Hike Happy

Heading into fall is the perfect time to go for a hike, with less heat and humidity, fewer bugs, and views that turn even more picturesque as the leaves start to change. All of this, along with the physical and mental health benefits, is a recipe for hiking happy. Find out how to do it safely, plus check out four southern New Hampshire hikes that prove you don’t have to hit the White Mountains to get in a challenging — but doable — climb.

Hiking well

Hit the trails for a healthy body and mind

by Angie Sykeny

From building muscle strength to lowering stress levels, hiking can have all kinds of benefits for your physical and mental wellness.

“Whether it’s daily, every other day or even just once a week, it’s really worth it for your health to go hiking regularly and spend some time out in nature,” said Lucie Villeneuve, outdoor guide and owner of outdoor guide service Outdoor ESCAPES New Hampshire.

Traversing a mixed terrain of rocks and boulders, tree roots, hills, streams and other natural landscape elements requires a variety of movements, Villeneuve said, giving you a unique full-body workout that you can’t get on an exercise machine or uniform walking surface.

“You’re using pretty much all of your muscles,” she said. “With every step, you’re twisting your ankles in different directions, and you’re putting the brakes on and off with your legs when you’re going uphill and downhill.”

For the same reason, hiking can lead to better balance, stability and coordination, particularly if you’re hiking a mountain where you may need to do some climbing.

“When you’re going up from one piece of rock to the next on your hands and feet, you’re essentially using your whole body, which really improves your balance,” said Conor Benoit, New Hampshire outdoor guide and owner of CMB Guide Service.

Hiking can also be a great workout for cardio and weight loss, depending on your pace and how rigorous the trail is. You could burn as much as 3,000 calories in a day of hiking, Villeneuve said, not only from the physical exertion but also from your body’s work to regulate your body temperature.

“If it’s hot or cold out, your body is going to burn more calories,” she said.

If you wear a backpack to carry some extra water, snacks and emergency supplies which you should that will also enhance your workout, Benoit said.

“A few pounds on your back may not sound like much, but by the time you [finish the hike] you’re definitely going to feel it,” he said.

Unlike working out on an exercise machine that you can turn off at any point, “you can’t just quit halfway” during a hike, Benoit said, which can help you push yourself to new physical limits. Setting a goal with a tangible reward, like reaching an interesting landmark or a place with beautiful scenery, can also motivate you to keep going.

“I’ve seen people consistently impressed with how far they are able to make it,” Benoit said. “When you make that commitment to yourself and have the mindset of ‘I’m so close; just a little farther,’ you see that you can accomplish more than you originally thought was possible.”

Hiking is good not just for the body but also for the mind, Villeneuve said. To get the most out of your hike, she recommends making a conscious effort to “be in the present moment,” push away thoughts about what you’ve got going on back home, and home in on your natural surroundings.

“You need to practice having awareness,” she said. “Use all of your senses to take it in: smell the fresh air; feel the temperature of the air; see the views that are right in front of you.”

Conversely, you could use hiking as an opportunity to “reflect [on] and process” things that have been on your mind, away from technology and other distractions, Benoit said, so that you can return to your home and work life with renewed energy and focus.

“That physical and mental exhaustion really sets you up to be more clear-headed throughout the week,” he said. “You leave [the hike] with less than what you carried in, feeling mentally lighter.”

Fall in line

Hiking safely as summer winds down

By Matt Ingersoll

Photo courtesy of Jake King of Thrive Outdoors in Manchester.

Crisp weather and colorful foliage are great reasons to hit the hiking trails this fall — as long as you’re prepared for a change in the seasons that will bring shorter days and cooler temperatures.

“Fall is my favorite season to hike in behind winter. You don’t have to worry quite as much about sweating and losing all of your moisture,” said Jake King of Thrive Outdoors, a team-building and leadership assessment organization based in Manchester. “At the same time, fall nights get much cooler. … So if you’re stuck, any perspiration or moisture you have is now going to be used against you, whereas in the summer it really does help you cool off.”

One of the most important things to keep in mind when hiking in the fall is that the later in the season, the quicker it will get dark out. With however many hours of daylight you have, King said a good rule of thumb is to give yourself a third of it to get in and two thirds to get out.

“Always give yourself that extra time on the way out,” he said. “A lot of people will like to split it 50/50, thinking they’re going to get out just as quickly as they went in, but then if something goes south, you have no time to play with. … Remember that it’s going to get darker sooner, and then as soon as it does it’s going to get cooler.”

Rick Silverberg, chairman and leadership training coordinator of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s New Hampshire chapter, said the differences in elevation also play a role, as you’re more likely to encounter exposed areas above the trees.

“As soon as you get into those higher elevations, the temperatures get colder … [and] you have a lot more wind,” he said. “In the fall it’s much more dramatic.”

You don’t always have to start your hike dressed in layers. In fact, King said it’s much easier to control your body temperature level by layering up rather than down.

“You should always have a base layer … that sits up against the skin but isn’t too tight, and then a mid-layer and top layer that is wind- and water-resistant,” he said. “Don’t start with all of them on, though. Even if it’s a bit chilly, don’t start warm, because you may find that you’re overheating and once you start sweating, it’s too late. … You’ve broken that seal, so to speak.”

Early on in the fall, you won’t typically encounter a lot of frost. But as the season gets deeper into October and November, morning frost on certain surfaces has the potential to be hazardous.

“A frosty rock can be slippery,” King said. “The other thing to remember is if it starts to warm up during the day, then frost is going to turn into moisture, which is what you want to avoid.”

It’s good to remain mindful too of when specific trails or parks close for the season, which can be any time from mid-September to November depending on where you go.

If you’re heading out for views of the foliage, Silverberg said peak times of the year will differ in the state — far northern areas will usually see their peak a few weeks earlier than those in the south. It will also get colder at night much faster after all the leaves fall from the trees.

Tough but doable

A few challenging, family-friendly hikes

By Meghan Siegler

If you’re not ready to tackle the state’s 4,000-footers but want to take a real hike — as opposed to a walk on a rail trail that you could do wearing flip-flops — here are a few peaks in southern New Hampshire.

Mt. Monadnock. Photo courtesy of Matt Ingersoll.

Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey

There are a few ways to get to the top of Mount Monadnock, which stands at 3,165 feet — and none of them is a walk in the park. According to nhstateparks.com, “all routes to the top are steep and rocky.” There are three main access points. Monadnock HQ (169 Poole Road), which provides access to the main trails and is the most direct route to the top, and Old Toll Road (9 Halfway House Road), which provides access to many side trails and alternative destinations, are both 4-mile hikes that take approximately four hours to complete. Gilson Pond (585 Dublin Road) is a longer, less populated trail for hikers who are looking for solitude; it’s 6 miles and takes about six hours.

What it’s really like: “I was probably 12 or 13 years old the first time I climbed Mt. Monadnock, but I’ve seen kids and adults young and old successfully scale it. It’s a perfect moderately challenging day hike that will take you no more than a few hours each way up and down. What’s great about it is that, unlike having just one route to the top and one back down to the bottom, there are multiple inter-connecting trails of varying difficulty that you can take, all of which are very clearly marked and easy to follow. The shortest and simplest ones are probably either the White Dot Trail or the White Cross Trail. The White Dot has a very gradual level of steepness that starts to get a bit rockier near the top, but once you reach past the treelines, the views on a clear day are breathtaking. Personally, I like to go up via the White Dot and down via the White Cross, because the latter trail is a little bit steeper and will make for a quicker descent.” — Matt Ingersoll

If you go: Reservations are strongly recommended in order to secure a parking spot at any of the three trailheads. Visitors who do not make a reservation will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made prior to arrival and no later than 3 p.m. that day at nhstateparks.org. The parking pass costs $15 and includes admission for six people in one vehicle.

Mount Kearsarge, Wilmot & Warner

To get to the summit of Mount Kearsarge, which stands at 2,937 feet and features a fire tower and bald face that offers 360-degree views, there are a few options. From Winslow State Park in Wilmot, there are two trails: the 1.1-mile Winslow Trail and the 1.7-mile Barlow Trail. The former is the more challenging option, while the latter is a more gradual climb and offers vistas of the Andover area, Ragged Mountain and Mount Cardigan. The trailhead has a good-sized picnic area and a playground for kids. The Rollins Trail begins at the picnic area in Rollins State Park in Warner and follows the route of the old carriage road for a half mile to the summit. You could also start at the Lincoln Trail at Kearsarge Valley Road, a 5-mile trail that climbs to the Rollins picnic area.

What it’s really like: “I’ve climbed Kearsarge several times with people of varying levels of fitness. I like that you can go up one main trail and down another so you’re getting different views throughout the hike, and saving your knees from the steeper Winslow Trail if you tackle that first and come down the gentler Barlow Trail. My teenagers both enjoyed this hike, though my daughter kept leaving my son and me in the dust, both on the way up and the way down, and we weren’t exactly taking our time. It definitely feels like a workout on the way up, and I’ve stopped for a few quick breathers no matter who I’ve hiked with. The view at the top is nice, though not quite as spectacular as Mount Major’s, in my opinion.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online at nhstateparks.org. Parking is limited, but walk-in spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 11, and free for kids 5 and under and New Hampshire residents who are 65 and older.

Mount Major, Alton

The 1.5-mile Mt. Major Trail begins at a parking area on Route 11 in Alton. The trail ascends a steep, severely eroded section and has some steep scrambles near the top. At 1.3 miles there are two alternate routes, one that forks to the right and climbs up steep ledges (potentially dangerous when wet or icy), and a detour that diverges left. The Brook Trail is 1.7 miles and begins at the junction of Mt. Major Trail and Belknap Range Trail. Aptly named, this trail features two brook crossings in higher water where “some very creative rock hopping is required to keep your feet dry,” according to belknaprangetrails.org. From there on the grade alternates between easy and moderate. The Boulder Loop Trail starts at the trailhead parking area on Route 11 and offers a somewhat gentler climb, with portions of it being part of a snowmobile trail. It features large boulders that you pass by and sometimes go through. At the summit, you’ll find the remnants of the George Phippen hut built in 1925.

What it’s really like: “First, the views at the top are amazing, looking out onto Lake Winnipesaukee, so it’s a well-worth-it reward for a hike that’s particularly tough at the end. I’ve done this one a few times, and my kids have been there more than once for summer camp field trips. There are moments during the climb where I wondered how kids managed to make it to the top; it’s certainly not easy. But it’s also a pretty popular hike — during the summer the parking lot is almost always overflowing, with cars parked along the main road, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, try to save this one for a weekday.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: There’s no fee to climb Mount Major or to park; just be prepared to walk quite a ways from your car to the trailhead on a nice summer day when cars spill out onto the road.

Mount Sunapee, Newbury

The summit of Mount Sunapee, with an elevation of 2,743 feet, can be reached via ski trails or a number of hiking trails, including Summit, Lake Solitude and Newbury. According to mountsunapee.com, you can also hike any of the ski trails during the summer. Summit is a 2-mile trail at the lodge at Mount Sunapee. The Lake Solitude trail starts east of the summit, and it’s about a mile to White Ledges, which overlooks Lake Solitude. From there, Lake Solitude is a 0.6-mile hike from the overlook. The 2-mile Newbury Trail continues from Solitude Trail and does not return to the ski area base. The trailhead is near the southern end of Lake Sunapee off Route 103 in the village of Newbury, approximately 3 miles from Mount Sunapee Resort.

What it’s really like: “I just hiked Mount Sunapee for the first time a few weeks ago, and I’m not sure what took me so long to get there. Summit Trail is beautiful, although after all the rain we’d had earlier this summer, there were quite a few muddy spots. There were also some steep-ish ascents that had my quads burning, but those were nicely balanced with less intense stretches of trail. When we crested the summit, the view was a little underwhelming, and the ski lodge seemed out of place (I don’t ski and apparently had no idea what happens at the top of a ski mountain). However, a little exploration led to a gorgeous view of Lake Sunapee and the quaint little towns around it. I do wish we’d had enough time to check out Lake Solitude, but it gives me a good reason to go back soon.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: There are no parking or hiking fees here, and parking at the resort is plentiful for an easy in, easy out day hike.

Treks and Trails

Jake King of Thrive Outdoors in Manchester shares some of his favorite hikes to take during peak fall foliage season.

Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve (Country Side Blvd., near Waterford Way, Manchester)
Massabesic Audubon Center Trails (26 Audubon Way, Auburn): “For people who haven’t really gotten out into the wilderness a lot, it’s a good starter experience. It’s flat and easy.”
Nottingcook Forest (Woodhill Hooksett Road and South Bow Road, Bow)
Uncanoonuc Mountains (Mountain Road, Goffstown): “On Uncanoonuc North, you can see bits and pieces of Manchester surrounded by trees, and in the fall, it’s a beautiful sight.”
Welch-Dickey Mountain Trail (Orris Road, Thornton)

Featured photo: Mt. Major in May 2017. Photo courtesy of Matt Ingersoll.

What’re we drinking?

Bartenders talk about serving cocktails in 2021, plus what trends are in the mix

Dan Haggerty and Jeremy Hart weren’t sure what to expect as they prepared to open their new craft cocktail bar and eatery in early February. Although vaccine rollouts were well underway, New Hampshire remained under a state of emergency, with the statewide mask mandate still in effect and spacing restrictions at bars and restaurants in nearly every county.

Three nights into the bartending duo’s first week open at Industry East Bar in downtown Manchester, a friend came in to visit — and later ended up jumping behind the bar herself.

“She was just in the bar checking it out and she goes, ‘It’s really busy. If you guys need any help…’ and so then I was like, ‘Can you come in tomorrow?’” Haggerty said. “So she became kind of our barback and food runner for a little bit, just by being there.”

Jeremy Hart, bartender and co-owner of Industry East Bar in Manchester. Photo by Live Free or Die Design Photography @livefreeordiedesignphoto.

When the last of the restrictions were lifted early in the spring, “it was like the floodgates opened,” according to Haggerty, with a constant turnaround of thirsty customers that dwarfed even what he, Hart and executive chef Jeff Martin saw during their first few weeks. He can count on one hand the number of times that Industry East has closed early, at or before midnight.

“I didn’t think that people would consume as much product as they are consuming,” Haggerty said. “I don’t know if it was just because all they had been spending money on was Amazon and takeout, and so they were like, ‘Oh my God, I’m at a bar, and someone’s actually making me a drink,’ [but] people are consuming food and drink at an insane pace right now.”

In spite of their immediate success, the small team has also encountered challenges along the way, from finding adequate staffing to acquiring quality products for drinks.

Bar managers and bartenders of both new and established restaurants have faced all kinds of similar obstacles over the year and a half that continue to linger today. We spoke with several of them to get a sense of what life has been like behind the bar.

