Flavors of Girl Scout cookie season

Girls learn sales and leadership skills while selling Samoas and Thin Mints

Girl Scout cookie season is underway, combining tasty treats with the opportunity to support local youth initiatives. Ginger Kozlowski, communications and public relations manager for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, and Sheila Morris, a troop leader in Concord, talked about this year’s sales, including how to buy cookies, the impact of New Hampshire’s Cookie Weekend, troop goals and ways to support without buying cookies.

What are the different ways people can purchase Girl Scout cookies across New Hampshire this season?

Kozlowski: It’s great to interact with a Girl Scout at her cookie booth. You will help her see that people support Girl Scouts and she will be happy to tell you all about the cookies and her goals. Booths are all over the place, but only until March 17. You can find a cookie booth near you by visiting girlscoutcookies.com and entering your zip code.

Tell us about the governor’s proclamation of Cookie Weekend and how you anticipate that impacting cookie sales.

Kozlowski: We are happy that Gov. Sununu proclaimed Feb. 16 through Feb. 18 Girl Scout Cookie Weekend in New Hampshire. We hope it will help us celebrate by supporting the Girl Scout Cookie program, which funds so much of our activities. Did you know that all the proceeds stay local?

Morris: Our troop has set a goal to sell 7,000 boxes of cookies so we can take one last big trip in 2025.

What are some of the goals or activities that local Girl Scouts are aiming to fund with the proceeds from this year’s cookie sales?

Kozlowski: Many Girl Scouts put their cookie proceeds toward summer camp, membership, community action projects, and fund cool experiences. On Facebook, Girl Scouts have posted goals like going to Space Camp and helping a women’s shelter food pantry. Many are looking forward to field trips.

Morris: We are known as the ‘travel troop.’ Our main focus has been travel and community service. We’re looking forward to kayaking and hiking in August in the Lakes Region and taking one last big trip in 2025. These trips have been amazing. They have given girls new adventures and bonding. Some of these girls might never travel without this troop. To see a girl overcome her anxiety to do something is priceless. To see them enjoy new experiences is delightful. The trips have also given them travel skills in budgeting, exploring places to go, getting around and safety. We also have tried to do a service project on our trips when it is possible. For example, we spent a day at a local school doing crafts and teaching them games and songs when we went to St. Lucia last spring. This is such a rewarding experience.

Can you explain the ‘Unbox the Future’ theme and how cookie sales help Girl Scouts achieve this vision?

Kozlowski: Unbox the Future simply refers to how you support the growth and future of girls by buying Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scouting is all about giving girls the opportunity to explore the world and follow their dreams in a supportive environment. Our mission is to create young women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

Morris: And I see that in all my Girl Scouts. I have seen them come out of their shell and become a confident leader. I have seen them mentor younger girls. I have seen them learn to discuss and decide as a group, while being respectful of different opinions. It’s amazing to see them tackle community issues or plan an overseas trip.

What are some key skills that Girl Scouts are learning through cookie sales?

Kozlowski: Oh, that’s easy. Girl Scouts is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, so we have five specific skills we find essential to leadership, success and life in general: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Morris: I have seen these girls flourish in all aspects when dealing with the public at booths and become more confident as the years have gone by. I have personally seen my Girl Scouts grow in all these areas. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

For those looking to support local Girl Scouts but who may not want cookies themselves, what options do they have for contributing to the troops?

Kozlowski: The Council’s Gift of Caring program is perfect for this. Every Girl Scout has the ability to take donations at their cookie booth to put toward this program, which provides cookies to the military and hometown heroes. And if you don’t run across a cookie booth by March 17 when sales end, you can still donate at the council’s website at girlscoutsgwm.org.

Morris: If you do that at our cookie booth, you will also directly help our Girl Scouts.

Here are this year’s cookie flavors, according to girlscoutsgwm.org. Cookies cost $6 per box.

