For the 108th year in a row the Arden Fair was held in Arden Delaware. And for the eight, nineth or tenth time the Arden/Wilmington Israeli dance session held a dance demo during the fair in the historic Gild hall. We were there to cover this as we followed the tracks of Sean Davis as he both took in the fair and participated in the dancing in various ways.

In 1894, the US enacts Labor day designated as the first Monday in September. Eventually that weekend would be known as Labor Day weekend. By that point the labor movement had been growing for some 50 years. Two influencial labor leaders, generally thought to be behind the creation of labor day, were these two gentlemen, Samual Gompers and Peter McGuire. Gompers had worked his way to head the International Cigarmen union while McGuire had come to lead the union representing carpenters and both were involved in the formation of the American Federation of Labor as an umbrella organization emcompassing these and other unions. These individual unions and the federation felt strongly that at least one day a year should be put aside to honor the average American worker.
Somewhat coincident with the above is the attempt to change US tax code in a movement led by Henry George pictured leftmost. In the Philadelphia area this consummates with the purchase of the Derrickson farm just below the Pennsylvania border in Delaware and just above Wilmington. in 1907 a Gild Hall is built to house all of the activities of the Arden communities.
Since 1907 the Arden community has held a end of summer fair centered around the Gild hall. This year, for the 108th year, this custom was repeated. Sean Davis had indicated to this web site that he would like to partake of the festivities which includes a book swap, jazz and music bands, dancing demos and plenty of artisan kiosks (although no longer solely from this community as the kiosks represent products from around the country) to shop to one's heart's content. To accompany Sean we sent one of our photographers who normally participates in the Israeli dance demo but who was recovering from an operation and somewhat dance restricted.
With an outdoor fair, weather can be problematic. And, the Gild, being built in 1907, has no provision for Air conditioning. Two years ago, if memeory serves, the skies threatened but the fair was able to move along without disruption. Last year, 2013, was exceddingly hot especially for the dance demos performed within the gild hall. But this year the weather was perfect. Highs in the mid 80's and generally not a cloud in the sky. After a drive from the Media area, Sean entered the Alden enclave off of Marsh Road, Del Rt 3. There is quite a difference between the Wilmington suburbs as exhibited by Marsh Road and the rustic cattle paths of Arden as we think you can see in this montage.
This is not the first year that Sean is visiting the fair and the fair grounds start when the cow path he is presently on makes a 90% angle onto "The Highway" as that stretch of road is called. But for Sean and other visitors, the unoffical beginning of the fair is when he passes the sculpted flowered girl pictured here. Every year, not surpringly, she looks as young as she did the year before so we can conclude that she is well tended to with a fresh supply of cut flowers in her hair.
Just before the turn onto the highway, we have arrived at the 2014 Arden fair. A set of bulletin boards greet visitors as well as an playground area set for kids. This year the play area was larger with a ferris wheel and pony ride the featured events
As Sean turns onto "The Highway", we see kiosk after Kiosk along this road. With the beautiful weather there are large crowds. Sometimes it seems like all of Delaware turns out for the event. Politicians abound when it is an election year and Pennsylvania residents are known to cross the border and attend.
But it's not only people who promenade along "The highway". Some bring their four legged friends who also enjoy the walk as we can see in these pictures.
One of the buildings along "the Highway" is the buzzware center. And, this center is used during the fair for "holistic" practices. In some way, although neither Sean or this website can tell you why, this translates to wizards and the like and in this montage, where the pictures are taken in front of the Buzzware center, you can see a set of wizards (or perhaps imposters in wizard outfits) greeting those in atendance.
Sean continues his walk heading to the another structure, The Gild Hall. These pictures taken at random show you the activities of the fair around noon.
However, one familiar face is behind a kiosk and Sean heads to this. For the last several fairs Sean and our photographer, Marc, have talked with this woman who is a fund of information about bees and honey. This is Suzette Jackson who runs the Rock Run Hollow company. Suzette is alone this Saturday but in the past has been accompanied by other family members. Suzeete is an example of the lasting effects of the fair on both sides of these tables. For many of the attendees, whether just visiting or vending, the fair is a yearly event that they look forward to and set on their schedule.