Setting the bar

Kellie Connolly, bar manager at the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford, was out of work for about three weeks during the initial pandemic shutdown. She returned to a bar that was rendered completely unrecognizable, transformed instead into a “conveyor belt” for takeout orders.

“All of the alcohol was off the bar. Everything had been boxed up and stored away,” Connolly said of the early months of the pandemic. “The beer coolers and wine fridges were full because [we] were now able to utilize those in a takeout fashion. … But besides that, it was an empty hub, no longer anything of what you would have seen at a bar. It was very bizarre.”

Connolly was part of a small team of staff that were brought back originally and included both bartenders and servers. But with no bar in the traditional sense, there was no cocktail mixing.

“No longer were you a bartender. You were just a man on the team and it was everyone in and everyone out. That was kind of the mentality of it,” she said. “We all had positions, whether it was answering phones, running takeout orders, or doing the cleaning. It was all hands on deck.”

The bar would eventually see its alcohol replenished with the return of indoor and outdoor dining. Social distancing restrictions, however, required the Copper Door to use only half of its bar seats, with dividers placed between pairs. But even then, only parties of guests who came to the bar together were able to be in adjacent seats — unless the dividers moved, a single person sitting in one chair would make the chair beside it unusable.

“You could slide a seat down and make a three-person section, [but] you couldn’t move the chairs from one side to the other,” Connolly said. “It was like a game of Tetris, just constant moving. … Reintroducing people to the new landscape and just explaining everything to them how we were doing things was also a big part of the job.”

Bar seats were similarly spaced out at Shopper’s Pub + Eatery in Manchester, which originally closed for about a month and a half, according to general manager Nick Carnes.

“When we initially reopened indoors, we started with about five of our 16 bar and waitstaff,” he said, “and then it was just a solid six-month stretch where it was just myself and one other person every day, all day open to close, just trying to grind everything out by ourselves.”

Spacing is already an inherent challenge at Industry East with only 20 indoor seats. Carnes noted that, with the Residence Inn by Marriott hotel directly next door, Shopper’s tends to see an influx of customers who are traveling for work during the week. Especially in the early days of the pandemic, this meant out-of-staters who were essential travelers.

“Every now and then, you’d have one guy that doesn’t know anybody that just flew into town, he’d sit down and take up three seats [at the bar], and then nobody could sit in those other two seats,” he said. “So it was a mixture of making sure you could come out and have a good night … while keeping everyone else safe and making sure nobody else got sick.”

But overall, Haggerty said the consensus among patrons has been one of both positivity and gratitude.

“I think 99 percent [have been] happy, fun-loving people, being almost extra nice,” he said. “Generally, pretty much everyone is like, ‘Hey, I’m so glad that your profession is still a thing and you guys are open. Thanks so much.’ … But I mean, only a certain percentage of the population is still even coming out. We get people in here every single day that say this is the first place they’ve gone since last March.”

The “Vax.” pictured with Madears co-owner, chef and mixologist Robb Curry, has carrot juice, orange juice, ginger, lemon juice and a simple syrup, and includes a side of either tequila or brandy to “inject” into it. Courtesy photo.

Similarly, the new location of Madear’s Southern Eatery & Bakery in downtown Pembroke that opened last October has introduced many more people in the area to the eatery’s scratch-made Southern concept. Co-owner, chef and mixologist Robb Curry said he and partner Kyle Davis now have a much larger kitchen and bar, as well as nearly twice the dining room capacity as their predecessor on Hanover Street in Manchester.

“For the most part, our guests have been very respectful and understanding,” Curry said of the overall response so far. “I do also see that people at the bar tend to be a lot more understanding because they see more of what’s going on between the kitchen and the front of the house.”

Regulars were also happy to return to the bar at Stella Blu in Nashua when it reopened last year.

“We … had to put time limits in place, but we weren’t having to really use them or say it to people,” front-of-the-house manager and bartender Elissa Drift said. “They were definitely respectful enough to kind of just go with the flow.”

While the Copper Door has steadily maintained a loyal clientele, Connolly said she has noticed a shift in bargoers’ overall habits within the last year to year and a half.

“Happy Hour starts a lot earlier now,” she said. “Normally that was around 4:30, 5 o’clock, but now it’s at 2:30 or 3. … What was the quieter time is now full of people that are just done with working at their house and are coming out for that afternoon cocktail. At least in this area, I feel like the whole flow has altered a little bit.”

Thirsty trends

Since Industry East opened its doors earlier this year, Haggerty has noticed distinct trends in the types of cocktails being ordered.

“The espresso martini is back in full force. I think I’ve made more espresso martinis in the last six months than I’ve made in the last three years,” he said. “A ton of people are ordering cosmos too. … All of those older drinks that kind of went away after the early to mid-2000s, when the craft cocktail movement had a boom, are now back.”

There has also been a significant boom in tequila-based cocktails, and not just because it’s summer. The most popular specialty drink currently on Industry East’s menu is known as the C.R.E.A.M. (as Haggerty explains, an acronym standing for “Cucumber Rules Everything Around Me”). That drink features a cucumber shrub and tequila base with lemon juice, a little bit of jalapeno to offset its sweetness and a cucumber ribbon garnish with salt and pepper.

“Even in February when we opened … everybody has been way into tequila. I can’t explain it,” Haggerty said. “I think maybe a lot of people are just getting into it that maybe hadn’t been, or they were just like, ‘You know what, I’m really tired of drinking vodka.’ … People will drink tequila on the rocks. I’ve also seen people get tequila old-fashioneds.”

Drift agreed that tequila is a leading trend in the cocktail world right now, followed by bourbon and also Aperol spritzers. Options at Stella Blu include a blood orange paloma with fresh pressed juice and a house-made mango habanero salt; a strawberry jalapeno margarita with pureed fruit and a zesty lime salt rim; and a tequila and mezcal-based drink called the Mezcalita, featuring pineapple juice, Cointreau orange liqueur and a smoky-flavored house vanilla bean syrup.

The espresso martini at the Copper Door — called the Rocket — has been among the eatery’s top-selling cocktails, according to Connolly, as well as the restaurant’s blood orange cosmo, which uses Solerno blood orange liqueur, cranberry juice and a freshly squeezed lime; and the “Pepperoncini-Tini,” featuring olive juice, pepperoncini juice and blue cheese-stuffed olives.

Connolly added that a menu of mocktail options was rolled out last year to rave reviews.

“I’ve really seen, especially since Covid, a spike in people coming out and choosing a craft mocktail instead of a cocktail,” he said. “We also have a few unique non-alcoholic beers that have been flying off the shelves.”

Madear’s has had fun with all kinds of creative drinks, including a few that are meant to be satirical of the times, like the “Covid rum punch.” Another one, known simply as the “Vax,” is a mimosa-style cocktail featuring orange, carrot and mango juices, ginger bitters and your choice of an “injected” ounce and a half of tequila or an ounce and a half of brandy.

“All of those are super juices, so the idea was it was something to build the immune system,” Curry said. “It was something that was immensely popular when the vaccinations came out.”

Ready-to-drink canned cocktails are also a major trend. Carnes said they became a game-changer at Shopper’s with the onset of the pandemic when it comes to customer volume.

“The main concern right now is if you don’t have the staff to really maintain with cocktails … the simplicity is where you need to try to make up for it,” he said, “and [the canned cocktails] are all good. It’s not like you’re downgrading by getting one.”

Staffing and production

Consumers may have returned to the bar in droves, but managers say the pandemic has resulted in unprecedented struggles in obtaining product. This goes for everything from specific liquor brands to some of the most arbitrary of cocktail ingredients — and, in some cases, even beer.

“Big names like Budweiser and Coors … have stopped production of bottled beers due to a glass shortage,” Drift said. “So what you see is what you get right now. Whatever is in stock is being blown through, and after that it will just be cans and aluminum bottles, or on draft.”

Early on, Haggerty said even getting basic supplies like silverware and rocks glasses was a challenge, due to the high volume of inventory ordering that took place as restaurants and bars reopened. Finding and maintaining a quality staff has itself also been an issue at times.

“It’s a little better now, but at the start it was like pulling teeth trying to find anyone,” he said.

Staffing in general has been tough at Madear’s, especially behind the bar and at the front of the house, Curry said. Moving out of the Queen City to Pembroke, a much smaller town, Curry said he had the idea that the space would get more of a basic drink crowd. But the opposite has been true, as over the last year he has sold more signature craft cocktails.

“It’s easier for me to get a server than it is a bartender. … Bartending tends to have a lot more responsibility behind it than on the service side, especially in our establishment,” he said. “You’re not only bartending, you’re also a liaison between the back of the house and the front of the house, so you’re at the first step of things coming out.”

Left to right: The Blood Orange Cosmo, the Copper Door “Cosmo” with pomegranate juice, and the Pepperoncini-Tini with olive juice, all from the Copper Door. Courtesy photo.

Stella Blu transitioned to a tip pooling system for its staff, meaning that tips were divided amongst everyone based on the number of hours they work. Drift said that this has been an effective approach thus far at boosting the overall employee morale.

“We found, coming back from all of this, that the tip pool really does drive a better, more cohesive team,” she said. “There’s no ‘That’s my table.’ … I think guests get better service and better attention, and people are more willing to help each other because it’s for the greater good.”

Haggerty noted that a positive aspect to come out of the pandemic has been the renewed sense of solidarity among different places of business, especially for bar staff and waitstaff. He and Hart both picked up bartending shifts at Shopper’s while Industry East was still being built, for instance.

“Now that everyone’s been through the wringer … there’s been almost this revamped, new kind of inter-bar camaraderie,” Haggerty said. “It’s really cool now to be able to see that happening.”

Crafty Cocktails

We asked local bartenders and bar managers which types of cocktails have been trending lately. Here’s a snapshot of some of those drinks and where you can get them.

C.R.E.A.M. (“Cucumber Rules Everything Around Me”)
From behind the bar at Industry East Bar, 28 Hanover St., Manchester, 232-6940, industryeastbar.com

Mi Campo tequila
lemon juice
cucumber shrub
Dolin Blanc vermouth
ancho verde liqueur
jalapeno tincture

The “Rocket” espresso martini
From behind the bar at The Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Dr., Bedford, 488-2677; 41 S. Broadway, Salem, 458-2033; copperdoor.com

vanilla vodka
Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
dark crème de cacao
freshly brewed espresso

Chocolate coconut macaroon
From behind the bar at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com

Chocolate coconut cream
coconut rum
amaretto liqueur
toasted coconut rim

Blood orange paloma
From behind the bar at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com

fresh-pressed blood orange juice
squeezed lime
soda float
mango habanero salt

The “Vax”
From behind the bar at Madear’s Southern Eatery & Bakery, 141 Main St., Pembroke, 210-5557, madears603.com

carrot juice
mango juice
orange juice
lime juice
ginger bitters
(optional) tequila or brandy on the side

Industry East Bar’s espresso martini
From behind the bar of Industry East Bar, 28 Hanover St., Manchester, 232-6940, industryeastbar.com

Caffe Borghetti espresso liqueur
Orange bitters
Chocolate bitters
Cinnamon tincture

Strawberry jalapeno margarita
From behind the bar of Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com

Fresh pureed strawberries
Jalapeno-infused simple syrup
Squeezed lime
Zesty lime salt rim

Featured photo: Sandy Rozek, bar and beverage director for the Copper Door. Courtesy photo.

Back to Fun!

Your guide to after-school adventure

The kids are heading back to school, which means it’s time to sign them up for after-school fun! Check out this guide for some ideas to get you started. If we missed a great kid activity, let us know at listings@hippopress.com.


Boys & Girls Club (555 Union St., Manchester, 625-5031, mbgcnh.org; 1 Positive Place, Nashua, 883-0523, bgcn.com; 3 Geremonty Drive, Salem, 898-7709, salembgc.org; 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford, 672-1002, svbgc.org; 55 Bradley St., Concord, 224-1061, centralnhclubs.org; 40 E. Derry Road, Derry, 434-6695, derrybgclub.com; 876 Main St., Laconia, 528-0197, lakeskids.org) offers after-school programs that include homework assistance, sports and recreation, arts and crafts, leadership development, life skills and more. Programs and costs vary at each location, depending on a student’s membership status and school. Call your local branch or visit its website for details.

The Culinary Playground (16 Manning St., Suite 105, Derry, 339-1664, culinary-playground.com) offers cooking classes throughout the year for kids ages 3 and up. Call for details on upcoming programs. The cost starts at $20 for individual classes, with parent-child team cooking classes also available.

Daniel Webster Council Scouts BSA (625-6431, nhscouting.org) is the center of information for the New Hampshire division of Boy Scouts of America. Contact them for information about joining a local troop. Troops set their own start dates, meeting days and times and meeting locations.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains (1 Commerce Dr., Bedford, 888-474-9686, girlscoutsgwm.org) offers programs for girls in kindergarten through grade 12, focused on leadership-building, including outdoor and STEM activities, sports programs, virtual programming and more. Girls can join existing troops or form a new troop any time. Visit mygs.girlscouts.org to learn how. The membership cost is $40 per girl per year and financial aid is available. Troops set their own start dates, meeting days and times, and meeting locations.

Girls at Work (200 Bedford St., Manchester, 345-0392, girlswork.org) offers programs for girls ages 8 to 14, designed to build confidence, strength and resilience through building with power tools. Fall classes will begin at the end of September (schedule TBA). Open houses are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, and Thursday, Sept. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Girls, Inc. of New Hampshire (340 Varney St., Manchester, 623-1117; 27 Burke St., Nashua, 882-6256, girlsincnewhampshire.org) offers a girls-only after-school program that includes media literacy, self-defense, STEM, economic literacy, drug abuse prevention and leadership skill building. The program is open to girls ages 5 and up. The cost is $75 per week and financial aid is available. A preschool program for both boys and girls ages 3 to 5 is available at the Nashua branch only.

Boys & Girls Club of Central NH. Courtesy photo.

Mathnasium of North Manchester (Northside Plaza, 1 Bicentennial Dr., Manchester, 644-1234, mathnasium.com/northmanchester) offers opportunities for kids in elementary, middle and high school to enhance their mathematics skills through a combination of studies and math-themed games. Fall enrollment is open now. The Mathnasium is open Monday through Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m., and Sunday,from 2 to 6 p.m. The program cost varies depending on the number of sessions chosen and the student’s grade.

YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown (116 Goffstown Back Road, Goffstown, 497-4663; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more, with before- and after-school care available at select Goffstown schools. After-school care is also available at the Y with transportation from select Goffstown and New Boston schools. Programs are open to students in grades K through 8, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).

YMCA of Concord (15 N. State St., Concord, 228-9622; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more, with before- and after-school care available at Boscawen (for Boscawen, Penacook and Webster students) and Loudon schools. After-school care is also available on site at select Concord schools and at the Y. Programs are open to students in grades K through 5, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).

