What To Do: A fun First Friday

Local communities celebrate arts, downtown areas

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

FirstFriday08iecWhen the first Friday of the month comes around, it’s a good time to spend an evening in the heart of West Chester — a time when the borough hosts its version of First Friday (downtown West Chester, http://www.downtownwestchester.com). The First Friday event for this month will be held all day on August 5.

First Friday activities, which are held on the inaugural Friday each month, feature 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.

Kennett Square will also celebrate First Friday with its Art Stroll (downtown Kennett Square, http://historickennettsquare.com) from 6-9 p.m. on August 5.

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.

Kennett Square’s Art Stroll is a monthly celebration of the local art scene as it is showcased in the galleries, shops and restaurants throughout town.  Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to wander along the tree-lined streets and browse the many businesses that stay open late.

Lancaster's First Friday celebration is very lively.

Lancaster’s First Friday celebration is very lively.

Lancaster also has a lively First Friday celebration very month. This month’s edition of First Friday Lancaster (http://www.firstfridaylancaster.com/) will run from 5-9 p.m. on August 5in downtown Lancaster.

The event will feature attractive 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.

Another fun activity is scheduled for Lancaster this weekend.

Feel like getting bugged?

Feel like getting bugged?

Every weekend in August, North Museum of Nature and Science (400 College Avenue, Lancaster, 717- 291-3941, www.northmuseum.org) is presenting a special event called “Incredible Insect Weekends.”

Visitors to the museum will be able to explore colorful butterfly collections, begin their own nature journals, discover the world of the Monarch butterfly, learn the life of a beekeeper, pollinate flowers and construct their own insect hotels.

Museum admission is $9 for adults, $8 for youth (ages 3-17) and seniors (65 and older) and free for children (2 and under).

Insects will also be the featured attraction at a special event this weekend at the Morris Arboretum (100 Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777, www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/index.html).

As part of its Discovery Series, Morris Arboretum will present “Beeaware of the Sweetness of Summer” on August 6. The event, which runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and is free with garden admission, will show how beautiful bees give us so much.

Visitors will be able to discover fascinating facts about these amazing arthropods, while learning about how pollination happens. Morning visitors will also have the opportunity to taste a variety of honey (while supplies last).

Admission is $17 for adults; $15 for seniors (65 and older); $9 for students (ages 13-17 or with ID), active military and retired military; and free for children (under 3).

Music-Man-LogoWhat musical gave the world such classic standards as “’Till There Was You,” “Seventy Six Trombones,” and “Trouble”?

The same show also featured a tune that was the precursor of all rap music — “Rock Island.” It also had another song that dealt with a situation similar to waiting for a delivery by Amazon Prime — “The Wells Fargo Wagon.”

The show is “The Music Man.”

“The Music Man” is one of America’s all-time great musicals. When Meredith Willson’s piece opened on Broadway in 1957, fans already knew that it was destined to become a timeless theater piece — especially after it garnered eight Tony Awards (including topping “West Side Story” for the Best Musical Award).

The play had a Broadway revival which ran from April 2000 until December 2001. Now, it’s playing in a theatere near you.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting the classic show “The Music Man” now through August 27.

For an actor, playing the role of Harold Hill in “The Music Man” requires a lot of energy. The lead character is onstage most of the play and has a lot of intricate songs to sing. The role also includes several choreographed dance numbers and a lot of dialogue.

Robert Miller, who plays the role of Hill in the Candlelight Theater’s current, has proven that he is more than equal to the task. The veteran Equity actor brings the role to life with an energetic and well-played portrayal of Hill — one on musical theater’s most-loved con men. Miller is reprising the role he played at the same theater in 2008.

“I didn’t just get offered the role,” said Miller, during a phone interview last week. “I had to audition for it. I love the role from the beginning. It’s challenging — and very rewarding. It’s a very challenging role m3entally and physically — and one of my top three favorite roles.”

