A Colonial celebration in Chadds Ford

The year 2016 marks the 51st celebration of a fair that began after citizens banded together to try to stop the electric company from installing towers running high-power lines along the Brandywine (they lost, but got the towers painted a more friendly green). Several people suggested having a gathering to commemorate the heritage of the area and newly formed friendships. Thus began the first Chadds Ford Day in 1958.

The crowd during the 1958 Chadds Ford days.

The crowd during the 1958 Chadds Ford Days.

The fair included people dressed in period costumes, a parade down Station Way Road led by village historian Chris Sanderson, an art exhibit (with works by Andrew Wyeth, John McCoy and Peter Hurd) and a luncheon at the Chadds Ford Hotel. The local paper announced “The Gilpins, the Brintons, and – naturally – the Chadds will recall the founding of this community in the first historic Chadds Ford Day, Sept. 11.” The Chadds? Well intended, but there were no descendants of John Chads, the namesake of the village.

The celebration recurred in 1959, but then skipped a year. In 1961 there is a story of a giant Chadds Ford balloon streaming 125 feet of pennants, escaping its mooring at the battlefield during the event. The balloon was found a few days later 10 miles away, collapsed over several trees. In reporting this story, a newspaper said that Chadds Ford Day commemorates “George Washington crossing the Delaware.” Well, not exactly. The event commemorates the Battle of the Brandywine fought on September 11, 1777.

Chris Sanderson leads the Chadds Ford Days parade down Station Way Road in 1962.

Chris Sanderson leads the Chadds Ford Days parade down Station Way Road in 1962.

Over the years, the fair has highlighted a variety of events including the opening of the Christian Sanderson Museum and the Brandywine River Museum. There have been sheep shearings, American Indian displays, historic runs and even a visit from Pulsar the Robot, a mascot of the Pulsations Nightclub in 1984. During the 1980s and 1990s, each fair had a theme, using names like ‘Pigge and Pippins’, ‘A Bounty of Grains’ and ‘Wayside Inns and Taverns’.

This year’s Chadds Ford Days will continue the tradition of community celebration. There will be two days of live bands, colonial demonstrations, Revolutionary War reenactments, craft vendors, a Colonial tavern and food vendors. Bring the family for a relaxing time filled with food, music and shopping at the Chadds Ford Historical Society Visitors Center.

51st Chadds Ford Days

Sept. 10 (10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) & 11 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

$10/adult, children and CFHS members free

  • Bands: Steve Liberace Band, The Sermon, Eddy McLaughlin Duo, Steppin’ Razor, Next Wednesday
  • Reenactors: 1st Delaware Regiment and 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment
  • 50 Craft Vendors
  • Colonial Demonstrators
  • Antique Cars
  • Clover Dog Training Obstacle Course
  • Hayrides
  • Food Vendors and Colonial Tavern
  • Tours of the John Chads House

For more information visit the Chadds Ford Historical Society website at www.chaddsfordhistory.org or call 610-388-7376.

About Phyllis Recca

Phyllis Recca grew up in the Lenape area and is a graduate of Unionville High School. She earned a bachelor’s of science degree in computer science from Penn State and an master’s in business administration from Villanova. Phyllis pursues philanthropic activities as president of the Phyllis Recca Foundation and serves on the Board of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. Her first book, “Chadds Ford Then and Now,” released in 2015, was given the Preservation Award for Publication by the Heritage Commission of Delaware County. She recently released her second book “Chadds Ford Then and Now II.

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