Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Paoli Blues Fest

Community Matters Getting Off the Backburner

10th Annual Historic House Tour - Poster.pdf_page_1I have had a number of emails, phone calls and conversations with people – all asking me about Community Matters and expressing concerning that something may be wrong since there have been no recent blog posts. I appreciate the concern but I am OK, it’s just been a very busy couple of months — the House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 21 at Duportail House, the 10th Annual Historic House Tour on Saturday, September 27 and then the sixth annual Paoli Blues Fest last weekend. With all of the meetings and planning required for these community events, I had to relegate Community Matters to the backburner.

The 2014 House Tour was a wonderful success and broke last year’s attendance record with over 500 tickets sold. The tour featured five historic estate homes in Easttown and Tredyffrin Townships, the Great Valley Mill and St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley. The tour celebrated the work of renowned Chester County architect Brognard Okie. For the tenth straight year, Mother Nature cooperated and provided a perfect, sunny 80 degree day, make the house tour even more special!

Since the first Trust house tour a decade ago, the tour has featured three centuries of structures, including 64 historic private homes of which seven served as Revolutionary War headquarters; eight barns, four churches, three schools, including two ‘one-room’ schoolhouses; a springhouse, a museum, a mill and a special historic playhouse.

Between ticket purchases and tour sponsorships, the house tour raised $30,000 for the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project. When the final phase of the project is completed, the barn will join two National Historic Register properties – Duportail House and the Federa2014 posterl Barn – and serve as the ‘Living History Center at Duportail’ in Chesterbrook.

There are many people to thank for this annual historic house tour, including the wonderful homeowners who opened their homes, the enthusiastic volunteers, the individual and corporate sponsors, the local police departments, other nonprofits groups (Chester County Open Land Conservancy and Duportail House) and most of all, we thank the many residents who supported the tour. (For a full list of sponsors, click here).

The Paoli Blues Fest celebrated its sixth annual music festival and street fair last Saturday, October 4. The day started out overcast with an occasional spritz of rain but as if on cue at noon, as the musicians warmed up, the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, the temperature soared and memories were created. Touted as the largest annual blues festival in the tri-state region, the party in Paoli didn’t disappoint. From the brass sounds of Big Bang Theory to Blue Jay Slim & the Tone Blasters, Russ Lambert, Blues Bizness, Deb Callahan and then the finale band, Blue Plate Special, it was a day of great music, food, drink and a lot of fun. A real community event, thanks goes to the musicians, vendors, sponsors, volunteers and all the hundreds of people who attended!

With the Annual House Tour and the Paoli Blues Fest completed, I look forward to getting Community Matters off the backburner.

9th Annual Historic House Tour – Saturday, September 28 – Tickets Available!

House Tour logoThis time of the year has me focused on two special events – the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 9th Annual Historic House Tour on Saturday, September 28 (Noon – 5 PM) and the 5th Annual Paoli Blues Fest a week later on Saturday, October 5 (Noon – 6 PM). As Trust president and chair of the annual house tour and co-chair of the Paoli Blues Fest, I believe that the house tour and the blues festival and street fair represent ‘community’ at its best.

The 2013 house tour … Every year a new selection of amazing historic properties surprise and delight even the most devoted tour goers! The 9th Annual Historic House Tour features nine historic properties in Tredyffrin and Easttown townships, including private homes, a restored ‘party’ barn and a historic church. There’s nothing better than the beautiful historic places that memorialize that history in our community – history really does matter! Old houses tell wonderful stories and the properties on this year’s house tour will not disappoint. Visitors are invited inside for a glimpse of what it is like to live, work and worship in these unique historic structures that span three centuries, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. A special thank you to the homeowners of these wonderful historic properties for allowing the public a glimpse inside.

If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss this year’s tour. Tickets are $35 and are now available online at using your credit card. Or click here for the 9th Annual House Tour Ticket Flyer for ording tickets using a personal credit card. Additional information on the tour available on the second page.

Beyond the homeowners, is the generous support of individuals, businesses and corporate sponsorships. Without their support the annual house tour would not be possible. If you are interested in supporting the house tour, click here for the,9th Annual Historic House Tour – Sponsor Information. The Trust is still accepting sponsorship for the 2013 tour. If you have questions about the house tour, sponsorships or would like to volunteer, please contact me at . Hope to see you on this year’s tour!