YMCA of Downtown Manchester (30 Mechanic St., Manchester, 623-3558; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more, with before- and after-school care available at select Manchester schools. After-school care is also available at the Y with transportation from select Manchester schools. Programs are open to students in grades K through 5, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).

YMCA of Greater Londonderry (206 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 437-9622; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more. Before- and after-school care is available at select Londonderry, Chester and Windham schools. Programs are open to students in grades K through 8, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).

YMCA of Greater Nashua (24 Stadium Drive, Nashua, 882-2011; 6 Henry Clay Drive, Merrimack, 881-7778; nmymca.org/child-care/school-aged-child-care) offers before- and after-school programs for kids and teens of all ages at multiple locations, including at both branches, as well as at Mont Vernon Village School (1 Kittredge Road, Mont Vernon) and at Amherst Middle School (14 Cross Road, Amherst). Programs begin Sept. 7 and consist of an array of activities, such as crafts, sports, homework assistance, games, STEM and other educational enrichment activities. Costs vary depending on the program. An open house is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., at both branches.

YMCA of Strafford County (35 Industrial Way, Rochester, 332-7334; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more, with before- and after-school care available at select Dover and Farmington schools. Programs are open to students in grades K through 4, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).

YMCA of the Seacoast at Camp Gundalow (176 Tuttle Lane, Greenland, 431-2334; a branch of Granite YMCA, graniteymca.org/child-care) offers opportunities for homework support, outdoor play, academic enrichment and more. After-school care is available with transportation from select Greenland and Portsmouth schools. Programs are open to students in grades K through 8, during various weekdays throughout the 2021-2022 school year (hours vary by program; call for pricing details).


Creative Ventures Gallery (411 Nashua St., Milford, 672-2500, creativeventuresfineart.com) offers a drawing and painting class for kids ages 8 through 12, held weekly on Wednesday. A weekly drawing class for teens will be offered starting in October. The cost is $20 per class.

Kimball-Jenkins School of Art (266 N. Main St., Concord, 225-3932, kimballjenkins.com) offers a free after-school art club for middle and high school students on Tuesdays, from 3:30 to 6 p.m., starting Sept. 29. Participants will learn new art skills and engage in short-term exercises and long-term community art projects.

League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Nashua Retail Gallery (98 Main St., Nashua, 595-8233, nashua.nhcrafts.org/classes) offer workshops and ongoing classes in a variety of crafts throughout the year that are open to teens age 12 and up.

Paint pARTy (135 N. Broadway, Salem, 898-8800, paintpartynh.com) offers weekly drawing and painting classes for kids in grades 1 through 12 throughout the school year. Enrollment is ongoing. The cost is $20 to $25 per class.

Studio 550 Art Center (550 Elm St., Manchester, 232-5597, 550arts.com) offers painting, drawing and clay classes for kids and teens ages 6 and up, starting Sept. 14. Classes are held once a week in six-week sessions. Tuition ranges from $115 to $130.


The Currier Museum Art Center (180 Pearl St., Manchester) is offering a variety of five-week after-school and weekend youth art programs this fall. Kids ages 6 and 7 can learn how to draw sea creatures in “Under the Sea” (starts Sept. 25, with in-person classes on Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m.), and draw and paint real and imaginary creatures in “Crazy Fantastic Creatures” (starts Sept. 22, with in-person classes on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.). In “Black, White, and Color,” kids ages 7 through 10 will learn about line, shape, texture and pattern, drawing from imagination and observation (starts Sept. 22, with in-person and online classes on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.). Kids ages 8 through 10 can pay tribute to their pet or favorite animal in “Exploring Pets with Paint” (starts Sept. 25, with in-person and online classes on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). Comic book lovers ages 9 through 12 can create their own comic book character in “Comics for Kids” (starts Sept. 21, with online classes on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.). In “Painting and Drawing: Color and Shape,” kids ages 11 through 14 will learn the fundamentals of drawing and acrylic painting (starts Sept. 23, with in-person and online classes on Thursdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.). For teens ages 14 and up there’s “Everyone Can Draw,” which includes step-by-step drawing instruction using pencils, pens, ink and markers (starts Sept. 23, with in-person and online classes on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.). All classes cost $157.50 for museum members and $175 for non-members. Call 518-4922 or visit currier.org/classes.


Alicia’s School of Dance (58 Route 29, Suite 201, Loudon, 406-0416, aliciasschoolofdance.com) offers tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, gymnastics, creative dance and dance fitness programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost for one class per week is $55 per month. Any extra classes are $15 per class.

Allegro Dance Academy (100 Factory St., Nashua, 886-7989, allegrodancenh.com) offers ballet, pointe, jazz, acro, musical theater, hip-hop, tap and tumbling programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies depending on the number of classes taken per week and the child’s age, plus an annual registration fee of $60 per person or $75 per family.

Bedford Dance Center (172 Route 101, Bedford, 472-5141, bedforddancecenter.com) offers classes in ballet, pointe, pre-ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop and tap dance programs, as well as private lessons, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. Early registration online is available now, with a $25 fee per family.

Bedford Youth Performing Company (155 Route 101, Bedford, 472-3894, bypc.org) offers dance, music and theater group and private classes for kids of all ages, beginning Aug. 30. Dance lessons include ballet, tap, jazz, acro, contemporary, lyrical and modern programs. Music classes include voice, piano, guitar, drums and percussion. Theater classes include acting and musical theater performance. The cost varies depending on the type and the length of each class.

Broadway Bound Performing Arts Center (501 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-8844, broadwayboundpac.com) offers jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, tap, tumbling, musical theater and special needs dance programs, as well as private lessons, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Tuition varies depending on the class. Call for cost details.

The Cadouxdle Dance Studio (297 Derry Road, Hudson, 459-4392, thecadouxdledancestudio.com) offers programs in creative ballet, jazz, tumbling, ballet and Mommy and Me yoga, as well as private dance lessons, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for students ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Thursday. The cost is $180 for one weekly class for four months ($45 per month), plus a $20 registration fee.

Concord Dance Academy. Courtesy photo.

Concord Dance Academy (26 Commercial St., Concord, 226-0200, concorddanceacademy.com) offers tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary, pointe and karate programs, beginning Sept. 20. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up, from Monday through Saturday. The cost starts at $75 per month, plus a $35 registration fee per student for the program year, and varies from there depending on the number of classes taken. There is also a drop-in rate of $18 per class session. An open house is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Creative Dance Workshop of Bow (1125 Route 3A, Units A and B, Bow, 225-7711, nhdances.com) offers ballet, hip-hop, pointe, lyrical, jazz, tap and contemporary dance programs, beginning in September. There is a flat rate of $65 per month for your first class. An open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Dance Company (130 Route 101A, Amherst, 864-8374, thedancecompanyonline.com) offers jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, pointe and hip-hop dance programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies depending on the number of class hours taken per week, plus a $30 registration fee.

Dance Connection Fitness & Performing Arts (8 Rockingham Road, Windham, 893-4919, danceconnectionnh.com) offers jazz, tap, ballet, gymnastics, hip-hop and cheer dance programs, beginning in September. Classes are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday, and are available for kids in various age groups. Call for schedule and cost details.

Dance Visions Network (699 Mast Road, Pinardville, 626-7654, dancevisionsnetwork.com) offers classes in ballet, pointe, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, tap and tumbling, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for kids ages 2½ and up. Call for registration and cost details.

Dancesteps Etc. (27 Black Hall Road, Epsom, 736-9019, dancesteps-etc.com) offers jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary and musical theater programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday. The cost varies depending on the number of class hours taken per week and the length of each class.

The Dancing Corner (23 Main St., Nashua, 889-7658, dancingcorner.com) offers classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, musical theater, lyrical and Pilates programs, beginning Sept. 8. Classes are available for kids ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday. The cost for a seven-week session varies depending on the number of class hours taken per week, starting at $112 for one class per week per session. There is also a $30 annual registration fee. Single classes, with permission from the instructor, are $20.

Dimensions in Dance (84 Myrtle St., Manchester, 668-4196, dimensionsindance.com) offers classes in pre-ballet, ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, hip-hop, lyrical, tap, contemporary and modern dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $42 to $126 per month, depending on the length of class each week. Open houses are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and Thursday, Sept. 2, from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Gen’s Dance Studio (151A Manchester St., No. 5, Concord, 224-0698, find them on Facebook @gensdancestudio) offers ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and tumbling programs, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for ages 4 and up (exact schedule still TBA). The cost varies depending on the child’s age and the type of class taken. Open houses are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., for new students only.

Happy Feet Dance School (25 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 434-4437, happyfeetdanceschool.biz) offers ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance programs, beginning Sept. 8. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up. First class rates are $60 per month for 30 minutes, $65 per month for 40 minutes and $70 per month for 55 minutes. Rates for additional classes are $48 per month for 30 minutes, $50 per month for 40-minute classes and $56 per month for 55-minute classes. A rate of $295 per month for unlimited classes is also offered.

Kathy Blake Dance Studios (3 Northern Blvd., Amherst, 673-3978, kathyblakedancestudios.com) offers ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, lyrical and music theater programs, as well as private dance lessons, beginning Sept. 11. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $60 to $72 per month, depending on the number of class hours taken per week, plus a $30 registration fee per student. The cost for private dance lessons is $40 per 30-minute lesson, $75 per one-hour lesson.

Londonderry Dance Academy (21 Buttrick Road, Londonderry, 432-0032, londonderrydance.com) offers ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop and contemporary dance programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. There is a bi-monthly cost, starting at $100 for a 45-minute class, plus an annual registration fee of $30 per student or $45 per family.

Martin School of Dance (288 Route 101, Bedford, 488-2371, martinschoolofdance.com) offers ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop, tumbling and a variety of other dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies depending on the child’s age and the number of class hours per week. There is also a registration fee of $25 per child or $50 per family.

McKenna Dance Center (254 N. Main St., Concord, 715-1869, gotomckennas.com) offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, acro, contemporary and musical theater, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for kids ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost starts at $70 per month.

Melissa Hoffman Dance Center (210 Robinson Road, Hudson, 886-7909, melissahoffmandancecenter.info) offers hip-hop, ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, tap and tumble dance programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $52 to $315 per month, depending on the child’s age and the number of class hours taken per week (with discounted rates for each additional child), plus a $40 registration fee per student, or $55 per family.

Miss Kelsey’s Dance Studio (2626 Brown Ave., Manchester, 606-2820, mkdance.com) offers tap, jazz, ballet, acro, lyrical and musical theater programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 1½ and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost for classes starts at $55 per month for a 30-minute class, plus a $30 registration fee per student and an additional registration fee of $15 per family member.

Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studios (49 Range Road, Building 2, Suite A, Windham, 458-7730, chippswindham.com) offers a variety of recreational and competitive dance programs, including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and hip-hop, beginning Sept. 10. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies depending on the child’s age and the number of class hours per week. Open houses are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24, Tuesday, Aug. 31, and Tuesday, Sept. 7, all from 4 to 7 p.m.

New England School of Dance (679 Mast Road, Manchester, 935-7326, newenglandschoolofdance.com) offers classes in ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop and more, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for kids ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. Costs vary depending on the number of class hours taken per week. Call for cost details. Two open houses are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon, and Thursday, Sept. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m.

New Hampshire Academie of Dance (1 Action Blvd., No. 4, Londonderry, 432-4041, nhadance.com) offers jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, tap, hip-hop, acro and contemporary dance programs, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for preschool-age kids and up and are held Monday through Saturday. An open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

N-Step Dance Center (1134 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 641-6787, nstepdance.com) offers tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, tumbling and contemporary dance programs, beginning Sept. 8. Classes are available for kids ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. Most classes range from $55 to $65 in cost.

Rise Dance Studio (125 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 402-2706, risedancenh.com) offers ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern and contemporary dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are held Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $75 to $400 per month, depending on the number of class hours per week, plus a one-time registration fee of $35 per student or $45 per family. There is also a drop-in rate of $25 per class.

Showcase Dance & Performing Arts Center (5 Executive Dr., Hudson, 883-0055, showcasehudsonnh.com) offers ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop, tap and a variety of other recreational and competitive dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $40 to $80 per month, depending on the child’s age and the class length, plus a $50 annual registration fee.

Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater (19 Harvey Road, Units 19 and 20, Bedford, 263-3803, snhdt.org) offers ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop and modern dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 15 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies, depending on the child’s age and the number of class hours taken per week. Open houses are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 28, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Turning Pointe Center of Dance (371 Pembroke St., Pembroke, 485-8710, turningpointecenterofdance.com) offers classes in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and hip-hop, as well as private lessons, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are held Monday through Saturday. The cost starts at $65 per month. Open houses are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24, and Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Unbound Dance Academy (237 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 714-2821, unbounddanceacademy.com) offers classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, tap, hip-hop, acro and musical theater, beginning Sept. 9. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held from Monday through Saturday. An open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Voter’s School of Dance (341 S. Broadway, Unit 16, Salem, 893-5190, votersdance.com) offers ballet, pointe, tap, hip-hop, lyrical and other dance programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Saturday (in-person, Zoom or hybrid classes are available). The cost ranges from $60 to $265 per month, depending on the length of each class, plus an annual registration fee of $35 per child or $50 per family.


Ameri-kids Baton & Dance Studio (Auburn, 391-2254, ameri-kids.org) offers baton-twirling and dance in recreational and competitive programs, beginning Sept. 12. Classes are held on Sundays at the Candia Youth Athletic Association (27 Raymond Road, Candia), at 5 p.m. for new twirlers. Classes start at $55 for a 45-minute session, plus an annual $30 registration fee. The cost for private lessons ranges from $25 to $45 depending on the session length.


A2 Gym & Cheer (16B Garabedian Dr., Salem, 328-8130, a2gc.com) offers recreational gymnastics, tumbling and ninja classes, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday, depending on the age group. The cost varies depending on the class and the amount of time for each. For recreational gymnastics, the cost is $90 per hour per month, $107 for an hour and a half and $125 for two hours. For tumbling and ninja classes, the cost starts at $90 per hour per month.

Flipz the Gym for Kids (Flipz Gymnastics, 14 Chenell Dr., Concord, 224-3223, flipzgymnastics.com) offers gymnastics-based fitness classes for ages 12 months to 7 years, as well as tumbling classes for kids ages 8 to 14. The gym is open six days a week at various times for one-hour-long classes. The cost varies for each.

Gymnastics Village (13 Caldwell Dr., Amherst, 889-8092, gymnasticsvillage.com) offers gymnastics programs and ninja and tumbling classes, beginning Sept. 1. Classes are available for girls and boys ages 18 months and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost starts at $21 for a one-hour class.

Gym-Ken Gymnastics (184 Rockingham Road, Windham, 434-9060, gymkengymnastics.com) offers gymnastics, tumbling, parkour and other programs, beginning Aug. 29. Classes are available for boys and girls ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost for classes ranges from $190 to $210 per 10-week session with one class per week, plus a $50 annual registration fee per child (maximum $110 registration fee per family).

