What To Do: Festivals, events come roaring back after disruptions

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Annual Philadelphia Mineral Treasures and Fossil Fair

Many of the area’s annual events such as food fairs, pet shows, jewelry expos, collectors’ gatherings and ethnic festivals never happened in 2020 and never happened again in 2021.

We all know why.

Fortunately, COVID numbers are going down and special event numbers are on the rise.

Several annual events have returned this weekend – much to the delight of all.

On March 26 and 27, the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society and the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society is presenting its “Annual Philadelphia Mineral Treasures and Fossil Fair” show and sale at the LuLu Shriners Temple (5140 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, 610-828-9050, www.philamineralsociety.org).

The event will feature exhibits of outstanding specimens from society members’ personal collections. The event will also offer a variety of learning activities including a fossil dig for children, displays of local and regional finds and a mineral identification table.

Other special attractions include a fluorescent minerals room, lapidary and jewelry displays, educational materials, door prizes and a food and beverage concession.

Additionally, there will be a sales area featuring more than 30 dealers from around the country. These dealers will be selling fossils, minerals, crystals and jewelry from all over the world, along with books, decorative items and other merchandise.

Demonstrations by the Leidy Microscopical Society on Saturday and Sunday.

The show will also feature food vendors as well as door prize drawings throughout both days.

The Fair will run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $2 for children (under 12).

Attendees will be able to find a wide array of jewelry selections priced very affordably at this weekend’s “International Gem & Jewelry Show” at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Avenue, Oaks, 484-754-EXPO, www.intergem.com).

The show, which is a sales and exhibition event that features gems, jewelry, fossils and stones of all sorts, is running from March 25-27 and is billed as the “world’s largest jewelry bazaar”.

Admission to the public show is $6 for adults while children (ages 9-16) are free with a paid adult ticket. The show’s policy states that children ages eight and under are not permitted to attend the show.

The “International Gem & Jewelry Show” features an amazing exhibition of gems, minerals and jewelry. Dealers will be displaying and selling every type of gemstone, as well as one-of-a-kind jewelry creations, estate jewelry, special celebrity exhibits and accessories.

The show will have more than 150 dealer booths where show attendees can select items from a wide range of categories, including beads, rings, settings, watches, necklaces, diamonds, opals, earrings, silver, gold, crystals and pearls.

The hours for the show are noon-6 p.m. on March 25, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on March 26 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on March 27.

This weekend, the Expo Center will also host the “Mid Atlantic Indoor Nationals — Car, Truck and Bike Show.”

The Mid Atlantic Indoor Nationals (MAIN) is a custom car, truck and bike show featuring some of the east coasts best custom vehicles.

There will be more than 90 awards in categories ranging from “Weekend Drivers” to “Professional Show Vehicles.”

A variety of makes, models, and years will be on display.

Vendors, live entertainment, music and great food combine to make the event a weekend festival.

The show will run from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on March 26 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on March 27.

Admission is $20 for adults (ages 16 and older), $10 for children (ages 11-15) and free for children (10 and under).

Philadelphia Home Show

Whether you’re a handyman, a home improvement fanatic or just a tinkerer who likes working on small projects around the house, you should check out the 38th Annual Philadelphia Home Show. The event is running from March 25-27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch streets, Philadelphia, 215- 418-2003, www.phillyhomeshow.com).

The well-attended annual show features a large number of exhibits representing the home renovation and decorating industry. Showcased products and services include roofing, windows, flooring, decking, landscaping, spas, contractors, designers, water, swimming pools, doors, gutters security systems, cabinetry, entertainment systems, appliances, furniture, vacuums and more.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $3 for children (ages 6-12).

The 46th Annual Gap Fire Company Mud Sale & Auction will be held on March 25 and 26 at the Houston Run Complex (Brackbill Road and Houston Run Drive, Gap, http://www.gapfire.org).

The list of items that will be on the auction block includes antiques, nursery stock, lawn furniture, quilts, wall hangings, crafts, needlework, farm machinery and more.

Mud Sale

The Gap Fire Company’s annual spring “Mud Sale” auction will be held on the complex (which is a half-mile west of the fire company grounds) on March 25 — starting at 4:30 p.m. followed by crafts at 5 p.m. and shrubbery and flowers at 6:30 p.m.