Lenape Farm, c.1750 photo by Carla Zambelli

Private home on 9th Annual Historic House Tour — Lenape Farm, c.1750 (photo courtesy of Carla Zambelli)






Biggest Party of the Year: Paoli Blues Fest 2012 this Saturday!

I know where I will be this Saturday, do you?

Billboard on Rt. 202 — Have you seen it?

Serving as co-chair with Marie Thibault for the Paoli Blues Fest, the largest annual blues fest in the Philadelphia region, I am looking forward to our fourth annual blues festival and street fair on Saturday. Last year an estimated 15,000 people attended and by all accounts, we expect at least that many visitors will enjoy this year’s community event.

We’ve got great musicians playing the blues, 100+ street vendors, beer & wine garden (plus margaritas & daiquiris this year), a special kid zone with lots of fun activities for the little ones, and more fun than Paoli has ever seen. The price of admission … we just ask for a non-perishable donation for the Chester County Food Bank. There will be well-marked containers set-up throughout the blues fest area for your non-perishable donation. Help those less fortunate with your donation in exchange for a day of fun at the Paoli Blues Fest! Help the Blues Fest help others … bring a donation with you!

This remarkable day of great music, food and laughter takes the effort of many people — from the generous sponsors that support us year after year, the organizations that believe in the Paoli Blues Fest and awards us grants, the many volunteers who will help on Saturday and the hardworking efforts of the festival committee, who work year round on the event and are committed to making each year bigger and better than the year before! The Paoli Blues Fest would not be possible without the help and cooperation of many people … for the spirit of community, we thank you all!

Although the Blues Fest hours are noon – 6 PM, the music will kick-off at 11:15 AM with a performance by students from Berwyn’s Music Workshop. The young musicians will warm-up the audience and help with the sound-check for festival. The schedule of bands for the day

Noon: Midnight Shift

Noon - Midnight Shift

Midnight Shift is a high energy band that specializes in what they call Rhythm, Rockin’ Boogie. It’s an infectious blend of blues, jump and rockabilly music. Midnight Shift is a smoking hot revved up band that plans to be around for years to come.

To hear a preview of Midnight Shift:

1 PM: Randy Lippincott Band

1:00 PM - Randy Lippincott Band

The Randy Lippincott Band is a fine tuned five piece unit with many years of experience performing Blues, Boogie, Soul and New Orleans party tunes.The band takes the stage at 1 PM, heating things up with a powerful rhythm section and an exciting harmonica overlay by Joey ‘Hotbox’ Simon.

For a preview of their music:

2 PM: Porkroll Project

2:00 PM - Porkroll ProjectThe Porkroll Project brings their brand of high energy, contemporary blues to the Paoli Blues Fest This seasoned group of artists has shared the stage with artists such as Bo Diddley, Los Lobos and Bobby Radcliffe, just to name a few, and played at events such as the Philadelphia Jam on the River and Philadelphia Folk Festival. Video of live performance:

3 PM: Georgie Bonds

3:00 PM - Georgie Bonds


Blues powerhouse Georgie Bonds is a singer and frontman from Philadelphia’s Germantown. His powerful and soulful voice, combined the upbeat attitude of his songs, are, as he calls it, “Blues for your soul, soul for your Blues”.

Preview of Georgie Bonds:


4 PM: Brooke Shive & The 45’s

4:00 PM - Brooke Shive & The 45’sBrooke Shive & The 45’s band is a father daughter act composed of Brooke Shive, the fiery vocalist, and her father, the band’s drummer, Steve Shive. Brooke’s gritty vocals and on-stage presence command attention. Come see Brooke Shive and the 45’s live!

To hear a preview of Brooke Shive & the 45’s:

5 PM: Steve Guyger & the Excellos

5:00 PM - Steve Guyger & The ExcellosClosing out the 2012 Blues Fest is Steve Guyger & the Excellos. Steve Guyger is both a soulful vocalist and a legendary harmonica player. With the backing of his band, The Excellos, the group packs a powerful and energetic on stage presence that is sure to have you on your feet and dancing.