Impact Gymnastics (301 River Road, Bow, 219-0343, impact-gymnastics.com) offers a variety of recreational gymnastics and tumbling programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $75 to $140 per month, depending on the length of the class.

Nashua School of Gymnastics (30 Pond St., Nashua, 880-4927, nsggym.net) offers a variety of recreational gymnastics programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for boys and girls of all ages and are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday. The cost varies depending on the length of each class. There is also a registration fee of $50 per child.

Palaestra Gymnastics Academy (8 Tinkham Ave., Derry, 818-4494, pgagym.com) offers a variety of recreational gymnastics and tumbling programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. Call for cost and registration details.

Phantom Gymnastics (142 Route 111, Hampstead, 329-9315, phantomgymnastics.com) offers various gymnastics and tumbling programs, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for boys and girls ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost varies depending on the age of the child, the type of each class and the length of each session.

Seacoast Gymnastics Center (13 Lilac Mall, Rochester, 332-9821, kellysgymnastics.com) offers a variety of gymnastics, ninja and tumbling programs, beginning in September. Classes are available for kids ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $50 to $215 per week, depending on the child’s age and the number of class hours taken.

Sky High Gymnastics (185 Elm St., No. 2, Milford, 554-1097, skyhighgym.com) offers a variety of gymnastics, dance and ninja programs, beginning Sept. 13. Classes are available for kids ages 2 and up and are held several days a week, depending on the age groups. Call for cost and registration details.

Southern New Hampshire Gymnastics Academy (4 Orchard View Dr., No. 11, Londonderry, 404-6181, snhga.com) offers a variety of both recreational and competitive gymnastics programs, beginning Aug. 30. Classes are available for kids ages 1½ and up and are held Monday through Saturday. Call for cost and registration details.

Spectrum Gymnastics Academy (26 Buttrick Road, Londonderry, 434-8388, spectrumgymnast.com) offers several programs for boys and girls ages 3 and up, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are held various days from Monday through Saturday, depending on the age groups. Call for cost and registration details.

Tri-Star Gymnastics & Dance Center (66 Third St., Dover, 749-1234, tristargymnh.com) offers gymnastics and dance classes for all ages, as well as open gym sessions, beginning the week of Aug. 30. Classes are available Monday through Saturday. The cost ranges from $67 to $165 per session, depending on the age group and the number of classes taken per week.

Tumble Town Gymnastics (444 E. Industrial Park Dr., No. 10, Manchester, 641-9591, tumbletownnh.com) offers recreational and competitive team gymnastics programs, beginning Sept. 7. Classes are available for girls ages 3½ and up and most are held Monday through Saturday (days of the week vary depending on the class). The cost starts at $85 per month for one 60-minute class per week, with a 50-percent sibling discount available.


USA Ninja Challenge (locations at Gymnastics Village, 13 Caldwell Dr., Amherst, 889-8902, gymnasticsvillage.com; Flipz Gymnastics, 14 Chenell Dr., Concord, 224-3223, ninjaconcordnh.com; 17 Friars Dr., Unit 18, Hudson, 417-6820, ninjahudson.com; and 444 E. Industrial Park Dr., Manchester, 935-7100, ninjamanchester.com) introduces kids ages 4 and up to the sport of ninja, featuring a variety of swinging, jumping and climbing obstacles and an interactive learning program, in which they can have fun while learning fitness and life skills. The fall sessions begin in September (exact date varies depending on the location), with open enrollment year-round. The programs are open several days a week at various class times of 50 minutes, 60 minutes or 75 minutes. The cost varies depending on the length of the class.

Horseback riding

Apple Tree Farm (49 Wheeler Road, Hollis, 465-9592, appletreefarm.org) offers year-round group and private lessons for all ages and experience levels. Beginner students will receive English balance seat instruction while advanced students will focus on eventing, which includes dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country. Group lessons cost $75 per one-hour lesson or $195 for a month of weekly lessons. Private lessons cost $55 for a half-hour, $85 for an hour and $175 for a month of weekly half-hour lessons.

Chase Farms (146 Federal Hill Road, Hollis, 400-1077, chasefarmsnh.com) offers saddleseat group, semi-private and private lessons for kids ages 4 and up. The cost $40 for a group lesson (four to six students), $45 for a semi-private lesson (two to three students) and $50 for a private lesson. Lesson packages are also available.

Fox Creek Farm (Pine Hill Road, Hollis, 236-2132, foxcreek.farm) offers group and private hunter/jumper lessons for all ages. A 30-minute private lesson costs $55, and a one-hour group lesson costs $45. A Pony Lover’s lesson package for kids ages 4 to 8 is available for $180 and includes a month of weekly half-hour lessons covering grooming, tacking up and basic riding skills.

Hollis Ranch (192 Wheeler Road, Hollis, 465-2672, hollisranch.com) offers private horsemanship lessons for kids, focused on Western, English and driving disciplines. Lesson packages are customized.

Mack Hill Riding Academy (3 Mack Hill Road, Amherst, 801-0958, mackhill.net) offers private and group riding lessons for kids of all ages. Disciplines include hunter under saddle, eventing, equitation, Western pleasure and horsemanship. The cost is $55 per lesson. Lesson packages are also available at $300 for six and $540 for 12.

Walnut Hollow Farm (40 Walnut Hill Road, Amherst, 475-2714, walnuthollowfarm.com) offers one-hour private lessons for $60, semi-private lessons (two students) for $50 and group lessons for $45. A group lesson package with 10 lessons for $400 is also available.

Martial arts

Al Lima’s Studio of Self Defense (28 Lowell Road, Hudson, 595-9098, alssd.com) offers kenpo karate and self-defense programs for kids and teens. Classes are held Monday through Thursday. Call for cost details. Private classes are also available.

Amherst Karate Studio (Salzburg Square, 292 Route 101, Amherst, 672-3570, amherstkaratestudio.com) offers martial arts and self-defense classes for kids ages 4 and up. Classes are held Monday through Saturday. Call for cost details.

Bedford Martial Arts Academy (292 Route 101 West, Bedford, 626-9696, bedfordmartialartsacademy.com) offers karate classes for kids ages 18 months and up. Classes are held Monday through Thursday. An after-school pickup program is also offered for students in the Bedford Schools K-6 and Reeds Ferry, Merrimack K-4 school districts. Call for cost details.

Checkmate Martial Arts (200 Elm St., Manchester, 666-5836, checkmateselfdefense.com) offers youth martial arts programs for kids ages 5 to 13. Classes are held after school on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and on Saturday morning. Call for cost details.

Empowering Lives Martial Arts (542 Mast Road, No. 15, Goffstown, 978-414-5425, martialartsnewhampshire.com) offers a martial arts program for kids ages 4 through 6, a karate program for kids ages 7 through 12 and an adult martial arts program that is open to teens ages 13 and up. Virtual programs are also available. Call for scheduling and cost details.

Eric Menard’s Complete Martial Arts Academy (295 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-0010, cma-martialarts.com) offers martial arts programs for kids and teens in four-week session packages. Call for scheduling and cost details.

Golden Crane Traditional Martial Arts (46 Lowell Road, No. 6, Windham, 437-2020, goldencranenh.com) offers traditional karate classes for kids and teens ages 5 and up. Classes are held Monday through Thursday after school and on Saturday morning. Virtual classes are also currently being offered. Call for cost details.

Granite State American Kenpo Karate (290 Derry Road, No. 5, Hudson, 598-5400, gsakenpo.com) offers martial arts programs for kids and teens. Virtual classes are also currently available. Call for cost and scheduling details.

Inner Dragon Martial Arts (77 Derry Road, Hudson, 864-8756, innerdragonma.com) offers kenpo-based martial arts programs for kids of all ages. Classes are held Monday through Saturday. Classes are held Monday through Friday after school and on Saturday morning. An after-school pickup program is also offered. Call for cost details.

Kaizen Academy (17 Freetown Road, No. 6, Raymond, 895-1545, raymondkarate.com) offers martial arts programs for kids and teens ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Various packages are available. Call for cost details.

Manchester Karate Studio (371 S. Willow St., Manchester, 625-5835, manchesterkarate.com) offers karate classes for kids ages 4 and up as well as Brazilian jiu jitsu self-defense programs for teens age 14 and up. Call for cost and scheduling details.

Neil Stone’s Karate Academy (22 Proctor Hill Road, Hollis, 672-8933, neilstoneskarate.com) offers karate programs for kids and teens ages 2 1/2 and up. Classes are held Monday through Friday. A virtual option is currently available for teen classes. Call for cost details.

New England Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy (30 Henniker St., Unit 9, Concord, 369-4764, nebjj.com) offers Brazilian jiu jitsu classes for kids ages 5 and up. Classes are held Tuesday through Thursday after school and on Saturday morning. Packages include a month of unlimited classes for $14, a three-month block of unlimited classes for $325, a two-classes-per-week membership for $110 a month, and a one-class-per-week membership for $75 a month.

Tokyo Joe’s Studios of Self Defense (85A Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 889-4165; 20 Hammond Road, Milford, 672-2100, tokyojoes.net) offers private and group martial arts lessons for kids and teens ages 3 and up. Classes are held Monday through Saturday. Call each location for cost details.

The Training Station (200 Elm St., Manchester, 505-0048, thetrainingstationnh.com) offers kenpo, jiu jitsu and general martial arts classes for kids and teens ages 3 and up, as well as private lessons. Various packages are available. Students can also take a drop-in class for $20.

World Class Martial Arts (25 Nashua Road, Unit D3, Londonderry, 845-6115, londonderrymartialarts.com) offers karate programs for kids ages 3 and up. Classes are held after school Monday through Friday and on Saturday morning. Call for cost details.


Penacook School of Martial Arts (15 Village St., Suite 6, Penacook) has three martial arts programs for kids and teens ages 4 and up. In “Pre Skillz,” for ages 4 through 6 (Saturdays, 11 to 11:30 a.m., $59 a month), and “Juniors Martial Arts,” for ages 7 through 13 (Monday through Thursday, 6:15 to 7 p.m., $139 to $159 a month), students will learn the foundations of martial arts, with a focus on listening skills and following directions; hand-eye coordination and mobility; social skills and respecting others; discipline and self-control; self-confidence; goal-setting and more. Teens ages 14 and up are welcome in the adult class (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 to 8:15 p.m., and Friday, 6:30 to 7:15 p.m., $139 to $159 a month), which focuses on physical fitness and self-defense using techniques from karate and Brazilian jiu jitsu. Call 738-3173 or visit penacookkarate.com.


Concord Community Music School (23 Wall St., Concord, 228-1196, ccmusicschool.org) begins its fall season in September with private lessons, group ensembles and more. Among the programs available is the Purple Finches Youth Chorus, which is open to kids in kindergarten through eighth grade who are learning an instrument. The three sections of the Chorus — the Fledglings, the Fliers and the Finches — allow an age-appropriate sequence of musical development, as students learn music literacy through regular rhythm, solfège and ear-training. Students rehearse weekly during the school year and perform regularly. The program is held Mondays at 4:10, 5 and 6 p.m. (times dependent on the student’s experience level), beginning Sept. 27. The cost is $175 per semester. Individual instruction in a variety of instruments is also available, including in guitar, bass, piano, percussion, clarinet, recorder, trombone, tuba and more. The cost for a 16-week semester curriculum is $672 for 30-minute lessons, $992 with 45-minute lessons and $1,296 with 60-minute lessons. Students are welcome at any time of the semester, with tuition prorated based on the number of lessons remaining.

Nashua Community Music School. Photo by Mark Stern Photography.

Let’s Play Music & Make Art (2626 Brown Ave., Unit A2, Manchester, 218-3089; 145 Hampstead Road, Suite 26, Derry, 425-7575; Rosita Lee Music Center, 136 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-8940; letsplaymusic.com) offers weekly lessons in piano, guitar, voice, violin, cello, drums, saxophone and a variety of other musical instruments for students of all ages and abilities. The cost is $132 per month for 30-minute lessons, $244 per month for 60-minute lessons and $359 per month for 90-minute lessons. As of September 2020, Let’s Play Music & Make Art has taken over operations at Rosita Lee Music Center in Hudson.

Lidman Music Studio (419 Amherst St., Nashua, 913-5314, lidmanmusic.com) offers private lessons in violin, viola and piano for kids of all ages, from kindergarten through high school. Lessons take place weekly in the afternoons and evenings, beginning Sept. 7. The cost is $120 per month, which covers four 30-minute private lessons.

Londonderry Piano (20 N. Broadway, Salem, 898-9910, londonderrypiano.com) offers piano, guitar, drums, bass and voice lessons for all ages. The cost for one 30-minute lesson per week is $120 per month, $180 for one 45-minute lesson per week and $240 for one one-hour lesson per week.

Manchester Community Music School (2291 Elm St., Manchester, 644-4548, mcmusicschool.org) has a variety of opportunities beginning in September for private lessons, classes and youth ensembles for all kinds of musical instruments and all ages and levels of ability. Programs include Queen City Music & Leadership (grades 6 to 9, $250 per student), in which students participate in music lessons, ensembles and leadership and personal opportunities; Sprouting Melodies and Little Maestros (ages 6 months to 3 years old, $154 per student), in which younger children are introduced to music through a variety of age-appropriate activities); and Beginning Recorder (grades 4 to 7; free, with an online Zoom option), in which students will learn the basics of tone production and reading music. There is also a seven-week Music Theory session open to grades 6 and up ($199 per student); various chamber ensembles that include a flute choir, percussion, wind, and stringed instruments; and youth symphony orchestra opportunities. An open house for more information on all programs is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Manchester Music Mill (329 Elm St., Manchester, 623-8022, mmmlessons.com) offers private lessons in guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, piano and voice for students of all ages and skill levels. Lessons are offered once a week. The cost ranges from $20 to $25 per 30-minute lesson. Hourly lessons are available if needed, as well as group lessons.

Merrimack Music Academy (1 Bryce Dr., Merrimack, 493-9214, merrimackmusicacademy.com) offers private lessons piano, voice, and acoustic or electric guitar and bass for children of all ages and skill levels. Lessons are available both in studio and online. The cost is $145 per month for 30-minute lessons and $270 per month for one-hour lessons, plus a $35 one-time registration fee.

NH Tunes (250 Commercial St., No. 2017, Manchester, 660-2208, nhtunes.biz) offers year-round lessons in voice, guitar, drums, piano, ukulele and more to students of all ages and abilities. The cost starts at $29.50 per 30-minute lesson. Certificates and studio time packages can also be purchased.

Ted Herbert Music School (880 Page St., Manchester, 669-7469, tedherbert.com) offers lessons in every band and orchestra instrument, as well as voice and theater, for students of all ages interested in various musical styles. Lessons are ongoing year-round, and instrument rentals are available through the school in partnership with David French Music. The cost is $28 per 30-minute lesson. Registration is being waived through December 2021.


