May Day saw Malvern come alive with activity as the Malvern Blooms Family Festival turned King Street and Burke Park into a bustling street fair.
Families—many with the family pooch in tow—turned out to enjoy a glorious spring day and browse the offerings of over 150 participating vendors.
The hungry could sample food from local restaurants and bakeries, such as the General Warren Inne, La Locanda II Go and Cupcakes Gourmet. Visitors looking to bring a touch of spring to their gardens could take home plants from Happy Cat Farms, and Ken and Janet's Greenhouse.
Local artists, such as Stuart C. Hammons of Anvil Art, demonstrated their craft-making and sold their wares; and local businesses, like Haly Companies and Mr. Handyman of the Western Main Line, turned out to meet the people they serve.
Visitors could also just relax and enjoy some open-air music. Beam's School of Music presented several bands on King Street; and the pavilion in Burke Park was the site of performances by The Nerve and Malvern singer-songwriter Nate Graham.
According to the Malvern Business and Professional Association (MBPA), which sponsored the annual event, this year's Malvern Blooms focused on promoting the “unique character of Malvern as a destination for dining and shopping in a family-friendly environment.”
“We wanted people to walk away with a small-town feeling,” explained Gretchen Flack, of All in All Occasions, who planned this year's event on behalf of MBPA.
“I was so excited by how the day turned out,” she said. “It had a real energy to it!”
Contributing to the old-fashioned, small-town vibe was a vintage automobile parade, the brainchild of MBPA member and Malvern Flowers and Gifts owner Mike Urban. The cars drew attention as they paraded down Warren Avenue and up Bridge Street ending in the parking lot of the National Bank of Malvern.
Kids, in particular, were spoiled for choice as Burke Park was converted into a veritable carnival, with a moon bounce, arcade games, crafts and face painting. The Little Publisher set up a table where children could make their owns scrapbooks and the Home Depot donated supplies for kids to build planter boxes.
For the first time, Malvern Blooms partnered with a local charity, Sweet Baby Zane, which raises money for families affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Its founders, Malvern residents Hillary and Keith Schmid, were at Malvern Blooms to promote awareness of the deadly disease, which claimed the life of their daughter, Zane, and to raise money for the cause.
“While raising money is important,” Hillary Schmid said, “we really wanted to teach people that there is a simple blood test to detect if a person is an SMA carrier.”
“A lot of children volunteered their time,” she continued, “which is particularly appropriate since children are the ones most affected by Type I SMA, most of them not living past their first birthday.”
The volunteers collected donations in buckets, each decorated in honor or memory of a child who is living with or has succumbed to SMA. Raffles and donations alone raised over $500 for the cause, and additional funds are expected from vendors who pledged a percentage of their sales, as well as the MBPA, which is donating a portion of its proceeds.
Funds raised will be donated to Families of Spinal Muscual Atrophy (FSMA) in order to puchase specially designed—and very expensive—car seats necessary for children affected by the Type I SMA.
Sponsorships were important to helping make Malvern Blooms free for visitors. “Being a community event, we didn't want to exclude anybody,” Flack explained.
Among the sponsors of Malvern Blooms were Wegmans, Main Line Today, Burkholder Brothers Landscaping, The Little Publisher, Posh Collections and Renehan Building Group.
The day's real standouts though, Flack said, were the volunteers, including Malvern Boy Scout Troop 7, the Great Valley Girls' Lacrosse Team and a team of volunteers from All in All Occasions. “They turned out to give something back to the community, and the event wouldn't have been what it was without them.”