What To Do: Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Did we mention chocolate?

Also: Plein Air in Chadds Ford, and options to battle cabin fever

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


After just a few year’s the Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival has become a staple for local chocolate lovers. This year’s event takes place Feb. 8 at Kennett High School.

Valentine’s Day is one of the best things about February and chocolate is one of the best things about Valentine’s Day.

One of winter’s most popular holidays, Valentine’s Day is a special holiday that is all about love, romance, intimate dinners, Valentine’s cards and chocolate.

The United Way of Southern Chester County has an event every February to celebrate chocolate. On February 8, the organization will present the Kennett Square Chocolate Lovers Festival (Kennett High School, 100 E. South St., Kennett Square, 610-444-4357, www.unitedwayscc.org).

The event, which is like a day in heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth, will feature hundreds of chocolate treats for attendees to sample, including brownies, candies, cakes, cookies and cupcakes. Making it even sweeter is the fact that the festival is being held as a benefit for the United Way of Southern Chester County.

Culinary professionals from around the area as well as a number of amateurs will be presenting their finest chocolate creations and vying for the right to claim being the best in Southern Chester County. Contestants will compete for awards in the following categories — professionals, amateurs and students (ages 12 up). Last year over 200 entries were available for tasting by the public.

The event is scheduled to run from 1-4 p.m. Connoisseur ticket holders will be admitted at 1 p.m. while those with general admission tickets can enter at 2 p.m. Connoisseur tickets are $25and general admission tickets are $10. Additional tastings are available for $.50 each. Additionally, there is a parking fee of $5 per car.

hershey-1If a one-day festival isn’t enough to satisfy your chocolate cravings, you can take a trip to Hershey during the month of February. This month, it’s time for “Chocolate-Covered February in Hershey” (various locations around Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.chocolatecoveredfebruary.com).

It makes sense that Hershey, the town that bills itself as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” hosts a month-long celebration in honor of all things chocolate. Hershey has decadent chocolate events planned throughout the month of February.

This weekend, visitors to the Hershey Store can try their hand at making their own heart-shaped milk chocolate confections and hand-made truffles. On February 6, there will be a “Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire” at the Hotel Hershey and a “Chocolate Martini Mixology Class” at the Hershey Lodge.

The “Hersheypark Chocolate Parade” will be held at the amusement park every Saturday and Sunday in February beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. There will also be an “Interactive Story Time & Hot Cocoa” session at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. at       Hersheypark every Saturday and Sunday in February.

Other activities throughout the month include “Chef Demonstrations” at the Hotel Hershey, “Hershey’s Chocolate Dessert Journey” at Hershey’s Chocolate World, “Rainforest Adventure” at the Hershey Store, “Chocolate and Spirits Pairing Class and Chef Demonstrations” at the Hershey Lodge and “Chocolate Tea” at the Hotel Hershey.

The list of special events also includes “Hershey’s Character Breakfast” at Hershey Lodge, “Wild Treats” at ZooAmerica, “Old Chocolate Balsamic Tastings” at the Hotel Hershey, “Hershey’s Hot Chocolate Pajama Party” at Hershey Lodge and “$5.50 Fridays” at Zoo America.

Chocolate is also featured during “Wine and Chocolate Month” sponsored by the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail (www.bvwinetrail.com). The BVWT is inviting patrons to bring their sweethearts and celebrate with the wineries as they present delicious wine and chocolate tastings and other romantic events throughout February.

Themed events will be held at Paradocx Vineyard (1833 Flint Hill Rd., Landenberg, 610-255-5684, www.paradocx.com) from February 13-15 and Black Walnut Winery (3000 Lincoln Highway, Sadsburyville, 610-857-5566, www.blackwalnutwinery.com) on February 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

Additionally, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, www.chaddsford.com) will offer “Wine & Chocolate Samplings” on February 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28 and March 1.

Usually, winter weather in this area usually never really co-operates with weekend plans — except maybe those for snow sports participants or people who enjoy really cold outdoor temperatures.

plein air

The Chadds Ford Historical Society hosts its Seventh Annual Winter Plein Air Event at its Barn Visitors Center, Saturday.

