A cloudy sky lurked overhead on the day I planned to attend the 50th Annual Chadds Ford Days event. I debated whether or not to hold off until the following afternoon instead. However, it paid off to chance what turned out to be only slight drizzle for learning interesting history, tasting great food and more.
Volunteers awaited as cars turned left off of Creek Road near the border of Chester and Delaware counties. A makeshift path was set up in the field outside the designated festival grounds. Car parked and standing in line, I watched as re-enactors in Revolutionary War era costumes walk by with their gear. Several visitors had their dogs out to enjoy the dog-friendly with them. One couple had a large-sized, beautiful fluffy white dog named Cody.
The gate opened at 10 a.m., allowing visitors to walk the short leaf-covered, grassy path onto the main grounds. Up ahead were two tables sheltered by a large blue tent, the point at which to buy admission tickets ($10 for adults, free for children and CFHS members).
Off to the left, abstract shapes of wood were stacked into several piles as the sawing sounds filled the air. Vendor tents were just beyond, the first of which had Halloween-themed crafts. Gourd-like decorations hung from a display rack and were painted to show various Jack-O-Lantern expressions. Another vendor had crafted little statues representing the classic Universal movie monsters.
At another tent, I noticed several brochures, including one for the 34th Annual Covered Bridge & Arts Festival at Knoebels. That sure would be a nice autumn excursion to go on sometime! On the back, I found information for the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, including its town of Danville, Pa. Another reason I decided to keep a copy was that my mom and grandmother once took a trip there to meet an ancestry contact. I couldn’t make it at the time, but they said I’d love the town of Danville, what with all of the historic buildings.
Several antique cars were lined up on the lawn near the CFHS barn, my favorite model being this for its stunning shade of blue.
Food vendors were just around the corner and visitors needed to get tickets like those for carnival and amusement pier rides. These were available at the first table in the area outside the barn. A list of vendors provided prices for all the good eats in one spot so customers could easily figure out how many tickets they’d need.
We had gone past the ticket table at first and decided on trying food at The Meat House tent. After going back to get our tickets, I chose a smoked pulled chicken sandwich and red bliss dill potato salad. As I was walking away with my order, a young woman saw my food and said, “That looks amazing!”
A number of picnic tables were set up and from our vantage point, we watched a costumed group engaged in a dance. Nearby, a middle-aged man was giving demonstrations with his Revolutionary War era gear. Classic rock tunes could be heard playing somewhere back beyond the food vendors.
The food, by the way, was delicious! I never actually tried any sandwich with pulled pork or other meat prepared that way. Great flavor in both the chicken and in my potato salad. It turns out that The Meat House has a location along Route 202 on the southbound side; worth a visit to see more of what they offer.
Back on foot, I wandered over to two tables with a number of books on display. Local authors were selling their published works, which covered a wide range of history topics. One book caught my attention because I could easily follow in the footsteps taken to write it:
- West Chester Six Walking Tours, by Bruce E. Mowday (Photos by Rick Davis)
Glancing through the pages, it surprised me how little of the old architecture I had seen in West Chester myself so far. I attended West Chester University of Pennsylvania for a couple of semesters and admired several buildings on campus. A number of houses near the college also had charming details. Hoping to explore the town further myself in the future, I decided to buy Mowday’s book, which he signed for me.
At the second table, I bought the following two books by Gene Pisasale; he also signed them:
- Ten Days In Paris: An Historic Walking Tour
- Abandoned Address The Secret of Frick’s Lock
I have never been to Paris, but it’s another European city that I’ve always wanted to visit. The spiral-bound book included such helpful information on sightseeing, that I’ll definitely bring it with me if I get the chance to travel to the City of Lights.
The word “abandoned” was part of what drew me to the fiction paperback novel about a real place called Frick’s Lock. I heard very little about it before and as ghost towns go, that only made the idea of wandering the site seem more unusual to explore. If there were any official tours, I’d look into it for a off-the-beaten-path road trip. Such places always being quite eerie, the book featuring this particular location would certainly make for a good read. Especially since even a lone old, worn house rouses my curiosity and inspires a sense of mystery within its walls.
Finding books like these makes me think about how you never know what you’ll learn when attending local events. In this case, it also brings to mind other places I want to visit and what I may come across in those travels as well.
Shortly afterward, a light rainfall began and we took to the barn to look around while waiting it out. Browsing the souvenir shop, I found a few more books of interest, although passed on buying them until next time:
- Reporting The Revolutionary War, by Todd Andrlik
- The Philadelphia Campaign (Volume I and II as separate books), by Thomas J. McGuire
- The Four Seasons of Chester County (Volume 2), by Red Hamer and Rose-Marie Hamer Collins
In a room down the hall, this old book and pair of specs sat among other items on display. These were my favorite objects of those to be found inside the barn.
Later, a man dressed as George Washington walked inside carrying a modern two-toned umbrella. He made his way down the hall to room I’d look around in, which also had a flat screen television up in one corner. Myself and a few others wanted to take photos of him. Laughter arose when one person, standing near the entrance, said, “Oh, I don’t want the tv in the shot with Washington!”
Even though the rainfall hadn’t been a downpour, it hindered getting to see a lot more vendors this time around. Not only that, but my phone needed a charge. Taking photos on short trips were draining it all too fast lately. So, I’m hoping to check out this event again next year; it’ll be a part two blog post.
Do you have any favorite local events in your area? What do you like the most about them?