Massive Barn Market, equally giant traffic jams

A beautiful Saturday morning turned into one beaut of a traffic jam this weekend as thousands of people crowded onto Creek Road to attend the Second Annual Massive Barn Market held on the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society.

The crowds came to buy antiques and collectibles from more than 80 vendors. The convergence of old stuff and new social media apparently generated an unexpectedly large turnout. In addition to the expected Pennsylvania plates, many car licenses were seen from Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

The event announcement on Facebook showed a reach of 25,000, suggesting that friends invited friends and so on. The event organizer, Lisa Vonderstruck, said she expected between 3,000 and 5,000 attendees.

Modeled after a market in Brimfield, Mass., it began with a rush at 9 a.m. when a ribbon-cutting let the bargain hunters descend. The uneven distribution of attendees worsened the traffic jam. During Chadds Ford Days, a smaller annual field event on the CFHS grounds, participants arrive throughout the day over a two-day period.

Jeremy Ibrahim, a resident of the Reserve at Chadds Ford development – across the street from the event’s parking area – expressed concern about a “safety nightmare.” He reported seeing people pushing baby carriages along Route 1. He also worried about access for emergency vehicles while Creek Road was blocked by slow-moving traffic. His wife is a pediatrician and was on call Saturday, he said.

Birmingham Township Police were on hand to help with parking as they have for past events. But because additional police hadn’t been needed for past events, the planners failed to notify the state police, who stepped in to assist when more than 5,000 showed up.

State police, who were not available for comment on Sunday, April 17, closed the northbound lane of Creek Road during the worst of the backup.

Michael Majewski, the owner of Brandywine Prime Seafood and Chops, reported a better than usual lunch crowd, but his staff was late getting to work. If they had scheduled a luncheon event, it would have been a “disaster,” he said.

Majewski asked that he be informed if such an event is planned again so he can avoid scheduling parties. “I am all for bringing people to Chadds Ford and don't mind sacrificing a day to do it,” he said.

Vonderstruck posted an apology on Facebook Saturday night to those who couldn’t get in. Even before the event was over, Chadds Ford Historical Society President Kendal Reynolds was making plans for the next Massive Barn Market event, scheduled for Oct. 8.

Those plans will include police traffic control at Route 1 and Creek Road, more portable toilets, and shuttle busses from the elementary schools. More Chadds Ford Historical Society volunteers will be recruited for the next event as well.

From the viewpoints of the vendors and the CFHS, the event was a success. Most of the food vendors sold out of food by the 4 p.m. closing time, and a steady stream of people weaved through food and drink lines, dragging the treasures they had purchased.

The CFHS got to collect and keep the $5 entry fee. Vonderstruck got paid by the vendors who participated and by selling items from her shop, Brandywine View Antiques. She said she sold most of item she brought to the grounds in ten trips from her store on Baltimore Pike.

Vonderstruck said she is eager to replenish her inventory by traveling to the Brimfield market in Massachusetts next month, which she described as “17 football fields” full of items.

“I love my job,” she said often, having “found a home in Chadds Ford.”



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