What To Do: Chester County Balloon Festival

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By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


Balloons will once again fill the skies of Chester County, during the annual Balloon Festival this weekend.

If seeing hot air balloons — all shapes and sizes of hot air balloons — filling the skies over your head sounds like something you’d enjoy, then you should plan on attending this weekend’s 10th Annual Chester County Balloon Festival (New Garden Flying Field, 1235 Newark Road just off Highway 1, Toughkenamon, 610-268-2619, http://ccballoonfest.com) which runs from June24-26.

It’s an awesome sight when a huge balloon floats untethered through the air. Watching one balloon floating above you is a lot of fun. Watching more than 20 huge, multi-colored balloons filling the airspace over your head is a thrilling experience.

Activity at the Balloon Festival begins on June 24 with plane rides all day on either a PT-19 or a Cessna 172 and gates opening to the public at 4 p.m. Festivities include a “Hops & Grapes Wine and Beer Garden,” “Be A Diver — Learn to Dive,” “Future Aviators Kid Zone,” Monster Truck rides, a remote control plane demo and candy drop, a “Balloon Launch” (6:30 p.m.) and a “Balloon Glow” (8:30 p.m.).

 During the glow, balloons inflate at dusk, remain tethered, and light their burners in a synchronized fashion. Live music, which starts at 6 p.m., will be provided by Half Past Seven.

There will be a similar schedule for June 25 and 26 with the addition of a Balloon Launch at 5:30 a.m., a “Walk Through Balloon” starting at noon, helicopter rides, tethered balloon rides starting at 3 p.m. and a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. (Saturday only — rain date, Sunday).

On June 26, there will also be a “Fire Truck Parade” at 12:30 p.m. and “Fireman Rescue Demos” at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Music acts will be Half Past Seven both Saturday and Sunday and Kelsey Coan on Sunday.

The festival will also feature craft and food vendors and a children’s area featuring kid-friendly attractions.

Admission to the festival is $15 for adults and $5 for children (ages 6-12). Attendees can purchase tickets for hot air balloon rides, tethered balloon rides, and helicopter rides for an additional fee.

Most area residents are familiar with Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-100, www.longwoodgardens.org) and much of what it has to offer. But, there are always new events to check out at the popular site.

longwood meet in meadow

Longwood Gardens hosts “Meet Us in the Meadow Day” Saturday.

On June 25, Longwood Gardens will host an event called “Meet Us in the Meadow Day” — an event that will focus on the importance of pollinators during National Pollinator Week.

“A Pollination Celebration” will run from 4-8 p.m. with the intention of causing visitors to get inspired to add native plants to their gardens, learn about insect pollinators, and enjoy family-friendly nature activities.

Special events will include the Million Pollinator Station at Peirce-du Pont House Plaza, where experts will showcase many different native plants that attract pollinators; Meadow Ecology Walks, where guests can discover the Meadow Garden through the eyes of Longwood horticulturists; Meadow Ecology Bird Hikes starting at Peirce-du Pont House Plaza and live bluegrass music by local musician Marc Silver.

Visitors will be able to reister their own pollinator gardens throughout the day, as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. The challenge was launched by the National Pollinator Garden Network to support the federal “Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”

To be considered a pollinator garden, a garden should use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources, provide a water source, be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks, create large “pollinator targets” of native or noninvasive plants, establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season and eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

Other activities include “What’s the Buzz?,” “Native Plant Giveaway,” “Habitat Haiku,” “Kids Corner,” “Building Bluebird Habitat,” and “Meadow and Webb Farmhouse History Talks.”

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $10 for students (ages 5-18).

chesco brew festFor many people, one of the best things about summertime is enjoying cold, tasty beer — at indoor activities, outdoor parties or just about anywhere. Tasty beer is a focal point of the Fifth Annual Chester County Homebrew Festival (http://chestercountybrewfest.com) which will be held on June 25 from 6-10 p.m.

The popular seasonal event is returning to the new home it found last year — the American Helicopter Museum (1220 American Boulevard, West Chester).

Many home brewers will be onsite to offer samples of their latest brews to attendees for them to judge. Official judges will make the decision on which home brewer wins the “Best of Show” prize. Winning brewers receive awards at the end of the evening.

Participating brewers are Between the Brandywines Brewery, Coventry Forge Brewery, Front Porch Brew, Telegraph Road Brewing, Grove Brewing Company, Tim & Shireen, Kool Kat Brewing, Landlocked Brewing, Lock and Key, Nate Tolvaisa and Brian Lisowski, Pierce Brewing Company, Tracy and Monty Leach, Sturgeon Smith and Taylwind Brewing.

