Valley Forge Music Fair

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Valley Forge Music Fair
Location Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°04′12″N 75°26′28″W / 40.070°N 75.441°W / 40.070; -75.441Coordinates: 40°04′12″N 75°26′28″W / 40.070°N 75.441°W / 40.070; -75.441
Capacity 2,932
Built 1955
Closed 1996

The Valley Forge Music Fair was an entertainment venue located in Devon, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, constructed in theater in the round style with seating for 2,932.[1] Initially established in a tent in 1955, a permanent structure was constructed that closed in 1996. The Valley Forge site became a model that led to the creation of a series of venues located in suburban locations on the East Coast of the United States that became a means to present top performers and productions of popular theatrical musicals at reasonable prices outside of the big cities.


Radio broadcaster Frank Ford and nightclub owner Lee Guber were returning home with their wives after attending a 1954 musical performance presented in a tent. After the two kept commenting on how they could improve on the show they had just seen, Ford's wife told them "Well, why don't you". They went ahead with the idea, leading the creation of Music Fair Enterprises, Inc. Together with Shelly Gross, a television news anchor who had become disenchanted with his profession, the three raised $100,000 to lease the Devon, Pennsylvania site of what they named the Valley Forge Music Fair, which brought in profits exceeding $50,000 in its inaugural season in 1955.[2]

The first facility in Devon was a tent, a not uncommon sight in the mid-1950s. The exposure to the elements, including heat, cold, rain and snow was a problem, and the tent had even been blown down once by strong wind. A permanent structure was constructed on the site in 1973.[2]

The final performance was a Kenny Rogers Christmas show in December 1996.[3] After the closing was announced, with site to be replaced by a Giant supermarket, Gross recalled being conflicted, feeling that it was "like watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand-new Mercedes - mixed emotions."[4] The supermarket closed down after 16 months in business.[2]

Other projects[edit]

The success of their facility in Devon led to efforts to replicate the model, and the creation of other music fairs in suburban locations on the East Coast. An abandoned lime pit in Westbury, New York, a Long Island suburb of New York City, became the site of their second facility, the Westbury Music Fair, established in 1956, also originally housed in a tent, developed on an investment of $150,000.[2][5]

1957 brought the Camden County Music Fair, also a tent, by the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on an investment of $135,000. Such shows as "Damn Yankees" and "No Time for Sergeants," played to sold out audiences. In 1959, the group invested an additional $135,000 to create the Storrowton Music Fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts. In later years they would open facilities near Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Baltimore area, Painters Mills Music Fair as well as the Washington, DC area Shady Grove Music Fair as well as operating theaters in Philadelphia, Cleveland Ohio Front Row Theater and in the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.[2]


The following musicians, actors, and comedians are among those who have appeared at the Valley Forge Music Fair:

  • Howie Mandel
  • Carrot Top
  • Kansas
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Ray Charles
  • Roger Whittaker
  • Woody Allen
  • Jim Croce
  • Huey Lewis and the News
  • The Jacksons
  • Jermaine Jackson
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Gladys Knight and The Pips
  • The Four Tops (with The Temptations)
  • The Temptations (with The Four Tops)
  • The Temptations (solo)
  • Martha and the Vandellas
  • Tina Turner
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Monkees
  • Chaka Khan
  • George Benson
  • Diana Ross
  • Mitzi Gaynor
  • Perry Como
  • Ashford & Simpson
  • Donna Summer
  • Natalie Cole
  • James Brown
  • George Carlin
  • Bette Midler
  • Bernadette Peters
  • The Carpenters
  • The Whispers
  • Bill Cosby
  • Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • DeBarge
  • Millie Jackson
  • The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem
  • Cherish the Ladies
  • Jefferson Starship
  • Anita Baker
  • The 5th Dimension
  • Air Supply
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Kenny G
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Engelbert Humperdink
  • The Jackson 5
  • Jan & Dean
  • Chaka Khan with Rufus
  • B. B. King
  • Liberace
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Little Richard
  • Teena Marie
  • Isley Brothers
  • The Ohio Players
  • Con Funk Shun
  • New Kids On The Block
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Pointer Sisters
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Richard Pryor
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Jay Leno
  • Shalamar
  • Frank Sinatra
  • The Three Stooges
  • Tower of Power
  • Donna Summer
  • Ike Turner
  • Roger Troutman
  • Luther Vandross
  • Dionne Warwick
  • Grover Washington, Jr.
  • Teddy Pendergrass
  • Frank Zappa
  • Holly Dunn
  • Tim Allen
  • Michael Franks
  • Phyllis Hyman
  • George Maharis
  • Vivian Blaine
  • Chicago
  • Neil Diamond
  • Hiroshima
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Smothers Brothers
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn
  • Andy Kaufman
  • KC and the Sunshine Band
  • The Lennon Sisters
  • Tom Jones
  • Rick James
  • Benny Goodman
  • The Oak Ridge Boys
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Crystal Gayle
  • Dan Seals
  • Al Gaspari
  • Martina McBride
  • Restless Heart
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
  • Sha-Na-Na
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Rudy Vallee
  • The Sylvers
  • The Spinners
  • Dr. Samuel Hsu and Ron Matthews
  • Cheech & Chong
  • Faith Hill
  • Joe Walsh
  • Glenn Frey
  • Tiffany
  • Harry Chapin
  • C & C Music Factory
  • Steven Wright
  • Gallagher
  • Rodney Dangerfield
  • Dan Fogelberg
  • Three Dog Night
  • Alabama
  • Kool and the Gang
  • Cheap Trick
  • Eddie Money
  • Foreigner
  • The Band
  • Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
  • Laura Branigan
  • The Osmonds[6]
  • Rod McKuen
  • Jerry Butler
  • The Stylistics
  • The Dells
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • Steve Vai
  • Eric Johnson
  • Joe Satriani
  • Mike Keneally
  • Gene Pitney
  • The Everly Brothers
  • Lee Greenwood
  • Andy Williams
  • Ben E. King


  1. ^ Valley Forge Music Fair
  2. ^ a b c d e Naedele, Walter F. "Sheldon Gross, a founder of Valley Forge Music Fair", The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 23, 2009. Accessed June 26, 2009.
  3. ^ Staff. "FAREWELL TO A FAIR TO REMEMBER \ VALLEY FORGE TO CLOSE DOORS AFTER 41 YEARS", Philadelphia Daily News, December 30, 1996. Accessed June 26, 2009.
  4. ^ Raftery, Kay ; Gordon, Suzanne . "Giant Food Inc. to Raze Philadelphia Music Theater", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13, 1996. Accessed June 26, 2009.
  5. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Shelly Gross, Producer for Broadway and Suburbs, Dies at 88", The New York Times, June 25, 2009. Accessed June 25, 2009.
  6. ^ "Timeline". Osmondmania. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 

bee gee's played valley forge 1973 i was the support act jimmy stevens.

Sonny & Cher in 1976.