What To Do: Despite event cancellations, there are options to get out of the house

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation

The tight restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been eased somewhat by the Governors of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

There has been a steady re-opening of attractions such as amusement parks, zoos, movie theaters and parks –local, state, and national.

So, if your cabin fever has reached a breaking point, cheer up because there are places to visit.

But there has been very little resumption of activities.

On the weekend before Labor Day Weekend last year, there were plenty of events filling the entertainment calendar including Citadel Country Spirit USA – a country music festival in Glenmoore featuring acts such as Alabama, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley and Cassadee Pope.

This year’s edition of the festival was cancelled months ago.

In 2019, this weekend’s calendar featured such events as West Chester Railroad’s special train excursion “Soldiers and Trains,” “Bugs and Butterflies” at Tyler Arboretum, a Butterfly Festival at Colonial Gardens, and Greenberg’s Train & Toy Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

There were food and drink events such as Chaddsford Winery’s “Mexican Fiesta Weekend,” the Eighth Annual Delaware Burger Battle, Fonthill Castle’s Fifth Annual Beer Fest, the “Pennsylvania State Championship BBQ Cook-Off” at the 20th Annual New Holland Summer Fest, and the Seventh Annual Lancaster Craft Beerfest.

They all have been erased from this year’s calendar.

“The Great Allentown Fair” is not being held for the first time since it began in 1852. According to the fair’s website — The Allentown Fair in its rich 168-year history has weathered some turbulent times. We look forward to coming back together in 2021 with a greater appreciation of community, agriculture, and celebration. The 2021 fair dates are August 31-September 6.

The 29th annual Ukrainian Folk Festival at the Tryzub Ukrainian American Sport Center in Horsham has been postponed from this weekend to June 20, 2021.

Longevity was the trademark of area Labor Day events.

This year would have welcomed the 113th Arden Town Fair in Arden, Delaware; the 56th Annual Duryea Day in Boyertown; the 49th Annual Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival in Woodstown, New Jersey; the 148th Annual Cannstatter Volksfest in Philadelphia; the 55th Annual Polish Festival in Doylestown, the 42nd Annual Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival in Lancaster; and the 33rd Annual Heart of Lancaster County Arts and Crafts Show.

Other long-time traditions also have been shelved for 2020 including Chaddsford Winery’s “Labor Day Jazz Festival,” “Splatterfest 9” at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville and Ninth Annual “Made in America” Festival in Philadelphia.

But, dwelling on the “could have been” serves no purpose. It is better to look at “what still is.”

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation (3900 North Sandy Flash Drive, Newtown Square, www.colonialplantation.org) is welcoming visitors again.

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation is an authentic living history site with the purpose of enhancing understanding of 1760-90 farm life in Southeastern Pennsylvania by providing high quality, research based experiences to the public.

The 112 acres of the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation provide the context of early American history, the setting where the impact of King George’s taxes was felt, the American melting pot began to simmer, and American ingenuity took root.

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation represents an average Pennsylvania farm, rather than interpreting any specific individuals. This gives us the ability to discuss 18th century farm life from a variety of perspectives–the family dynamic, the women, the indigenous population, the indentured servants and the enslaved men and women that lived and worked in colonial Pennsylvania. To do this, we rely on religious and tax records, wills, letters, diaries, and archeological material to frame a way of life that existed in the mid-to-late 1700s.

On August 29, the Plantation will present “Spirits at Sunset.”

With its first structures built in the 1690s, the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation is host to a number of possible hauntings. “Spirits at Sunset” offers visitors (ages 13+) the opportunity to use ghost hunting equipment to explore four of the Plantation’s oldest and most storied buildings, while the entire experience is tracked using live night vision monitors. Groups will rotate between four locations on the site both indoors and out.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, food and beverages will not be served as in prior years. We are also limiting group sizes to 4-5 participants. Masks must be worn at all times both indoors and outdoors (no gaiters or bandanas please; only close-fitting cloth or disposable masks permitted.)

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Plantation staff will give guests a historical overview of the site to better prepare them for their investigation. The investigation will begin at 7 p.m.

