What to do: Hometown fun, fireworks & festivals


By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


welcome america

The Philadelphia Museum of Art sets the backdrop for the annual Welcome America fireworks display.

Independence Day has arrived and that means it is time for two of Chester County’s longest-running and most popular Fourth of July events — Downingtown Good Neighbor Day (Kerr Park, Downingtown, 610-285-1119, www.goodneighborday.com) and Freedom Fest (Nottingham County Park, 150 Park Road, Nottingham, 610-932-2589, www.chesco.org/ccparks).

The 37th Annual Downingtown Good Neighbor Day will be held on July 4 at Kerr Park in Downingtown from 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Activities will get rolling with a “Prayer and Flag Ceremony” at 7:40 a.m. and then it will be time for the races. The 37th Annual Run for Life (5K, 10K & 15K) and the 20th Annual 5K Freedom Walk are scheduled for 8 a.m. while the 22nd Annual Kids-K Fun Run starts at 10 a.m.


The large array of crafts, food and vendors’ booths will open at 8 a.m. and the Turks Head Exchange Club’s “United States Flag Distribution” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Carnival rides, amusement games and festival food will be available from 10 a.m. until closing. Other activities scheduled for the pre-noon hours are the Annual Bicycle Decorating Contest at 10:30 a.m., the Big Wheel Race and the Canoe Race at 11 a.m. Then, at 12:30 p.m., it will be time for the 26th Annual Duck Race and music by Brother Bob & Friends Band.


A number of other music acts are scheduled throughout the day, including the Pennsylvania Surfers from 2-3 p.m., the Moondawgs from 3:30-4:30 p.m., Jeff Domenick with Jeff Byrne from 5-6 p.m., the Rivers Rockabilly Trio from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and the Tom Edwards Productions Entertainment Show from 8:30-9:30 p.m. The “Wife Carrying Contest” is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. The day’s festivities will conclude with a grand finale of fireworks at dusk.


Every year, Independence Day is also celebrated in a big way when Nottingham County Park (150 Park Road, Nottingham, 610-932-2589, www.chesco.org/ccparks) presents its annual Freedom Fest. The 24th Annual Freedom Fest will be held on July 4 from 6-11 p.m. at Nottingham County Park, which is located six miles south of Oxford, off U.S. Route 1 just above the Maryland State Line.


A number of activities are slated to get underway at 6 p.m. Visitors to the event will be able to climb the attraction “Jacob’s Ladder” or take a turn at twisting and spinning on one of two Orbotrons. Designed by a former NASA engineer, the Orbotron allows riders to flip, spin and swirl based on their body movements.


Live music will begin at 7:45 p.m. with a performance by the country band Green Tea Revival. The gala aerial fireworks display is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. Visitors will be treated to a show that also features ground displays set to patriotic tunes and a grand finale incorporating the traditional raising of the American Flag.


Herr Snack Trucks and “Chipper” will distribute free snacks throughout the evening beginning at 6 p.m. and there will be a wide array of food vendors with festival food items such as hot dogs and ice cream. Visitors may also bring a picnic of their own menu items and are advised that — because of security concerns — all coolers, bags and similar items are subject to being searched. Because it is a county park, no alcoholic beverages or pets will be permitted.





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The Kutztown Folk Festival features many family friendly activities

Field seating is available for both the concert and fireworks. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early and to bring blankets and lawn chairs. There will be a $10-per-vehicle parking fee at Nottingham County Park and Herr’s Corporate Center.


In the event that weather prohibits the setup or safe shooting of the fireworks show, Freedom Fest will be postponed to July 5. Parking vouchers will be distributed at the parking locations.





There are also just a few days left to enjoy one of the summer’s most popular annual events. The Kutztown Folk Festival (Kutztown Fairgrounds, off Route 222, Kutztown, 888-674-6136, www.kutztownfestival.com) is running now through July 5.




Settlers from Germany played a major role in the early history of Pennsylvania and their influence is still being felt. These pioneers and their customs are honored each summer at a Pennsylvania German folk festival in Kutztown — an event that has been around for more than a half-century and is still growing. The popular annual event, which is billed as a celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch culture, features traditional crafts, food, music and folk life.