The Saturday auctions will start at 8 a.m.
For shoppers who get hungry, there will be Chicken Bar-B-Q, homemade soft pretzels, ice cream, strawberry pie, baked goods and other homemade food items.

A colorful — and bizarre — group of people will be in Lancaster to attend Zenkaikon, which is running from May 25-27 at the Lancaster Marriott (Penn Square, Lancaster, https://zenkaikon.com)

The stated mission of Zenkaikon is to promote knowledge and enjoyment of Japanese art, animation, and culture as well as science fiction and fantasy literature and films of all origins.

Zenkaikon was created in 2006 when two Philadelphia-area events merged — Kosaikon, an anime convention held at Villanova University, and Zentrancon, an anime and science fiction convention held on the University of Pennsylvania campus. In 2006, Zenkaikon held its first event at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia.

The convention, which is one of the most colorful and diverse events on the Lancaster site’s annual calendar, will be a celebration Japanese animation (anime), comics (manga), and pop culture.

This year’s Zenkaikon features a wide variety of activities including anime and live action screenings, discussion panels, workshops, costume competitions, concerts by musical guests, game shows, video and table-top gaming, vendors and artists.

Some of the featured events at this weekend’s convention are Cosplay Masquerade, Anime Music Video Contest, Artemis, Artists Alley, Scavenger Hunt and autograph sessions. Other attractions are the “Dealers Room”, game shows, live action role playing, karaoke and an array of panels and workshops.

Tickets prices are $65 for “Three-day,” $55 for Saturday and Sunday combination and $25 for Sunday only.

The Annual Saint Patrick’s Parade in Conshohocken (www.facebook.com/Conshohocken-Saint-Patricks-Parade-578524232232395/) is scheduled for March 26 with a 2 p.m. start at 11th Avenue and Fayette streets. The parade moves along Fayette Street from 11th Avenue to Elm Street and will end in front of the Washington Fire Company.

The Saint Patrick’s Parade in Conshohocken is the only Saint Patrick’s Parade in Montgomery County. The original parade was started in Norristown in 1992 but switched over to Conshohocken in 2006.

The mile-long parade also features entertainment and live music – and special food items at restaurants and pubs lining the parade route.

March 20 was more than just the first day of spring, it marked the start the day of one of the area’s annual traditions – “Celebrate the First Day of Spring with Free Ice.”

That’s right – a day of free water ice at Rita’s.

On this special day each year, Rita’s (ritasice.com) is offering every guest who downloads the app a free Italian ice to celebrate arrival the arrival of spring – and the warm “water ice weather” it brings with it to the area.

One difference this year is that the offer isn’t limited to March 20. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you have until March 27 to claim your treat.

You only have a few days left – so, if you snooze, you lose.

Winter departed last weekend. This weekend, “Winter Wonder” will bid farewell.

Visitors to Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org) have a few more days to immerse themselves in a winter wonderland. And they can also enjoy special exhibits at the Orchid House.

Now through March 27, Longwood Gardens will celebrate a winter wonderland with a special attraction called “Winter Wonder.”

In the past, Longwood Gardens was always a great place to go from January to April to escape the harshness of winter. Guests could enjoy an amazing array of flowering plants inside the lush and nicely heated Conservatory.

That has stayed the same this year and “Winter Wonder” adds a new dimension.

Outdoors, winter’s subdued beauty illustrates how plants can be used for both aesthetic and habitat benefit. Visitors can stroll among the serene landscape of the Hillside Garden or reflect among a symphony of copper and umber hues in the 86-acre Meadow Garden.

Although subdued colors reign, the occasional burst of bright yellow and orange of blooming witch-hazel dots the landscape, while winter grasses add a textural element.

Even though winter is a time of dormancy for many plants, it is also a time when plants’ different characteristics are on display – characteristics such as bark patterns, seed pods and ornamental fruit.

Wintertime allows the clear details of the garden to come forward and highlights the harmony that a garden builds with its surrounding landscape. The clear light of winter enhances the finer details of the outdoor landscape, from deciduous trees holding onto their late winter leaves to the brown-toned structures of summer-flowering perennials set against a blue winter sky.

Indoors, there is always the Conservatory.