This event will be held rain or shine, and tickets are non-refundable. Proceeds from this event directly support the ongoing preservation and programming of the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation. Terrain can be uneven–please plan to wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight. Guests will be going up and down stairs and should be able to stand for long periods of time and walk over uneven surfaces.

Tickets are $25.

Hagley Museum and Library

Hagley Museum and Library (Buck Road East entrance via Route 100, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org) is open to the public and has a special event scheduled for this weekend.

There will be a “Cannon Firing Demonstration” on August 30 at 1, 2, and 3 p.m. in the Machine Shop area.

The family-oriented event is fun, loud, exciting and educational.

Cannon firings in the Hagley Powder Yards demonstrate how black powder was made and used.

The demonstrations, which take place next to the Millwright Shop, are included with site admission tickets — Adults: $9; Children: $5.

There will be three other dates for cannon firings at Hagley this year — September 27, October 25 and November 11.

Visitors to Hagley will be able to see the beauty of Hagley’s Powder Yard along the Brandywine (outside areas only), explore Hagley’s Powder Yard Trail Experience (outside areas only) and see the grounds of the Eleutherian Mills Residence and the E. I. du Pont Garden (outside areas only).

The Library is not currently open to the public nor is Caffé Hagley. The Hagley Museum Store is open as are the restrooms at the Visitor Center and Millwright Shop.

The following COVID-19 message is posted on the museum’s website —

The well-being of our guests and employees is our top priority. To that end, we are doing the following:

Limiting daily capacity and hours of entry to Hagley

Ensuring employees are informed and following CDC & OSHA guidelines for working during COVID-19

Requiring personal protection equipment for our employees in guest areas

Continuing to align our cleaning procedures with the latest guidance from the CDC, and implementing them with increased frequency

Providing hand sanitizer stations at convenient locations for guest and employee use

Providing clear and frequent reminders to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene via signage throughout the property

Monitoring guest areas to encourage social distancing and reduce group gatherings in accordance with government mandates

Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin (Fort Mifflin and Hog Island roads, Philadelphia, 215-685-4167, www.fortmifflin.us) has re-opened – but also with some restrictions.

Fort Mifflin’s outdoor space is open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., weather permitting. Visitors can explore 40 acres of history and nature including a beach along the Delaware River and a nature trail through the High Battery.

Fort Mifflin, which was originally called Fort Island Battery, was commissioned in 1771. It was also known as Mud Island Fort because it sits on Mud Island (also known as Deep Water Island) on the Delaware River near the Philadelphia International Airport. During the American Revolutionary War, the British Army bombarded and captured the fort as part of their conquest of Philadelphia in autumn 1777.

During the siege, 400 American soldiers held off more than 2,000 British troops and over 250 ships that had been responsible for launching an endless barrage of cannonballs into the fort. After five days of holding off the British, the American troops evacuated the fort after having successfully denied the British Navy free use of the Delaware River.

Admission fees for Fort Mifflin are: Adults – $8; Seniors – $6; Children (6 to 12) and Veterans – $4; Children 5 years and younger – Free.

The West Chester Railroad

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 22.

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 hoagies, turkey and cheese hoagies, and PB&J. All lunches, which are made fresh, come with chips, fruit, drink and cookies.

Additionally, the lunches are packed in a special reusable lunch bag emblazoned with the WCRR logo. Tickets for the train rides are $15 for adults, $13 for children ages 2-12 and free for kids under two.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, www.wwrr.com) is back up and running with the Mount Cuba Meteor excursion.

You can take a leisurely 1.5-hour round-trip ride up the Red Clay Valley to the Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove, where you’ll enjoy a 30-minute layover to have a picnic or simply admire the natural surroundings. The Mt. Cuba Meteor excursion is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon outside with family or friends.

This event is powered by one of the railroad’s historic first-generation diesel locomotives.

The rail line’s website posted the following COVID-19 message —

FOR OUR PASSENGERS:

Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 within the 2 weeks prior to their excursion or those who have symptoms of COVID-19 (including extreme fatigue, fever over 99.5 degrees, cough, diarrhea, nausea, headache, loss of smell or taste) MUST NOT visit.

