The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Cups by Erin Moran, who works at the Button Factory in Portsmouth. Courtesy photo.

NH Open Doors

When: Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10
Where: Statewide
Contact: Visit You can also enter the Spring NH Open Doors Passport for a chance to win prizes, forms for which can be downloaded from the website. To enter the contest, you must visit five Spring NH Open Doors locations and have the vendors sign and date your passport form.

Opening doors for spring
First-ever Spring NH Open Doors this weekend

By Kelly Sennott

 New Hampshire artisans, farmers, chefs and craftspeople open shop a little earlier this year — they invite the public into their studios, workshops and retail spaces for the first-ever Spring NH Open Doors this weekend.

The event, presented by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, is normally held just once a year in November. It’s a self-led tour showcasing the people, places and products of New Hampshire through demonstrations, tastings and tax-free shopping opportunities. League members felt it was time for some springtime action.
“The fall event is so popular with people touring around the state,” Kate Sussman, League operations manager, said via phone. “We thought it would be great for those excursions to happen around mud season, while everything is waking up after winter.”
The tour, which happens Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10, is almost identical to that in the fall except participants may find different flavors and aesthetics — crafters are gearing up for a slew of summer buyers instead of Christmas shoppers, and brewers might be preparing summer ales instead of winter lagers.
Eighty vendors participate this April, and Sussman hopes this transforms NH Open Doors to a twice-a-year event. Whatever you miss in November, you can do in April, and vice versa.
“Really, over the course of two days, there are only so many places you can make it to,” Sussman said. 
Lots of artists are getting ready to show off what they’ve been spending all winter making. Dave Emerson, a Shaker craftsman and longstanding League member, said he’s “absolutely delighted” the League decided to spearhead an April studio tour. All the artists are.
“Because of course, we’re all broke this time of year!” he said, joking. 
Emerson worked the Hopkinton Farmer’s Market this past season, but he said it’s nice having people come in. He’ll be at his Old Ways Traditions studio, where there will be Shaker furniture, wood-turned bowls, plates, platters, toys, antiques and tools for kids and adults to try out — saws, drills, planes, spokeshaves, and 12 lathes. Everyone’s invited to try and make a wooden spoon.
Emerson said the old-fashioned town of Canterbury is popular this weekend because it’s home to such a high concentration of artists, farmers and producers. While you’re there, you can stop at the Fox Country Smoke House to tour the facility and eat the bacon, beef jerky and 12 cheese varieties, or you can taste the maple syrup at Hutchinson Family Sugarhouse, or the beer at Canterbury Aleworks down the street. 
“There’s a lot going on in Canterbury,” Emerson said. “You’re not driving through strip malls. You’re in Canterbury. It will feel like the old days. … The nice thing is, nobody has to drive very far to get a lot of variety here. … It’s one of the more rewarding events of the year, because people bother to get out there and appreciate what craftspeople do, and see what they’re doing. So for us, it helps us recharge our batteries, for sure. It’s a nice feeling.”
Diane Louise Paul, a leather craftsperson who specializes in pre-Civil War styles, was also excited for the springtime event. She frequents winter farmers markets like Emerson does, but otherwise the time from January to summer is pretty quiet. This weekend, she’ll be at Sullivan Creative in downtown Concord, hand-stitching leather goods and showing off her custom belts and buckles alongside artists Nancy O’Connor (weaver), Kate ODell (painter) and Pam Sullivan (contemporary jewelry artist). They’ll all be demonstrating as well.
Sussman said it’s a good idea to plan your trip beforehand rather than try to squeeze in all the stops you can — lots of farmers and artists make their homes in places with poor cell reception. The NH Open Doors website includes maps, participation information and itineraries. 

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