Grain Hosts Food Writer for Delicious Fun Oct. 15

On Sunday, Oct. 15, Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen’s Kennett Square location (108 W State St.) will be hosting a conversation, book signing and cooking demonstration with Philadelphia food and drink writer and editor Amy Strauss, author of upcoming book Pennsylvania Scrapple: A Delectable History. The one-day brunch event will include special scrapple creations and related beverages by Dogfish Head Brewery.

Grain’s Executive Chef Jim Berman will bring together the worlds of Pennsylvania Dutch and Kennett Square with a live cooking demonstration to create a unique scrapple mushroom brunch dish upstairs at the glass enclosed dining area, known as 410@Grain.

During brunch, from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Berman and Strauss will showcase scrapple-themed additions on the menu.

No reservations will be accepted, and all ages are welcome.

Amy Strauss (AmyStrauss.com) has written for publications like Philly Beer Scene, Edible Philly, The Spirit News, The Town Dish, Main Line Today magazine, Southwest Airlines, OpenTable, and more.

Storied Past, Spirited Future

The cemetery, off Delaware Avenue, is the resting place for several historic figures. Photo courtesy of the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery

The Eternal Rest 5K Run/Walk aims to keep the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery alive

The Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery, at 701 Delaware Ave., was perhaps ahead of its time almost 200 years ago for more than one reason. Founded in 1843 by prominent Delawarean Sam Wollaston, the Wilmington & Brandywine became one of Delaware’s first non-sectarian cemeteries, allowing the burial of anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. It’s also one of the state’s oldest, most historic cemeteries.

In the mid-19th century, like many other cities established in earlier times, when burial grounds were situated next to churches, Wilmington found itself short of space for graves. So Wollaston decided to create a cemetery on 10 acres just outside Wilmington (the cemetery has been expanded to 25 acres over time).

His tract lay along Kennett Turnpike (Delaware Avenue) where it met the Old King’s Highway (Adams Street). Wollaston invited several leading citizens to invest in his venture, which turned out to be a lasting success.

The founders incorporated the cemetery in 1845 and engaged engineer George Read Riddle to divide the plots and lay out curving paths and hillside terraces. His design included an elegant entrance road and gently sweeping side avenues named for trees and famous Americans.

It’s the resting place of some of Delaware’s—and the country’s —historic figures, particularly of the military variety. Among the 21,000 eternal residents are Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Smyth, the last Union general to be killed in the Civil War, along with Dr. James Tilton, a Revolutionary War hero, member of the Continental Congress and surgeon general of the U.S. Army in the War of 1812, and Commodore Jacob Jones, a hero of the War of 1812. Wilmington’s first mayor, Richard H. Bayard, is also buried there.

At one point, the cemetery even became a favorite location for a Sunday stroll for wealthy city residents. Board President Cory Porter says the tradition was probably a lot less morbid than it sounds: “I think the number of prominent families interred there as well as the sheer beauty of the property was the main reason” for the afternoon ambles.

Even today the living are drawn to the location, which has been host to the Eternal Rest 5K Run/Walk for the past three years.

“The 5K really stemmed from a good idea on raising money for the perpetual care of the cemetery, as well as raising awareness of the historical significance of the cemetery,” says Porter.

The fourth annual event will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The idea came from runner and cemetery up-keep volunteer Cathy Haslinsky, who notes the importance of fundraising. “The gates are opened daily and people are welcome to enjoy the beautiful historic cemetery,” Haslinsky says.

The 5k starts on Jefferson Street in front of the Roxana Canon Arsht Surgicenter. Part of the race takes participants into the cemetery, then through Brandywine Park, with a finish line in the lower section of the cemetery. Participants then walk or run uphill through the cemetery and back to the Surgicenter parking lot for an after party that includes El Diablo burritos, craft beer, wine and soda.

Through corporate sponsorships and race fees, the 5k committee and cemetery board members have raised more than $77,000 for cemetery maintenance the last three years.

Pre-register for the race at delawaretiming.com. Fees are $25 in advance or $30 at the race. Day-of registration begins at 3 p.m. Participants are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes.

Worth Recognizing: Community Members Who Go Above & Beyond

Deb Buenaga: Helping children with special needs through Preston’s March for Energy

In August 2011 Deb Buenaga’s son, Preston, who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease, received a specially-adaptive bike from a family friend’s fundraiser. The bicycle cost a hefty $2,200.

“When Preston rode his bike for the first time, for an hour and a half, his dad Steve and I knew that other children deserved the same opportunity,” says Buenaga. “We knew that we needed to ‘pay it forward.’” 

