September 23rd, 2013 at 6:38 pm
A few Saturdays ago, on an absolutely gorgeous September weekend, I headed out for a drive to Chadds Ford Days, a yearly two-day event held on the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. The air was cool, the sky was deep blue, and my drive along the back roads to get there brought back fond memories of growing up in rural Pennsylvania. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and I was looking forward to kicking off the season with a bit of history, a hayride, music, food, and shopping.
When I arrived at the festival I took some time to stroll around the host of vendors who were there with their wares. The array was really wonderful, from woodworkers and potters to soap-makers and basket-weavers. The hand-crafted goods on display were quite remarkable, exhibiting a pride of workmanship that’s a welcome change from what’s found in the average big box store. After shopping a bit I sat on a hay bale and enjoyed the sounds of bluegrass music played by the talented Skyline Band.
When the music was done I headed off to watch a demonstration by the Second Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line, a volunteer group of history enthusiasts who’ve been authentically re-creating Revolutionary War units and battles since 1966. What a treat! The re-enactors were at the festival all day long to talk about the uniforms, flags, and lives of Revolutionary War soldiers, offering visitors a realistic look into this integral piece of American history, including my favorite, the firing of the regiment’s cannon.
There was plenty of great food to be had, too, from local favorites Jimmy John’s and MomPops, but the highlight for all had to be the chocolate milk from Baily’s Dairy at Pocopson Meadow Farm. The milk was delicious, yes, but accompanying the farmers were two lovely mascots—Prada, a 6-year-old Jersey cow, and Naomi, a brown Swiss calf that was just born on August 26. Pretty much everyone stopped to pet these beautiful, docile creatures, who seemed remarkably unbothered by the cannon fire around them.
After visiting with Naomi and Prada, I took a tour of the John Chads House, a two-bedroom stone-built home that dates back to the mid-1720s and gives visitors a look into Colonial life during the period of the Battle of the Brandywine. Then I strolled through the demonstrations area to see authentic representations of Colonial caning, blacksmithing, spinning, and more. I also chatted with several young men and women from the society’s Junior Guides program, a group of young history buffs who learn eighteenth-century crafts and skills and then volunteer during Chadds Ford Days. The enthusiasm these kids showed for the day’s events was really incredible. I was even able to by a loaf of bread that they had baked authentically in the John Chads House’s beehive oven.
After having such a wonderful time at this event, I’m definitely going to check out the upcoming Great Pumpkin Carve (October 24–26), featuring the artistry of 60+ local pumpkin carvers, and the Annual Candlelight Christmas tour of homes in the Unionville area and Marlborough Village (December 7). For more information about these events, visit the Historical Society’s website, where you can also find out about the many benefits of membership.