Kennett Blooms Floral Flash and Kennett Summerfest, both first-time events, brought beauty and a welcome sense of community celebration to Kennett Square last weekend. The weekend celebrated the beauty of flowers, the taste of Chester County’s terroir, and the skill and talent of local floral designers and winemakers who work their alchemy with what grows in local soil.

Liz Megill crafted larger-than-life poppies and butterflies growing out of a meadow created by Dannie Wright at the Floral Flash installation at Work2gether.

Floral Flash—Splashes of color and beauty surprise and delight

Each Floral Flash installation featured a profusion of fresh flowers and plants that transformed a familiar Kennett Square location. “The displays also reflected the unique style, personality, culture, and floral aesthetic of those who designed them,” says Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Bo Wright. “Each designer took the brief we gave them and created something spectacularly beautiful. We’re very happy with how the community responded, too—from the families who enjoyed the swings, hopscotch, and sidewalk chalk created by Joyful Fields Floral Designs at the Presbyterian Church courtyard playground to all the selfies and photos we’ve seen of people enjoying and interacting with each location. Anchor sponsorship from Longwood Gardens made Floral Flash possible, and we’re grateful for their generous partnership.”

Maria Navarrete-Olvera created an enchanting display around the tree between Nomadic Pies and Bove Jewelers on State Street.

Maria Navarrete-Olvera, owner and floral designer of Zena Florist, thoroughly enjoyed designing and installing two Floral Flash displays with her team. She created an enchanting display around the tree between Nomadic Pies and Bove Jewelers as well as the stunning butterfly in the archway she and her team built on South Broad Street. “Aside from the joy of creating beautiful focal points for the community, being able to see the interest and excitement of such a wide array of individuals and families really was amazing,” she says. “Witnessing such a diversity of age, gender, and ethnicity truly experiencing joy at our creations was priceless.” Her designs wove together color and joy and layers of meaning—from the bright beauty of an enormous butterfly to the tiniest details like succulents (Navarrete-Olvera’s “floral signature”) tucked into moss.

The transformed tree in Braeloch’s beer garden was a collaboration between Katie Verdieck and Mara Tyler.

Several of the installations were collaborations, enabling designers with different areas of expertise to share inspiration and resources. Katie Verdieck of The Gardeness and Mara Tyler of The Farm at Oxford worked together to transform a tree in Braeloch’s beer garden. “While there were challenges with the display being temporary in nature, it was fun to not have to worry about how the plants would work together in the long run (sun, soil, and water conditions) and just get to enjoy the artistic elements of each plant—the colors, textures, and shapes,” Verdieck says. She also enjoyed the opportunity to take a break from her busy season to create something fun that she could visit with her husband and nine-month old daughter. “I’m hoping this becomes a yearly event and look forward to evolving the display in different ways each year,” she says.

Jen Hahn and Amy Lucas brought new life to the iconic vintage truck at The Creamery.

The Creamery’s horticulturalist Jen Hahn and Amy Lucas of Selah Flower Farm brought new life to the iconic vintage truck at The Creamery. The two have collaborated on other projects and enjoy working together. “Having the opportunity to really dress up the Creamery truck has long been a dream of mine and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to make that happen,” says Hahn.

Liz Megill of Allaire Event Rentals & Design enjoyed the creative freedom Floral Flash gave her to try something different and use new materials. What she loved most, though, was talking with people as she and her team installed their larger-than-life poppies and butterflies at Work2gether on State Street. “We got the chance to interact with people as they walked by, or enjoyed dinner at La Verona—even as they drove by,” she says. “Answering questions and watching them take photos with our poppies made it even more enjoyable to create.”

Dannie Wright created a wild, whimsical, and richly textured display at the Kennett Squared sculpture.

Dannie Wright of Hilltop Flower Design added a beautiful meadow of real plants to Megill’s display and also created a wild, whimsical, and richly textured display that arced upwards at the Kennett Squared sculpture across the street. “I incorporated different materials, plants, and flowers than I would typically use,” she says. She enjoyed the challenge of the parameters—creating an installation that would last for three days—and the experience has inspired her to use more dried florals in future projects.

Designers were inspired by the work of their fellow Floral Flash creators too. “I really loved being able to walk around town with my teens to show them all the installations and I was proud to be counted among such great talent,” Hahn says.

The positive energy and celebratory community spirit were palpable as hundreds of festival participants gathered to enjoy the inaugural Kennett Summerfest on Sunday.

Summerfest celebrates local wine, spirits, and art

While the area’s horticultural history runs deep—going back well over a hundred years—local viniculture is a testament to more recent experiments with the area’s agricultural potential. The rain held off and sunshine prevailed on Sunday afternoon for the event that Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Table called “the best new thing to happen to Kennett Square.”

Artist Kader Boly creates art at Kennett Summerfest.

The positive energy and celebratory community spirit were palpable as hundreds of festival participants gathered in the 100 block of South Broad Street on Sunday afternoon to enjoy the best of local wine and spirits, along with great food, to the tune of music from some of the region’s best young jazz musicians from all across Pennsylvania playing with Bryan Tuk + The Big Brass Ones. Art by a phenomenally talented selection of artists and artisans further enhanced the event. Summerfest participants enjoyed work by local favorites including Trover Nine Studio, Frances Roosevelt, Patricia Walkar, and special guest Kader Boly.

Copperglen Still Works poured gin and dessert liqueurs for enthusiastic Kennett Summerfest participants.

Susan and Don Mahoney of Copperglen Still Works say they could not have been happier with the Kennett Summerfest experience. “Since this was our first festival since coming out of COVID, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the response was amazing. We had guests lined up to sample our gin and dessert liqueurs,” they say. “Sincere thanks to Kennett Collaborative for such an excellent, well-organized, and well-orchestrated event!”

James Wilson of Nottingham’s Wayvine winery and vineyard agrees. “Summerfest was an absolute hit! We couldn’t believe the turn out and how excited Kennett was about supporting local wines and businesses. We are excited to be a part of it again next year.”

“All of us at Kennett Collaborative want to thank our generous sponsors and our great team of willing, community-spirited, and flexible volunteers who stepped in to make everything for this first-time event run so smoothly,” says Wright. “We’re also grateful to our Summerfest committee—Deanna Johnson of Shoppe Marché, Virginia Mitchell of Galer Estate, Corien Siepelinga of Square Pear Gallery, Jack Lodge of Chester County’s Brandywine Valley, Enrique Pallares of Casa Carmen, Dan Dailey of Letty’s Tavern, Liz Megill of Allaire, and Bryan Tuk of GrooveKSQ. The contributions of many different people and organizations made Kennett Summerfest a success, and we’re already looking forward to next year.”

“For Kennett Blooms in 2021, Kennett Collaborative created beauty people could enjoy safely—from a stroll down the Genesis walkway to meeting outside in very small groups for coffee or lunch at the parklet. This year, with Floral Flash, Kennett Blooms has come into its own as a true community event. After everything we’ve gone through over the past few years, last weekend—between Floral Flash and Summerfest—we saw Kennett blooming in every sense of the word.”

Photos by Becca Matthias