Miller is more than equal the task of making Hill a likeable character — even if he is a con man, a villainous occupation.

“Harold Hill is one of the most difficult roles I’ve played,” said Miller. “You never leave the stage. In six numbers of six, you carry five. And then there is the amount of lines you have to learn. For example, with the song ‘Trouble’, you can’t lose focus for one second.

“From an acting standpoint, Harold Hill is a great character to play. He’s a very diverse character. He’s a con man but he’s also very likeable. Harold is a villain – but he’s a hero by the end of the show. That’s the joy of it – the whole progression. The last two scenes make a 180-degree conversion.

“It’s a wonderfully written book with a lot to it level-wise. There are a lot of things happening on many levels — especially for Harold Hill. By the end, he falls in love. Everything he stands for — he gives it up for love.

“This is the fourth production of the show I’ve done and it’s the best cast. Another thing I love about this production is that I get to work onstage with my daughter Julia Miller for the first time. She’s a fourth-grader and she plays the role of Gracie Shinn.”

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

renaissance faire 2If you want to take a trip deep in the past and travel back centuries, there is the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (Mount Hope Estate and Winery grounds, Route 72, Cornwall, 717-665-7021, www.parenfaire.com).

This year’s 36th annual staging of the event, which bills itself as “the most wondrous event in all the Knowne World”, runs from August 6 through October 30.

The ultra-popular annual festival features authentic Elizabethan food and drink, traditional crafts from the guildsmen of yore and old-time games of skill — and a cast of hundreds of colorfully costumed re-enactors. It all takes place at Mount Hope Estate and Winery’s authentic 35-acre recreation of a 16th-century village in Olde England.

Every summer, the Faire features a new story from a different year of England’s past. The following is the site’s description of this year’s activities.

The year is 1509.

King Henry VII, victor of the War of the Roses and founder of the Tudor dynasty, has died. His eldest son Arthur, who was to have taken his place, has also succumbed to illness. And so England’s throne and future now fall to the king’s second son: Henry Tudor.

Henry has chosen the Shire of Mt. Hope as the site of his coronation, and on this glorious festival day our good Lady Mayor has spared no expense. She has prepared music, dancing, acrobats, jousting, and even a game of human chess.

After a day full of revelry and merriment, England’s new King shall be crowned upon the Globe stage with a fantastic celebration to start his new reign.

But not all is well in the kingdom today.

There are some who whisper that Henry spends far more time on the tennis court than in his royal court. His new bride, Catherine of Aragon (who only recently had been happily married to his brother

Arthur), is herself unsure if this brash young man is up to the task of ruling a nation. And the Duke of Suffolk, Edmund de la Pole, who lost his claim to the throne when his family was bested by Henry VII in the Battle of Bosworth Field, is wondering if perhaps it is not time for a rematch.

Will the young Henry rise to the challenge of being a king? Will he win the heart of his new bride? Will the Lady Mayor’s fervent preparations go off without a hitch? One thing is certain: it promises to be an eventful and glorious festival day.

More than 70 shows are scheduled throughout each day on the Faire’s numerous stages.    Without a doubt, the most popular attraction is the Jousting Arena. Visitors to the Faire flock to Bosworth Field whenever it’s time for the Ultimate Joust. Peasants lead cheers for their favorite knights while musicians pound out a heart-thumping beat. The Master of the List announces the combatants and soon an encounter of royal proportions ensues.

The Faire offers a wide variety of activities for visitors, including listening to bagpipe music, checking out handsome Lords in their colorful silks, watching a jester’s acrobatics, learning how to juggle, being the recipient of a gypsy woman’s flirtations and watching the march of Beefeater Guards.

Guildsmen’s Way is the area that features a large number of merchants and artisans, including jewelers, candle makers, potters, herbalists, leather smiths, clothiers, and pewter makers — all offering for sale and demonstrating their ancient wares. And, there are more than 20 Royal Kitchens located around the faire with menus featuring a wide variety of food and beverage.