This winter, visitors can experience a warm, colorful oasis in Longwood’s grand Conservatory. Vibrant Streptocarpus ‘Concord Blue’ baskets float above, pink and purple Saintpaulia (African-violets) delight, and tall Clerodendrum schmidtii (chains-of-glory) stun.

From beds of coral Cymbidium to a dedicated area showcasing highlights from the site’s vast collection, guests will be able to find hundreds of orchids in spectacular bloom.

In early March, Longwood’s famed blue poppy (Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’) returns to the Conservatory. These spectacular flowers—which are native to the high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains— are grown using precise techniques to force the blue-poppies to flower in March. The substantial petals are a mesmerizing sky-blue color.

After a major restoration project, the Orchid House has reopened at Longwood Gardens.

The Orchid House, which has a history dating back more than a century, has come back to life with a brand-new glass roof and reimagined gallery-inspired space.

If you’ve been to Longwood Gardens before you’ve probably seen the historic Orchid House. But if you come to see it once it has reopened on February 26 as the first expression of “Longwood Reimagined,” it will be an experience like never before.

The Orchid House has been completely restored in the same way founder Pierre S. du Pont would have done it himself — with excellence.

The original concrete aggregate was matched so well that you’d never even know it wasn’t the original. The bronze window framing was cleaned, repaired, and replaced. The tunnels below the space were reworked and a brand-new floor poured.

The historic bronze cases, first added in 1929 and then restored in 1966 to display the orchid collection, have been returned to their original position at the north end of the house. Before they existed, there was a glass wall in their place, which has now been added to the top of the cases to create a vestibule on the north side of the house, creating the perfect transition from the Acacia Passage now, and the Waterlily Court and West Conservatory in the future.

The cases themselves have had all of their original pieces restored and are now double-sided. You’re now able to see orchids on both sides of the gates — from the main view inside the Orchid House, and from the vestibule. The same wrought iron gates that have always been there stand in the middle of the cases, yet they’ve been completely restored, and their intricate details, once hidden under layers of paint, are appreciable once more.

Brand new gravity rings now hold our orchids in place, allowing the plants to be admired as always, but with better functionality and structural integrity.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and college students, $18 for active military and $13 for youth.

Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org) is fully open and has a healthy special event on its calendar for this weekend.

On March 26 and 27, Winterthur will host an event called Take a Hike!”

The event, which allows participants to connect with the great outdoors, will start at 2:30 p.m. each day.

Hikers will be able to explore the site’s trails with Winterthur estate guides. Winterthur’s 1,000-acre estate features 25 miles of walking paths and trails and 10 miles of roads to discover. The walk is included with admission.

Another reason to take the short trip to Delaware this weekend is the Archmere Academy Mothers’ Guild Garage Sale.

This sale, which will be held on March 26 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at Archmere Academy (3600 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, Delaware, www.archmereacademy.com) is really the mother of all garage sales. It fills a large gymnasium and two auditoriums with thousands and thousands of top-quality items.

The Archmere Academy Garage Sale is a huge annual sale organized by the Mothers’ Guild and Fathers’ Club. The event has been held in March every year since 1973 with all the proceeds going right back into the classrooms and campus. Items for the sale are donated by the Archmere community throughout the year. Last year the Garage Sale netted over $50,000.

Visitors to the huge annual event at Joe Biden’s alma mater (he was a standout football player and led the Auks to an undefeated season in his senior year) will be able to shop for housewares, electronics, kids’ toys and baby gear, books, sports equipment, shoes, outdoor furniture, adult and kids’ clothes and shoes, holiday decorations and lots more.

Items for sale include flat-screen TV’s, ladies’ handbags, adult and kids’ bikes, jewelry (costume and genuine), garden equipment and tools, rugs, DVDs and video games, artwork and handcrafted items.

As an added attraction, the “leftovers” from the sale are donated to numerous worthy charities including Habitat for Humanity ReStore, St. Patrick’s Center, Delaware Humane Association and Goodwill of Southeast Pennsylvania.

There will also be a variety of hot and cold food items and home-baked goods for sale. Admission to the event is free.

There is another good “Delaware destination” this weekend.

This Saturday and every Saturday during the winter, the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard (1124 East Seventh Street, Wilmington, Delaware, www.kalmarrnyckel.org) is hosting “Winter Ship Tours” of the Kalmar Nyckel.