The festival features country auctions, parades and bands, fiddling, live music and dancing, comedy, storytelling and historical seminars. Daily activities include displays of farming and gardening, churches and weddings, folk life, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect and folklore, furniture, spinning and weaving, country cooks and candle making.


It features non-stop entertainment with country auctions, parades and bands, fiddling, live music and dancing, comedy, storytelling and historical seminars. Additionally, over 200 juried folk artists and traditional American craftsmen will be participating with both sales and demonstrations.


There will also be a lot of attractions for children including puppet shows, make-and-take crafts sessions, visits with baby farm animals, real-life haystacks, story time sessions, a hay maze, sing-alongs and a variety of hands-on activities. As always, there will be plenty of booths featuring Pennsylvania Dutch food treats and beverages, including family style feasts, shoo-fly pies, sausage sandwiches, pastries, country chicken dinners, strawberry shortcake, funnel cakes, ox roasts, sarsaparilla and chicken potpie. The festival will open its gates each day at 10 a.m. and run until 8 p.m. on July 3 and 4 and 6 p.m. on July 5. Admission to the festival is $14 for adults, $13 for senior citizens and $5 for students (13-17) with children (12 and under) admitted free.


Wawa Welcome America (www.welcomeamerica.com) is a multi-day festival of free events in Philadelphia in celebration of our nation’s birthday that reaches a crescendo with an abundance of festivities on Independence Day Weekend.


On July 3, activities will start with the Liberty Block Party, which is scheduled to run from 1-8:30 p.m. on Fifth and Sixth streets between Market and Chestnut streets. Billed as the “largest block party of the summer,” the Liberty Block Party features a diverse array of food vendors and a full schedule of free live entertainment.


At 8 p.m., it will be time for “POPS! On Independence,” a free concert by the Philly POPS! on the steps of Independence Hall at Sixth and Chestnut streets. Featuring Conductor Michael Krajewski and guest soloists Capathia Jenkins and Darius de Haas. Seating is first-come, first-serve and concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.


The celebration, on July 4, will begin with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony from 10-11 a.m. on the steps of Independence Hall. Philadelphians and visitors can pay tribute to our nation at the ceremony which features music, inspiring remarks, and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. This year’s ceremony commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ protest, the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment.


Next will be the Independence Day Parade which runs from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. throughout the historic district of Philadelphia. More than 6,000 participants will march through the nation’s most historic square mile.


At 1 p.m., it will be time for “America’s Birthday Party with Betsy Ross and Termini Bros. Bakery” at the Independence Visitor Center (Sixth and Market streets). Prior to the celebration, the iconic Termini Brothers Bakery, a third-generation family-run business, will decorate a spectacular five-tier cake onsite.




the roots july 4 jam

The Roots perform at this year’s Philly July 4th Jam

Termini Bros. will also provide 2,500 red, white, and blue cupcakes, arranged into a giant American flag. When the decorating is complete, Betsy Ross herself will conduct a brief ceremony to celebrate the nation’s 239th birthday and cut the cake. Then, all 2,500 cupcakes and the entire cake will be given out free to the event’s attendees.


“Let Freedom Ring” will be held from 1-2 p.m. at Independence National Historical Park (Sixth and Market streets). The Sons of the American Revolution program starts on Independence Square and concludes with a symbolic tapping of the Liberty Bell by descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence in the Liberty Bell Center.


From 12 – 7 p.m., the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (from 20th Street to the Eakins Oval) will host “Party on the Parkway.” The all-day party features blocks of exciting activities, games, entertainment, and food for the whole family. There will also be live music throughout the day on the Global Music and Questlove stages.


The main event — “Philly 4th of July Jam & Grand Finale Fireworks” — will run from 7:30-11 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s Eakins Oval. Known as the “Largest Free Concert in America,” the show will feature The Roots, Miguel, Jennifer Nettles, MKTO, Zella Day and Twin Ghost.