The Nashua Community Music School (2 Lock St., Nashua, 881-7030, nashuacms.org) is moving into its new location at 2 Lock St. in Nashua on Sept. 1, which will feature larger lesson rooms and a full stage with capacity for 150 audience members. Fall programming begins Sept. 13 and will include a full range of both in-person and remote private music lessons on piano, voice, guitar, ukulele, bass, drums, flute, clarinet, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba, as well as composition, songwriting and early childhood music. Private and small group music therapy sessions are also offered for all ages remotely and in person (all group programming is currently on hold but due to return sometime in the near future). Programs are open to kids and teens ages 3 and up and are held Monday through Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m. A trial pack of three 30-minute lessons costs $99, while weekly lessons or music therapy sessions start at $140 per month (community fund scholarships are available). A fall open house will likely be held soon, date TBA.


Amherst Soccer Club (amherstsoccerclub.com) offers fall soccer for tots through U9 non-travel. Players from all towns are welcome. Cost ranges from $95 to $195.

Bedford Athletic Club (bedfordrecsoccer.com) offers fall recreational soccer for players in pre-K through grade 8. The season runs Aug. 28 through Oct. 30 and costs $100.

Bedford Little League (bedfordll.com) offers fall baseball and softball for boys and girls ages 8 through 13. The cost is $50 per player for all programs. Registration is open through Sept. 5.

Concord Sports Center (2 Whitney Road, No. 1, Concord, 224-1655, concordsportscenter.com) offers a fall 10-12, middle school and high school baseball league, with practices starting Sept. 1. Cost ranges from $275 to $300 for the season.

Conway Arena (5 Stadium Dr., Nashua, 595-2400, conwayarena.com) offers hockey lessons for boys and girls ages 5 to 9. A 12-week session starting Sept. 28 costs $359. Youth hockey teams for kids and teens ages 6 to 18 are also offered from September through March. Skating lessons open to kids ages 5 and up are offered in eight-week sessions starting on Sept. 8 and cost $139. A figure skating program is available for kids with basic skating skills and includes 11 weeks of small group instruction for $275.

Derry Soccer Club (Rider Fields, 38 Tsienneto Road, Derry, derrysoccerclub.org) offers U4 through U18 recreational soccer for kids residing in Derry and surrounding towns. Programs run for seven or eight weeks and range from $90 to $155.

FieldHouse Sports (12 Tallwood Dr., Bow, 226-4646, fieldhousesports.com) offers a five-week soccer clinic for kids ages 3 to 6 starting on Sept. 11 for $40 to $45. Six-week soccer clinics for kids ages 6 and up start on Nov. 8 and cost $75 to $80.

The Icenter (60 Lowell Road, Salem, 893-4448, the-icenter.com) offers skating and hockey lessons for kids ages 3 and up, beginning in September. An 11-week session starts on Sept. 11 and costs $275, and a 12-week session starting Dec. 4 costs $295.

Longfellow New Hampshire Tennis & Swim Club (140 Lock St., Nashua, 883-0153, nashuaswimandtennis.com) offers tennis lessons for kids ages 8 and up. Eight-week sessions begin on Sept. 8. The cost ranges from $120 to $545, depending on the age group.

New Hampshire Junior Roller Derby (nhjuniorrollerderby.com) offers a roller derby program for kids ages 6 through 17, with practices held at the New England Sports Center in Derry and the Plaistow YMCA. A three-week session starting on Sept. 10 costs $40, and a six-week session starting on Oct. 6 costs $80.

New Hampshire Sportsplex (68 Technology Dr., Bedford, 641-1313, nhsportsplex.com) offers soccer classes for kids ages 18 months to 6, tee ball for ages 3 through 6, lacrosse for ages 4 through 8, field hockey for ages 4 through 12, basketball for ages 3 through 14, hockey for ages 4 through 8 and volleyball for ages 3 through 12. Eight-week sessions start on Sept. 8. Call for cost details.

The Phanzone (142 Route 111, Hampstead, 329-4422, thephanzone.com) offers a field hockey program for girls in grades 1 through 6. A six-week session starts on Sept. 11 and costs $55.

Salem Youth Baseball (salemyouthbaseball.net) offers fall baseball for players ages 6 and up. The cost is $65 to $75.

Salem Youth Soccer Association (salemsoccer.com) offers recreational soccer for tots ages 3 and 4 for $55, and for U6 through U12 for $175, starting on Sept. 12.

Seacoast Fencing Club (271 Wilson St., Manchester; 261 N. Main St., Rochester, 428-7040, seacoastfencingclub.org) offers group fencing classes for kids ages 7 and up of all experience levels. Nine-week sessions starting in September range from $100 to $275. Competitive training is also available in three-month terms for $335 to $380.

Tri-Town Ice Arena (311 W. River Road, Hooksett, 485-1100, tri-townicearena.com) offers group skating lessons for kids ages 3 and up. Seven-week sessions start on Sept. 13. The cost is $126.


Girls on the Run New Hampshire (girlsontherunnh.org) is a youth development program that empowers girls through physical activity, with a focus on self-confidence, decision-making, respecting others, teamwork, community service and other life skills. Programs are offered through local schools and rec programs for grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 8 and ages 16 through 18. The cost for the fall season, which runs Sept. 13 through Nov. 13, is $140. Girls are selected for the program by lottery. Registration closes on Aug. 22. Visit girlsontherunnh.org or call 778-1389.


Kids Coop Theatre (East Derry, admin@kids-coop-theatre.org, kids-coop-theatre.org) offers youth theater productions throughout the year open to kids and teens ages 8 and up. Rehearsals are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., at 46 East Derry Road in Derry. Visit the website for the most up-to-date audition schedule for shows.

The Majestic Academy of Dramatic Arts (880 Page St., Manchester, 669-7469, majestictheatre.net) offers private lessons in acting and voice, workshops and performing opportunities in community theater productions. The cost is $28 per 30-minute session. Registration is being waived through December 2021. If cast in a performance, there is a $125 production fee (scholarship assistance available). On Tuesday, Sept. 7, and Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m., kids and teens ages 8 to 16 can audition for “Sleepy Hollow,” with public performances from Friday, Oct. 22, to Sunday, Oct. 24.

New Hampshire Theatre Project (West End Studio Theatre, 959 Islington St., Portsmouth, nhtheatreproject.org, in collaboration with the Portsmouth Recreation Department, 610-7277, cityofportsmouth.com/recreation) is offering opportunities for kids to get introduced to the world of acting and theater through creative exercises, games, improvisation, storytelling and imagination exercises, beginning in late September. Programs include building characters, working with costumes, reading and writing scripts and performing in theater productions, and are open to kids from kindergarten to second grade on Tuesdays, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; and third through fifth grade on Wednesdays, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., dates offered Sept. 28 to Nov. 17. The cost is $180 per child.

Palace Youth Theatre (Forever Emma Studios, 516 Pine St., Manchester, 688-5588, palacetheatre.org) offers classes, coaching and performance opportunities throughout the year for young performers. Productions include mainstage junior musicals, plays and small cast musicals for students in second grade and up, as well as voice, acting and dance lessons throughout the year for students ages 3 and up. Classes start the last week of August and are offered throughout the year. If cast in a production, there is a $125 fee.

Peacock Players (14 Court St., Nashua, 886-7000, peacockplayers.org) offers theater production opportunities for kids ages 6 and up. The next production is Matilda the Musical Jr. in October, with auditions on Monday, Aug. 30, and Tuesday, Aug. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. Rehearsals are Thursdays and Fridays, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Sundays, from 1 to 5 p.m., beginning Sept. 9. There is a $175 educational tuition cost for all those cast in the production. Financial assistance is available.

Featured photo: Studio 550 Community Art Center. Courtesy photo.

Comics for Everybody!

The wait is finally over for comic book lovers as Free Comic Book Day returns on Saturday, Aug. 14, for the first time since 2019. The annual worldwide event, postponed from its traditional date on the first Saturday in May, invites comic book shops to hand out free comic books created specially for that day and host comic-related fun like cosplay contests, door prizes, special guests and more.

Each participating local shop is doing things a little differently, so whether you’re looking to just pop in, grab your free comic and go, or don your best cosplay and spend the day celebrating all things comics, New Hampshire has a FCBD experience for you.

Customers pick up their free comics at a previous Free Comic Book Day at Double Midnight Comics. Courtesy photo.

Diversity Gaming in Hooksett, a new comic book and gaming shop that opened a month before the pandemic, is keeping the focus on the comics for its first FCBD. Owner Erik Oparowske said he placed a large order of free comics to ensure that every customer who wants a free comic can get the one they want quickly and easily. He said he’s expecting the shop to “go through most, if not all” of the comics he ordered.

“We wanted to provide an option for people who may not have half an hour to stand in line,” Oparowske said. “For us, it’s about getting the comics into people’s hands.”

Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack will have five comic artists on site promoting and discussing their comic books with customers.

“It adds a little something extra to the event [beyond] the free comics,” manager Bob Shaw said, “and it allows people to meet artists without having to go to a comic convention, which is nice because conventions can be really crazy and crowded, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable enough to start going to them again.”

Famous for its FCBD costume contest that typically attracts more than 100 participants, Double Midnight Comics, which has shops in Manchester and Concord, has decided to hold off on the contest this year and “keep it low-key,” co-owner Chris Proulx said, with plans to resume its usual FCBD festivities in 2022.

“We’re encouraging people to come in, shop a bit and head home with their haul,” Proulx said. “It’s a bummer not having the big event for the second year in a row, but safety is our focus this year.”

New Hampshire’s largest FCBD celebration, the Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival, will return full-scale, with local comic creators, a scavenger hunt, vendors, prizes, a costume contest and more at businesses and venues all over the city.

“We’re doing Free Comic Book Day just like we’ve always done it in the past, nothing different at all,” said Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics in Rochester, which hosts the festival in partnership with the city. “Everybody is excited to have a semblance of normalcy to life again.”

Oparowske said he looks forward to including more FCBD activities, like the ones at Jetpack, at Diversity Gaming in the future.

“I love that Jetpack and Double Midnight and places like that have that big, carnival-like atmosphere,” he said. “I hope that, once we’ve been here longer and are more firm in the community, we can do something a little like that.”

There are 51 Free Comic Book Day titles this year: 12 “gold” titles, which are available at all participating shops, and 39 “silver” titles, of which certain ones are available at select shops. The selection typically includes a mix of independent, standalone stories; spin-offs of movies, television shows, video games and established comic book series; and samplings or previews of existing or upcoming titles.

Comic book fans can pick up not only this year’s FCBD comics but also ones from 2020, which were released and distributed by comic book shops in batches over the course of nine weeks as part of “Free Comic Book Summer,” a reworking of FCBD held in lieu of the one-day event that year. Since Free Comic Book Summer took place at the height of the pandemic, the 2020 titles went mostly under the radar, and many comic book shops still have stacks of them that they’re hoping to give away at this year’s FCBD.

“I tried doing a free comic book drive-up last year. I got 12 people,” Shaw said, “so I’m still choking on last year’s Free Comic Book Day stuff that never got distributed.”

“I guarantee there is stuff people missed out on [in 2020], so it will be new to them this year,” Proulx added. “Everyone will leave with a nice stack of comics … from both this year and past years.”

Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival Cosplay Contest. Courtesy photos.

Though thankful to be able to host Free Comic Book Day in its traditional format again, some comic book shop owners and staff are concerned that the rescheduled August date will affect the turnout.

Shaw said this year’s event and the new date haven’t been advertised on a national level nearly as prominently as in years past.

“There hasn’t been the same kind of buzz about it that you usually hear,” he said. “I think there will be a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know [FCBD] was today.’”

“We’ve had tons of customers asking us when [FCBD] is going to be,” Oparowske added. “There’s been a lot of confusion.”

But, Shaw said, it’s not always easy to predict what the turnout will be — it could go either way — and despite all of the variables that may determine whether people come out or not, there is one thing the comic book shops will always have going for them on FCBD: “People love free stuff, and that’s never going to change,” he said. “You can count on that, no matter what.”

Comics vs. Covid

When Gov. Sununu called for non-essential businesses to shut down in March of last year, local comic book shops were prepared for the worst.

“We went into panic mode,” DiBernardo said of Jetpack Comics. “We thought we would be shutting down for the foreseeable future.”

Now, about a year and a half later, many shops are not only surviving, but thriving, thanks to their innovative sales strategies and dedicated customer base.

Shaw said that once Merrymac Games and Comics shifted their business online, their sales numbers weren’t much different from before the pandemic.

“Honestly, the only change for us was that we didn’t have customers in the store,” he said. “We were still fulfilling and shipping out orders every day.”

For Jetpack, DiBernardo said, the ability to offer curbside pickup was the shop’s saving grace. He went from fearing that he would have to let half of his staff go, he said, to having to pay his staff overtime to keep up with the large volume of online and curbside pickup orders.

“Curbside pickup changed everything for us,” he said. “It gave us a goal — something that we could do. Once we figured out how to do it and we hit our stride with it, it went great for us.”

The shutdown was especially tough on Diversity Gaming, which had opened just a month earlier and therefore didn’t qualify to receive the state or federal financial aid that was being offered to small businesses. Oparowske said he owes the shop’s survival to the community.

“Even though we were the little babies on the block, people had already really embraced us and were excited about our presence here during that first month,” he said.

The popularity of online sales during the pandemic has led many comic book shops to make it a permanent part of their business model.

“We found that it was a big boost for us, and it still is,” DiBernardo said. “We’re seeing the same amount of online sales now that we were seeing a year ago.”

While comic book shops may not be considered an essential business on paper, Proulx said, they are essential to many people on a personal level.

“People needed distractions from the pandemic,” he said, “and we were there for them with comics.”

Find a comic

Local comic book store staff shared comic book and graphic novel recommendations for all kinds of readers.

Best comic for someone who “isn’t a comic book person”

Ice Cream Man by W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo.
A horror anthology series for fans of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror.
Recommended by Jill Stewart, comic book manager at Double Midnight Comics.

Star Wars: The High Republic by Cavan Scott
A series of stories from the Star Wars universe for fans who want to get some background on where the upcoming movies might lead.
Recommended by Erik Oparowske, owner of Diversity Gaming.

Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner
A dog wakes up in a strange house with no recollection of how she got there and a feeling that something terrible has happened.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Best comic for adult comic book nerds

Reckless by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Crime noir set in 1980s Los Angeles.
Recommended by Chris Proulx, co-owner of Double Midnight Comics.

Unsacred by Mirka Andolfo
A risque take on heaven and hell.
Recommended by Erik Oparowske, owner of Diversity Gaming.