This weekend looks like it might be an exception, On February 7, the Chadds Ford Historical Society will host its Seventh Annual Winter Plein Air Event at its Barn Visitors Center (1736 Creek Road, Chadds Ford, 610-388-7376, www.chaddsfordhistory.org).

Last year, the event, which is also known as “Paint-Out Chadds Ford,” was cancelled because of severe weather. The forecast for Chadds Ford on February 7 is “mostly cloudy and milder” with a high of 46 degrees.

Why, you might ask, is the weather — other than the possibility of hazardous road conditions — important for an art show? This weekend’s event is not just another art show — it is a plein air event.

“En plein air” is a French expression which means “in the open air.” It is mainly employed to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called “peinture sur le motif” (“painting on the ground”) in French.

On February 6 and 7, painters from the “100 Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Artists” publication will be creating works of art “en plein air.” Artists can paint Friday, Saturday, or both days.

After a session of painting in Chadds Ford and the Brandywine Valley, the participating artists will return to the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Barn Visitor Center to frame and hang their paintings for a special exhibit and art sale.

Visitors are invited to attend the exclusive “En Plein Air Preview Party” on Saturday from 5-6 p.m. for a first look at the wet paintings while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres with the artists. All the artwork on display will be available for purchase.

Preview tickets, which admit two people, are $50 — $25 of which can be applied to an art purchase. Following the preview, there will be a wine-and-cheese reception from 6-8 p.m. which features the regular admission price of $10.

The roster of artists in the 2015 winter “en plein air” event features Bruno Baran, David Diaz, Valerie Craig, Jane Ramsey, Stewart White, Brian Epply, Mark Coates, Lynn Mehta, Jacalyn Beam and Michael Budden.

It also includes Roberta Staat, Jackie Clark, Ellen Gavin, David Lawton, Joe Gyurcsak, Chuck Law, Henry Coe, Kathleen Kotarba, Michael Kotarba, Greg Johannesen, Bethanne Coppel, Desiree Holmes and Janice Kirsch.

Another art show in this area this weekend is Malvern Retreat House’s Art Show (McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center, 315 South Warren Avenue, Malvern, 610-644-0400, www.MalvernRetreat.com). The show will have more than 500 original works of art by more than 100 professional artists. The special feature this year is “Fiber Art” featuring 15 fiber artists.

Each piece of artwork will be available for purchase and show attendees will be able to shop for items in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewelry, and glasswork. The free show runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on February 6 and 7 and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on February 8.

Additionally, there will be a “Wine and Cheese Reception” on February 6 from 5-8 p.m. Also a free event, the social gathering features a complimentary wine and cheese reception along with the opportunity for patrons to meet some of the participating artists.

If you’re looking for indoor activities– especially if you have kids with cabin fever — there are two good options in nearby northern Delaware.

Stratosphere Trampoline Park (510 Justison Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-397-8142, has three trampoline areas — “Main Arena,” “Dodgeball Arena” and “Hubble Bubble.”

The “Main Arena” features a grid or trampolines and two tumble tracks. The “Dodgeball Arena” takes the classic game of dodgeball to a whole new level — including fiercely-contested dodgeball tournaments.

At the “Hubble Bubble Arena,” three special trampolines spring participants into action and enable everyday enthusiasts of all ages to “blast their skills to a new level.”

Additional attractions at the Stratosphere Trampoline Park are “Arcade,” “Hurricane Simulator,” “Aeroball,” “Eye Play,” “Mechanical Bull,” “Speed Wall,” Velcro Wall” and “Laser Maze.”

Rates for the trampoline areas are $11 for 30 minutes, $15 for 60 minutes, $19 for 90 minutes and $23 for 120 minutes. “Speed Wall,” “Mechanical Bull,” “Velcro Wall” and “Laser Maze” each require one ticket. One ticket is $3 and a two-ticket option is available for $5. 2 Tickets = $5.00

robot zoo

“The Robot Zoo” exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Natural History will open on February 7.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History (4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-9111, http://www.delmnh.org) has a new attraction beginning this weekend. “The Robot Zoo” will open on February 7 and run through May 25. Visitors to “The Robot Zoo” will be able to explore the biomechanics of complex animal robots to discover how real animals work.