Festive fireworks displays will also be presented by several of the area’s minor league baseball teams:


On July 3 at 7:05, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Frawley Stadium, 801 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-2015, http://www.milb.com) will play the Lynchburg Hillcats and then present a fireworks extravaganza after the game. Ticket prices for the game range from $8-$13.

The Lancaster Barnstormers (Clipper Magazine Stadium, 650 North Prince Street, Lancaster, 717-509-3633, http://www.lancasterbarnstormers.com) will play the Camden Riversharks at 7 p.m., on July 4, and then have a gala fireworks show following the completion of the game. Ticket prices for the game range from $7-$13.


At times, it seems that months fly by at an amazingly quick pace. Memorial Day seems like only yesterday and we’re already into the month of July. And, the start of the month means that it’s time for First Friday events.


When the first Friday of the month comes around, it’s a good time to spend the evening in Kennett Square, West Chester or Lancaster.



Kennett Square will celebrate First Friday with its Art Stroll (downtown Kennett Square, http://historickennettsquare.com) from 6-9 p.m. on July 3. The event celebrates the local art scene with special activities in the galleries, shops and restaurants throughout town. Many of the town’s businesses and galleries will stay open late for First Friday.


One of the Art Stroll’s stops will be the Mala Galleria, which is featuring the oil paintings of David Katz in an installation called “Musical Chairs.”. The show’s opening reception will be held during the July Art Stroll. Another stop on the stroll will be the Longwood Art Gallery, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The gallery’s featured exhibit showcases the work of watercolor artist Jack Giangiulio.




Earlier in the day, the Kennett Square Farmers Market will be open from 2-6 6 p.m. along East State Street, between Broad and Union Streets, and along the Genesis walkway that runs from the parking garage to State Street, next to the Genesis HealthCare Building. First Friday vendors on July 3 are K-9 Kraving Dog Treats, Lingerlong Woodworking, Heidi Barr’s Kitchen Garden Designs, Botanical Bubbles, The Garage Center’s Youth Crafters, Hazel and Ash, Face Painting by Whitney, Mushroom Cap, Jack’s Jams and Jellies, Shady Grove Greenhouses, Taste of Puebla, Arete Herbal, Baba’s Brew Kombucha and Juniper Hill. The roster also includes Tat’s Yummies, Meadowset Farm, Amour Candles by Shalaka, London Vale Farm, Rex Farm Orchard, Flying Plow Farm, Sunset Park Gluten Free,Footprint Architecture, Rambling Roots Farm, Sweet Salvation Truffles, Londonvale Farm, Nick Castelli’s plants, Big Sky Bakery, Maiale Salumeria and Black Walnut Winery.


On July 3 from 5-9 p.m., West Chester will host its version of First Friday (downtown West Chester, http://www.downtownwestchester.com). First Friday activities in the county seat include great shopping opportunities and delicious food offerings. Stores are open late and many of them feature free refreshments and shopping specials.
As an added attraction, there will be free on-street parking after 5 p.m. The remaining First Fridays in West Chester are scheduled for August 7, September 4, October 2, November 6 and December 4.


Lancaster also hosts an ambitious First Friday celebration every month. This month’s edition of First Friday Lancaster (https://www.facebook.com/FirstFridayLancasterPa) will run from 5-9 p.m. on July 3 in downtown Lancaster.
The event will feature interesting exhibitions at art galleries, artisan studios and museums. There will also be live performances presented in a variety of genres — professional theater, symphony orchestra and performing groups.


One of the celebration’s highlights will take place at The Candy Factory — Warehouse D (342 North Queen Street, Lancaster) — an amazing virtual tour of Lancaster County. Through the technology of the Oculus Virtual Reality headset, Greenfish Labs takes visitors on a 360-degree immersive tour of Lancaster, where they can enjoy the beauty of the countryside from a horse and buggy and experience a flight over farm lands from a hot air balloon.


The official opening of “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” at Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-100, www.longwoodgardens.org) was a “Members Only” event on July 1 and 2. Tonight (July 3), the after-dark-only installation officially opens for the public.