For a preview of Steve Guyger & the Excellos:


Hope to see many familiar faces on Saturday for the biggest party that Paoli has ever seen … Paoli Blues Fest 2012!


Community Matters … Not on Vacation!

I have received emails and calls asking about ‘where’ is Community Matters; was I on vacation? I would love to say that I had traveled to some wonderful vacation place in the world — unfortunately, nothing nearly as exotic or fun. I spent most of last week at Penn with health issues and surgery but am safely back home and on the road to recovery. A few more days and I should be back to normal (?) and re-focused, including an update on the continuing saga of Daylesford and the Jimmy Duffy redevelopment project. If you have questions, concerns, updates, etc. related to community issues, I can be reached via email at

However, in the interim, if you are around this Friday and looking for some summer fun — please consider attending Summer Breezin’, our summer fundraiser for Paoli Blues Fest, at Royer-Greaves School in Paoli. We’ve got some great live music, fantastic silent auction items, food, drinks … even a margarita machine! Here’s the recent press release with details or visit our website, :

Summer Breezin’ Fundraiser on August 3 to Support the 4th Annual Paoli Blues Fest

PAOLI, Pa – In four short years, the Paoli Blues Fest has grown to become the largest annual blues festival in the Philadelphia region. The date for the fourth annual blues festival is Saturday, October 6 and Blues Fest co-chairs Pattye Benson and Marie Thibault are expecting attendance to exceed the 2011 visitor estimate of 15,000. The Blues Fest Committee works year-round to make sure that each year the Blues Fest is bigger and better than the year before; and this year will be no exception.

The free annual community event requires many hardworking volunteers plus lots of money. Each year, the nonprofit organization needs to raise approximately $50K to fund the one-day Paoli Blues Fest. Without the support and generosity of corporate and business sponsors, such as Paoli Hospital, Malvern Federal Bank, Paoli Village Shoppes and WXPN, and grants from PA Council of the Arts, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and Brandywine Conference & Visitors Bureau, the annual event would not be possible.

To guarantee the continued success of the Paoli Blues Fest also requires the help of individuals in the community. The second of 2 summer fundraisers, Summer Breezin’ is Friday, August 3, 5 – 8 PM at Royer-Greaves School, 118 S. Valley Road, Paoli. Royer-Greaves School provides the perfect outdoor venue for the sounds of the Rob Dickenson Trio as you sip cold drinks and munch on appetizers. Enjoy the timeless music of Jimmy Buffet, sway to the reggae sounds of Bob Marley and sing along to classic ‘oldies’ that are sure to have you on your feet.

The fundraiser will feature a silent auction with many exciting items including gift certificates for many local business and restaurants, Phillies tickets, signed baseball memorabilia and personal tours of the Senate Chamber with Sen Andy Dinniman and the State House with Rep Warren Kampf.

Dress is summer casual; the fundraiser tickets are $35 or 4 for $100 and may be purchased online at For questions, contact Pattye Benson, Summer Breezin’ Co-Chair, 610.644.6759.

Santa Arrives Early for Paoli Blues Fest … Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau Awards Festival $10,000 Marketing Grant!

Christmas came early this year for the Paoli Blues Fest!

Paoli Blues Fest, Inc. was notified on Friday that we are a 2012 grant recipient from the Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau Foundation. The Chester County Commissioners approved the CCCVB recommendations for grant recipients and Commissioner Ryan Costello confirmed the $10,000 award with a personal note of congratulations.

Thank you CCCVB for choosing the Paoli Blues Fest to receive one of the top 2012 marketing awards and thank you to our county commissioners for approving the recommendations.

This matching fund award for event marketing will guarantee that the fourth annual blues festival and street fair on Saturday, October 6, 2012 will be even bigger and better than previous years! Below is the press release for the award:

Paoli Blues Fest and Street Fair is Awarded $10,000 as 2012 Grant Recipient from Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation

Just in time for the holidays, the Chester County Commissioners approved the grant recommendations of the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation and the Paoli Blues Fest and Street Fair is a 2012 grant recipient.