“The Robot Zoo” reveals the biomechanics of robot animals including a chameleon, a platypus and a giraffe. Three robot animals and seven hands-on activities illustrate fascinating real-life characteristics, such as how a chameleon changes colors and what enables a fly to walk on the ceiling.

Machinery in the robot animals simulates the body parts of their real-life counterparts.  In the robot animals, muscles become pistons, intestines become filtering pipes and brains become computers.

At the “Tongue Gun” exhibit, triggering a joystick on the model of a robot chameleon’s head fires a long tongue at insect targets to show how the reptile catches food. At “Hide and Seek,” children can blend in like a chameleon. By wearing a coat that matches a wall in the background, kids can watch themselves appear and disappear on a video monitor.

The “Swat the Fly” activity tests participants’ reaction time, which is about one-twelfth as fast as that of a house fly. Visitors can also use their hands to “swat” each fly as it lights up. At the “Sticky Feet” exhibit, kids can wear special hand and kneepads and attempt to stick like flies to a sloping surface.

Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $7 for children (ages 3-17), $8 for seniors (age 60 and older) and free for children (under three).

In other museum activity geared for youngsters, the Garden State Discovery Museum: (2040 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 856-424-1233, www.discoverymuseum.com) is presenting a special program called “Passport to Discovery” on selected weekends now through the end of March.

This weekend’s theme is “African Drum & Dance.”  From 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the museum will celebrate the music, dance and art of Africa. There will be a special performance by the Universal African Drum & Dance Ensemble on February 7 at 1p.m.

On February 21 and 22, the spotlight will shift to the Orient when the museum presents “Chinese New Year” from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. The event will feature the traditional sights and sounds of China’s Lunar New Year celebration.

Now through July 5, the Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive, Camden, New Jersey, 856-365-3300, www.adventureaquarium.com) is presenting “Dinosaurs of the Deep,” an exhibit that allows spectators to travel into an underwater world of millions of years ago when giant prehistoric monsters ruled the seas.

Other attractions at the Adventure Aquarium include “Hippo Haven,” “Stingray Beach Club Feeding Experience,” “Meet the Divers,” “Hippo Feed and Talk,” “Ocean Realm,” “Caribbean Currents,” “Shark Realm,” “Penguin Island,” “Creature Feature” and the Aquarium’s “4D Theater” featuring the film “Sea Monsters.”

Admission to the Adventure Aquarium is $25.95 for adults and $18.95 for children (ages 2-12). Children under two are admitted free with a paying adult.


Now through March 13, Hagley Museum and Library is offering free admission, including the historic powder yards, pictured above.

Now through March 13, Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org) is offering free admission. This includes all exhibitions, site tours, weekend demonstrations and other activities — everything with the exception of ticketed events.

Visitors to the historic site will have access to the Powder Yards, Worker’s Hill Community, the du Pont homes and gardens and the Visitor Center exhibits. Beginning March 2, Eleutherian Mills, the original du Pont home, will be closed for four months of restoration.

On February 7, Historic Sugartown (690 Sugartown Road, Malvern, 610-640-2667, http://www.historicsugartown.org) will present a special event called “Cabin Fever Saturday” from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The event will have an array of family-friendly crafts and old-fashioned games along with demonstrations by Historic Sugartown, Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, East Goshen Historical Commission and the Wharton Esherick Museum.

Featured activities include making paper using historic methods, creating Victorian Valentine Cards, making and playing with 19th century paper dolls, “Potato Printing” with Wharton Esherick Museum, playing with early American toys and games, making a “Corn Husk Doll” with the East Goshen Historical Commission and touring Historic Sugartown’s General Store and Carriage Museum.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children (ages 3-17). Children (ages 2 and younger) are admitted free and there is free parking.

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Rookie cards, such as that of Super Bowl hero Malcom Butler will likely be on display at S & B Sportscard Show & Sale this weekend at the Exton Square Mall.

The NFL season just ended last weekend with the Super Bowl and Major League Baseball’s spring training gets underway in a few weeks. Sports fans never take a break — and neither do collectors of sports-related items.

If you’re a collector of sports cards or sports memorabilia, you should consider making a visit this weekend to the Exton Square Mall (260 Exton Square Parkway, Exton, 610-363-2860, extonsquare.com).

