Chadds Ford Days will take place Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sept. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults 18 and older and free for children under age 17. Chadds Ford Historical Society members are free with membership card. Dogs are welcome.
This year 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 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.
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, located off Creek Road.