Live music will be provided by Subterranean Groove Theory.

Tickets, which are $35 apiece, include a buffet-style dinner, live music by Subterranean Groove Theory, a souvenir event glass and “voting chips” for the People’s Choice Award.

downingtown summer jamDowningtown’s 2016 Summer Jam Series (Mill Alley, Downingtown, 610-269-1523, http://www.downingtownmainstreet.com/calendar) gets underway on June 24 with live music and an array of food vendors, music acts and lots of food.

The Summer Jams, which are sponsored by the Downingtown Main Street Association and Kimberton Whole Foods will be held on June 24, July 29 and August 26 from 5-9 p.m. each night.

On June 24, live entertainment will be provided by Patty McCabe, Tom Wagner, Neil Tapp and Comon Threads. Food vendors will be The Happy Pita, Mompops Artisan Popsicles, Love Chunk Cookies, Baba’s Brew Kombucha and Station Taproom.

You still have a chance to enjoy a local family festival with an old-time feel — but you can’t dally. It’s almost “Closing Day.”

On June 24 and 25, it will be festival time in Downingtown when Saint Joseph Church (338 Manor Avenue, Downingtown, 610-269-8294, www.stjoesfestival.com) stages its annual “Community Festival.”

The event will feature all the traditional things associated with a summer festival — including exciting rides and amusement games. There will also be food concessions with all the standard festival fare — cotton candy, ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, corn dogs, soft pretzels and cheese fries along with mozzarella sticks, tomato pie and hot roast beef sandwiches.

There will be live music tonight and tomorrow with Mystery Guest on June 24 and Danielle & Jennifer on June 25. A gala fireworks show is slated for June 24. Festival hours are 6-10 p.m. June 21-23 and 6-11 p.m. on June 24 and 25.

Canal-Day-PosterThe Schuylkill Canal Association’s Canal Day has evolved into one of the area’s traditional early summer events — an event that is always staged on the last Sunday in June. Mont Clare, which is located just across the Schuylkill River from Phoenixville, will be hosting its 34th Annual Canal Day on June 26.

Canal Day will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Lock 60 and in St. Michael’s Park (Mont Clare, 610-917-0021, http://www.schuylkillcanal.org). The one-day festival, which requests a $5 donation as admission fee, will also feature the 29th Annual Schuylkill River Trail Run and the 18th Annual Canal Joust.

All the traditional events will be happening again this year.

In addition to the trail run and the joust, the festival will have a “Canoe & Kayak Races,” food vendors, kids’ games and crafts, “Canal Stories and Songs,” bingo, a kids’ fishing derby, historic  re-enactors and music from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. featuring DJ Tom Stoked, Chestnut Grove and Tom & Jimmy Show.

There will also be lock openings throughout the day. Visitors can listen to the Locktender’s presentation, learn about life on the canal and watch the opening of the only working lock on the Schuylkill River.

Dinosaurs are unearthed at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Dinosaurs are unearthed at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

The Academy of Natural Sciences (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 215- 299-1000, www.ansp.org) has been at the forefront of American museums featuring spectacular exhibits on dinosaurs for more than a century.

The museum is keeping its tradition as a trailblazer going with a brand new exhibit that opens this weekend. “Dinosaurs Unearthed” will run from June 25, 2016 through January 16, 2017.

In this highly entertaining exhibit, visitors don’t get to just see displays of dinosaurs — they get to see the prehistoric creatures move their heads and tales and let out with mighty roars.

“Dinosaurs Unearthed” features life-like roaring, moving dinosaurs in naturalistic settings that take visitors on a trip back in time to when dinosaurs ruled the earth. State-of-the-art and scientifically accurate, this engaging exhibit features wide array of realistic, full-bodied animatronic dinosaurs.

It showcases towering skeletons, amazing skulls, claws and horns, real mosasaur and Spinosaurus teeth, a real Oviraptor egg, and the display that is kids’ favorite — coprolite (dinosaur poop).

Visitor participation is encouraged through touch stations that feature dinosaur sounds, digestion, anatomy, skin and bones, and predator-prey relationships. They can control the movements of Yangchuanosaurus and Protoceratops — making them roar and thrash on command, swing their powerful tails, turn their bulging necks, strike with their forearms, and even blink their menacing eyes.

Custom-designed and handcrafted by paleo-artists, each of the animatronic dinosaurs and fossil replicas present a stunning representation of the best available knowledge. A team of science and design experts has ensured that the exhibit is both visually impressive and interactive.