In the Gild Hall, consistent with activities dating back to the 2010 Arden Fair, we see the book swap in operation. For the last few weeks the volunteers have been collecting used books to be sold and this mass of books in on display within the hall as you can see in this montage.
We've cropped some pictures to show you that Sean is doing his own browsing within the Gild Hall. In the end we are told he purchased a handful of books.
It's a little before 12:30. The Israeli dance demo is not scheduled until 1PM. So, it's over to the Shady Grove. The Grove is a part of the Arden community with a band stand. Today, performers galore are scheduled to create a whole day of music. The crowd in the grove can buy beers, soft drinks and food and many use this site for impromptu lunches. Others are chasing their kids as you can also see here. But the vast majority are there to listen to the music.
While Sean is in the Grove, there are two sets of performers for the crowd's enjoyment. At the moment we have a name to go with the second group but we still have no name to go with pictures of this first group as shown here.
And this is the second group that Sean saw playing that day. They go by the name of The Dinkendo Family Band headed up by the musician Egalitarian. This is a west African group and these performer's genre seemed reminescent of Afro-pop.
It's close to 1PM and Sean heads back to the Gild Hall. Now, for you the reader's information, the Dance gild hosts three dance genres. On the first Sunday of the month is the contra dance. On Wednesdays throughout the year the Gild Hall sees sessions of Israeli and International dance. Generally, on the day of the fair, demos of Israeli and International dance occur between 1 & 3PM with the sessions alternating as to who goes first and who follows. This montage shows the process of preparing for the Israeli dance demo and rightmost is Sharon Kleban, leader of the group, addressing the crowd just before the first dance.
The first Israeli dance of this demo is underway. We're sure Sharon has picked somerthing easy to perform. This year the number of dancers is down in number. One dancer, Barbara, is out with ankle problems. Others are travelling or in some way unavailable. Our photographer normally augments this group but he was somewhat incompacitated due to a recent surgery. Nevertheless, the music starts and so does the dancing.
Before each dance Sharon informs the audience of the title, the style and other pertinent information of the dance that is to be done. Sharon has selected a set of dances that get progressively harder with more moves into and out of the circle and more complicated steps. Here we have some pictures of the dancers about half way through their performance
You can see from the prior montages that the dancing is in the midst of the book swap. But there are seats available to view the dancing. This montage focuses on the audience. It's clear that a claim of 100% rapt attention would be incorrect but several of these spectators seem actually interested.
After the dance demo, as is the custom, Sharon invites the audience up to join the circle. There is a variety of beginner - very easy - Israeli dances for her to choose from as she introduces very basic Israeli dance steps. We catch portions of the circle as Sharon introduces the steps and the choreography of the coming dance. Finally, we see the circle as they await the start of the music.
But, in reviewing the photographs, this web site has discovered that there were some actual Israeli dancers in the audience who happened to be visiting the fair. This montage records the visit to the fair of two sisters, Lisa and Joan, who regularly dance at the Germantown Sunday morning session. Lisa especially deserves credit for her contributions to the Sunday session given that she works in New York City and commutes on the weekends back to the Philadelphia area.
And, to prove our point, in looking at the files from this web site, we present these sisters as they recently danced on a Sunday morning at the Germantown session. In the year plus that they have been regulars at the morning session at Germantown they have presented themselves as serious students of Israeli dance and their presence during Sunday mornings is appreciated by all the dancers at that session and we don't doubt that their presence here was as equally appreciated.
Anyway, as the Israeli dance demo morphed into a demo for International dance around 2PM, Sean made his leave to once again meander along "the Highway". These pictures show that the fair is still going strong.

And, in retracing his steps, Sean exited the fair in short order. And this ends our coverage of the 108th Arden Fair. If you were there we're sure you enjoyed it because the weather could not have been nicer. If you didn't go, set your calendars for Sept 5, 2015 and we'll see you there.