Co-chairing the annual blues festival and street fair with Marie Thibault, owner of Partners Advertising, the organization is always looking for funding opportunities. Costs for the annual event are approximately $50K and the country’s economic climate has caused challenges for fund-raising. In addition to funding challenges, the event marketing and marketing costs continue to increase each year, as John Fattibene, partner in Harvest Financial and treasurer of Paoli Blues Fest, Inc. will attest. Generous support for the Paoli Blues Fest is received from individuals and local company and corporate sponsorships, including Paoli Hospital, Paoli Village Shoppes, Malvern Federal Bank, PECO and WXPN, to name a few. Additionally, Paoli Blues Fest receives generous advertising from many sources including Main Line Today Magazine, Main Line Neighbors, Main Line Suburban, the Philadelphia Inquirer and County Life Magazine.

Taking on the role of grant writer for Paoli Blues Fest, Inc., I was thrilled when our non-profit organization was awarded a grant in September from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. This prestigious 2012 Philadelphia Arts Alliance award of $2,000 puts the blues festival among the best arts programs and events in the tri-county region. After only three years, the Paoli Blues Fest has grown to be the largest annual blues festival in the greater Philadelphia region with approximately 15,000 people attending in the festival in 2011.

Encouraged by the grant award from the PA Council of the Arts, I applied for a marketing grant from the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation for the 2012 annual blues festival. The CCCVB contributes half of the collected hotel occupancy tax to the Foundation and this provides the major source of funding for the grant program. In addition, individuals and corporations also make tax-deductible contributions to the Foundation.

The Chester County Commissioners approved the 2012 grant recommendations of the CCCVB and I received the notice and a personal note of congratulations for the Paoli Blues Fest from County Commissioner Ryan Costello on Friday, December 17. The CCCVB awarded a total of $163,300 for 2012 capital grants and marketing and event awards to 21 non-profit organizations. The grants awarded ranged from $800 for the Brandywine Singers to a capital grant of $20,000 to the Schuylkill River Heritage Center for its visitors center. In the marketing and event category, the Paoli Blues Fest was awarded one of the top honors with a $10,000 grant.

As anyone who has written a grant application knows, the process can be tedious and time-consuming, especially given our current economic climate. Because of funding challenges, the competition for grant money has become more competitive and the grant requirements more rigorous. The Paoli Blues Fest Board of Directors and committee are overwhelmed by the generous CCCVB award and honored to be chosen as a 2012 recipient.

The fourth annual blues festival and street fair may not be until October 6, 2012 but the planning will begin in January. The committee is a core group of dedicated individuals who meet throughout the year, planning every detail for the one-day event. The annual blues festival and street fair is a great way to get involved in the community and we are always looking for new volunteers to join us. Whether it is serving on the festival committee or helping out in the beer and wine garden on the day of the blues festival, there is plenty to do and something for everyone.

If you are interested in helping with the 2012 Paoli Blues Fest and street fair, email Pattye Benson at or call 610.644.6759.

Paoli Sings the Blues Fundraiser . . . A Perfect Night!

With perfect weather and a special location, how could the Paoli Sings the Blues fundraiser not be a success? And it was!

Last night’s fundraiser included a Silent Auction and was held on the lawn of Royer-Greaves School on South Valley Road in Paoli. With sounds of the blues band, PokerFace and guest musician Russ Lambert filling the night’s air and the best barbeque provided by Bridgeport Ribhouse, how could it miss?

A Silent Auction included an amazing selection of items from local businesses and restaurants. The single highest auction item sold for $750 – dinner for 8 prepared in your home by Wegmans top chef. A bidding war took that item right down to the wire! The evening also contained a bit of local political campaigning with State Rep candidates Paul Drucker and Warren Kampf both in attendance.

Although the final numbers are not yet available, we know that the evening was highly successful. Not only was the fundraiser a success financially but the evening brought attention to the Paoli business community. The fundraiser marked the kick-off for the excitement to build towards the 2nd Annual Paoli Blues Fest coming on October 2nd! If you would like to sign up to be a volunteer for this free community-wide event, please either email me or visit ou blues fest website,

A special thank you to PokerFace and the guest musicians for providing the perfect musical backdrop; to Alexis Serafin and Linda Goldstein for their over-the-top Silent Auction and attention to detail; to Dr. Joe Coleman and the staff at Royer-Greaves School for graciously opening their doors to us; and to Marie Thibault and John Fattibene without whose hard work, friendship and laughter the evening would never have been possible! Thank you all!

