Old Fiddlers’ Picnic a summer mainstay

 The musical legacy of Chadds Ford’s Chris Sanderson will continue as Chester County welcomes hundreds of musicians and fans to celebrate traditional music at the 88th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 13.

The 88th Annual Old Fiddlers' Picnic

The 88th Annual Old Fiddlers' Picnic will take place at Hibernia Park on Saturday, Aug. 13.

Known originally as the "Chester and Delaware Counties' Old Fiddlers’," the event was conceived by S. L. Anderson and organized by Sanderson, a teacher and historian whose many talents including playing the fiddle. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hibernia County Park in Wagontown, according to a Chester County press release.

Beginning at 9 a.m., groups and individuals may register to play on the main stage on a first-come, first-served basis.  Solo acts are allotted 10 minutes, and up to 20 minutes for groups. At 10 a.m., Remington Riders will take center stage, leading into a continually changing slate of performers.

A highlight of the day is the jamming and singing throughout the venue. Visitors can stroll through the event grounds and listen to the blend of music. In the woodlands flanking the stage, musicians play tunes using a variety of instruments, such as guitars, banjos, and mandolins, and perform styles such as bluegrass, old-time and gospel. Lawn chairs are encouraged. Canopies, tents and alcohol are not permitted. An ATM is available on site. Pets are welcome but must be on a six-foot lead, the release said.

The Old Fiddlers’ Picnic features more than 30 vendors, offering a variety of craft items and novelties, as well as food options with menus ranging from BBQ and funnel cakes to smoothies. Tours of the 19th century Hibernia Mansion are offered throughout the afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. A $3 donation per person is requested.

Children and those new to string instruments are encouraged to come learn by observing and talking to the musicians in this relaxed atmosphere. Instrument demonstrations, beginner jam sessions, and children’s activities are also planned. Old Fiddlers’ souvenir shirts and hats are available for purchase and anyone performing on stage will receive a 2016 commemorative ribbon.

The rain date for the event is Sunday, Aug. 14. Parking is $5 per car with no admission fee. Gates open at 8:30 a.m.

The Fiddlers’ Picnic began at Crystal Springs Park outside Parkesburg and later moved to Lenape Park, south of West Chester. When Lenape Park closed in 1980, Chester County Parks & Recreation offered to sponsor the Picnic at Hibernia Park. Sanderson’s fascination with history and “living records” ultimately led to the  transformation of his former residence into the Christian C. Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford. Museum representatives will display some of those items during the picnic.

Hibernia Park campgrounds must be reserved for both Friday and Saturday night during Old Fiddlers’ weekend. The fee is $15 per night with a maximum of six people and two tents per site. The person reserving the site must be one of the campers and at least 18 years old.

Hibernia Park is located in Wagontown, four miles north of Coatesville off the Route 82 exit of the Route 30 Bypass.  Call 610-383-3812 or visit www.chesco.org/ccparks for more information.

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