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Greenville & Hockessin Life

Celebrating Yorklyn

Jun 26, 2019 05:32AM ● By J. Chambless

Pony rides were popular for young children. (Photo by Steven Hoffman)

By Steven Hoffman
Staff Writer

Yorklyn, the small but serene Delaware hamlet that is nestled along the state’s northern border, is home to the Auburn Valley State Park, the Center for the Creative Arts, Dew Point Brewing Co., and the Marshall Steam Museum. All of these attractions, and more, were on display during Yorklyn Day on June 2. This annual event has quickly grown into a fun, family-friendly celebration of Yorklyn’s spirit and heritage.

A large crowd turned out to enjoy art, live music, history, craft beer, train rides, antique automobile rides, and the numerous children’s activities that took place throughout the day.

"We had so many interesting merchants and community groups set up booths that anyone coming to the event could find something to like,” explained Terry Foreman, the project manager for the Center for the Creative Arts. “Where else can you taste a homemade pickle, make a paper windsock, listen to some live music, ride a pony, see a civil war re-enactor and sip a micro-brewed beer made 15 feet from where you're standing? Only at Yorklyn Day!”

During Yorklyn Day, the attractions were divided among four distinct areas in the heart of Yorklyn: The Kids Zone, the Dew Point Zone, the Steamin’ Zone, and the Art Zone. The attractions were close enough for visitors to walk to each of them easily enough, but there were also shuttles running constantly to transport people from one area to the next.

An artisan market was set up in the Art Zone that was situated near the Center for the Creative Arts. Visitors enjoyed live music and dance on the outdoor stage, as well as art demonstrations in wheel throwing and fabric dying.

“I think it’s a great event,” said artist Carole Huber, who was one of the artists positioned near the Center for the Creative Arts. “I like that there are a number of venues and people can travel around to see the area.”

Huber was offering her hand-dyed and hand-painted silk scarves and ceramics, including a collection of one-of-a-kind wabi sabi pottery, a traditional style of Japanese pottery. She teaches at the Center for the Creative Arts, which is very supportive of artists and artisans in the area.

“I really like to do shows here,” said Huber. “It’s a nice place to teach as well.”

Visitors were able to immerse themselves in the history of Yorklyn by looking at the special exhibit set up at the Center for the Creative Arts called “Discover Yorklyn: Mill Town, Hometown, Our Town.”

Many of the Yorklyn Day visitors enjoyed spending some time in the Dew Point Zone, where there were a number of food trucks, live music, and games. The Dew Point Brewing Co. was serving up craft beers. It offered an opportunity for friends and neighbors to get together.

“Any time you can bring the community together, it’s a win,” said Mike Miller, who knows something about community events. He is the event manager of the Hockessin Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks, and helps plan that celebration that features fireworks, a parade, a beer garden, lots of food, and more.

Not far from Dew Point Brewing is the Kindred Skincare Co., which is owned by Frances Thrasher. She operates her wholesale business which is situated along Creek Road in the heart of Yorklyn. This is where she makes a wide variety of organic, oil-based skin care and body care products that are then sold at the Harvest Market, Terrain in Glen Mills, and Houppette in Greenville. For Yorklyn Day, she opened up her business to the public and offered her products for sale.

Visitors to her shop were intrigued by the products, and Thrasher liked adding a retail component to her business for the day.

“I think it’s a lovely event,” Thrasher said of Yorklyn Day.

There was plenty of entertainment at the Kids Zone situated along the Yorklyn Bridge Trail, including pony rides, a dinosaur and reptile show by Jungle John’s, a performance by the Juggling Hoffmans, and more. Exhibitors and vendors included YoYo Balloons and Candy Art, the Hockessin Athletic Club, Petey Possum’s Hangout, Cornerstone Martial Arts, The Back Burner Restaurant, Patterson Schwartz, and many more local businesses and organizations.

One of the more popular attractions was the GoGo Books book truck that is owned by Delaware resident Kate Keeper. Inside the wonderful “nomadic storybook shop” was a wide selection of books for children of all ages, as well as some magnetic games, and parenting books, too.

Parents with children flocked to the book truck to look over the selection.

“It’s great,” said Sara Mora, a resident of north Wilmington who enjoyed looking at the books with her young son, Cameron. “It reminds me of when I was a kid and we had bookmobiles come to the school.”

Volunteers played a big part in planning and staging Yorklyn Day by making sure that everyone who turned out had a good time. That started at the information tents where volunteers directed visitors to their favored destinations.

Jackie Kook works with the Auburn Valley State Park, which is the 17th Delaware State Park and encompasses more than 360 acres of protected land. She took on the duty of serving as the volunteer manager for the event, working to organize the 40 park volunteers who helped out in one way or another with Yorklyn Day.

“It’s a big group of people,” she said, explaining that the volunteers handled a number of different duties, ranging from driving shuttles to welcoming visitors to trouble-shooting whenever and wherever it was needed during the day.

Kook and the volunteers enjoyed the event and helping to bring everyone together.

“It’s a celebration of what it’s like to live in this community,” Kook said.

One of the focal points of the fun on Yorklyn Day was the Steamin’ Zone that included Auburn Heights activities and free entry to the Marshall Steam Museum.

Bob Wilhelm was serving as one of the guides for visitors at the Marshall Steam Museum, where he is a longtime volunteer.

Wilhelm explained that the event helps to bring an awareness about the history of the Yorklyn area. He noted that, despite its small size, Yorklyn has a rich history as a manufacturing center. At one time in its history, Yorklyn was the fiber capital of the world, and at another point it was the snuff capital of the world.

The Marshall family played an important part in local history.

The Marshall Brothers’ paper mill was adjacent to the Auburn Heights Mansion, which was occupied continuously by three generations of the Marshall family. The estate land was gifted to Delaware more than a decade ago by Tom and Ruth Marshall. The mansion is considered as a good example of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture and interior design.

The Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the earliest days of the automotive age. The museum was originally built by T. Clarence Marshall in 1947 to house his growing collection of antique automobiles. Clarence Marshall’s son, Tom, and his wife, Ruth, gifted the estate land and buildings to the Delaware State Parks in 2008—at the same time the mansion was donated. The Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve, a charitable organization, received a donation of the antique automobile collection, including the largest operating collection of Stanley steam cars in the world.

Wilhelm explained that the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve is dedicated to educating the public about Delaware’s industrial history and the impact of steam technology. The group owns and maintains the vehicles. They hold “Steamin’ Days” regularly—on the first Sunday of the month from June to November—that includes train and antique auto rides. These train and antique rides were among the most popular attractions during Yorklyn Day. Mansion tours and museum displays were also popular. It was a good way to learn about the history of Yorklyn.

“There’s a lot of Marshall family history here,” Wilhelm explained.

Yorklyn has seen a lot of history in the last 150 years—there have been times of growth and times of decline. But the popularity of Yorklyn Day illustrates that a new period of revitalization is now underway.

Sponsors for the event included presenting sponsors Merit Construction Engineers, Inc., Artesian Water Co., Choice Remodeling & Restoration, Inc., Century Engineering, Garrett Snuff Mills, LLC (in memory of Dan Lickle), Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, Patterson Schwartz Real Estate, Tresid Group, LLC, Harvest Market, Inc., Dew Point Brewing Co., Hockessin Community News, Dr. Stanley J. Wilcox Foundation, Mt. Cuba Center, and the Hockessin Athletic Club.

For more information about the vent, visit the Yorklyn Day Facebook page or website at www.yorklynday.org.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

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