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Chester County Press

Tavern Talks schedule set for 2018

01/23/2018 12:49PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Allison Schell, program and development manager at the Chadds Ford Historical Society, is a self-described “history geek,” largely because she grew up in the Lehigh Valley, inspired by the lessons taught by her father, who was a middle-school history teacher.

“My father would have Colonial Days and Civil War Days in his classrooms, but it wouldn't be just a day, but an entire week,” Schell said. “He would create hands-on activities for his students, and his approach to learning has always stuck with me. I'm a very hands-on learner as well, so I've attempted to adapt that teaching style to the adults who attend our Tavern Talks.”

About to kick off its third year, the Chadds Ford Historical Society's Tavern Talks is a monthly experience aimed at adults 21 and older that focuses on aspects of early American history and culture. Guests get to experience history with hands-on activities, food and drink tastings, demonstrations and more. This year's menu of events will take visitors on a cultural stroll back the Colonial period, with interactive evenings that will introduce a popular confection, beverages of the day and common practices of the time, all in an interactive setting at the the historic Barns Brinton House.
“People nowadays are looking for interesting experiences to do together,” Schell said. “They want a full experience, and that's what we provide. Some of our visitors really enjoy being able to speak with our lecturers who are in full period garb, while others prefer the lecture component of these events. Tavern Talks are a full mix of both, with an approachable feeling, and yet with a full learning element.

“Our visitors have appreciated the fact that it's all tailored to the way they learn.”

The eight Tavern Talks for 2018 will be:

Feb. 15 - Chocolate & Courtship

Wrapped around Valentine's Day, "Chocolate & Courtship" is now in its third year, and will partner with American Heritage Chocolate, who will conduct chocolate-making demonstrations taken from recipes from American history. Together with chocolate and drink pairings, the event will discuss how chocolate served as a popular drink among colonists. Col. George Washington impersonator Carl Closs will provide dating advice from the 18th-century mindset; and historical fiction writer Susan Holloway Scott will talk about courtship during the Colonial period.

March 15 - Mind Your Pints & Quarts

Paired with St. Patrick's Day, "Mind Your Pints & Quarts" will invite Brandywine Branch Distillers of Elverson to discuss how gin was a popular drink during the Colonial era, and serve samplings throughout the evening. In addition, historian Clarissa Dillion will discuss the popularity of "small beer” that was brewed largely by women during the 18th century.
April 12 - Law & Order

In addition to discussions on how the law worked to limit counterfeiting during the 18th century, "Law & Order" will introduce various law enforcement measures during the Colonial period, and what peculiar means of punishments were handed out for public displays of embarrassment and debauchery. Guests will get to participate in mock courtroom scenes, and be given different roles to play.
May 17 - To Market, To Market

In addition to a generous sampling of locally sourced brews and beverages, "To Market, To Market" will invite local artisans whose talents reflect what shoppers of the period might have seen on visits to village markets during the Colonial period.
June 21 - Enlightened!

“Enlightened!” will invite Dean Howarth, who impersonates various philosophers, scientists and astronomers of the Colonial era, for an evening of interactive potions and experiments taken from the 18th century. Another impersonator will portray an 18th-century astronomer. Liquid Alchemy, a Wilmington-based meadery and cidery, will provide the elixirs for the evening.
Sept. 13 - Liberty or Death

In commemoration of the Battle of the Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777, "Liberty or Death" will invite Revolutionary War reeanactors, including soldiers, camp guides, sailors and surgeons, who will entertain visitors with battlefield stories, sea shantys and demonstrations.
Oct. 11 - Fermented & Tormented

In celebration of Halloween, “Fermented & Tormented” will entertain visitors with a variety of fermented drinks of the Colonial period, while introducing them to some of the more macabre and spooky tales from long ago.

Nov. 8 - Sugar & Spice

Wrapped around the culinary delights of the holiday season, “Sugar & Spice” will discuss how spices were used during the 18th century in sweet and savory dishes of the period. Visitors will then sample tasty treats, made from 18th-century recipes, while sampling holiday-inspired beverages.

All Tavern Talks will take place at the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Barns Brinton House, an historic 1714 tavern, located next to the Chaddsford Winery at 630 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford. Admission is $20 for non-members and $15 for members. Tickets must be purchased in advance over the phone, in person or online. Attendees can purchase a subscription to Tavern Talks for the year to ensure a spot every month. All attendees must be 21 or older. Call 610-388-7376, email [email protected], or visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].