The exhibit kicks off “Dino-mite Summer,” a series of special programming from July 5 through September 2, featuring some of the Academy’s most popular attractions. Tours of Dinosaur Hall will be given every Friday at 2 p.m. and every Saturday at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Visitors can meet a live dinosaur relative up close every Monday at 2:30 p.m. and a wide variety of reptiles all day every Tuesday and Sunday. LEGO lovers unite to build dino-inspired creations every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition, for the opening weekend only, the Academy will display a huge hand claw, lower jaw and teeth of Dryptosaurus, a local dinosaur closely related to and alive at the same time as Tyrannosaurus rex (about 67 million years ago). The carnivore was discovered in 1866 in Gloucester County, N.J.

Admission to the Academy of Natural Sciences is 24.95 for adults, $21.95 for students/seniors/military, and $20.95 for children.

WAI_Logo1Wawa Welcome America (http://www.welcomeamerica.com) is an eight-day festival of free events in Philadelphia in celebration of America’s birthday — a festival that culminates with an abundance of festivities on Independence Day.

This year’s event starts on June 27 with “Free Museum Day – Ben Franklin Museum” (317 Chestnut Street), “Our Flag Unfurled Mural Dedication” at 2 p.m. at Our Flag Unfurled Mural (500 North Columbus Blvd.), “Go 4th & Learn about Science Behind Pixar” at 7 p.m. at Franklin Square (200 Sixth Street) and “Philly @ the Movies: Finding Nemo at Franklin Square” at 8:30 p.m. at Franklin Square.

The schedule for June 28 features “Free Museum Day – Museum Without Walls,” “Philly @ the Movies: The Good Dinosaur at XFINITY Live!” (1100 Pattison Avenue) at 5 p.m. and “Philly @The Movies: The Legend of Tarzan Advance Screening” at 7:30 p.m. at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (300 South Broad Street).

Special activities slated for June 29 are “Go 4th & Workout Like Rocky” at 6:25 a.m. on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway), “Free Museum Day – Rodin Museum” (21st Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway), and “Go 4th & Read: Citywide Reading at ALL Free Libraries” from 2-4 p.m.

The schedule for June 30 includes “Free Museum Day – National Constitution Center” (525 Arch Street), “Philadelphia International Airport Special Exhibition” at 10 a.m. at Philadelphia Airport Terminal A – East, “Wawa Hoagie Day” at noon at Independence Mall, “Go 4th & Learn About Music and Culture” at 5 p.m. at Mummers Museum (1100 South Second Street), “Philly @ The Movies: Creed” at 7 p.m. at Tuslin Recreation Center (5901 West Columbia Avenue),

 “Summer Mummer Concert” at 8 p.m. at Mummers Museum and “Philly @ the Movies: National Treasure at Penn’s Landing” at 9 p.m.

The main events of the festival will take place on the Fourth of July Weekend from July 1-4 with a variety of live concerts, family activities and fireworks displays.

Another popular annual Philadelphia event this weekend will be held in Manayunk.

manayunk arts festivalOn June 25 and 26, the streets will come alive with the 27th Annual Manayunk Arts Festival (Main Street, Manayunk, 215-482-9565, www.manayunk.com). Main Street, which is Manayunk’s primary thoroughfare, will be closed to vehicular traffic and open only for pedestrians.

Billed as “the largest outdoor arts and crafts show in the Delaware Valley”, the Manayunk Arts Festival is a juried show that features more than 300 artists from across the entire country and approximately 200,000 collectors, buyers, and designers.

In addition to artists with oil and watercolor paintings, there will also be artisans who work in fiber, wood ceramics, jewelry, photography, mixed media and sculpture. The festival will also feature special children’s activities. Additionally, most of the restaurants and retail shops will be open with extended hours during the festival.

The free festival will run from 11 a.m.7 p.m. on June 25 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on June 26.

Even though summer has just arrived, the American Swedish Historical Museum (1900 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-389-1776,www.americanswedish.org) is celebrating an event known as Midsommarfest (mid-summer fest) on June 25.

In Sweden, Christmas is the most important holiday. Midsommar is the second most important holiday in the Swedish calendar. The midsummer party involves flowers in your hair, dancing around a pole, singing songs while drinking unsweetened, flavored schnapps and eating a lot of pickled herring.

The American Swedish Historical Museum’s Midsommarfest, which runs from 4-7:30 p.m. on June 25, features food, drinks, home-made Swedish pastries, live music and maypole dancing, along with crafts and games for the kids.

Tickets for Midsommarfest, which are available at the door, are $10 for adults and $4 for children (ages 4-12).