King in Black by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman
A new twist on old characters and the making of a new god for the Marvel Universe.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Crossover by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe and John J. Hill
The series sets fictional characters from different comic books in real-world modern-day Denver, Colorado.
Recommended by Kyle Litchfield, staff at Jetpack Comics.

Best comic for teens who are too cool for superheroes

Radiant Black byKyle Higgins and Marcello Costa
A superhero story for a new generation, this series offers a more realistic look at what would happen if teens really had superpowers.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Life is Strange by Emma Vieceli
Based on the video game of the same name, this series follows a photography student who has the magical ability to rewind time.
Recommended By Erik Oparowske, owner of Diversity Gaming.

BRZRKR by Matt Kindt, Keanu Reeves and Ron Garney
Actor Keanu Reeves writes this story of the next movie that he wants to star in.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Best comic for young aspiring comic book creators

Strange Academyby Skottie Young, Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado
Dr. Strange of the Marvel Universe establishes a new academy for the mystic arts to train the next generation of magic-users.
Recommended by Kyle Litchfield, staff at Jetpack Comics.

Red Room byEd Piskor
This cyberpunk tale for teens is about a subculture of criminals who livestream murders for entertainment.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Best comic for kids who don’t like reading

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
The protagonist in this kids graphic novel series is part man and part dog-police officer and -superhero.
Recommended by Chris Proulx, co-owner of Double Midnight Comics.

Batman Fortnite Zero Point by Christos Gage, Donald Mustard and Reilly Brown
A collaborative comic between DC and the popular video game Fortnite that rewards readers with exclusive content for the game.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garrón
Miles Morales balances school, parents and life as a teen — who also happens to be Spider-Man.
Recommended by Seth Deverell, staff at Diversity Gaming.

Best graphic novels

Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont
A look at the X-Men dystopian future that formed the basis for the movies.
Recommended By Erik Oparowske, owner of Diversity Gaming.

Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera.
Children in the town of Archer’s Peak are mysteriously going missing, and the few that survive return with stories of terrifying monsters.
Recommended by Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics.

Participating Comic Book Shops

For more information about Free Comic Book Day, visit freecomicbookday.com.

The Comic Store, 115 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 881-4855, facebook.com/thecomicstorenashua. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Collectibles Unlimited, 25 South St., Concord, 228-3712, collectiblesunlimited.biz. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Diversity Gaming, 1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 606-1176, diversitygaming.store. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Double Midnight Comics, 245 Maple St., Manchester, 669-9636; 67 S. Main St., Concord, 669-9636, dmcomics.com. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be sales and raffles.

Escape Hatch Books, 27 Main St., Jaffrey, facebook.com/escapehatchbooks. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jetpack Comics, 37 N. Main St., Rochester, 330-9636, jetpackcomics.com.The store partners with the City of Rochester to host the Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival. Festivities including a scavenger hunt, cosplay competition, special guest comic book artists, vendors and more will take place at the store and at various locations throughout the city starting at 10 a.m.

Khaotic Comics, 590 Central Ave., Dover, 834-9177, khaoticcomics.com. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store will have special guest comic book artists, food and an appearance by Spider-Man.

Merrymac Games and Comics, 550 DW Highway, Merrimack, 420-8161, merrymacgc.com. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Special guest comic book artists will be at the shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Newbury Comics, 777 S. Willow St., Manchester, 624-2842; 310 D.W. Highway, Nashua, 888-0720; 436 S. Broadway, Salem, 890-1380, newburycomics.com. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Nex-Gen Comics, 122 Bridge St., Unit 3, Pelham, 751-8195, nexgencomics.wordpress.com. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Stairway to Heaven Comics, 109 Gosling Road, Newington, 319-6134, stairwaytoheavencomics.com. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special guest comic book creators will be at the shop.

Featured photo:

Day on the Water

Row, row, row your boat

Hit the water in a canoe or kayak

by Matt Ingersoll

When Patrick Malfait founded the Contoocook River Canoe Co. in 1997, kayaking was still up and coming as a mainstream recreational sport in New Hampshire. Now he’s in his 25th season, offering a wide variety of canoes and kayaks for sale or for rent so people can enjoy paddling along the Contoocook River in Concord. A second operation was later launched under the name Merrimack River Canoe & Kayak, where you can do the same on Hooksett’s Merrimack River.

“We started with just renting canoes,” Malfait said. “Then a couple of years later the kayak just became very popular and the canoe kind of took a backseat for a while. … The popularity of canoeing has come back, but kayaking is still far ahead of canoeing [in] sales and rentals.”

Both canoeing and kayaking have their own unique advantages and features that can be best suited to particular uses. In general, a kayak may be smaller, faster and easier to maneuver, whereas a canoe is often larger, more stable and easier to enter and exit.

“When you’re in a single kayak, you’re one with the water. It’s just you and your boat … so it’s exciting for people to get out there and be able to control their boat by themselves,” Malfait said.

As the years have gone on, kayak manufacturers have introduced newer models tailored to specific purposes. There are multiple types of kayaks, from single recreational kayaks to touring or sea kayaks, and even kayaks with their own built-in accessories designed for fishing.

But canoes can be great to take out on the water too — especially, Malfait said, if you’re part of a larger group or are preparing for a bit of a longer trip.

“A canoe is a really great family vessel to go out and spend the day on the river or on the lake,” he said. “You can put everything and the kitchen sink in there, which you can’t do in a single kayak. It’s just a whole different experience, and for some people it’s more like being at home.”

Other than families with children, Malfait said, canoe rentals are also popular among older active adults, as well as traditionalists who enjoy an activity he pointed out has been around for hundreds of years. Rentals for both canoes and kayaks are an attractive option for those who don’t have the means to store or transport them or are getting into the sport for the first time.

Rental rates at the Contoocook River Canoe Co. are by the day, while for the Merrimack River operation there are additional options to have your boat out on the water per two-hour or four-hour block. If you’re going out on the Contoocook River, Malfait said, there is also a shuttle option to bring you and your boat about 9 miles upriver to paddle back to the beach.

All boats must be off the water by 5 p.m. each day, but that doesn’t mean canoeing or kayaking has to be a full-day commitment either. In fact, during the height of the pandemic last year, Malfait said he noticed many more short-term paddlers out on the water.

“We saw a large increase of late afternoon business, and it was all city people,” he said. “They’d only be out there for an hour or two but they loved it. For them, it was a getaway.”

In Nashua, Bill James first became interested in trying kayaking more than a decade ago when, on a bike ride in Mine Falls Park, he passed by a family of paddlers. Now he owns Nashua Kayak Rental, a by-appointment business offering single or double kayak rentals on Saturdays and Sundays. Renters can arrange meetings at one of the Nashua River’s public boat launches.

“Typically, I like to bring people to the Millyard Technology Park where there’s a public boat ramp, and I also use the Mine Falls Park boat ramp,” James said. “As long as I don’t have multiple appointments in one location that tie me to a given spot, we can wander around a bit. … For the most part, though, I just let people enjoy it however they want to.”

Reservations can be made through Nashua Kayak Rental’s website or Facebook page, and James will provide everything from your kayak and paddle to your life jacket.

“[Kayaking] is a really nice way to get out and explore … and the best part of renting is that you can go out and do it whenever you want and not have to deal with storage or transport,” he said.

Unless you’re on private property or a body of water that is only open to town residents, you can go pretty much anywhere with a canoe or kayak. Each is considered a non-motorized vehicle under New Hampshire law, meaning they are not required to register in the state. You are required, however, to always wear a life jacket while out on the water, Malfait said.

“There’s tons of information out there,” he said. “The AMC [Appalachian Mountain Club] has guides that they’ve produced that tell you where you can put boats in and take boats out, and there are meetup groups where people are paddling a different body of water each week.”

NH AMC Paddlers

The New Hampshire chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a regular schedule of upcoming outdoor group activities across the state, including for canoeing and kayaking. Visit amcnh.org/committees/paddling, or follow them on Facebook “NH AMC Paddlers.”

Contoocook River Canoe Co.

9 Horse Hill Road, Concord, 753-9804, contoocookcanoe.com

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Canoes and kayaks are both available to rent for use on the Contoocook River. Rates vary depending on the type and size capacity of the boat — $35 for a canoe or two-person kayak, $28 for a one-person 12-foot kayak and $33 for a one-person 14- to 16-foot kayak. Rates are for single-day use, with all boats off the water by 5 p.m. each day. Shuttle services about 9 miles upriver are also available.

Merrimack River Canoe & Kayak

35 Edgewater Drive, Hooksett, 406-1462, paddlemerrimack.com

Hours: Friday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Canoes and kayaks are both available to rent for use on the Merrimack River. Rates vary depending on the type and size capacity of the boat, with block pricing for two hours, four hours or a single day. A one-person kayak, for example, is $20 for two hours, $35 for four hours or $45 for the day.

Nashua Kayak Rental

nashuakayakrental.com, and on Facebook @nashuakayak

Hours: Saturday and Sunday, by appointment

Cost: One-person or two-person kayaks are available for rent for use on the Nashua River. Rates are $30 for two hours for a single kayak, or $50 for two hours for a two-person kayak. Weekend meetings with owner-operator Bill James are available by appointment at the public boat ramps at Mine Falls Park (Stadium Drive, near Stellos Stadium) or at the Millyard Technology Park (Technology Way).

More Places to Paddle

Here’s a list of more spots in southern New Hampshire, including some lakes and state parks, that offer canoe or kayak rentals or have public boat launches people can use to go canoeing or kayaking.

Baboosic Lake (25 Broadway, Amherst, amherstnh.myrec.com)
Bear Brook State Park (61 Deerfield Road, Allenstown, nhstateparks.com)
Beaver Lake (Pond Road, Derry, beaver-lake.org)
Clough State Park (455 Clough Park Road, Weare, nhstateparks.com)
Crystal Lake (186 Crystal Lake Road, Gilmanton, gilmantonnh.org)
Glen Lake (300 Elm St., Goffstown, goffstown.com)
Island Pond (Stickney Road, Atkinson, town-atkinsonnh.com)
Lake Massabesic (Londonderry Turnpike, Auburn, manchesternh.gov)
Lake Sunapee (Mount Sunapee State Park, 86 Beach Access Road, Newbury, nhstateparks.org)
Lake Winnipesaukee (Multiple towns in Belknap and Carroll counties, lakewinnipesaukee.net)
Lake Winnisquam (Water Street, Laconia, winnisquamwatershed.org/public-access)
Naticook Lake (Veterans Park Drive, Merrimack, merrimacknh.gov)
Pawtuckaway State Park (7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, nhstateparks.org)
Pillsbury State Park (100 Pillsbury State Park Road, Washington, nhstateparks.org)
Silver Lake State Park (138 Silver Lake Road, Hollis, nhstateparks.org)

Cruising along

Scenic views from the comfort of a boat

by Meghan Seigler

From harbor seals in the Atlantic to great blue herons on Squam Lake, there’s a good chance you’ll see wildlife in the water and along the shores when you take a scenic cruise —‌ and the views along the way are pretty photo-worthy too.

“Normally we go straight out to White Island to see the lighthouse,” said Pete Reynolds of Granite State Whale Watch and Island Cruises in Rye, which offers tours of the Isles of Shoals on Uncle Oscar, a 62-foot-long single-deck boat. “All the islands are scenic in their own right.”

Lake Education Cruise 2019. Photo courtesy of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

During the 5½-mile trip from Rye Harbor to the Isles, they often see marine porpoises and the occasional whale sighting, though Reynolds said those are fairly rare.

“Pretty frequently around the island we’ll see both harbor seals and grey seals,” Reynolds said.

“We see cormorants … and a tern colony … that’s always a favorite of bird watchers.”

The ocean tours are narrated, with the captain sharing the history of the islands, and unlike many scenic cruises, Uncle Oscar docks mid-tour to let passengers off to explore Star Island.

“[It’s] a great walking island,” Reynolds said. “It’s only 46 acres so you can explore pretty much the entire island when you’re on it.”

He said there’s an old stone chapel from the 1800s, replica stone buildings that recreate the fishing village that used to be on the island, short hiking trails and plenty of scenic views of the Atlantic.

Of course, New Hampshire has plenty of lakes too, which offer a different kind of cruise experience —‌ and those differ from lake to lake, says Amanda Gillen, marketing manager for Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

“I think the biggest thing for people to know is that Squam Lake is not Lake Winnipesaukee,” she said, referring to cruises aboard the M/S Mount Washington on New Hampshire’s biggest lake. “It has a very different, quieter, slower, more natural feel.”

The Science Center’s cruise is 90 minutes long and is a narrated tour of the whole lake, with cruise captains talking about the history of the area, the wildlife and sights like Church Island and other conservation land. The boats are covered pontoon boats and currently only hold 18 passengers.

“It’s a nice intimate experience,” Gillen said.

Gillen said passengers can expect to see wildlife like common loons, cormorants, great blue herons, muskrats, mink, swimming squirrels and bald eagles.

“We typically have a nesting pair of bald eagles on Squam Lake,” Gillen said. “The pair is around this year but did not successfully rear any chicks so the adults don’t stay by the nest for the easy view. … On one cruise a couple of years ago … an eagle flew down to catch a fish and the fish was so large that the eagle was using its wings to almost swim in order to get the fish to the closest shore. Everyone was pretty excited to see that.”

Gillen said the Squam Lake cruises are typically geared more toward adults and families with older kids.

“Marine patrol requires all children ages 12 and under to wear a lifejacket and we find that sometimes very little kids … don’t enjoy that for the full tour,” she said.

Take a scenic cruise
Enjoy nature and wildlife on a lake or on the ocean.

Lake cruises

Experience Squam
859 U.S. 3, Holderness, 968-3990, experiencesquam.com
Experience Squam is a private boating excursion aboard a 23-foot Sea Ray Bow-Rider that caters to your boating preferences, with all kinds of options available, like sunset cruises, star gazing, tours of historic Church Island and On Golden Pond movie sites and opportunities to anchor and swim. The boat fits up to 12 people and prices and schedules vary depending on number of people, length of ride and activities.

Mount Washington Cruises
211 Lakeside Ave., Weirs Beach, Laconia, 366-5531, cruisenh.com
The M/S Mount Washington offers 2½-hour narrated scenic tours as well as Sunday brunch cruises, dinner and cocktail cruises on Lake Winnipesaukee (prices range from $40 to $65 per person). A smaller boat, the M/V Doris E., offers one-hour scenic tours of the islands of western Lake Winnipesaukee ($25 per person). The U.S. Mailboat offers two-hour cruises while providing postal service to island residents ($40 per person). See website for cruise schedules.