The installation, which will be open from July 1 through October 31, brings the garden to life after dark with colorful lights and moving images that are choreographed to music. “Nightscape” will take place in various areas of the garden — Rose Arbor, Large Lake, Flower Garden Drive, Legacy Tree, Flower Garden Walk, Topiary Garden, East Conservatory and Silver Garden. “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” was created by Philadelphia’s Klip Collective, a group known for its impressive installations at the Philadelphia Flower Show.


The installation will be on view Wednesdays through Saturdays. It will open every day is at sunset which means that start time will range from 9:30 p.m. in July to 7:30 p.m. in October. Longwood Gardens will also host a variety of special events during “Nightscape,” including a new beer garden in collaboration with Victory Brewing Company. The beer garden will feature a special and three beers on tap (including the new custom brew “Longwood Seasons: Summer Zest”).




The beer garden will also be the site of live music every Thursday from 7-10 p.m. The roster of performers includes Angela Sheik (July 23, August 20, September 17, October 22), Marc Silver (July 9, August 13, September 10, October 8 and 15), Jon Dichter (July 16 and 30, August 27, September 24, October 29) and Dani Mari (August 6, September 3, October 1). Video link for “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PtY-nRxWzhA. Tickets are $27 for adults, $17 for students (ages 5-18) and free for children (ages 4 and under).




If you’re a Marvel fan and you have yet to go to Philly to check out “The Marvel Experience,” you better get a move on. The impressive interactive event will be in town for just a few more days and then will close on July 5. Kids — and adults who are kids at heart — will find plenty to like at The Marvel Experience (Lincoln Financial Field, Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, themarvelexperiencetour.com). The Linc has been transformed into the temporary home of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) which has come to Philadelphia to teach a new class of recruits how to protect the world from evil.


S.H.I.E.L.D. has assembled Marvel’s awesome crew of Avengers to battle Red Skull and HYDRA and they need help. Tour participants can sign up as a S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit at the world’s first ever Super Hero Recruitment Tour and become a part of the team of superheroes. Recruits will have the opportunity to fly with Iron Man, swing with Spider-Man, smash with Hulk and She-Hulk, and test their skills in the Black Widow’s laser maze.


Officially known as “The Marvel Experience: The World’s First Hyper-Reality Tour,” the attraction features a variety of activities highlighted by a 360-degree stereoscopic full-dome 3-D projection theater and a visually-impressive, action-packed motion ride. Video link for the Marvel Experience — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=goA2BW9vdPg. Tickets are $49.90 for adults, $39.90 for kids and $79 for VIP passes.





tyler arboretum Fragrant Garden

One of the many views to be enjoyed at Tyler Arboretum’s Scenic Loop Social

The West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233, www.westchesterrr.net) is running its special “Summer Picnic Special” trains every Sunday now through September 20. The round trip train ride travels to the village of Glen Mills and back and lasts for 90 minutes. During the brief layover in Glen Mills, riders can explore the historic Pennsylvania Railroad station and have a snack in the railroad’s picnic grove along the Chester Creek.


Riders can order a boxed lunch when they purchase their tickets online. Sandwich choices are Ham and Cheese ($12), Turkey and Cheese ($12) and PB&J ($10). All lunches come with chips, fruit, drink, dessert and are made fresh. They also come in a special WCRR reusable lunch bag. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for children ages 2-12 and free for kids under two.


On July 8, Tyler Arboretum (515 Painter Road, Media, 610-566-9134, www.tylerarboretum.org) will host a special event called “Scenic Loop Ice Cream Social.” Visitors are invited to celebrate National Ice Cream Month with this unique opportunity to explore Tyler’s Scenic Loop on wheels — or to just come out for a leisurely evening stroll. On this special occasion, bikes, scooters and rollerblades are welcome on this paved pathway that begins at the Pond and gently loops through the Wister Rhododendron Collection, then to the Pinetum, the Giant Sequoia and the Stopford Family Meadow Maze before returning to the Pond.The summertime festivity, which runs from 6-8 p.m., will also feature a variety of delicious novelty treats courtesy of Bassett’s Ice Cream. It is a free event and no pre-registration required. Rain date is July 15 same hours.

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