This motivated her to launch Preston’s March for Energy just two months later, while still juggling fulltime caretaking responsibilities for Preston. She quit her job as a preschool teacher and now dedicates upwards of 50 hours a week to the cause, and while she qualified for a Longwood Foundation grant for an administrative assistant, Buenaga herself makes approximately $5 an hour. She is backed up by 30-35 active volunteers.

The nonprofit provides adaptive bikes to children and young adults ages 6 to 21 with special needs who can’t ride a typical bike. Each adaptive bicycle is built and customized for the individual who will ride it. Preston’s March works with various bike vendors, raising money for families through events like Corks and Cookies, a yearly 5K, and corporate and individual sponsors, since insurance does not cover the cost of an adaptive bike. A family will apply through the website—prestonsmarch.org—and Preston’s March will collaborate with that child’s medical team to create the perfect bike, down to painting the bicycle the child’s favorite color.

“Today I was incredibly blessed to be able to make a child smile who has thyroid and lung cancer,” says Buenaga. “But he also has a dream to ride a bike like his brother and sister and friends. He cannot ride a typical bike because sitting up and balancing makes him tired and with a tracheotomy he has troubles breathing. I presented him with a bike that he can lie down with and pedal with his feet. He told his mom to Velcro him in his bike so nobody can take him off it.”

Buenaga and her family spend their weekends or vacation time presenting bikes all over the country. Last month she and Preston road-tripped to Green Bay, Wis., to surprise a family with two bicycles. She and Preston have put 28,000 miles on a donated van in less than a year. 

“We all open our eyes in the morning the same way—some of us not as easy as others,” she says. “Some may be suffering with a disease, some may be a caregiver and first thing they do is care for a loved one who needs them. But the one thing we have in common is to make it to the end of the day the best that we can. My choice is to go to bed every night and know I made someone smile.”

Sound of Music at Grain Locations

Now that Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen has three locations – with two more added this spring and summer in Kennett Square, Pa., and in Bear along the C&D Canal, in addition to the brand’s existing Main Street, Newark, location – music is sure to dominate, since it has played such a vital role at the original location.

Located in the newly renovated Summit North Marina on the C&D Canal, Grain H20 can be reached by car, boat or even bike – along the Mike Castle Bike trail. Live music – almost always al fresco – is played Wednesdays through Sundays. Wednesdays and Thursdays music starts at 7 p.m., Fridays at 4 and 8:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Also, catch live acoustic music from local and regional artists at Grain KSQ (Kennett Square) Thursdays through Sundays. And, of course, live music at the original location is Wednesday through Sunday. Call individual locations for additional hours. For more, go to meetatgrain.com.

Guest Bartending Summer Fundraiser

Come out to Catherine Rooney’s in Trolley Square on Thursday, Aug. 3, to support the Guest Bartending Summer Fundraiser hosted by The Apartment Angels Program (Apartment Angels THP, Inc.), which helps individuals and families in financial need. Utilizing support and donations from the Delaware Apartment Association (DAA) members, the program will provide six months of free rent to individuals awarded housing through the program.
Housing is awarded to individuals/families who have a history of being responsible renters, but became victims of the economic recession through no fault of their own or were dramatically or negatively impacted financially by a one-time, life altering event.
The guest bartending event runs from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Kesha Films New Video at Oddity Bar

When Andrea McCauley and Pat McCutcheon, owners of Wilmington’s Oddity Bar, recently received an anonymous phone call from someone inquiring about utilizing the quirky bar and venue as the setting for a music video, they had no idea what – or who – to expect.

The caller eventually revealed the artist as Kesha – as in, the pop musician who has sold millions of records worldwide. The caller, who turned out to be Kesha’s brother Lagan Blue Sebert, was the co-mastermind behind the idea, who, after scouring the internet for a perfect setting and landed on Oddity Bar, would produce and direct the video. Kesha herself was heavily involved in the workings of the project, with a strong vision which turned this into an intimate family project.

“They contacted us a little over a week prior, so it all happened pretty quickly,” says McCauley.

The video for the single “Woman” was filmed the day before Kesha’s Saturday set at Firefly in June.

Oddity bartender Chris Devitt ended up being the main liaison, working with Sebert on logistics, extras, and even procuring a classic car the siblings envisioned for the rockabilly-themed video. (The driving scenes take place in the Brandywine Valley, says McCauley.) Devitt is in the video, along with two other Oddity bartenders.

“Kesha was great. She was down to earth and pretty involved with the making of the video,” says McCauley.

Hidden Heroes

Delaware State Parks friends groups, totaling 14 throughout the state with 3,500 members, play a vital—and often overlooked—role

It’s a rare group of people who make the biggest difference but intentionally remain tucked away out of the spotlight. Delaware State Parks friends groups are made up of those kind of people.