Sunapee Cruises
1 Lake Ave., Sunapee, 938-6465, sunapeecruises.com
Tour Lake Sunapee on an afternoon narrated cruise aboard the MV MT Sunapee II or an evening dinner cruise aboard the MV Kearsarge Restaurant Ship. The afternoon cruise is 1½ hours long and leaves at 2 p.m. daily now through Labor Day, then Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Columbus Day. The cost is $22 for adults, $20 for military, seniors and AAA members, $12 for kids 6 to 12, and free for kids under 6. The dinner cruise is two hours long and leaves daily at 6:30 p.m. now through Labor Day, and at 5:30 p.m. after Labor Day. The cost is $45.99 for the cruise, dinner buffet and dessert. Children 12 and under are $32.99 (no children’s pricing on Fridays and Saturdays).

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
23 Science Center Road, Holderness, 968-7194, nhnature.org
Cruises are 90 minutes long and on canopied pontoon boats. There are several options available, including a Bald Eagle Adventure and a Loon Cruise. The cost is $27 for adults, $25 for seniors and $23 for children through age 15. See website for schedule.

Ocean cruises

Granite State Whale Watch and Island Cruises
1870 Ocean Blvd., Rye, 964-5545, granitestatewhalewatch.com
The boat leaves twice a day, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and ocean tours are about three hours long, including the boat ride and a stop at Star Island for an optional walking tour and time to explore. Tours are offered until about mid-September. The cost is $35 for adults, $32 for ages 60+, $26 for ages 4 to 16, and free for kids under 4.

There are also several ocean cruises available based out of Portsmouth, including the Gundalow Co. (433-9505, gundalow.org), the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. (islesofshoals.com, 800-441-4620) and Portsmouth Harbor Cruises (portsmouthharbor.com, 800-776-0915).

Stand up and go

Paddleboarding is a simple way to get on the water

by Angie Sykeny

Paddleboarding is a popular water sport in New Hampshire, and for good reason, said local paddleboard guide Shaun Quinn.

Photo courtesy of SUP-NH Paddleboard.

“We have 14 miles of seacoast, plus all of the lakes and rivers, and you can paddleboard on almost all of them,” Quinn said. “It’s the perfect way to take advantage of the state’s natural resources.”

A paddleboard is like a surfboard, but wider. Traditionally, the paddleboarder stands on the board and uses a paddle to move across the water or ride the waves, but there are a variety of other ways to use a paddleboard, too.

“They’re pretty versatile,” Quinn said. “You can move your position around, sit down, lie down, kneel, surf on them, get a tan on them, do yoga on them — so many different things with this one single, small watercraft.”

You don’t have to be a “surfer kind of person,” to paddleboard, Quinn said; paddleboards are more forgiving and easier to maneuver than surfboards. Almost anyone can do it, regardless of their age, body type or athletic ability, he said, and most people pick it up quickly.

Local paddleboard instructor Chris Shields agreed and said that even people with physical challenges can usually find a paddleboarding position that’s feasible for them.

“If you can stand on the ground, you can paddleboard,” he said, “and if you’re someone who has trouble walking or standing, then you can just sit. It’s that easy.”

Paddleboarding appeals to people for a number of different reasons, Quinn and Shields said. For one, it’s a way to enjoy the outdoors and explore the water that’s “more accessible” than taking out a kayak or a canoe, Shields said.

“It’s easy to just pop in the water and go,” he said, “and, if you’re standing and looking down at the water, you actually get a [larger] perspective and can see more of what’s around you than you can in a kayak or canoe, which is really cool.”

Paddleboarding can also be good for your health, Quinn said. If you paddle properly, it’s a full-body workout that works “every muscle from your ankles to your core to your shoulders,” he said. Mentally, paddleboarding may be a way to relax and unwind.

“It’s a fantastic activity for the mind,” he said. “For me, it’s all about the simplicity of it; it’s just me, the board and the paddle, and that goes a long way to help me calm and focus my mind.”

Through his paddleboarding guide business The Wandering Paddler, Quinn offers private tours and lessons for people who are looking to paddleboard in New Hampshire. He also picks up and drops off the board and paddle rentals for his customers.

“I’ll go wherever people want to paddle, and if they don’t know where to go to paddle, I’m their guy,” he said.

Shields also offers paddleboard equipment rentals and lessons through his business SUPNH and said the demand is “bigger than ever.”

“If you’re someone who likes being out on the water, just give it a try for a day,” he said. “It will be worth it.”

Go Paddleboarding

Contoocook River Canoe Co.
Offers paddleboard sales, rentals, instruction and guided tours. Retail shop is at 9 Horse Hill Road, Concord. Rentals are $25 for a half day (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and $35 for a full day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Lessons with 30 minutes of instruction and one hour of coaching on the water cost $35 per person, with the paddleboard rental included. Call 753-9804 or visit contoocookcanoe.com.

Hampton Beach Parasail & Paddle Board
Offers paddleboard rentals out of its shop at 1 Ocean Blvd., Hampton, starting at $25 for one hour. Call 929-4386 or visit hamptonparasail.com.

Merrimack River Canoe & Kayak
Offers paddleboard rentals out of its shop at 35 Edgewater Drive, Hooksett. Rates are $20 for two hours, $35 for four hours and $45 for a full day. Call 406-1462 or visit paddlemerrimack.com.

Portsmouth Paddle Co.
Offers paddleboard sales, rentals, lessons, tours and yoga sessions. Retail shop is at 70 Heritage Ave., Portsmouth. Rentals start at $40 for two hours. Lessons range from $95 for one person to $60 per person in a group of four and include on-land instruction followed by 45 minutes of on-water coaching. Various tour options are available, starting at $60. Various yoga classes and workshops are held every day of the week, starting at $60. Call 777-7428 or visit portsmouthpaddleco.com.

Seacoast Paddleboard Club
A paddleboarding social club based in Portsmouth, with community paddles held every Tuesday night from May through September. Open ocean paddles for intermediate to advanced paddlers are held every Sunday from June through mid-September on the ocean and typically range from 8 to 12 miles. All paddles are free with a yearly membership fee of $50. Visit seacoastpaddleboardclub.com or call 498-8198.

Seven Rivers Paddling
Offers paddleboard tours, lessons and rentals out of its shop at 185 Wentworth Road, Portsmouth. Rentals cost $45 for three hours and $75 for a full day (9 a.m. to 4 pm.). Tours cost $65 and run for two-and-a-half hours. Visit sevenriverspaddling.com or call 969-5120.

Summer Sessions
Offers paddleboard lessons and rentals out of its two shops, at 15 Vaughn Mall, Portsmouth, and 2281 Ocean Blvd., Rye. One-hour lessons cost $65 for one person and $55 per person for groups of two or more. Rentals cost $35 for a half day and $45 for a full day. Visit newhampshiresurf.com or call the Rye shop at 319-8207 or the Portsmouth shop at 373-8147.

SUP-NH Paddleboard
Offers paddleboard rentals, lessons, repairs and sales. Retail shop is at 10 Mount Major Highway, Alton Bay. Rental options range from two hours for $30 to seven days for $280. A one-hour lesson is $45 per person or $40 per person in groups of three or more. Call 833-1211 or visit supnh.com.

The Wandering Paddler
Mobile service offering paddleboard tours, lessons and rentals throughout New Hampshire. Lessons and private tours cost $45 for two hours and $25 for each additional hour. Specialty tours, like a full moon paddle, are also available for $60. Rentals range from $35 for two hours to $250 for a week and include board delivery and pickup. Call 380-5077 or visit wanderingpaddler.com.

Wild Meadow Paddlesports Rentals & Sales
Offers paddleboard rentals and sales out of its shop at 6 Whittier Highway, Moultonborough. Rentals cost $50 per day (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or $275 for a week. Call 253-7536 or visit wildmeadowpaddlesports.com.

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of Contoocook River Canoe Company, LLC.


When local cornhole enthusiasts Shon Haley and Brian Fletcher started the 603 Cornhole league in 2014, they started it out of necessity; at that time, there were few opportunities for New Hampshire’s small but fervent cornhole community to get together for organized games and events.

“We figured there are leagues for bowling and pool and all that type of stuff,” Haley said, “so why shouldn’t we have a league for cornhole?”

Now, not only does New Hampshire have opportunities to play — it’s a nationwide hotspot for the game. With 78 teams, 603 Cornhole is one of the largest cornhole leagues in the country; Londonderry is home to Game Changer, the country’s only cornhole-specific sports bar; and American Cornhole League Pro Sheila Roy hails from Hooksett.

“I go to events across the country, and I will say that the folks here [in New Hampshire] have so much passion for the game,” Roy said. “That’s not to say people aren’t passionate about it elsewhere, but the people who play here locally love not just the game, but the whole scene of it.”

Phil Parker, a cornhole boardmaker from Deerfield and early member of 603 Cornhole, moved to New Hampshire from Virginia around 13 years ago. Cornhole has always been popular in the South, he said, so its absence in New Hampshire came as a surprise.

“I brought my boards up with me [during the move] and could not find anyone who knew anything about cornhole, so I would just play by myself in my yard,” he said.

Parker said he remembers when the sport really started “taking off” after 603 Cornhole was formed and in the years that followed.

“It grew from [being] just me, Shon [Haley], Brian [Fletcher] and a couple other friends, to six new people the next week, then eight new people, then 20 new people,” he said.

If you still have no idea what cornhole is or how it’s played, here’s the abbreviated version, based on the American Cornhole Association rules: Two teams of two players compete. There are two smooth plywood boards measuring four feet long and two feet wide, with a hole 6 inches in diameter positioned at the far end of the board, which is elevated one foot above the ground so that it sits at a slant. The boards face each other 27 feet apart, with one player from each team standing on either side of each board. From there, players take a series of turns underhand-throwing 6-by-6-inch square bags, traditionally filled with feed corn, at the board across from them. A bag that lands and stays anywhere on the board is worth one point. A bag that is thrown into the hole or pushed into the hole by another bag — theirs or their opponent’s — is worth three points. The first team to reach 21 points wins.

There are a couple different approaches to the game: You could focus all of your energy on getting the bag in the hole and scoring points for your team — and that’s a perfectly valid way to play, Haley said — or you could employ a bit more strategy to try to keep your opponent from scoring points.

“Sometimes it’s better to throw a bag right in front of the hole on purpose,” Haley said. “That tends to make your opponent not throw as good of a throw, or [they] throw their bag over the top [of the board] because they’re trying not to knock your bag in the hole.”

There are a number of cornhole leagues in New Hampshire with different formats. Some are more casual, with games held on an ongoing basis that are open to drop-ins and will even pair single players with a partner. Others, including 603 Cornhole, run more formal seasons and tournaments.

“Pretty much any night of the week, whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced player, you can find something somewhere within New Hampshire involving cornhole,” Haley said.

In May 2020, brothers Bob and Rodney Carrier opened Game Changer, a 6,000-square-foot facility with a bar and eight indoor regulation cornhole courts. The venue is used by organized cornhole leagues and groups for weekly games and tournaments; private parties, charity fundraisers and corporate events; and people just looking to have a fun night out.

“We started playing with some of these [local] cornhole groups, and we realized that they didn’t have any place to play during the winter. They just kind of stopped,” Bob Carrier said. “We saw an opportunity.”

Game Changer was an instant success.

“We didn’t have to build up a clientele or anything; the cornhole community came right in and hit it hard right from the start,” Carrier said. “We had tournaments going every night almost right away.”

The vision for Game Changer, Carrier said, was to create a sports bar that is also a “family-oriented place,” and having cornhole as the focal point has facilitated that atmosphere.

“We don’t get people coming in here to do a bunch of shots,” he said. “We get families with babies; people in their 50s, 60s, 70s; husbands and wives; fathers and sons; mothers and daughters — cornhole brings everyone together because anyone of any age can play.”

Roy can attest to that; she’s 56 and was accepted for her first season as an ACL Pro this year.

“It doesn’t have a barrier like other sports,” she said. “There’s no advantage to being tall or fast or strong or a certain age. It’s a level playing field for everyone, so I always felt like I could do this, and keep competing at a higher and higher level.”

To anyone who is hesitant about playing due to their athletic ability, Roy said don’t be; she had never played or even heard of cornhole until around seven years ago.

“There are folks who just pick it up really quickly, some who would totally surprise you,” she said. “You just can’t know until you throw a bag.”

Meet Phil Parker

Phil Parker is the owner of Kustom Woodz, where he builds custom cornhole boards out of his home wood shop in Deerfield.

Parker became interested in making cornhole boards around 15 years ago while living in Virginia, not long after being introduced to the game. It started as a hobby, making boards for his family and friends. The first board he ever made was one with a Budweiser/Bud Light logo.

“I was basically just taking a piece of plywood and two-by-fours, painting them and putting a sticker on it,” he said. “It has evolved from that into making league-quality boards with the best materials.”

There wasn’t much demand for cornhole boards in New Hampshire, he said, until around four years ago. That’s when he turned his hobby into an official business. He started working with a local print shop using a UV flatbed printer to transfer the custom designs – which can be personal photos, business logos or any other kind of image – onto the boards.

“The technology with UV printing has really taken off, so I jumped on that,” he said. ‘It’s much better having the image printed directly onto the wood itself, as opposed to a sticker, which is going to end up peeling or getting pulled off.”

All Kustom Woodz boards are made to ACL specifications and are sealed in three coats of a water-based polyurethane, giving them a glossy, water-resistant finish. This not only protects the custom image, Parker said, but also ensures that the boards have the surface texture that regulation boards are supposed to have.

“Pretty much all of the cornhole leagues around here order their boards through me,” he said. “If you go to a cornhole tournament, you’re expecting your bag to [move across the board] at a certain speed, according to the ACL specs that you’re used to.”

Parker said he expects to make and sell between 1,000 and 1,200 boards this year, for leagues as well as for individuals and families who want cornhole boards for their personal use.

“You can give me a picture of your son or your daughter, or your dog or your horse, or your boat or your Harley-Davidson, whatever, and we’ll personalize a board for you,” he said. “People like to have that to take camping or put in their yard.”

See “Kustom Woodz” on Facebook or email kustomwoodz603@gmail.com.

Leagues and groups

603 Cornhole All skill levels are welcome. League seasons are September through November; January through March; and April through June. The cost is $100 per team for a league session. Drop-ins looking to try it out or play a one-night game can usually be accommodated. Non-league games continue in July and August every Thursday. 603 Cornhole also hosts official ACL events. Visit facebook.com/603cornhole.

Cornstars Cornhole All skill levels are welcome, with opportunities for both social and competitive play. Blind draw/round robin drop-in tournaments are held most Fridays at 7 p.m. at Game Changer Sports Bar and Grill (4 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry), and every Tuesday at 7 p.m. during the summer outdoors at Town Cabin Deli & Pub (285 Old Candia Road, Candia). Bring your own bags. Entry costs $15, $10 for first-timers. Visit facebook.com/cornstarscornhole.

Franklin Cornhole League All skill levels are welcome. League season starts in the fall; information on the 2021-2022 season TBA. Visit facebook.com/franklincornholeleague.