Single-day tickets are available at the gate for $30.95, but can be purchased in advance online for $25.95. For children (age 5-11) single-day tickets are available at the gate and online for $11.95. Season Passes are also available at $100 for adult and $45 for children.

Another event this weekend which looks back to a bygone era is being presented by Pennypacker Mills (5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, 610-287-9349, http://www.montcopa.org/pennypackermills). “In the Good Old Summertime” will be held on August 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the historic site in Montgomery County.

Visitors to the event will be treated to an afternoon of vintage music on the porch, lawn games and a car show with the Delaware Valley Classic MG Car Club. Other activities include Victorian dress-up for photos, garden tours and hands-on fun in the 1900’s History Center.

Admission is free with a suggested donation of $2 per person.

Another Montgomery County Park with a special event this weekend is Pottsgrove Manor (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, http://montcopa.org/index.aspx?nid=930). “Living History Sundays” will be presented on August 7 from 1-4 p.m.

Pottsgrove Manor’s staff and living history volunteers will demonstrate 18th-century trades, crafts, and pastimes. Many of the audience-friendly events are interactive.

This event also features free admission with a suggested donation of $2 per person.

You can also take a trip back in time by attending Das Awkscht Fescht (Macungie Memorial Park, Main Street, Macungie, 610-967-2317, www.awkscht.com) — an event that is easy to enjoy and difficult to pronounce.

das awksschtDas Awkscht Fescht, which is celebrating its 53rd anniversary this year, runs from August 5-7 in Macungie, a small town just south of Allentown. It is billed as one of the largest antique and classic car shows in the country with over 3,500 cars on display.

The popular annual event takes its name from “Der Augscht”, which is the Pennsylvania Dutch word for “August.” Das Awkscht Fescht, which is held the first weekend of August each year, is a traditional summer festival with a full roster of family fun events.

There is a completely different car show each day. August 5 features the Variety Show with thousands of pre-1991 automobile models along with a variety of classic tractors, trucks and motorcycles.

On August 6, the spotlight will be on the Antique and Classic Car Show with over 1,200 antique cars, classic automobiles and sports cars. On August 7, the event is the Special Interest Car Show featuring 34 car clubs with over 1,000 vintage autos.

Every year, the primary focus of the automobile side of Das Awkscht Fescht is on the impressive display of vintage autos — especially the featured car, which this year is the Oakland.

Before there was Pontiac, there was Oakland.

Before there was Pontiac, there was Oakland.

First produced between 1907 and 1909 by the Oakland Motor Car Company in Pontiac, Michigan, the Oakland was then sold to GM, who manufactured the car through 1931. From the “Sensible Six” Sedan to the bright blue lacquered “True Blue Oakland,” the Oakland’s history is as unique as it is short-lived. This year’s featured display is presented by the Oakland Owners Club International, Inc.

There will be a variety of kids’ shows and activities including jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists, clowns and a special creative activity and display center. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Antique Toy Show, which is held at Eyer Middle School, and Toy Town, which is staged outdoors.

The roster of live entertainers for August 5 includes James Supra Band featuring Sara Ayers, Dave Fry Quartet with Dina Hall, The BC Combo, and Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods.

Acts slated to perform on August 6 are The Macungie Band, Acoustic Kitty Project, Hat Trixx, Inch & the Echos, A Few Good Men and Large Flowerheads. The lineup for August 2 includes Steve Brosky and Jimmy Meyer Band, Scott Marshall & Marshall’s Highway and Crazy Hearts Country Band.

Other attractions include daily bingo sessions, picnics in the park, a playground, a huge public swimming pool, an arts and crafts show featuring over 120 artisans and an “Antique Auto Flea Market.” There will also be fireworks spectacular Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

Admission to the festival is $8 for adults and $3 for children (15 and under).

For those of you willing to abandon the comfort of air-conditioned spaces and venture out into the hot and humid August weather, there are plenty of rewards — including outdoor concerts, country fairs, car shows and other festive events.