There’s the friendly supervisor standing under the scorching summer sun overseeing the Borrow-a-Bike station at Cape Henlopen State Park; the people contributing hours to launch and continue annual chocolate tastings or bike rallies at Trap Pond State Park, and the folks who raise funds and organize huge events like Bellevue State Park’s 40th anniversary celebration on July 2.
The anonymous volunteers who perform these tasks and many more are members of the Friends of Delaware State Parks, a 30-year-old program that is an absolute necessity to keep the parks functioning.

The state has 14 friends groups—all independent, nonprofit entities ranging in purpose from supporting state parks to preserving coastal areas. Not only do friends group members volunteer their time, but they are the fundraisers and advocates who promote, and when necessary, fight for funding on behalf of their parks. Their membership includes retirees and working professionals from various backgrounds, but they are all zealously dedicated to their parks.

While all volunteers play important roles at the state’s parks, friends groups differ from “regular” volunteers by their sheer volume of work. Delaware’s 3,500 friends volunteers put in more than 14,000 hours annually.

Says Glen Stubbolo, Delaware State Parks chief of Volunteer and Community Involvement: “Our friends do so much, and I know they’re not even reporting all hours to us. Many members would tell you they’re just doing it for the park. Delaware is full of these people, who simply just love their parks.”

The role of the friends goes deeper still when you realize that, as an entity, Delaware State Parks receives only about 30 percent of its funding from the state, leaving more than half of the responsibility to the parks and subsequently, friends groups.

Selling Wood—and Wine

Each friends group is structured similarly, with a board and elected officials, and each group interacts closely with state park superintendents, who officially approve or reject propositions, though rejections are rare.

Projects can be as unglamorous as bundling and selling wood from trees knocked down by a bad storm to obtaining bartending licenses and hosting al fresco wine nights. Such is the case for the Friends of Bellevue State Park, where, for the past six years, President Wilma Yu has worked with her small—but mighty—group of 10 volunteers.

“They’re people that really love the park. People come into it with interest in particular areas, and just go for it,” says Yu.

Interest and projects include gardening, working with Bellevue’s equestrian center, road cleanup, obtaining grants, doing restoration work, helping with major events like last year’s Dogfish Head Analog-A-Go-Go, helming the entire Bellevue 40th anniversary celebration, and more. Friends are out at Bellevue during their sponsored and self-run summer concert series every Thursday and Sunday evening, from 5-9 p.m., too.

“They’re such a crazy force,” says Yu.

Thousands take advantage of the Borrow-A-Bike program at Cape Henlopen State Park. (Photo by April Abel, Delaware State Parks)
Thousands take advantage of the Borrow-A-Bike program at Cape Henlopen State Park. (Photo by April Abel, Delaware State Parks)

This enthusiasm stretches across the state. Stubbolo says some of the most ambitious projects to date include the Fort Miles Historical Association’s World War II Fort Miles Museum and refurbished Battery 519. Once completed in the next few years, the museum will be the best in the United States that is located at an authentic World War II Army base.

The list also includes creation of a nature center spurred by Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, and a multi-year redesign of the Brandywine Zoo, through the Delaware Zoological Society, which Stubbolo calls “a friend and a partner.”

One of the most successful facilities provided by Friends of Cape Henlopen is the free Borrow-a-Bike program, which has become so popular that two other friends groups have adopted the concept. It allows people to borrow a bike to ride within the park and see the sights for up to two hours. Since its start in 1997, Borrow-a-Bike has been operated by friends volunteers and funded by donations. In 2014, bikes were borrowed by more than 13,000 people, and the number rose to more than 14,500 the following year.

“There’s no lack of initiative,” says Stubbolo. “But the small projects are important, too, like at Brandywine, with the creation of a nature play area. It’s all important to us.”

Debbie Chiczewski, Friends of White Clay Creek State Park president, leads 75 volunteers and was the driving force behind applying for and receiving multiple grants totaling more than $20,000 from Christiana REI. Bike repair stations have been installed in three locations throughout the park—at the Judge Morris Estate, Nine Foot Road and the Nature Center. A primitive camp is also in the works.
Additionally, the friends group helps with construction and maintenance of the trails in partnership with Delaware Trail Spinners. The group provides scholarships for park environmental programs for disadvantaged children, which of course requires fundraising.

