by Ruth R. Russell

Crowd at the Home & Garden Festival.

The dictionary reports that May Day is celebrated in many countries as a traditional springtime festival. That definition certainly defines this year’s Chestnut Hill Home & Garden Festival, planned for Sunday, May 1.

The traditional street fair will be set up along Germantown Avenue between Rex and Willow Grove Avenues, on Sunday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to 5 p,m. As usual there will be something old, something new and something NOT blue but green.

Old, but beloved, will be varied vendors, art, music, amusement rides for kids, face painting and activities such as wall climbing, plus plenty of food stations, according to Peggy Miller, of the Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA), which is hosting the event.

New this year will be Maypole dancing, said Miller. “Miss Nathalie will demonstrate Maypole dancing in two shows, which the kids will certainly enjoy. This is specially planned because the festival is on May Day.

“Maypole dancing is a historically-based dance that in the past welcomed spring and was originally done every day not just on May 1,” according to Nathalie Rovner, of Move and Groove.  “It was a way to wake up Mother Nature and also to predict the weather.”

She will bring a portable Maypole, with attached ribbons in various colors. “They are petals of flowers and can also predict rain,” said Rovner, who will be costumed as a May Queen and explain all this to participating kids from 1 to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. in front of Bredenbeck’s at Germantown and Abington Avenues.

Kids participating in yoga at the festival.

“This is an interactive program,” she stressed, adding that Move and Groove offers multicultural programs such as Irish and Mexican dancing and Halloween Madness to children in schools and libraries.

Also new at the festival, Miller reported, “is a vertical garden, available at Laurel Hill Gardens, 8125 Germantown Ave. Philip Dominic will have a display at Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike, and show how you can have a ‘living wall’ with an irrigation system.”

The color for the Festival once again is green. “Eco Alley is returning to the Home and Garden Festival. It debuted at last year’s festival and was an instant success, with a whole group of sustainable businesses exhibiting their products and services (on Highland Avenue, west of Germantown Avenue).

“Organized by GRINCH (GReenINChestnutHill), Eco Alley will have plenty of family activities including live music by the band, Urban Drawl, and kiddie yoga demonstrations,” said Miller.

Besides companies with eco-friendly wares, various environmental organizations will be on hand including Friends of the Wissahickon, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Pennsylvania Resources Council and Weavers Way. PECO Smart Ideas is sponsoring Eco Alley.

Some local residents hanging out with the Mad Hatter.

More than 150 home and garden vendors will be set up along Germantown Avenue. Many are returning with yard ideas, garden sculpture, plants, watercolors, jewelry, quilts, toys and clothes for kids, recycled products and more. The Delaware Valley Daylily Society and the American Rhododendron Society will have displays.

New participants include Artista, of Mt. Airy, handcrafted items; Hannah Dee Interiors, of Mt. Airy, interior design;  Jeff Kohr, of Mt. Airy, wood turner; Matthew Sharrat, of Mt. Airy, wood worker; Charles Todd, of Mt. Airy Custom Furniture; and Andy McCurdy, of Mt. Airy, Small Garden Irrigation.

Six musical groups will entertain — all back by popular demand, according to Miller. The performances will be by Six Pack, City Rhythm Orchestra, Dukes of Destiny, Melissa Martin & the Mighty Rhythm Kings, Carlos Munhoz and Maplewood Music Studio.

The emphasis on fun for families continues. There will be a free train ride along Germantown Avenue for youngsters. Live animals from Elmwood Zoo will visit and small adoptable ones will be found at the Pennsylvania SPCA booth. Look for beehives and honey-making exhibits.

Food from the restaurants of Chestnut Hill will be available from one end of the festival to the other as well as yummy snacks such as funnel cakes, cotton candy and kettle corn.

Presenting sponsor of the festival is Subaru once again while the returning media sponsor is B101 Radio, which will be on site with games and prizes.

Admission to the festival is free. Parking is available for a fee on Chestnut Hill parking lots. Rain date is May 15 (May 8 is Mother’s Day.) For more information, call the CHBA (8416 Germantown Ave.) at 215-247-6696 or visit