One of the nicest things about summer in this area is the wide array of venues that are offering live entertainment in an outdoor setting.

A primary destination for live music is the Mann Center for the Performing Arts (5201 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-546-7900, www.manncenter.org) — a venue that offers a wide variety of entertainment from mid-spring until late fall.

The lineup features Phillip Phillips & Matt Nathanson (August 9), Shawn Mendes (August 14), Blues Traveler & The Wallflowers w/ G. Love & Special Sauce and Howie Day (August 21), XPN Welcomes Bonnie Raitt (August 26), Ms. Lauryn Hill (August 27), The Lumineers (August 28), Widespread Panic (September 11), Lotus (September 24) and The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest (September 25).

Another popular outdoor venue in Philadelphia is Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (601 North Columbus Boulevard at Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215- 629-3200, www.festivalpierphilly.com).

Upcoming shows at the venue are Deftones (August 6), Halsey (August 11), OAR (August 12), Mad Decent Block Party (August 13), Gov’t Mule (August 17), Goo Goo Dolls (August 19), Slightly Stoopid (August 20) and Ween (August 21).

african festOn August 7, the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing (201 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia,

www.delawareriverwaterfront.com) will be the site of the African Cultural Alliance of North America Inc. (ACANA) African Festival. The annual outdoor concert brings artists, groups, and dance troupes from around the African continent to perform in a free event.

The festival provides a wide range of African entertainment, from traditional dance performances to modern Afropop and reggae musical performances. The family-oriented event also features African food vendors, as well as sales booths with traditional and modern clothing, arts and crafts. 

Featured performances at this year’s ACANA African Festival are Pape Diouf and La Generation Consciente from Senegal, Sharon Katz & the Peace train from South Africa, Chilton James Reggae Band, Deng from Liberia and the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble.

The event, which is part of the PECO Multicultural Series, is scheduled to run from noon-8 p.m.

The Bryn Mawr Twilight Series at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo (9 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, http://www.brynmawrtwilightconcerts.com) will present “Trespass – Genesis Tribute Band” on August 6.

Time is running out but you still have time to check out the annual Goshen Country Fair (Goshen Fairgrounds, Park Avenue, East Goshen, 610- 430-1554, www.goshencountryfair.org). But, you have to hurry.

The fair, which is celebrating its 67th anniversary this season, is running through August 6 at the Goshen Fairgrounds, which are located just off West Chester Pike three miles east of West Chester.

The free family-oriented event will open at 6 p.m. Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

This is a real authentic country fair with all the attractions — and animal competitions — found at most traditional country fairs. Holstein and Lineback cows will be featured on August 5 and the spotlight will belong to sheep and goats on August 6.

The fair will also feature competitions for jams and jellies, bread, cookies, flowering houseplants, cakes, flower arrangements, pies, vegetables, specimen flowers and candy. Nightly attractions include live music performances, tug-of-war competitions and pie-eating contests.

The schedule for live music includes Southern Edge Band on August 5 and CC Lawmen on August 6.

reading fairAnother long-running traditional fair will start the day after the Goshen Fair concludes. The 162nd edition of the Reading Fair (1216 Hilltop Rd, Leesport, 610 372-2649, http://www.readingfair.us) will open on August 7 and continue through August 13.

The Midway will feature “K9sinFlight” frisbee/dog show and “Knockerball.”. On August 13, there will be a live boxing event with bouts featuring some of the area’s top young boxers.

A “Corn Cobb Toss,” a “Pie Eating Contest,” “Raw Egg Toss,” “Hay Bale Throwing,”  a “Round Ball Bale Contest,” a “Water Balloon Toss” and a “Pedal Power Tractor Pull.” There will also be auto racing throughout the week along with tractor and truck pulls on August 10 and 11. And, there will be the always-popular Beer Garden from 5-10 p.m. each night.