Kalmar Nyckel deck tours are open during the winter “maintenance season” on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The $10 admission includes a self-guided tour of the Copeland Maritime Center.

Ship tours will cancel for inclement weather and safety issues due to heavy maintenance work.

The ship is a beautiful recreation of the original Kalmar Nyckel, which was built in Holland in the 1620s. Her mainmast is taller than a 10-story building, and she carries 7,600 square feet of sail area and six miles of rigging.

The original Kalmar Nyckel was a Swedish-owned, three-masted armed pinnace that sailed from Goteborg, Sweden in November of 1637 and brought the first permanent European settlers to the Delaware Valley.

In 1986 a group of citizens established the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation to design, build and launch a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel at a shipyard adjacent to the original landing site.

The new Kalmar Nyckel was constructed there and was launched on September 28, 1997. She was commissioned on May 9, 1998, and now serves as Delaware’s sea-going Ambassador of Good Will. She is a fully functional sail training vessel and has represented Delaware all over the country.

If you have kids who are ready to check out of winter mode and move into spring and/or outdoor activities, there are several good options.

This weekend will be your first opportunity to check out “Elmo’s Eggstravaganza Easter Celebration” at Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com). The popular annual event is happening every weekend through April 18.

Special attractions include “Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt,” which is an interactive scavenger hunt for six giant Easter Eggs hidden throughout the park; “Furry Friends Bunny Hop Dance Party,” where kids can jump, bounce and hop along with their Sesame Street friends; and “Sesame Street Party Parade,” which is an energetic neighborhood block party on iconic Sesame Street with Elmo, Count Von Count, Bert, Ernie, Abby Cadabby, Zoe, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Big Bird, and Telly.

There is the “Easter Bunny Picture Patch” where kids can meet and take photos with the Easter Bunny. Once visitors pass through the Easter Bunny’s Art Studio, they’ll enter a delightful Carrot Patch where they will be greeted by Peter Cottontail himself.

Dine with Easter Bunny” is also very popular — a special Easter Dine with Elmo, Abby, and the Easter Bunny. Guests can enjoy a delicious buffet meal, photo opportunities with favorite Sesame Street friends, and a special Easter story time.

Another special attraction is “Magic of Art.” Abby Cadabby is preparing for Sesame Street’s big Art Show but isn’t quite sure what to create. With help from her friends Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover and Telly she learns that art comes in all shapes and sizes! From paintings to stories and even sculptures, Abby’s friends inspire her to use her imagination to create her own magical masterpiece.

The park will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays now through April 3 and then daily beginning April 8.

Admission tickets start at $39.99.

If you’re looking for a fun family activity – an indoor activity unaffected by the weather — Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com) has something just for you — the miniature golf course “Fore! the Planet.”

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 first hole is “Butterfly Life Cycle” and players must putt through each stage of the colorful insect’s metamorphosis. The next five holes are titled “Seed Dispersal,” “Bat Sonar,” “Food Chain,” “Evolution of a Golfer” and “Backyard Explorer” followed by “Natural Selection” and “Predators and Prey.”

On the “Dinosaur Extinction” hole, players get to hit their balls toward the scientific theory of dinosaur extinction they find most plausible. The remainder of the thought-provoking holes are “Recycling,” “Water Pollution,” “Landfills,” “Wild Corridors,” “Bird Migration,” “Spawning Salmon,” “Alien Species,” “Population Threats” and “Rainforest Threats.”

The mini-course is open daily from 9 a.m. through March 27. Tickets are $7.

Wonderspaces at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com) is an experiential, interactive arts venue.

Building on the success of annual pop-up shows in San Diego, and its first permanent location in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wonderspaces opened a 24,000 square foot gallery space in Philly a year ago.

Wonderspaces features 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective. The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.

New artworks rotate in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show.

Tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours. The average time spent experiencing the show is 90 minutes.

A few installations contain flashing lights, images, and patterns that may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. All visitors must sign a waiver prior to being admitted into the space. Adult supervision is required for visitors under 16.

The installation is open from noon-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, teachers, healthcare workers, students and active military, and $15 for children (ages 3-12).

The Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, www.chaddsford.com) will host Cheese & Wine Reserve Tastings every Saturday and Sunday in March.