From February 6-8, the mall is hosting the S & B Sportscard Show & Sale in the Boscov’s Court on the Lower Level. There will be a large number of vendors selling a wide array of sports collectibles including high-quality vintage sports cards, bobble heads, plaques, players’ autographs and sports figurines.

Another reason to visit the Exton Square Mall this weekend is the Cinnabon Grand Opening Event. On February 6, visitors can receive free iced coffee and a free cinnamon roll at the new store from noon-3 p.m.

Lancaster is a good destination for fans of roots and blues music this weekend. On February 6 and 7, the city is hosting “Lancaster Roots and Blues, A Festival of Music.” There will be over 50 artists at eight venues — with 10 stages all within a few blocks of each other.

The venues include the world-class performing arts stage at The Ware Center in Steinman Hall, The Grand Salon, the Lancaster Convention Center’s Robert Johnson Stage and Thaddeus Stevens Stage, Tellus 360 (two stages), the Chameleon Club, The Federal Taphouse, the Lancaster Dispensing Company, The Trust Performing Arts Center and the historic Elks Lodge.

One of the headline acts will be Downingtown native Liz Longley. Now a resident of Nashville, Longley will perform in Lancaster on February 7 at 8:50 p.m. at the Trust Performing Arts Center (37 North Market Street, http://www.lancastertrust.com). 

The Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net) will present Kelly Bell Band, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Jay Farrar and DC and Company on February 6 and Nikki Hill, Jeff Thomas’ All Volunteer Army, Dana Fuchs and Popa Chubby on February 7.

Some of the other featured artists are Philly Gumbo (Feb. 6, Ware Center), Charlie Gracie (Feb. 7, Elks Lodge), Iron Butterfly (Feb. 7, Convention Center), Johnny Long (Feb. 7, Trust Performing Arts Center) and Joe Louis Walker (Feb.6, Convention Center).

General Admission tickets are available for either one-day purchase — Friday for $49 or Saturday for $59 — or a two-day ticket for $99.

You still have time to visit the 2015 Philadelphia International Auto Show which opened on January 31 and is running through February 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, 610 279-5229, www.phillyautoshow.com).

The Philly Auto Show is a huge show with more than 700 vehicles on display under one roof. This year’s 114th annual staging of the event features a 700,000 square foot display floor with a wide array of pre-production, production, exotic, classic, and concept cars.

The Philadelphia Auto Show is a showcase for the latest pre-production models such as the Volvo XC90 and the Buick Cascada and for many of the newest concept models including the McLaren 650S Spider, Lamborghini Huracan and Aston Martin Vanquish.

The 2015 show hours are noon-10 p.m. on February 6, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on February 7 and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on February 8. Tickets are $13 for adults (age 13 and up) and $6 for children (ages 7-12). Children age 6 and younger do not require a ticket.

There are two other long-running events in the area that are worth checking out.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is hosting its popular “Orchid Extravaganza” through March 29.

The celebration of the orchid species features thousands of orchid blooms along with a variety of displays and special exhibits throughout its four-acre conservatory. “Orchid Extravaganza” will also feature stunning displays of orchids in planting beds, containers and innovative exhibits.

Approximately 5,000 colorful orchids hang from baskets, create inspiring arrangements and adorn unique forms throughout “Orchid Extravaganza.” Two of the most interesting exhibits are an oncidium waterfall display and an orchid meadow.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for students.

Now through March 1, thousands of unsold Christmas trees are the focal point of “The Ultimate Recycled Maze,” a popular event at Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.org).

A huge amount of unsold Christmas trees have been collected from around the region to create this exciting new attraction that is fun for all ages. The maze takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get through. Admission to the maze, which is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., is $5 — or $4 when purchased with a round of mini-golf.

Linvilla Orchard’s “Fore! The Planet” is a highly interactive and playful museum exhibit created by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. This exhibition pairs important environmental issues with the fun of miniature golf.

It features 18 unique educational holes on a variety of topics — butterfly metamorphosis, a tropical rainforest, evolution, dinosaur extinction, food chains and more. Kids of all ages can enjoy playing miniature golf while learning about our environment on every hole.

The mini-course is open daily from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Tickets are $6.95 (ages 11 and over) and $4.95 (ages 10 and under).

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