All passengers age 5+ MUST wear a face covering while on Greenbank Station property and aboard our train, unless you have an underlying health condition.

Hand sanitizer stations will be available at Greenbank Station and aboard the train.

Food and beverages cannot be consumed inside Greenbank Station or aboard the coaches. However, food and beverages may be brought aboard the train to be enjoyed at

The train will be disinfected before and after each excursion.

Seating will be limited to 30% capacity. All coach seats will be assigned to ensure proper social distancing — family units will be seated six feet from other passengers.

Coach and caboose windows will be required to be open to create air circulation through the train.

Passengers will be directed by the train crew to disembark from the train row-by-row, car-by-car.

Day Out With Thomas

The Strasburg Railroad (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is  running its regular trains beginning August 28 and hosting its  “Day Out With Thomas” event on select dates in September and October.

There is a mutual love affair between kids and Thomas the Tank Engine which is especially evident when Thomas gets up-close and personal with his fans during his visits to the Strasburg Railroad.

Every year, the steam locomotive named Thomas makes several visits to Lancaster County where he entertains enthusiastic children and their parents.

For more than 50 years, Thomas the Tank Engine and his Island of Sodor friends have been favorites of preschoolers and their parents. Based on “The Railway Series” (classic stories authored by a father who loved trains and wanted a shared experience with his son), “Thomas & Friends” has evolved into a rite of passage that inspires imagination.

Fans will be able to get personal with Thomas the Tank Engine, a full-sized operating steam locomotive who will be talking for the first time ever. And, they will also be able to ride a train pulled by Thomas and meet the locomotive’s buddy Percy.

The tourist rail line’s regular excursion train rides are 45-minutes in length (4.5 miles east and 4.5 miles returning west on the same track).

Tickets are $15.50 for adults and $8.50 for children (ages 2-11).

The Independence Seaport Museum

The Independence Seaport Museum (211 S. Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, 215-413-8655, www.phillyseaport.org) is open again and has a variety of special events on its schedule.

On August 30, it will offer “Kayak Excursion to Petty’s Island” from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

This 10-mile kayaking excursion is for the experienced paddler, and nature lover. The trek will lead to Petty’s Island, a 292-acre island in the middle of the Delaware River. Cost is $75 per person and you must be 18 years of age to participate.

“Remembering V-J Day” will get underway on August 31.

Guests are invited to join Independence Seaport Museum during the week of August 31 – September 6 as it remembers V-J Day.  September 2, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

Throughout the week, the museum will be sharing images, facts, and videos that discus the crucial role submarines played during World War II.

“Boatin’ in the Basin” will be offered on September 2 from 4-5 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.

Participants will be able to boat around the Penn’s Landing basin in a swan, dragon, flamingo, or duck – an activity that is billed as “the perfect socially distant outdoor recreational activity for you and your household. “

“Boatin’ in the Basin” requires pre-purchased tickets, no walk-up tickets will be available. Pricing is per boat and all rentals will be for one hour.

If you love beer, you should check out the “Biergarten” at Cannstatter Volksfest Verein (5130 Academy Road, Philadelphia, www.cannstatter.org).

The German traditional event will be open every Friday (until the end of October) and Saturday night (until the end of August). Cannstatter has the largest outdoor Biergarten in Northeast Philadelphia and is open every Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m.

Tasty German food and drink will be available for purchase and live German music will be featured each night. Weather permitting, this is an outside event. Pets and outside food and drinks are prohibited and there is no cover charge.

There will be live entertainment from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in Cannstatter’s picnic grove featuring some of the best local bands and musicians.

Food and drink offerings are “The Famous CVV Wings – Hot, Mild and Naked,” Chicken Tenders, Hamburger/Cheeseburger/Veggie-burger, Bratwurst, Hot Sausage, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, French Fries, Cheese Fries, German Pretzels and other weekly specials.

There will be a large selection of German and domestic beers on tap as well as mixed drinks, wine and bottled beer.

The line-up of live music acts for this weekend is Warehouse Winos on August 28 and Celtic Connection on August 29.

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