Frozen Custard, Italian Market, Gourmet Coffee, Seafood, Burgers & Fries . . . Fewer Empty Storefronts in Paoli!

Last week State Representative Paul Drucker announced $1 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the Paoli Transportation Center. This money represents a first step in this major land development project and we’re looking forward to the project getting in to full swing!

In addition to the transportation center funding news, it is exciting to see other positive signs of growth in Paoli. Under the leadership of Judy Huey and her brother Rob DiSerafino, Paoli Village Shoppes has become the centerpiece of Paoli. Their creative planning and vision for the future has set the standard for Paoli. Unlike other shopping locations on Lancaster Avenue, you rarely see an empty storefront or a ‘for lease’ sign at this location.

As space become available in Paoli Village Shoppes, there seems to be a new tenant waiting in the wings to take the empty spot. Jake’s, a cute frozen custard place is opening next to the Penn Liberty Bank. Not a traditional ice cream shop, Jake’s is fashioned after a Wisconsin Custard Stand with a menu anchored by “made fresh daily” Wisconsin Style Frozen Custard. Jake’s plans to be open by late summer! Another new addition coming to the Paoli Village Shoppes will be Martini’s. An obvious throwback to the DiSerafino Italian heritage, many of us are anxious to have an Italian market in our own backyard. (BTW – I understand that the owner of Martini’s Italian Market in Paoli Village Shoppes is the son of the owners of the old Martini’s Restaurant that was on Lancaster Ave. in Devon for many years).

Seafood USA in Paoli is now open and I understand has great crab legs and shrimp cocktail! Across from Seafood USA, the old Fellini’s restaurant (which unfortunately closed under Chapter 11), I see has a new banner advertising Grappa Cafe hanging across the doorway. Not sure what kind of food this new BYOB will be serving — I peeked in the window and it looks like new construction is underway.

Paoli Shopping Center has been challenged in today’s economy – they currently seem to have a number of empty storefronts. Many in the community were disappointed when the ice cream shop, Stone Cold Creamery closed their doors . . . but there’s a new banner, Ashys Burger & Fries, hanging over that storefront. Not sure what to expect from Ashys, other than burgers and french fries; also no indication as to opening date . . . stay turned.

Whirled Peace, q new fun frozen yogurt place with outdoor seating, has opened on Lancaster Ave. at the former site of Rita’s Water Ice. Opening just in time for our summer heat wave, Whirled Peace is setting itself apart from more traditional ice cream/frozen yogurt places — they have 4 flavors of frozen yogurt and twists with tons of toppings but it’s a do-it-yourself operation. At the counter you weigh your creation, pay and they hand you a spoon. As a FYI, be careful with how many toppings you add; I witnessed the surprise expression of a customer’s $8 ice cream!

I hope that I have encouraged you to pay a visit to Paoli . . . these small business owners are taking a chance and opening up their eaterys along this section of Lancaster Avenue and need our support!

When talking about Paoli, I’d be remiss not to mention one of Paoli’s most vocal cheerleaders! Always positive and enthusiastic, . . the face (and voice) behind a lot of the new exciting changes in Paoli is Marie Thibault. A long-standing Paoli homeowner and business owner, Marie served as the president of Paoli Business & Professional Association for the last 2 years. Although Marie’s term as president ended in June, her vision and tireless dedication that Paoli be ‘all that it can be’ will remain her legacy.

Full disclosure — Marie and I are close friends and together co-chaired the Paoli Sings the Blues, Paoli’s first bluesfest community event held last October. Successful beyond our wildest expectations with 5,000+ attendees, we are well underway in planning the 2nd Annual Paoli Blues Fest scheduled for October 2, 2010. As part of our fundraising efforts for the annual blues fest, we have scheduled a Paoli Sings the Blues fundraiser for July 30, 7-10 PM at Royer-Greaves School on N. Valley Rd. in Paoli – I will post the invitation and details tomorrow.

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