Fun and fund raising for Crebilly Farm preservation

Brandywine in White always seems to be sprinkled with fairy dust, even when the weather is muggy or rainy. The annual timing of the event—August--takes place when we are all trying to catch fireflies as well as the final days of summer. This year, guests enjoyed a beautiful, cool, evening with a slight breeze.

Brandywine in White was held in a field on Harry G. Haskell, Jr.’s Hill Girt Farm, the site of M. Knight Shyamalan’s 2004 movie, “The Village.” Like Shyamalan’s productions, which insist on  high levels of secrecy, Brandywine in White ticket-holders were kept in the dark regarding the location of the massive, elegant “picnic” until Thursday before the event.

Net proceeds from Brandywine in White fund the legal and outreach efforts of Neighbors for Crebilly, LLC (NFC). NFC’s mission is to save Crebilly Farm, located at the intersection of Rts. 202 and 926, from a proposed Toll Brothers development of 319 homes. Fittingly, 98% of Hill Girt Farm’s pastoral land is preserved with conservation easements.

Three historical aspects make the Crebilly property irreplaceable: its involvement in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777; its position within the bucolic Brandywine Valley landscape; and a number of structures on the property that date back to the 1800s. Crebilly Farm could be the “poster child” for Chester County’s unique history and natural beauty as well as the negative effects of urban sprawl.

Dana Loundas and her table of friends

More than 150 enthusiastic party goers, decked out in their best white duds, made new friends and chatted with old while unpacking their picnic baskets of food and drink, eating, and serving utensils, glassware, china and table décor.

Table arrangements varied from those with elegant floral arrangements to simple bunches of wildflowers. Hula-hoops seemed to be the Etsy item of inspiration this year. Clever designer Jane Henderson decorated the ones on her friend’s tables with daisies and lights. Neighbors of Dilworthtown Oaks chose “moons and stars” as their theme. They made an arc from their hula-hoop and filled it with a string of lights for the table’s dramatic centerpiece. Plates with a star pattern and angel food cake for dessert carried out the theme.

Mistress of Ceremonies Elizabeth Moro set the tone for the evening, saying, “We come together in community to preserve open space.” She asked everyone to hold their breath for a few seconds. When time was up, she challenged us that we were all thinking about when we could take the next breath. She urged us, “to not be preoccupied with material objects and to not take for granted clean air, water, and the environment.”

Enthusiasm for Brandywine in White spills over into people's costumes for the evening. There was a mix of white shorts and white suits for men and beautiful cocktail and casual summery dresses for the women. Besides a sprinkling of hats, Philadelphia jeweler Lisa Schallert hand painted the bodice of her dress. Martin Helmke, a geology professor at West Chester University created a kilt and sash from white cloth to go with his Scottish shirt, brooch and sporran (pouch).

Reunion of classmates from law school

A table of women who met in law school, enjoyed every minute of the evening. DuPont attorney Kimberly Richardson has been to many “Diners en Blanc,” and this is her favorite. “It’s such a warm crowd and less pretentious than others,” she shared. Two sisters at the table even danced together during a slow song, feeling comfortable enough to do that in the welcoming atmosphere.

After dinner, dancers displayed their best moves to the sounds of a DJ. Even the professional photographers shooting the event for regional magazines and local newspapers joined in the revelry.

People came from Philly, Delaware, and Chester County, and now Brandywine in White has an international following. Party goers represented fifteen countries Saturday night. People from ten of those countries sat at the same table and shared specialty drinks and treats from France, India, Belgium, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

From left, Lisa Schalert of Philadelphia, Martín Helmer of West Chester and Sylvie Ashby of West Chester with Morgan Sobatka ofMedia

At an intermission, Vince Moro, organizer of “Brandywine in White” and the founder of Neighbors for Crebilly, LLC, updated the crowd on Crebilly, saying, “We are waiting on the Commonwealth Court’s decision on May hearing in Pittsburgh. He asked that everyone keep their fingers crossed that the Commonwealth Court will uphold the Chester County Court of Common Pleas and Westtown Township’s decision denying conditional Use to Toll Brothers. Vince stressed that, “More people need to step up and get involved in this effort. We’re constantly trying to raise money and awareness so that the people of Chester County have an opportunity to make a difference in all our lives.”

Look for announcements for corresponding event Brandywine in Black, usually made in March. For more information on “Brandywine in Black” or “Brandywine in White,” visit them on Facebook.








About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.



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One Response to “Fun and fund raising for Crebilly Farm preservation”

  1. brandywinebard says:

    So beautiful!

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