Adventurefuls — “brownie-inspired cookies topped with caramel flavored creme”
Do-Si-Dos — “oatmeal sandwich cookies with a peanut butter filling”
Girl Scout S’mores — “graham sandwich cookies with chocolatey and marshmallowy flavored filling”
Lemon-Ups — “crispy lemon cookies”
Samoas — “crisp cookies with caramel, coconut and chocolatey stripes”
Tagalongs — “crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolatey coating”
Thin Mints — “chocolatey cookies made with natural oils of peppermint”
Toffee-Tastic — gluten-free buttery cookies with toffee bits
Trefoils — “shortbread cookies”

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of GSUSA.

Fresh from the snowy farm

Winter farmers markets offer a taste of sunnier seasons

Farmers markets aren’t just for the warmer months; some continue to operate through the winter, featuring a variety of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts.

Via email, organizers and vendors discussed how these markets adapt to the colder season and what unique offerings they bring to the community.

Concord Farmers Market

Brenda White, with input from her fellow organizers for the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market, discussed how this season is going.

How has this year’s winter farmers market differed from previous years in terms of vendor participation and customer attendance?

This year, our fledgling market has grown in visibility through our social media advertising and new signs that are more visually appealing and draw the attention of passersby. We worked with a local Concord artist, RS Creative, who designed our fresh, new logo. Attendance is up from an average of 275 customers to roughly 425 customers. We have gained some wonderful vendors to add to a diverse offering. The produce and products that you can find range from fish, meats and eggs to fresh microgreens, root veggies, fresh baked treats and bread. We have vendors who make wonderful soaps, lotions, candles and dog treats. We even have a vendor with fresh cut winter flowers … and microbrews and wine. There is such a wide variety of local goodness.

What unique challenges does operating a farmers market in the winter present, and how have you and the vendors adapted to these conditions?

Finding a location that works for all patrons and gives us enough space to set up. We are grateful for the generosity that Stephen Duprey has gifted this market in its early years by giving us a location to have a market to provide easy access for customers to obtain amazing local products. 7 Eagle Square is a bright, beautiful open space with two levels of shopping. It is a great location for folks who are either choosing to walk around downtown or park close by for quick easy in and out.

Can you share some success stories or particularly popular initiatives from this year’s winter market?

Manus Basket: Every Saturday we have a basket set up to gather donations to support families in need of food. So we have partnered with The Boys & Girls Club of Central and Northern New Hampshire. How it works is that each market Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market purchases food from vendors at the market to place in the cooler or basket for the Boys & Girls Club. We have budgeted a certain amount a week to spend. In addition to that, customers and vendors purchase or donate items to add to the basket and cooler as well while they shop. This supports the vendors as well as helping our local community.

We were excited to host a sing-along with Santa in December this year. It was well-received and fun for the customers’ children and families. … As always, the Merrimack County Conservation District has continued to offer its Granite State Market Match and Veteran Value Bucks programs. Through the Granite State Market Match, SNAP/EBT recipients can double the amount they are spending on food items offered at the market. For example, if $20 is charged to a SNAP card, the recipient will receive $40 in vouchers to spend on food items. The Veteran Value Bucks program provides $20 to veterans and active service members once a month to shop for any items at the market. These programs allow more customers to visit our market, while also keeping more dollars local. It’s a win for everyone.

How important are winter farmers markets for the vendors’ businesses, and what role do they play in the local community during the colder months?

There are very few markets in the winter months, and it is not easy for vendors to get their products out to consumers on their own during the winter months without this farmers market community. The market provides a central location with easy access for the public to get all their needs in one location. We have a variety of meats including traditional beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and now a new vendor who provides ostrich. We have cheeses, yogurt, beer, soaps, bread, pastries, gluten-free pastries and bread, vegetables, syrup, honey, jams, eggs, beef chips, mushrooms, coffee, microgreens, dog food, popcorn, nuts, soft pretzels, rolls and flowers. These amazing vendors are local and love to support and help their communities and provide fresh locally grown/made products.