Visitors can enjoy stops at stations featuring locally crafted artisan cheeses from Birchrun Hills Farm carefully paired with the winery’s award-winning wines. 

The pairing lineup is Greeting Cocktail: Chaddsford White Gin Smash, 2019 Sparkling White with Lil Chardy and Apple Jam, 2019 Traminette with Sea Salt and Honey Spread, 2019 Merlot with Equinox and Niagara with Birchrun Blue.

Sessions will be offered throughout the day at noon, 2 and 4 p.m.  During the session, Chaddsford Winery staff will lead guests through an educational pairing while providing interesting facts about the featured wines and cheese.

Advanced tickets are $35 per person, and space is limited. Advanced reservations are required and are non-refundable.

Guests under 21 years old are not permitted to attend a Reserve Tasting. Outside food is not permitted during this program.

The “Wine and Cupcake Pairings” at Penns Wood Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, http://www.pennswoodsevents.com) will host a “Wine & Cupcake Pairing” on March 26 and 27.

It will mark the 10th Annual Wine & Cupcake pairing and will be held each weekend in March.

This pairing includes a tasting of four premium wines paired perfectly with four delicious cupcakes from Dia Doce.

Tickets are $36 and reservations are required.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running a special train on Friday and Saturdays in March – the “Wine & Cheese Train.”

Passengers can enjoy the luxurious, climate-controlled first-class accommodations and a tasting of select wine, cheese, and crackers as they travel in style down the tracks from Strasburg to Paradise and back. The train departs at 6 p.m. and the total trip time is 45 minutes.

“Wine & Cheese Train” boarding is 30 minutes before the scheduled departure. Riders must be 21 or older and have their photo ID ready when they board.

Featured wines are carefully selected from Waltz Vineyards, and cheeses are paired accordingly. Beer and select non-alcoholic beverages are also available for purchase upon request. Riders can purchase a souvenir wine glass on board the train if desired. Glasses are $7 each.

In accordance with Pennsylvania law, alcohol is only served during the train ride. We are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages while the train is berthed in the station.

This popular train is available on select Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the season. Tickets are $50.

On March 26, Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-228-8200, www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org) will present “Sacred Spaces and Storied Places” at 1 p.m.

The expansion of Fairmount Park in the 1860s prevented further growth of Laurel Hill, and in 1869 West Laurel Hill was established just across the river in Bala Cynwyd. This walking tour provides a wonderful overview of West Laurel Hill’s long and colorful history, including its architectural artistry, stunning trees and horticulture, and the stories of residents that encompass diverse and fascinating Philadelphia history.

“Sacred Spaces and Storied Places” is the perfect introductory tour for anyone who wants to learn all that West Laurel Hill Cemetery has to offer. Experienced tour guides offer visitors a unique perspective and every Sacred Spaces tour is different.

The tour guide for this event is Pat Rose.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are: $12/General Admission, $10/Seniors (65 & up) and Students with ID, $6/Youth (6-12), and $0/Child (5 & Under). Youth and children must be accompanied by an adult.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (215-413-1997, www.ghosttour.com), Ghost Tour of Lancaster (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) and Ghost Tour of Strasburg (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) operate throughout the winter and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses.

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, which is based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Philadelphia, PA.,” is a candlelight walking tour along the back streets and secret gardens of Independence Park, Society Hill, and Old City, where ghostly spirits, haunted houses, and eerie graveyards abound.

Participants can discover the ghost lore of America’s most historic and most haunted city with stories from the founding of William Penn’s colony to present-day hauntings.

The activity is open year-round – weekends, December-February; every night, March-November. Tickets are $24.

The Ghost Tour of Lancaster and the Ghost Tour of Strasburg are based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Lancaster, PA.”

Participants in the Ghost Tour of Lancaster explore the long-forgotten mysteries of one of America’s oldest cities, with haunting tales of otherworldly vigils, fatal curses, and star-crossed lovers. The tour provides the opportunity to experience 300 years of haunted history from the Red Rose City’s thorny past. Tickets are $18.

The Ghost Tour of Strasburg is a candlelight walking tour of the quaint and historic town of Strasburg in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Visitors will experience an entertaining evening with a costumed tour guide spinning tales of haunted mansions, eerie graveyards, and spirits that roam the night … in a town lost in time. Tickets are $18.

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