Friday Night Lights at ChesLen Preserve draws largest crowd to date

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Victory Brewing created a signature brew especially for Friday Night Lights, using ingredients grown at the ChesLen Preserve. (Patrick K. Henry)

Victory Brewing created a signature brew especially for Friday Night Lights, using ingredients grown at the ChesLen Preserve. (Patrick K. Henry)

NEWLIN — It was a night of good drinks, good music and good company at the sixth annual Friday Night Lights, held at the ChesLen Preserve on Friday night.

The event, hosted by the Natural Lands Trust, invites the public out to the 1,263-acre preserve to sit outside and watch a sunset, enjoy some wine and beer, listen to local bands and stargaze with local astronomy clubs.

The event has grown over the past six years, with 2016 proving to be the largest gathering yet with 700 tickets being sold.

“It’s our biggest crowd yet,” said Oliver Bass, vice president of communications with Natural Lands Trust. “It has been growing every year and we’re just delighted and grateful that so many people want to come out and support the work of Natural Lands Trust and have some fun, too.”

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Guests who purchased tickets, which had to be ahead of time because the event did sell out, received two free beverage vouchers, good for any choice of beer or wine on hand from Victory Brewing or Borderland Vineyard.

Premium tickets gave an added perk of VIP parking, prime seating for the music and a collectors’ pint glass.

Victory Brewing, which has been a sponsor of Friday Night Lights since the beginning, created a new beer, made just for the event, called Firelight.

“It’s a light, summery ale and very refreshing,” said Bryan Audet, general manager of the Downingtown brewpub. “We used mint and juniper in the beer that we harvested from the (ChesLen) Preserve. We wanted to use something we could get locally and we wanted to choose a style that really fit the event.”

The beer was created for Friday Night Lights, but those who didn’t attend can still try the new, signature brew at the Victory locations.

“We’ll sell it at our brewpubs as well,” Audet said. “I brought about two-thirds of what we have here tonight and if it goes well, I’ll bring it back and put it on draft in Downingtown, Kennett Square and Parkesburg pubs.”

Attendees who may not have brought food with them, or who were just in the mood for a campfire, could enjoy s’mores over a bonfire.

Ben Arnold and Johnny Miles & the Waywards entertained the guests throughout the night while the sky turned from pink to inky black with the setting sun.

Once the sky was dark enough, people could walk a short distance from the main area to where three local astronomy clubs were set up with their various telescopes, pointed at the moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

Natural Lands Trust, which is a nonprofit land conservation organization, thought of the idea of holding this event to be something unique to bring attention to the land and the group itself.

“We want to introduce new people to Natural Lands Trust by doing some things that aren’t just traditional bird walks and nature hikes,” Bass said. “This is a little bit of a different kind of evening.”

Though the Natural Lands Trust has over 15 preserves throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, Friday Night Lights is always held at the ChesLen Preserve because of its scenery.

“This field kind of has a magical feel to it,” Bass said. “You have the sun setting behind (the stage) and the native grass meadows around. It’s just a perfect setting.”

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Community, Environment

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