Delmarva Power workers installing bicycle pumps at White Clay Creek State Park. (Photo Courtesy of Friends of WCCSP)
Delmarva Power workers installing bicycle pumps at White Clay Creek State Park. (Photo Courtesy of Friends of WCCSP)

They also advocate for the preservation of land, organize free summer concerts held at White Clay on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Carpenter Recreation Area on Rt. 896, and take care of a slew of other details and responsibilities.

Why do all of this for free—especially on behalf of a government entity that arguably should be doing the work?

“You’re out there and you see people enjoying themselves,” Yu says. “You see a 90-year-old lady dancing to the music at a concert, or the joy that people have as they watch little kids as they learn something and their eyes grow big. Those are the rewards.”

That’s not to say there aren’t the usual bureaucratic roadblocks.

“I’ll be honest, there is absolutely frustration,” Yu says. “You always have to be working through the system, and no matter what you do it’s going to take twice as long. You have to make sure everything meets all the regulations, the laws, the ADA compliance, ugh, the bureaucratic chain that has to be satisfied in order to accomplish things can be really trying. We get our frustrations out, sit down and gripe about it, then say, ‘How can we work through this?’”

Statewide Legislative Advocacy

Living in a small state has its benefits, and is something that separates Delaware’s friends groups from other states, according to Stubbolo. While friends groups elsewhere typically function in relative isolation, here, a president in northern Delaware will drive a relatively short distance to chat with a president in Sussex.

The chain of communication is strong between groups, and when legislative cutbacks started to hit the parks a few years ago, they united to form a statewide coalition to show their own power in numbers.

Stubbolo says Yu is the linchpin for the statewide group, which primarily focuses on legislative-level advocacy, contacting elected officials and educating them on the importance of state parks and the economic benefits of parks to the state.

“Many had no idea how many historical preservation, education programs, and all the recreational opportunities that existed,” says Yu. “There are some who are very invested, but there are many who didn’t see parks as a priority until we spoke with them.”

The friends advocacy efforts generated more than $5 million through suggested investment practices (Bill 75) and sponsorships and donations (Bill 88).

Yu, Chiczewski and the other members of the friends groups shrug off any praise for their service.
“We enjoy it,” says Yu. “We do it because we want to.”

Then she points out the obvious: “If the same attitude of comradery and purpose of our statewide friends groups was universal, the world would be a much better place.”

Worth Recognizing: Community Members Who Go Above & Beyond

Catherine Lindroth: Closing the Summertime Learning Gap

While working at Teach For America as the director of Community Impact nearly six years ago, Catherine Lindroth became aware of the importance of summer—particularly for the low-income youth in Delaware.

The academic achievement gap between high-income and low-income children is relatively small during the school year but widens significantly through the summer. Low-income children in Wilmington lost up to three months of learning in the summer while high-income children gain up to two months of learning. This dichotomy, repeated year after year, accounts for two-thirds of the academic achievement gap.

So Lindroth took action, forming Summer Learning Collaborative, or SummerCollab, a nonprofit that partners with existing community institutions to help them optimize their efforts in the highest-need communities. Through targeted staff development, summer planning and data resources, the program grows student literacy, curiosity and critical thinking skills.

Through SummerCollab, Lindroth has mobilized more than 150 teachers in a shared mission aimed at reversing “the summer slide” for kids grades K-12th through a methodical, yearlong support process. Area summer camps select the SummerCollab courses they wish to use, which they then teach for a minimum of two hours a day, four days a week, for six weeks throughout the summer.

“Against all odds, we were able to spin off The Summer Learning Collaborative into a stand-alone nonprofit that now empowers existing leaders to change their mindsets and beliefs about children and each other,” says Lindroth. “Through our growing network, SummerCollab serves over 2,000 low-income youth in the state of Delaware, and seeks to serve up to 7,000 kids in our state by 2020.”
“We provide our partners with targeted talent, technology, curricular, and planning tools to improve the overall quality of their summer program,” says Lindroth.

“Summer,” she adds, “outside of any bureaucracy, is pliable —it is a free canvas upon which to craft engaging, empowering programming that pragmatically prepares students for 21st century challenges and careers.”

A Big Welcome to Wilmington

Merging classical, soul and jazz, newcomer Kaloni Baylor took home the title at Musikarmageddon Solo competition on April 1. Now she’s ready to hit the local circuit.

The young woman seated at the grand piano sang and played with poise, channeling vulnerable emotion tempered by her commanding presence. The woman, Kaloni Baylor, was one of 16 contestants vying for the top spot at singer-songwriter contest Musikarmageddon Solo at the baby grand on April 1.

A few hours and two more rounds of fast-paced eliminations later, it came as no surprise when 25-year-old Baylor was named winner of the third annual competition. The judges voted unanimously for her, and guitarist Joe Campbell was runner-up.