What measures have you implemented to encourage community engagement and ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for visitors during the winter season?

We are fortunate that we can use the Storr Street parking garage’s top level to park and use the ramp to bring products down to 7 Eagle Square easily for setup. Customers can use the garage’s top level as well during business hours of the market. The building has an elevator so that patrons can access both floors of the market easily if they prefer not to use the stairs. Walkways and the courtyard are maintained well to be sure that the area is free of ice and snow so customers have easy and safe access to the building. We also have local musicians who are scheduled by NH Music Collective to entertain at the market to add another family-friendly feel to the experience.

Looking forward, are there any new plans or ideas you’re excited to introduce to the winter farmers market in future seasons?

We hope to have a new permanent location in the future that will give us more space and make it even more convenient for customers to join us.

Joyberry Farms

Amy Joyce and Brad Ikenberry of Joyberry Farms, based in Mason, joyberryfarms.com. Find them at the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

large mushrooms sitting on table in front of sign text Joyberry Farm - farm fresh mushrooms
Joyberry Farms. Courtesy photo.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

We are the owners of Joyberry Farms, a small family-owned and -operated farm in Mason. We cultivate fresh mushrooms and create unique mushroom products. At the markets you can find a variety of fresh mushrooms each week, as well as a variety of dried products like mushroom coffee, teas, dried mushroom soups and risotto. We also make wellness mushroom powders.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

The sales in the winter tend to drop a little bit, due to attendance and weather. However, each year, as we grow, we also see a rise in our sales trends from repeat and new customers that love our products.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

The cold weather definitely makes farming a lot harder, but it also gives us time to slow down and be more creative.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Mushrooms, like vegetables, grow differently in each season. We offer different ‘cold weather’ mushrooms in the winter than in the summer, but some varieties grow all year-round.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Although our summer season is packed with farmers markets, we do attend a few winter markets which helps keep our business running year-round.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our fresh mushrooms remain our top seller; however, in the winter we get an influx of sales from our soups, risotto, coffee and teas.

Blakeney’s Bakery

Brenda White, Blakeney’s Bakery, based in Contoocook, blakeneysbakery.com. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

Blakeney’s Bakery has a large variety of breads, scones, cookies, soft pretzels, whoopie pies, lemon bars and cookies.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

Each year has grown in customers and sales.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Weather can be a challenge, especially if it keeps customers from coming out.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Really don’t have to do much. We make seasonal products and create new flavors of bread sometimes just from customer suggestions. We don’t make as many products during the winter market as the customer base is significantly smaller due to summer guests and residents who leave for the winter.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Being able to provide a great product for our customers and to … work with other vendors to support them by pairing their products with ours when possible.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our variety of bread flavors and scones. We strive to have savory, sweet and salty options to meet a variety of needs that our customers have.

HorseFeathers Ostrich Farm

Monte and Alison Cossette. HorseFeathers Ostrich Farm, based in Webster, horsefeathersostrichfarm.com. Find them every other Saturday (next date March 2) at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

My husband and I started our ostrich farm several years ago. We’ve been growing our farm, breeding stock, and now are excited to be able to offer USDA ostrich meat for the first time both locally and through online sales. This is our first season participating in farmers market and we have been thrilled with this market.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Since we are offering a product that not as many people are familiar with, the amount of customers going through the market is very important for us. The more people we can show and teach about ostrich meat, the more sales and repeat customers we can have.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Currently we are bringing a small amount of meat and only a few types of meat cuts; we are hoping to be part of the summer market and have more offerings.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

As a new business it is amazing to have people to talk to about our product. All organizers of the group have been amazingly helpful as we get started with our farmers markets and our business.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

In our booth we have a display of ostrich egg shells with a fake ostrich head. That seems to really pique interest for people and get them over to the booth. The egg shells can be used for decorations and arts, but the display is a great starting point to bring people to the table and start talking about the meat.

Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery

Man standing behind table covered in checkered tablecloth, on which there are baked goods, 2 signs with names of farms attached to front of tablecloth
Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery. Courtesy photo.

Paul Gareau and Angela Letelier, Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery, Belmont, arandano.farm, gfordie.com. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

It’s our first year as vendors in Concord; generally we attend other markets in Belknap County and we’ll be running three new markets in 2024. Our farm offers organic-fed chicken, grass-fed pork, eggs, vegetables and microgreens. The bakery offers celiac-safe gluten-free baked goods.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Our area mostly offers summer markets, so the winter market helps us sell our products throughout the winter.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Less emphasis on grilling, more on meal prep.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Income throughout winter months and expanded customer base.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our main attraction is no-compromised gluten-free baked goods, and we have a following for our chicken and pork as well.

Pastry Dream

Ann and Roger Baril of Pastry Dream are based in Derry. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market and the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

We sell individually sized pastries called Dreams. Some call them small pies. Our flavor selection ranges from lemon curd and raspberry to chocolate/peanut butter to our brand new Key lime. We presently offer nine flavors — something for everyone.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

We have already seen an increase over last year.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

A challenge we experience each year is New Year’s resolutions and the fact that everyone eats too much over the holiday season and cuts back for a time especially in January. Our opportunity is that farmers markets allow us the opportunity to present our products to those who may not have tasted them before.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

For the winter season we offer a pecan pie Dream and a ginger/spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting along with all of our other items.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Feedback from customers is a huge benefit of being at the farmers markets. We have a lemon curd and a raspberry and many customers suggested that we put the two flavors together. We did, and the lemon/raspberry is one of our best sellers. We’ve also been asked to create a Key lime dream, which we are now offering and is a great success.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

We offer samples, which give new customers the opportunity to taste our flavors before buying. This makes a big difference, because once you taste the filling flavors you have to have more.

KYS Food for Dogs

Sonia Javier Obinger of KYS Food for Dogs, based in Sandown. Find them at the Downtown Concord Farmers Market and the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

I started preparing whole-food recipes because of my interest in providing the best nutrition for my three pugs and a Boston terrier. I began researching, taking classes and using my experience to develop whole-food recipes for them. There would even be times when my friends would come over and ask what was cooking because it smelled so good. I said it was my dog’s dinner. So fast forward 16-plus years of testing, making mistakes, re-testing and friends’ support, I started KYS Whole Food for Dogs. Our recipes are created in small batches, bone broth braised with organic ingredients sourced from local farms sold fresh/frozen in compostable packages at farmers markets, online and retail. Recipes offer seasonally harvested organic vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef, organ meat, seaweed, hempseed or flaxseed, providing dogs with a nutritious, complete meal. KYS ingredients are sourced from local farms like Vernon Family in Newfields. They provide the chicken for Tilly’s Pastured Chicken recipe. The organic vegetables in this recipe are grown and harvested by Heron Pond in Hampton, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Maine, and Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

This is my first season with Downtown Concord Farmers Market, so I am still working on brand awareness. With the Salem NH Farmers Market this is my third winter market and this market has grown, especially at its new location at LaBelle Winery.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

I think the opportunities are that they are indoors, thus providing customers access to a great variety of vendors. I think the biggest challenge is New England weather, which this year has been relatively calm.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Since my recipes are based on harvest availability, root vegetables — carrots, winter squash, cranberries, for example — are used in the winter. Once the spring/summer season starts we have more greens, summer squash, blueberries, etc. So all year my customers have a diverse nutritional diet.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

The benefits are that we still have access to our summer customers as well as meeting new ones. Plus it is warmer than being outside.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

I think both Jake’s Grass fed Beef and Tilly’s Pastured Chicken recipes are equally popular. I have recently been testing with some of my customers’ liver truffles, which are another whole food product for those who want to provide a healthy treat for the dog.

