Taste of the Fair Provides a Gourmet Nugget of the Longtime Unionville Tradition
By Steven Hoffman
The COVID-19 pandemic may have scuttled many of Chester County’s festivals and special events this year, but organizers of the Unionville Community Fair could not be deterred. They have worked hard to still bring different aspects of the Unionville Community Fair to the community.
“Taste of the Fair” kicked off its first event of three that will give the public at least bits of an annual event that is dear to their hearts and serves as a harbinger of the fall festivities to follow.
Longtime fair organizer Bonnie Musser, who is known throughout the area as the beloved soul of event—even back to the days when it was called The Farm Show—said that she and her fellow board members knew it was a bad sign in late spring when the 2020 Mushroom Festival was cancelled. She said it was obvious to them that many of the usual sponsors would be faced with limited funding, and that the 250-person crowd limit imposed by the state would not work for the Unionville Community Fair. The event regularly attracts thousands of guests and participants.
Referring to the 250-person limit, Musser said, “We have about that many volunteers alone running it.”
Musser reported having a meeting with Jayne Shea, a former fair chairperson, and several other longtime volunteers. She said they sat around on a porch with proper social distancing brainstorming about what to do next.
According to Musser, Shea said it would be good to give folks just “a taste of the fair.”
The name stuck, and they proceeded to plan for a drastically reduced celebration that still captured some of the memorable charm of the annual fair. They came up with a model of three “tastes:” one in August, one in September and one in October—October is the month in which the fair traditionally takes place.
On Aug. 15, the first event, “Taste of the Fair: Ice Cream Sundaes” took place in central Unionville on the grounds of the Foxy Loxy Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Shoppe.
Shea, who is the owner-operator of Foxy Loxy, presented the theme of offering $5 ice cream sundaes that people could put together on that day.
There was more during the Taste of the Fair event. As they laid out plans, the items expanded to include a horseshoe-tossing tournament, live music, a visit by a local cow, a few children’s games and an open house at Lou Mandich’s antique car garage, which sits adjacent to the Foxy Loxy property.
As it turned out, the event was enthusiastically received by friends and neighbors with an almost serene and sentimental atmosphere reminiscent of the old days when the fair was held at what is now the elementary school for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.
A lot of the success can be attributed to Mandich, who sent out invitations to all of his antique car customers. They arrived in droves.
The event even included Irenee DuPont Jr., age 100, who drove up in his 1936 Olds Touring Coupe that he said his father gave him as a Christmas gift two months before his 16th birthday.
Pennsylvania master farmer and former state Secretary of Agriculture Charles Brosius showed up with a calliope he recently refurbished that played uplifting celebratory music that had people gathering around and asking for more.
Out front, a horseshoe-tossing tournament was getting started, and a pen in the yard housed a local cow from Baily’s Farm that lounged in a pile of hay and stared back at onlookers.
The next Taste of the Fair will be on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Foxy Loxy grounds.
The theme will be “Classic Chocolate” and will include the chocolate cake competition that usually takes place at the regular fair.
Musser said there will be a heavy emphasis on classics of the past with plenty of old music and old vehicles as well as a continuation of the horseshoe-tossing tournament. Children will be offered the opportunity to learn how to create decorative table ornaments – hocus pocus – out of natural objects. More details will be announced later.
The third Taste of the Fair will again take place at the Foxy Loxy grounds in October. The date has not yet been set.
Musser said the theme will be “Apple and Pumpkins,” and there will be apple pie judging as well as pumpkin judging. Children will be encouraged to come in Halloween costumes, and there will be a display of carved pumpkins.
Children who have created hocus-pocus table ornaments will have them judged at that time.
Given that the Mandich garage is adjacent, it is likely that more antique vehicles will show up again.