Baylor’s composure cracked when she walked back on stage for her $200 prize—her eyes were watering and she was visibly shaking.

“I was so surprised,” she says a few weeks later while sipping juice at a Market street café. “My nerves skyrocketed that day for some reason, but being the only person on stage…it’s kind of freeing. It seems like it would be scary, but to have that time to speak or sing, it’s a release.”

The petite Baylor is unsure at first what made her stand out among the other singer-songwriters, including one or two other pianists. Finally, she says she hopes it was her songwriting—and her experiential method of sharing lyrics with the audience—that set her apart. On stage, she centers herself by visualizing her lyrics and their role in the music. From there, she tries to create a story and visuals for her audience. The tactic seems to work—the audience was enthralled.

Her songs usually are based on relationships, experiences or encounters, though typically written long after those events. “Later on, the memory comes back up, which makes the song come out easier,” she says.

One song she performed at Musikarmageddon Solo, “Big Wave,” was based on a dream she had during college. “It didn’t come out for a couple years,” she says. In the dream, she stood on a shoreline staring at the ocean until a tidal wave rushed toward her.

“The dream ends there. So it was good to get that out—to see something and put it on paper. I was really surprised and proud of myself for that one, too, because I didn’t realize how much of an impact a dream could make.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Baylor moved to Wilmington a year ago after graduating in 2015 with an environmental health degree from West Chester University. She’s now part-time at the Trolley Square Brew Ha Ha! and, of course, working on her music.

She began playing piano when she was 5, and as she grew up, her supportive mother drove her to piano recitals, school theater practice, church choir and more. Still, back then, music was more of a hobby. Her college years were catalyst for change. She became more serious about playing shows and developing her style—one she says is always evolving.

“There’s soul in it,” she says. “Right now, I’m trying to develop my piano playing and vocals more to get more on the jazz side of things.”

Baylor has a nine-song album, Soul, on Soundcloud.
Baylor has a nine-song album, Soul, on Soundcloud.

Baylor says she has come up with her own sound because of her varied musical background. The jazz and soul styles she’s currently working on are influenced by gospel from church choir and classical and baroque romantic pieces she grew up playing. She also has always been drawn to singer-songwriters like Carol King and the vinyl of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

She currently has a nine-song album, Soul, on Soundcloud, and promises another recording by the end of the year. Otherwise, she’ll be doing what she seems to do best: growing, and playing.

“Musikarmageddon Solo has helped me with this: being sure of myself,” she says. “I’ve always questioned, ‘Is this okay? Am I doing this right?’ But I’m feeling sure of myself and getting better and will continue working on being my own personal best.”

See Baylor perform at the Berry Festival in Wilmington between noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 4. Find her music at soundcloud.com/kb_sunshine.

Celebrating 40 Years

July 2 brings free entertainment, food trucks, a beer garden and more, in honor of Bellevue State Park’s anniversary

On Sunday, July 2, Bellevue State Park celebrates its 40th anniversary with a full day of entertainment and fun, an entirely free event except for food and drinks.

Wilma Yu, president of Friends of Bellevue State Park, the volunteer group organizing the event, says hundreds of hours have already gone into making the day possible—and free—for guests. The Friends Group has even convinced the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation to waive the standard entrance fee for that day.

“We want the community to come to Bellevue that day,” says Yu.

After the 85-member Chester County Concert Band kicks off the celebration with a 12-1 p.m. concert, the day will be filled with food trucks, face painting, a scavenger hunt, and vendors.

Representatives from the Brandywine Zoo, Tri-State Bird Rescue, local bicycle outfitters and groups like the Wilmington Trail Club, disc golf and tennis professionals and more will be available to chat and perform demonstrations. These strategically selected representatives offer examples of activities available at the park on any given day: walking, jogging and cycling are popular activities any time of the year, and tennis and disc golf are other recreation options at Bellevue.

Guests will be invited to tour Bellevue Hall mansion, which is usually closed or accessible only for private events. The mansion commands a view of the historic estate, and its present form reflects alterations made by William du Pont, Jr., who surrounded his home with the finest facilities, including tennis courts, equestrian stables, gardens, and a picturesque pond, amid woodlands and fields overlooking the Delaware River.

By evening, local party band Kategory 5 will take the stage, and a beer garden will be open. After dusk, guests can explore the night sky with professional astronomers who will provide guided walking tours through meadows while identifying the constellations with telescopes.

The event is made possible by volunteers—even members of 99.5 WJBR radio station are donating their time to cover the celebration. A 50/50 raffle will take place strictly to pay for some of the event’s expenses. For more information, visit destateparks.com/park/Bellevue.