It was not Mike Connolly’s first time behind the Brandywine Brewing Company bar for a Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Guest Bartender Night, but it was his first time as the Society’s executive director. Connolly, along with popular celebrity bartender Victoria Wyeth and others, took orders from the crowd to support the Society. 100% of their tips were donated to CFHS and Connolly explained that “monies raised tonight will go toward general support of the Society and its education and preservation programs.”
Friends Gail Stanislaw and Andrea Varricchio, both of Wilmington, enjoyed dinner together. “This is a perfect opportunity for us to catch up while supporting a good cause,” said Stanislow. Brandywine Brewing Company donated 20% of dinner charges to the Society when diners indicated they were there in support of the Society on their bill.
The featured drink for the evening was a special cocktail, a concoction of vodka and orange slices, invented by Victoria Wyeth’s grandfather, famed artist Andy Wyeth. “This was Andy’s favorite drink,” said Wyeth. “I named it ‘Andy’s Potion’ because of my family loves Halloween,” she laughed.
During a break from bartending duties, Connolly shared some of his ideas for the Chadds Ford Historical Society moving forward. He and the board are working on a 5-year strategic plan that will re-engage the community in the history of the area through immersive, hands-on events and programs. He explained that, “we want visitors to the Barns-Brinton House, the John Chads House and the Visitors Center to engage all the senses as they learn about the Brandywine area in the early years of our country.“
Tavern Talks continue, geared toward adults in the 21-40-year old range who want to know more about Colonial life. A new exhibit, Wanton Waste: Chadds Ford and the Battle of Brandywine, opens at the Visitors Center April 19. Wanton Waste describes how Chadds Ford villagers, many of them peaceful Quakers, reacted when fighting erupted in their backyard on the morning of September 11, 1777 and explores the ramifications of preserving the local landmarks of that significant battle today.
The Society’s spring lecture series, focused this year on the Revolutionary War’s Philadelphia Campaign, continues with presentations on April 6 (Remembering Paoli) and April 12 (Present But Not Accounted For: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment).
The Society is planning an innovative program for late spring or early summer called Escape Brandywine. Connolly described “This time-ticketed event will lock participants in the John Chads House. The ‘prisoners’ will then have to use teamwork and clues from information we give them about the Battle of Brandywine to plan their escape!”
The BBC Guest Bartender Night also included a silent auction, which offered several baskets of wine, tickets to a Neil Diamond concert and a framed reproduction of an Andrew Wyeth sketch of the John Chads House signed by Victoria Wyeth.
Connolly doesn't have all the numbers in from the restaurant yet but says " I can certainly say that it was a successful fundraiser though!"