize that we always try to be transparent with our financial information. Our audited financial statements for the last six years are available on our website.


The State of Ohio has opened campgrounds to residents, but not to transient campers. The Lakeside Campground will be open and available for resident campers to move in on May 15. We continue to follow the State of Ohio’s direction and will allow transient campers to utilize the Campground as soon as it is allowed.

Onsite & Virtual Summer Programming

While we operate under the ‘Stay Safe Ohio’ directive, the Lakeside staff is creating a hybrid Chautauqua experience of onsite and virtual programming.

With the close of Hoover Auditorium this summer, we are offering a new entertainment lineup outdoors at the Steele Memorial Bandstand and Pavilion to practice safe social distancing. The first two weeks of the Chautauqua programming season will feature Ohio artists, such as Helen Welch and The Drowsy Lads, among others. Most of our marquee Hoover Auditorium shows have been cancelled or postponed to future seasons. Other events, like God Squad, MGM, Religious Life Seminars and fitness classes, will also be held outdoors.

Programs that will be offered virtually include the Hoover Community Worship Services, Faith of Living Hour, Chautauqua Lecture Series, Wellness Seminars, some Rhein Center classes, and more. Most programs will be free, while others will require registration and a fee. We will even be offering special virtual events with featured entertainers and artists throughout the summer.

As we have said before, this summer is not business as usual. But our staff is working to create the best possible experiences we can to keep our physical distance, but maintain our social closeness. Think of the 2020 season as "back to the basics" of the Chautauqua Movement.

Visit to view onsite and virtual programs as they are finalized.

Thank you for your care, concern and understanding as we navigate through these uncharted waters and try to plan the best possible Chautauqua season for you and your family.

As we learn more, we will continue to communicate Lakeside’s plans with you. Click here to continue sharing your ideas so that we may include them in our future thoughts and discussions.


Daniel Dudley
Lakeside Chautauqua, Acting President & CFO/COO

Kurt Geisheimer
Lakeside Chautauqua Board of Directors, Chair

Tom Jones
Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation Board of Directors, Chair

Coronavirus FAQs

Read Lakeside's updated list of Coronavirus FAQs. Please note: you may need to 'refresh' the page to see updated content.

How can I help Lakeside?

At this time, the best way to help is to protect yourself and others by staying informed about the governor’s 'Stay at Home' mandate and practicing safe social distancing/gathering restriction protocols. As we navigate through these challenging times, you can:

  1. Make early donations to the Lakeside Fund. We thank you for all the ways you support Lakeside, and we hope that we can continue to count on your support in the months ahead.
  2. We’ll be relying on volunteers to help this season, starting with cleanup activities in May. Contact for details.
  3. Stay connected with Lakeside friends by writing letters or hosting Zoom/Facebook Messenger social gatherings.
  4. Volunteer to help deliver Ward Catering's to-go meals and grocery baskets. Contact for details.
  5. Click here to continue sharing your ideas so that we may include them in our future thoughts and discussions
  6. For the most up-to-date news and decisions at Lakeside, visit, join our e-newsletter or follow Lakeside Chautauqua's official Facebook page.


Our partners at Lake Erie Shores & Islands have compiled helpful resources for you and your family, as well as a directory of your favorite local restaurants that are currently offering take out.