Chadds Ford Days History and Photos

In the late 1950s, local residents banded together to try and stop the installation of high-powered electric lines and towers along the Brandywine. They lost, but received a minor concession in that the towers would be painted green. The failed protest did bring the community together, neighbor meeting neighbor, resulting in the decision to organize a community day. The fair included people dressed in period costumes, a parade down Station Way Road led by village historian Chris Sanderson, an art exhibit (with original works by Andrew Wyeth, John McCoy and Peter Hurd) and a luncheon at the Chadds Ford Hotel. This would become our first Chadds Ford Day in 1958.

Chadds Ford Day 1968 was noteworthy on many fronts. It was the first event sponsored by the newly founded Chadds Ford Historical Society. The Conservancy cosponsored with a week long Art Heritage show to help create a massive fundraising effort to purchase the John Chads House. Over 26,000 people attended, paying $1 each to view the art show featuring works by Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Rea Redifer, George Weymouth and others. The art display was set up in the old Hoffman Mill (not yet converted into the Brandywine River Museum of Art). A copy of Andrew Wyeth's sketch of the John Chads House was given to each paying visitor.

As with previous Chadds Ford Days, the festival was held on Station Way Rd and the Hoffman Mill property. In addition to the week long art show, there was a Colonial street with bakeshop, barbershop, saddlery, tinsmith, tavern, sutlers, apothecary and country store. It also marked the opening of the newly established Christian Sanderson Museum. After hundreds of volunteer hours, the successful event raised $34,000 which was used to purchase the Chads House in October and fund needed restoration.

In 1970, the Brandywine Conservancy started restoring the mill to house the new art museum, so the fair moved to the meadow next to Pyle's barn (across from Chadds Ford Barn Shops). In 1977, because of the Bicentennial Reenactment, the fair was moved to the meadow off Creek road (owned by the Conservancy). It stayed in the meadow until 1984, when it moved south on Creek Road to a field across from the John Chads House, now the location of the Chadds Ford Historical Society Visitors Center.

In addition to the traditional colonial attactions, the fair added themes from 1984 - 1999 such as Pigge & Pippins, Fiddlin' at the Ford, Hoof to Horn, Land of the Lenape and Wayside Inns & Taverns. Today the fair continues its colonial roots featuring reenactors, encampments and colonial demonstrators. This two-day community festival is fun for the whole family and a fun way to learn more about the local history.