The live entertainment schedule includes True Heart Gospel on August 7, Elvis impersonator Jeff Krick on August 8, Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods on August 9, The Fabulous Greaseband on August 10, The Avalons on August 11, Dave Kline and The Mountain Folk Band on August 12, and Nite Flyte on August 13.

Other attractions are a fireworks show on August 13 and appearances by the Reading Royals’ mascot Slapshot on August 10 and 13.

Tickets for the fair are $10.

“Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” just opened at Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org/nightscape) and this will be the event’s first weekend of the season.

When “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” made its debut last year, it provided visitors with the opportunity to enjoy visually-impressive sights at Longwood after the sun goes down. The installation brought the garden to life after dark with colorful lights and moving images choreographed to music.

This year, “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. The installation will be on view Wednesdays through Saturdays, and will open every day at sunset.

Video link for “Nightscapes” — https://youtu.be/QV1jdg00opU.

Tickets, which include all-day admission, are $27 adults (ages 19 and older) and $17 students (ages 5-18).

The Brandywine Zoo (1001 North Park Drive, Brandywine Park, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-571-7747, www.brandywinezoo.org) is inviting people to come to the Zoo on August 6 to partake in “Breakfast with the Beasts.”

Visitors to the zoo, which is located in Brandywine Park along the banks of the Brandywine Creek in downtown Wilmington, will be able to enjoy their breakfasts as the animals get theirs.

The event will also feature a special story and a live animal presentation. The festive pancake breakfast will be served in the zoo (weather permitting). Tickets are $15.

Fort Mifflin on the Delaware (Fort Mifflin Road and Hog Island Road, Philadelphia, 215-685-4167, http://fortmifflin.us) offers a variety of special events throughout the year. On August 6 and 7, the special event will be “World War II — Explore the Eastern Front.”

Visitors to the Fort will be able experience World War II history from the Eastern Front through living history activities with soldiers and civilians, guided tours, “rifle drills,” “grenade toss,” and guided tours.

The event will run from 1-4 p.m. each day and is free with General Admission, which is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children (ages 6-12) and Veterans and free for children (5 and under).

The American Swedish Historical Museum (1900 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-389-1776,www.americanswedish.org) is hosting its Sixth Annual SmörgåsBeer’d Beer Festival on August 6.

The American Swedish Historical Museum’s Beer Festival, which runs from 5-9 p.m. on June 25, features samplings of local Philly lagers, ales, stouts and more paired along with a spread of savories like Swedish meatballs, cheeses, and sausages.

Tickets for SmörgåsBeer’d Beer Festival, which are available at the door, are $25 for adults and $10 for designated drivers.

Bethlehem’s Musikfest (downtown Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, www.musikfest.org) is a special event — an event that is more than just another popular summertime festival in the Lehigh Valley.

Over the years, Musikfest has established itself as one of America’s top annual music festivals an event that offers big name headliners as well as a wide variety of folk, rock, pop and ethnic music acts. It also sports some impressive numbers.

The festival, which is celebrating its 32nd anniversary this year, features free music performances on most of its indoor and outdoor stages. Musikfest presents over 300 live musical performances and draws over one million people to the Lehigh Valley every August.

The Main Stage at PNC Plaza is the main concert stage at Musikfest and features national touring acts with tickets are required for all shows.

The lineup includes X Ambassadors (August 5), RUN-DMC (August 6), Dierks Bentley (August 7), Boston (August 9), Don Henley (August 10), Bush and Chevelle (August 11), Sabrina Carpenter (August 12), Lady Antebellum (August 13), and the Avett Brothers’ (August 14).

The will also be a multitude of free concerts with acts such as Nalani & Sarina, Anna Rose, MarchFourth, Cold Front, Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz, Rini, Crushed Out, Kississippi, Taylor Ash, Lucky 7, butterjive, the Hot Club of Philadelphia and the Nerds.

Musikfest is much more than just festival offering a wealth of music. It also features interactive arts and theater activities for children along with a large number of concessions offering a wide array of food and beverage treats.

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