With the weather turning and more light each day, it’s time to go outside and enjoy the natural beauty that helps make Chester County so special.
For those who enjoy field and stream sports, bountiful opportunities are available to suit any experience and interest level. Maintaining the tradition of stewardship and responsible use comes part and parcel with enjoying these lands, and many organizations offer educational opportunities for those who like to learn. Community gardens and clean-up projects offer hands-on learning opportunities while maintaining the beauty of our region. The fun doesn’t stop when we leave the fields and forests and return to town, where restaurants and shops flood the sidewalks and events fill the calendar.
Fieldcraft like hunting, fishing, orienteering, and equestrian pursuits have long been part of the fabric of Chester County. What once were necessary skills to thrive in the natural beauty of the area have now become time-honored traditions to be preserved, evolved, and passed on to the future.
Opening day of trout season is fast approaching, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is ready with stocking schedules, educational series, location guides, and license applications. Check out their website for all the official information you need to fish safely and legally in our area. When you do head to the stream to get your line wet, remember to be on the lookout for locally posted signs, as they often contain updates on hazards and preservation efforts.
The major hunting season is still half a year away, but the stewardship that comes with it is in full season. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is ready with this year’s schedule and application timetables. As part of their effort to foster sustainable land usage, the PA Game Commission has enacted the Deer Management Assistance Program, which includes Chester County. Landowners with sufficient area are invited to apply for the program, which provides deer population control assistance in coordination with local hunters. Check out the PA Game Commission website for more information.
Long seated in equestrian tradition, Chester County is home to several of the longest running equestrian events in the nation. Point to Point and Steeple Chase events race across rolling hills and over stream and fence, reveling in nature’s splendor, including noteworthy venues like Brandywine Hills, Cheshire, Radnor Hunt, and Willowdale. Head to the Devon Horse Show and experience our nation’s oldest and largest outdoor multibreed horse competition.
Local libraries, parks, schools, and private organizations offer plentiful educational activities that bring people and nature together. Attending and participating in outdoors events is a great way to learn for those who prefer a hands-on approach. Classes and self-guided educational resources are also offered by organizations across our region.
Honoring the lives helped forge what our region is today, historic reenactments bring a glimpse of Chester County’s formative elements to today’s world. These reenactments are one manifestation of the strong sense of regional stewardship that can be seen across the county and ties the equestrians of Unionville to the street performers in Phoenixville.
As time moves forward and our county becomes more densely settled, these traditions of environmental stewardship evolve. More buildings mean less farmland and more people. Urban farming and community gardens are popping up all over the place, balancing the load for our farmers while innovating in the character of the region. These community gardens and general use outdoor spaces are more than just means of production – they’re community builders that bring neighbors together. If you’re interested in helping maintain the beauty of our area but don’t have the time to commit to a garden or continuous project, there are countless volunteer clean-up projects. The Brandywine Red Clay Alliance and Natural Lands are great places to look for 1-time events and regular group efforts to help maintain the beauty of our area.
One of the things I love most about Chester County is how it combines stewardship of the region and its history with innovation and progress. Many of the parks, farms, and organizations mentioned so far cater to more modern outdoors interests with festivals, shopping, restaurants, performances, and so much more. From farm to table, there’s no need to go indoors for an amazing day in Chester County.
Open air markets are becoming increasingly popular. Craft shows and festivals that used to last one day are now weekend-long, or even recurring events that bring community and crafters together. Temporary road closures to allow restaurants and vendors additional open-air space have become seasonal. West Chester, alone, closes its primary shopping thoroughfare to vehicles with its Gay Street Open Air Market, this year from May 5th through October 29th. Check out your local chamber of commerce or community page to find out your town’s schedule for open air shopping fun.
Restaurateurs and venders aren’t the only professionals taking their work outside. Musicians and performers of all types bask under natural lighting while entertaining and delighting all those who care to watch. Many parks have amphitheaters and pavilions for live performances to help keep the sounds of intramural kickball from interrupting cello solos. Park websites (or community websites that cover parks) often post event schedules and have information about organized sports that use their facilities. In today’s world, there are leagues for sports of all sorts for enthusiasts of all levels.
The skies above have not been neglected by outdoors enthusiasts. Hot air balloons, model aircraft, and personal aircraft take to the skies across Chester County on clear days. Celebrating the aerial tradition with a colorful display, the Chester County Balloon Festival takes to the skies each June [in Chester Springs]. Enthusiasts interested in model planes should head over to Valley Forge National Park and the Valley Forge Signal Seekers designated operating field beneath Anthony Wayne’s gaze.
Thanks for reading to the end! I’m always hoping to provide information about our area you can use. Please let me know if there is a regional topic you’d like to hear my take on. If there’s someone you think might like to read this or any of my other articles, please share!