A colonial vibe will be happening on June 25 at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation (Ridley Creek State Park off Route 3, Media, 510-566-1725, www.colonialplantation.org). On June 25, the historic site just outside Media will host its annual “French and Indian Skirmish.”

In 1758, a party of six Shawnee Indians and four Frenchmen attacked the homestead of the Jemison family on Marsh Creek, near modern-day Chambersburg. That was the start of something – something that was not so good.

In colonial Pennsylvania between 1754 and 1764, there was a conflict generally referred to the “Seven Years’ War” but was also known as the “Old French War” or the “French and Indian War”.

The plantation will serve as a backdrop for scenes from the French and Indian War.  Visitors will be able to watch the Rodger’s Rangers as they discover a French raiding party and then witness the skirmish that follows. Guests will also be able to visit the French and British campsites and talk to the soldiers.

There will also be cooking, woodworking and other everyday activities of the colonial time period. Refreshments and souvenirs may be purchased at the event. Activities will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with skirmishes scheduled for 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children (ages 4-12).

This weekend, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Avenue, Oaks, 484-754-3976, http://toomanygames.com) will present the “Too Many Games Expo.” The festival, which runs now through June 26, is targeted for anyone interested gaming — from Magic the Gathering and Pokemon card competitions to the vast world of video game consoles.

There will be all types of video gaming tournaments including Mario Kart 8, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros, Warlords and Pokémon Oras. Additionally, there will be a “Super Smash Bros SMASH-tacular Tournament” on Saturday.

There will also be live music all three days. Some of the featured acts will be DJ Cutman, Mega Ran, Descendants of Erdrick, Those Who Fight and The Living Tombstone. Visitors to the event are encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters for a chance to win prizes and to get their outfit on a Cartoon Network commercial.

Tickets are $20 on Friday and Sunday and $30 on Saturday.

The New Castle County Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park (4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-690-5555, www.rockwoodicecream.com) is one of northern Delaware’s oldest — and most popular — summertime outdoor events.

The festival will be held at historic Rockwood Park on June 25 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and June 26 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

This weekend’s event will feature cool taste treats produced by 10 regional ice-cream vendors and restaurants — Bassett’s Ice Cream, Battiato Farms Strawberry Milkshakes, Caffe Gelato, HyPoint Farms, Little Baby’s (with lactose-free and vegan treats), Nellie’s Waffles and Ice Cream, Sweet Lucy’s, The Ice Cream Shoppe, Thyme to Eat and UDairy Creamery.

A “Best Sundae on Sunday” competition features their creativity, and the winner gets the Executive’s Bowl and free entry to the 2017 festival. The contestants will sell their sundaes for $5 or $6.

Festival food will include hamburgers, ribs, cheesesteaks, vegetarian dishes, water ice, ethnic food items, beer and wine.

Participating food vendors will be Fat Rick’s BBQ & Catering, First State Catering, Food for Thought Catering, Hai Street Kitchen, Home Grown Cafe, I Don’t Give a Fork,  Brady’s Surf and Turf, Caffe Gelato, Delaware Provision Co., Pizzeria Pronto by Cafe Riviera, The Polish Connection, Famous Sgt. Balan Smoked BBQ & Grill, International Grill, Kono Pizza, Maison Crepes, PBandJ, Pineapple Catering, Ulysses Gastropub and Zaikka Indian Grill.

The roster of live music acts includes Diamond State Orchestra, Kitty Mayo and the Empresses Band, the Blues Reincarnation Project , That Performance Place, The Year End, Weekday Warriors, New Shields, Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo, Venom Blues, Hoochi Coochi, the Sarah Koons Band and the 55s.

The children’s stage will feature Nature Jams, Kool Beans Frozen Singalong, the Brandywiners, the Sue Thomas Movement, a “Frozen” singalong, a drumline presentation, Reece Ratliff, a magic show, Le Petit Yogi, We Kids Rock, Hanna Paige, and Miss Delaware.

The Children’s Zone will feature robotics demonstrations, live animals, trapeze artists, a stilt walker, face painting, activities and games. Members of the Philadelphia Union will provide an inflatable field and goal for kids to practice soccer skills, and team members will do a meet-and-greet.

Main Street Rockwood will feature more than 50 artisans, nonprofits, retailers and businesses. Limited parts of the mansion will be open for free tours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Friendly dogs on leashes are welcome at the festival and on the shuttle buses.

Tickets for the festival are $5 for adults with children (under 12) admitted free.

Years from now, you’ll be able to look back and say “I was there when the very first Delaware Taco Festival was held” — but only if you attend this weekend’s First Annual Delaware Taco Festival.