Art and wellness

A talk with the new director of the NH State Council on the Arts

Adele Bauman, who recently transitioned from the New Hampshire Division of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to become the director of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, shared insights into her career shift, her plans for utilizing the arts to bolster New Hampshire communities and her major goals for the Council, and offered some advice for aspiring artists in the state.

What made you switch from health and human services to the arts sector?

The arts became a part of my life in childhood. They remained a parallel passion throughout my adult life. I worked as a studio photographer and graphic designer prior to my joining NH DHHS. I had been with NH DHHS for almost 16 years when this opportunity arose at the NHSCA. I found myself leaping for the chance to transfer my state level government skillset to a state arts agency. I also had a previous focus on service to New Hampshire’s children and youth as a child protection service worker and then as an administrator at the Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health. My time at the NHSCA offers me the ability to think about ways to support New Hampshire’s residents throughout their entire lifespan through the wellness the arts can bring to each of us.

How do you plan to use the arts to help New Hampshire communities?

The arts can provide wellness to our New Hampshire residents. Stronger individuals lead to stronger communities. Stronger communities lead to a stronger state. The arts can regenerate communities as well as provide opportunities for increased social connection, interface, collaboration and open-mindedness across populations regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Increased arts participation among New Hampshire students could enhance academic performance, increase their chances for success after high school and encourage them to become more dynamically engaged with their communities through participation with such things as voting and volunteerism. The arts are a major player for increasing economic drivers within communities. Increasing access and equity within the arts literally translates into health benefits for the community, which has a positive impact on the quality of life for all residents. This is true whether one is creating or viewing the arts.

What is one major goal you have for the Arts Council?

My major goal is to continue to support and strengthen both the mission and vision of the NHSCA. The State Arts Council provides a wide variety of services, competitive grants and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, schools, health care facilities and to individual artists with the intent to support the arts to thrive in New Hampshire and increase accessibility to all New Hampshire residents in all ages and stages of their lives.

Are there any specific groups or sectors you’re looking forward to working with?

Not especially. I have been learning so much about New Hampshire in my first few months of work. Seeing New Hampshire through the lens of our many local artists and art organizations fills me with so much pride and hope for what lays ahead.

How has your personal interest in art influenced your approach to this role?

In the same way that I could never fully put my camera down, I cannot take the ‘social worker’ out of who I am. Educating myself about how the arts impact wellness for humans of all ages drives my work. My wish is for all individuals to welcome the arts into their lives. The benefits are there to support and offset some of the more challenging aspects of our daily lives.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring artists in New Hampshire?

We all need you to keep creating, whether we all know it yet or not. Your dedication and hard work makes us all stronger.

Featured photo: Adele Bauman. Courtesy photo.

Future Senator?

‘The key is to get involved,’ says Central High student

Can you describe your roles and activities at Central High School?

At Central High School, I have several roles. As class president, I like to listen to my classmates’ concerns, like the high cost of prom tickets, and work toward solutions. I’ve also brought in presidential election candidates to speak at Central, leveraging our position in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary to encourage civic engagement among students. Besides this, I play three sports: golf, hockey and track, representing Central in each. I’m involved in the Safe Sports Student Ambassador Program, which teaches about safe sports practices and the importance of community service. I also lead the ‘Faceoff Friends Program’ in association with the Choose Love movement, teaching elementary students at our Boys and Girls Club about kindness, gratitude, and choosing love, with a hockey theme. … Additionally, I serve as the editor-in-chief of the ‘Little Green’ newspaper, the oldest public high school newspaper in New Hampshire.

What is the U.S. Senate Youth Program, and how were you selected to be a part of it?

The U.S. Senate Youth Program is a two-part initiative. The first part includes a scholarship, which is fantastic. The more exciting part for me is the opportunity it provides to visit Washington, D.C., and get an in-depth look at how our government functions. It’s a chance to interact with politicians we usually see on TV and really understand the workings of the government. … As for my selection, it began with my principal nominating me from my school. The process involved an initial application round where I submitted several essays along with a recommendation. After advancing from that round, I participated in an interview round with a select group of students from my state. Following our interviews, a council decided that myself and one other student from New Hampshire were the best fits for the program.