The Taco Festival will be held at the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ Frawley Stadium (801 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, http://www.delawaretacofest.com) on June 25 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The event will feature more than 30 taco and food vendors along with a “Margarita Bar,” a Tequila sampling tent, a chili pepper eating contest, a giant nacho bar, Mariachi bands, face painters, carnival rides and games, a mechanical bull, and other live entertainment.

Silver tickets, which are $40, include six full-size signature tacos or vendor sample, one free beverage, a grab bag with over $100 in coupons and gift certificates, access to hot chili pepper contest and live entertainment and unlimited $2 tacos.

Gold tickets, which are $60, include one-hour VIP early admission, free t-shirt, eight full-size signature tacos or vendor samples, one free beverage, a grab bag with over $100 in coupons and gift certificates, access to hot chili pepper contest and live entertainment and unlimited $2 tacos.

On June 24 and 25, Rodney Square in the center of Wilmington will host the 28th Annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival (11th and Market streets, Wilmington, 302-576-3095, www.cliffordbrownjazzfest.com).

The concert on June 24, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m., will feature Nadjah Nicole, Aniyajazz and Andra Day. On June 25, the music starts at 1 p.m. with Robert Glasper. The Saul Rubin Trio will be the second act followed by Valery Ponomarev, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Euge Groove and Kim Waters.

Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn seating for the free concerts.

One of the area’s nicest summertime family events is Camphill Kimberton’s Hootenanny, a popular festival of local music and food. The event will be held on June 27 from 3-9 p.m. at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills (1601 Pughtown Road, Kimberton, 610-935-0300, www.camphillkimberton.org).

The roster of musicians for this year’s Hootenanny features The Living Roots Trio, Firefly Gals, Meadowlark, Charlie Frey & the Blue Plate Specials, The Beaver Boys and Camphill Kimberton’s own musicians (Kai, Mirjam, Dan, Tanvi, Jules, Maria).

The Hootenanny has been organized to celebrate the joy of local culture. In addition to the music, there will be family games, face painting, dancing and hayrides.

Admission is $10 for adults and free for children (ages 10 and under).Proceeds from the Hootenanny will go to Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, which is a farming and handcrafting community founded in 1972 that includes adults with developmental disabilities.

 “Celebrate Lancaster” (717-291-4758, http://www.visitlancastercity.com), which will be held on June 24 in downtown Lancaster, is designed to display the culture and diversity of Lancaster and the people who live and work here.

Attendance has grown to close to 15,000 in recent years for the festival — an event that offers local food, local wine and beer, entertainment, fireworks, and a festive atmosphere in downtown Lancaster.

There will be local and regional entertainment at both Penn Square and at Binns Park along with more than 20 food venders set up along North Queen Street. Two beer and wine pub areas will also be set up at Penn Square and Binns Park.

The event gets underway at 11:30 am. Live music begins at 5 p.m. and the fireworks finale from top of the Duke Street Parking Garage is scheduled to light up the sky at 10 p.m.

This weekend, the Mount Hope Estate & Winery (Route 72, Cornwall, 717-665-7021, www.PaRenFaire.com) will host the 18th Annual International Celtic Fling and Highland Games at the winery’s fairgrounds in Cornwall.

The event runs from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on June 25 and 26 with tickets priced at $26.95 for adults and $10.95 for children (ages 5-11). The Celtic Fling will also feature a special Celtic concert with Seamus Kennedy, The Town Pants, Screaming Orphans and Seven Nations on June 24 at 4:30 p.m. with tickets listed at $26.95.

The festival, which celebrates traditional and contemporary Celtic heritage, features the music, food and culture of all the Celtic nations — Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Bretons, Galecians/Asturians and, of course, Irish and Scottish.

Attractions this year include more than 50 musical performances, competitions and demonstrations, a full slate of live entertainment and the Ceilidh (grand finale of music and dance).

The competitive Highland Games focus on traditional competition events such as “Tossing the Caber”, “Weight for Distance”, “Hammer Throw” and “Putting the Stone”. There will also Irish dance competitions.

For the thirsty and the hungry, there will be more than 20 feast kitchens featuring a culinary tour of the Celtic Nations with traditional items. Some of the Celtic delicacies available for purchase at this weekend’s festival will be Highland Honey Mead, Scotch Eggs, Tiger Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Haggis, Cottage Pie, Irish Potato & Leek Soup, Boxty and Corned Beef and Smoked Cabbage.

In addition to the 100-plus resident Renaissance Faire shops, there will be booths presented by more than 50 guest artisans and merchants with a wide array of unique items from imported Irish wools and Scottish tartans to Celtic souvenirs.

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