What inspired you to become involved in programs like the U.S. Senate Youth Program and other leadership activities?

I’m really passionate about helping others, and this passion started in my freshman year with Safe Sports, where I saw the importance of building up our community. As class president, I realized how much I could help just by listening to my peers and working with school administration to address their concerns and adapt our school to better serve its students. This experience sparked my interest in other programs like the Choose Love program, where I saw a chance to extend my reach and encourage more people. Hearing about the Youth Senate Program, I thought it would be interesting to see how government works, especially in today’s polarized environment. I wanted to understand how politicians interact and are treated, then bring back that knowledge to my community to help reduce polarization and work toward a more unified country.

What are your future goals or career aspirations?

I definitely want to go to college … Where college will take me is something I’ll have to see, but I am interested in going into political science. Maybe in a few years, I’ll find myself in Congress or in some role within politics. For me, politics is the way I feel I can best help people and reach as many as possible.

What advice would you give to other students who are interested in leadership or public service?

The key is to get involved. … The biggest thing is to engage in extracurriculars and clubs that build up our community, which is crucial for anyone wanting to be a leader. You can’t be a leader just by pointing out what needs to change; you need to be actively involved in these groups, making the change happen. So my best advice is to get involved in a variety of clubs, learn from these experiences, and then use what you’ve learned to advocate for positive change within your communities and beyond.

Show on pause

Andrew Pinard discusses the future of Hatbox Theatre

The transformation of Steeplegate Mall in Concord into a mixed-use development necessitates the relocation of several tenants, one of which is the Hatbox Theatre. Founded in 2016 by Andrew Pinard, Hatbox Theatre has been an active entity in the local arts community. The absence of a long-term lease now leads to the theater’s imminent closure, disrupting a season that was set to include 15 diverse productions. Pinard talked about the impact of this development on the theater, its future plans and the broader implications for the arts community in Concord. See hatboxnh.com for updates.

What exactly transpired with the closure of Hatbox Theatre?

The closure was abrupt. We knew there was a possibility of this happening when the previous owners evicted almost everyone without long-term leases nearly two years ago, but the actual timing was unexpected. The city has been pushing to get rid of the mall and replace it with housing, and they finally found a developer who bought the mall. This new developer plans to demolish the buildings and construct 625 market-rate apartments, along with a Costco and Whole Foods. Communication with the new owners was scarce, and we struggled to get information. We were assured at one point that we would have until May or June of 2024, but suddenly, in November, just before Thanksgiving, we were informed that we had to be out by the end of January. It was quite a shock.

What has been the community’s response?

There’s a lot of people who are very sad and very disappointed that we might close permanently if we can’t find another space to work in. Our audiences and the artists who have performed here are really supportive and enthusiastic about us finding a new space, and we’re grateful for them. I’ve had recommendations from dozens of people suggesting various spaces. The community’s reaction shows their deep investment in Hatbox and their concern for the future of local arts in our area. Unfortunately I haven’t been too optimistic about the elected, civic and business leaders in Concord. They acknowledge our work but haven’t fought very hard to keep us in the community. They never really made us feel like we were something special.

What immediate steps are you taking to manage this transition for Hatbox Theatre?

We’ve been evaluating a number of spaces for short-term and long-term use. We’re looking at Manchester, Epsom, Nashua, Bedford. We’ve looked at about 28 different locations so far and that includes both shared spaces and exclusive spaces. We’re looking at mid-March at the very earliest to launch programming in other nomadic locations. Our business model has always been that ticket sales cover the overhead of the space while allowing us to give 55 percent of the revenue to the production companies that are in the space. We are transitioning the organization to a not-for-profit to potentially expand our revenue beyond ticket sales, which could conceivably mean that we can purchase a location so that we’re not at the mercy of somebody kicking us out. That would also mean we could begin fundraising and things of that nature so that we can afford places like that.

How do you think this will affect Concord’s art scene?

It’s going to be a big loss for Concord, for the local artists and for the audience who regularly attend our shows. We’re in our ninth year now, and we’ve had over 36,000 people through our space since we opened in April 2016. We’ve hosted numerous world premieres and given a platform to local artists. Our venue was a place where smaller production companies and local artists could showcase their work. Many local artists got their start here, and without Hatbox there’s a fear that emerging talents might not find similar opportunities. The local arts scene will lose a unique venue that provided a space for experimental and avant-garde productions. Its closure could mean a more homogenized arts scene in the city. It’s not just about losing a physical space. It’s about losing a community hub for artists and audiences alike.

What are you looking for in a community to relocate to?

We want a community that really either wants us or needs us and really deeply wants to be involved. Ideally we’d find a community that has a space like a mill building or a fire station that they’re looking to repurpose to reinvest in their community. And we’re looking for a community that will support the community that has supported us.

Work the Vote

Manchester holds training for primary poll workers

If you’re interested in working or volunteering at the polls for the Jan. 23 presidential primary election, there’s still time to register for the final training session on Jan. 6. JoAnn Ferruolo, Assistant City Clerk for the City of Manchester, provided information on the various roles, training details and the impact you can make.

What are the main roles and tasks for workers or volunteers at the polling stations on primary day?

The City of Manchester is currently looking to fill three positions in most of our 12 polling places for the Jan. 23, 2024, presidential primary election. All positions require an in-person training session prior to the election to be eligible to work.

The Deputy Registrar is responsible for registering voters at the polling place; there are several forms to be completed by the voter and deputy registrar. This position can be filled by a registered voter in New Hampshire. The hours are 5:30 a.m. to approximately 8:30 p.m., and pay is $180 for the day.

The Ballot Inspector performs multiple duties as assigned by the moderator, including, but not limited to, checking in voters on a poll pad, handing out ballots to voters, marking the official paper checklist, assisting voters and greeting voters. They must live in the ward that they work in. … The hours are 5 a.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m., and pay is $180 for the day.

Both positions require reading small print in variable lighting conditions and having legible penmanship and attention to detail.

A volunteer performs duties assigned by the moderator, which include, but are not limited to, greeting voters, counting cast and uncast votes, hand-counting votes, and [tallying] write-in votes after the polls close. A volunteer position can be filled by a registered voter in New Hampshire.

The hours are 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and as a volunteer position, there is no compensation.

How does someone sign up to work or volunteer at the polls, and what does the preparation process involve?

Anyone interested should contact the City of Manchester, Office of the City Clerk, by email: cityclerk@manchesternh.gov. We will assign a position and provide training dates and times. If a position is compensated, the person must complete an I9 and W4 form.

Can you describe the training provided to new poll workers or volunteers?

In-person training is conducted at Manchester City Hall. The training sessions range from one to two hours depending on the position. We provide training materials and instructions that are established by New Hampshire election law statutes or the Secretary of State/City Clerk guidance. Each trainee must take an oath of office during the training session to work at the polls.

What measures are in place to ensure safety and fairness at the polling stations?

Each election official must take an oath of office swearing and affirming that they will perform their duties according to New Hampshire laws, city ordinances and policies and the rules and regulations of the State of New Hampshire. There is an enforced ‘no campaigning’ rule in every polling place.

If someone misses the deadline to work or volunteer for this primary, how can they get involved in future elections?

The City of Manchester is always looking for engaged residents offering their time to assist us on Election Day. Interested parties can reach us by email. We keep contact information on file to reach out to interested parties prior to every election until the positions are filled. Each election varies in the number of workers we would require. Staffing the polling place is dependent on the current political activity and historical turnout.

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!