Lakes Region Baggerz Cornhole All skill levels are welcome, with social and competitive divisions. Blind draw/round robin games held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Lakes Region Casino (1265 Laconia Road, Belmont). Entry costs $15. League games are held on Saturdays. Visit facebook.com/Lakesregionbaggerz.

Skull It Cornhole All skill levels are welcome. Blind draw/round robin games every Wednesday night at AJ’s Sports Bar & Grill (11 Tracy Lane, Hudson). Players accumulate points, with playoffs held for top players. Entry costs $15. Visit facebook.com/skullitcornhole.

Special events

• Raymond High School students will have a charity Cornhole Tournament for Special Olympics NH and Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire in the upper fields at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School (1 Stephen K. Batchelder Parkway, Raymond) on Saturday, July 31, with registration at 9 a.m. and the tournament starting at 10 a.m. The cost is $30 for single players and $60 for teams of two. The tournament is open to ages 14 and up. Visit bbbsnh.org.

• Less Leg More Heart will host its first annual Cornhole Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 7, from noon to 6 p.m. at White Birch Brewing (460 Amherst St., Nashua). The cost is $100 for competitive teams and $50 for social teams. Cash prizes will be awarded. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Visit lesslegmoreheart.com.

The Bags on the Beach Cornhole Tournament takes place at Hampton Beach on Saturday, Sept. 11, with check-in from 11 to 11:30 a.m., and the first tournament at noon. Signups for a second tournament to be held later that day will be available after the first tournament, estimated to begin around 3 p.m. There will be cash prizes for the top three winning teams. Registration costs $50 per team. Visit seafoodfestivalnh.com/cornhole-tournament.

Anytime play

These venues have open-play cornhole boards and host various cornhole events throughout the year. (Availability and fees may vary depending on demand and when in use for organized events).

AJ’s Sports Bar & Grill (11 Tracy Lane, Hudson, 718-1102, ajs-sportsbar.com)

Block Party Social, 51 Zapora Drive, Hooksett, 621-5150, blockpartysocial.com

Bonfire Country Bar (950 Elm St., Manchester, 217-5600, bonfire.country)

Game Changer Sports Bar and Grill (4 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry, 216-1396, gamechangersportsbar.com)

Revolution Taproom & Grill (61 N. Main St., Rochester, 244-3022, revolutiontaproomandgrill.com)

Featured photo: 603 Cornhole hosts a cornhole fundraising event at the fields at Epsom Central School. Courtesy photo.

From their cows to your cone

Three or four days each week, a small group of family members and friends will gather at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple to make ice cream. Each person has multiple roles, from hand-mixing ingredients to packing the ice cream in tubs — and, of course, everyone’s willing to do some taste testing. It’s proven to be a highly successful formula for the small family-run business.

“Ice cream sales never stop,” said Mike Connolly, the middle Connolly brother and the farm’s primary ice cream maker. “We keep pumping ice cream out … even right through the winter.”

Since purchasing their own equipment to make ice cream in the early 2000s, Connolly estimates the farm is now up to around 60 flavors made over the course of each year, about 15 of which are made almost every week. All of the farm’s ice cream is produced on site in small batches, from a pasteurized sweet cream base containing its own cows’ milk.

More than just a high-quality summertime treat, homemade ice cream has proven to be one of the many effective ways for local dairy farms to diversify and add value to their product in what has been an increasingly competitive and challenging market.

“The level of intelligence on any dairy farm, when it comes to business and how to survive and make a business thrive, would blow your mind,” said Amy Hall, executive director of Granite State Dairy Promotion. “I have never met a group of individuals who are so able to quickly adapt and find solutions to any problem that gets thrown their way.”

Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm sells its ice cream in pre-packaged containers in several sizes at the farm store and has plans in the works to open its own scoop shop on site. They also work with other local businesses to create specialty custom-made flavors, from maple-infused ice creams you can get at Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, to cherry cordial, peanut brittle, peppermint candy cane or butter pecan-flavored ice creams available at Nelson’s Candy & Music in Wilton.

Contoocook Creamery, at Bohanan Farm in Contoocook, provides Granite State Candy Shoppe with an ice cream base produced from the milk of its cows. They also supply Frisky Cow Gelato in Keene with their milk and cream, and recently began selling their base to Whippoorwill Dairy Farm in Kensington for the purposes of making ice cream as well.

In Boscawen, Richardson’s Farm — not to be confused with Richardson’s Ice Cream in Middleton, Mass., which sells its ice cream wholesale to many New Hampshire ice cream shops — makes its own pasteurized base using milk and cream sourced from Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill, according to owner and ice cream maker Jim Richardson.

So how exactly does ice cream get made? We spoke with New Hampshire dairy farmers and ice cream makers to get some answers on how this sweet treat makes the voyage from cow to cone.

The scoop on ice cream-making

A batch of ice cream starts with a base made up of milk, cream, sugars and small amounts of stabilizers to maintain its consistency and prevent crystallization. Jamie Robertson, who runs Contoocook Creamery with his wife and three adult sons, said about 110 of the more than 200 cows on the farm are milked twice a day, 365 days a year.

Cows from Contoocook Creamery at Bohanan Farm. Courtesy photo.

Three days a week, the milk is pumped from the barn to the processing plant, where it’s then pasteurized and homogenized. When making the ice cream base, Robertson said, the milk is mixed with each of the other ingredients before this step takes place.

“Pasteurizing is what we do to kill all the harmful bacteria in the milk, so we bring it up to a high temperature really fast, keep it there for a little under a minute and then drop it right back down,” he said. “It goes into the pasteurizer at 38 degrees, goes up to over 170 degrees and then comes back out at 38 degrees, and that all happens in under a minute. … Then we homogenize it, which breaks up the fat molecules so that they don’t separate out.”

Kristen May’s family has owned Hatchland Farm since 1971, beginning to make and sell their own ice cream about a decade ago. The farm produces vat pasteurized milk, or milk that is pasteurized at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period of time.

“We pasteurize at 145 degrees [for] 30 minutes,” May said. “The milk and the ingredients that we put into the ice cream are in big 300-gallon vats. … It takes a bit longer to do, but it actually makes [it] a little bit more different of a product. The flavor of the milk is a little more natural.”

Depending on his supply, Richardson said he receives regular shipments of Hatchland’s Farm raw milk and cream, which he uses to make his own ice cream base with.

“Legally, ice cream has to be at a minimum of 10 percent butterfat,” he said. “So we’re blending the milk and cream to get that butterfat level, and then obviously there are sugars involved, and a non-fat milk solid to boost the protein and add body to it.”

Some local ice cream makers will start with a pre-pasteurized base obtained from the HP Hood processing plant in Concord, to which several dairy farms in New Hampshire ship their milk through a number of cooperatives, according to Hall. This is also how Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm gets its milk pasteurized for ice cream making, Connolly said.

“Basically, we ship our milk up to Hood and then we get it back,” he said.

Mike Connolly of Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple makes a batch of black raspberry ice cream. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

The base is poured into a batch freezer, and what ice cream makers do from there depends on the flavor they are creating.

“Sometimes it’s just a pure liquid extract or what’s called a variegate that goes into the machine,” Connolly said. “We hand-mix any of the chunky stuff, so chocolates, chocolate chips, cookies, all of that gets mixed in by hand, just because the machine will pulverize everything.”

Lisa Ilsley of Ilsley’s Ice Cream in Weare, which uses the Hood base mix, said her machine will churn out a batch of roughly five gallons of ice cream in 20 minutes, depending on the flavor.

Ilsley’s Ice Cream in Weare. Courtesy photo.

“The machine whips air into it,” she said. “That’s essentially what you’re doing when you’re making ice cream, is you’re changing it from a liquid to a whipped air solid.”

She’ll also hand-stir her ingredients as the ice cream is ready to come out of the machine. Once all of the swirls, fruits, chocolates or candy pieces are mixed in, the batch of ice cream is placed into a blast freezer designed to rapidly bring the temperature below zero.

After a hardening period, typically lasting at least 24 hours, the ice cream is moved to a holding freezer to bring the temperature back up, slightly softening it and making it scoopable at roughly 6 to 8 degrees.

Milking the opportunity

Dairy was once a dominating presence in New Hampshire’s overall agricultural landscape. There were more than 800 commercial dairy farms in the state as recently as the year 1970, according to Granite State Dairy Promotion. That number has continuously dwindled over the years, to 274 in 1990, 182 in 2000 and just 95 farms in 2020.

Slim profit margins for farmers, a worldwide surplus of milk, and the competition they face at the retail level from out of state, including through the emergence of plant-based beverages onto the market, have all been contributing factors to the industry’s gradual decline.

“Once a dairy farm goes out of business, the chances of them coming back are close to none,” Hall said. “It’s a really tough industry to survive in.”

The pandemic only exacerbated the struggles last year, as the sudden shutdowns of restaurants and public schools quickly resulted in an unprecedented oversupply of milk. Cooperatives limited the amount of product they were buying from farms, forcing dairy producers to dump any milk that could not be sold. May estimates that Hatchland Farm had to dump about 11,500 gallons of its milk off and on throughout last year. In the fall, they decided to sell 35 of their cows.

“Never in my father’s life had he worked that hard to produce a product that he had to see go down the drain, basically,” she said. “We’ve had surpluses at different times but we’ve always been able to find a place to get rid of it. We’ve never had to dump milk like that.”

Jared Johnson of Sanctuary Dairy Farm, a 10th-generation farm in Sunapee dating back to the 1700s, said that while milk prices have rebounded and restaurants are back open, input and overhead costs for farms have gone through the roof.

“It was a really dry year last year, so a lot of people had to buy a lot of feed because of the drought conditions,” he said. “Grain costs have increased probably 20 to 40 percent.”

Despite all of the ongoing challenges, dairy farms pivoted and still found unique opportunities.

Ilsley said her family’s dairy farm purchased a cream separator in October and began skimming their raw milk with it. The Ilsley Farm in Weare now sells quarts of its own heavy cream.

“We literally have a new dairy product that we sell now. I don’t think we would’ve done it if it wasn’t for Covid,” she said. “We have people come to the farm all the time to buy our raw milk, so we figured we would at least take the cream off and sell that. Our customers love it.”

Contoocook Creamery, which had been using glass bottles for its milk until the spring of 2020, quickly made the switch to plastic jugs after grocery stores stopped accepting glass bottle returns. This doubled their milk sales and increased the number of local stores you can now get their milk in. One hundred percent of their milk is also now bottled on site, Robertson said.

Supporting local dairy farmers is much easier than you may think, and does not have to involve travelling to a farm directly to purchase their product. Every bottle of milk in the dairy aisle of your local grocery store will have a code on it that specifies where it was processed. The code No. 33-08, Hall said, whether it’s on a Hood brand or a grocery store’s own brand of milk, indicates that it was processed at the HP Hood plant in Concord.

“One of the largest threats to the dairy industry is … milk that comes from outside of the region, which creates direct competition for our local farms,” she said. “If you pick up a gallon of Hood milk with the Code [No.] 33, you can feel good knowing that dairy farmers right here in New Hampshire sent their milk there, and that’s what’s in that bottle that you’re picking up off the shelves. … Not all of the milk in the dairy aisle has that.”

Ice cream for normalcy

After a season like no other last year, ice cream makers in New Hampshire are turning the page.

Christy LaRocca wrote down July 1 as a “back to normal” date for Moo’s Place Ice Cream. It marked the indoor reopenings of both the Derry and Salem shops for the first time in more than a year, and nearly all the company’s staff members were fully vaccinated by that point.

“We’re on pace to have a very, very good season,” said LaRocca, who owns Moo’s Place with her husband, Steven. “We’ve been so excited to open up and welcome everybody back indoors.”

Moo’s Place makes its own ice cream five or six days a week, producing more than 40 regular flavors as well as the occasional special, like chocolate-dipped cherry or wild blueberry crisp.

Ice cream sales have been very strong so far this summer at Granite State Candy Shoppe. Owner Jeff Bart said the Concord shop usually offers ice cream from Easter through the end of October, while in Manchester they scoop it year-round.

Granite State Candy Shoppe. Courtesy photo.

“Things are as good as they were back in the summer of 2019,” he said. “We have noticed that people are definitely interested in coming back downtown and stopping by.”

Around 30 flavors of ice cream are available at each shop at any particular time, including unique offerings like Flapjacks and Bacon, a cake batter ice cream with a swirl of maple syrup and bacon chunks, as well as a Mexican chocolate ice cream with a blend of cinnamon.

New for this year, Blake’s Creamery in Manchester has opened an ice cream window with outdoor patio seating directly in front of its restaurant on South Main Street. It’s now open every Wednesday through Sunday, from 3 to 8 p.m.

“It has been very well-received, and it’s really nice to see people just sitting outside under an umbrella and enjoying ice cream,” Blake’s Creamery co-owner Ann Mirageas said. “There were takeout windows when Blake’s opened in 1963, so it’s actually a return to its roots.”

Blake’s introduces a few new ice cream flavors to its lineup every year, some of which become permanent additions. This year, newcomers include salted caramel brownie, and Mocha Joe’s Dough, a Colombian coffee and chocolate ice cream with cookie dough and chocolate dough.

In Nashua, Hayward’s Ice Cream now has a brand new commissary space downtown where their ice cream is produced, with a kitchen three times the size. Owner Chris Ordway said ice cream is made six days a week and trucked to both Hayward’s stores in Nashua and Merrimack. A whopping 10 gallons is produced every 12 minutes from their machines.

“We’re bringing in something new every two weeks, and it may be something that you had a few years ago that we’re bringing back to get some new interest,” Ordway said of the flavors.

Memories Ice Cream in Kingston is also rotating out specialty ice cream flavors. Owner Dawn Padfield said they are up to at least 50 to 60 different offerings, including not just the hard ice cream but also a selection of soft-serve, frozen yogurt and vegan options.

If you can’t find your favorite ice cream flavor on the menu, it could be because that local stand or shop simply hasn’t been able to get certain ingredients to make it, a lingering issue from the pandemic that continues to affect the industry.

“Week to week, it’s different things,” Steven LaRocca said. “Some products are in stock one week, and then they’re not in stock for the next two or three weeks. It’s a constant battle.”

The New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail

An interactive way to enjoy locally made ice cream while supporting dairy farmers, the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail is a passport program released by Granite State Dairy Promotion every year, usually around Memorial Day weekend. Maps can be downloaded by visiting nhdairypromo.org/ice-cream-trail, or can be found at any one of the trail’s participating locations. Maps are also at the Manchester Airport and at several state highway rest areas.

There are a total of 42 “stops” on this year’s trail scattered across the state, featuring dairy farms that make their own ice cream on site or ice cream makers that use local milk. Participants can visit each stop on the map and receive a passport sticker for a chance to win prizes.

“For me, one of the most exciting parts about the Ice Cream Trail is hearing from folks who have completed it and say that not only they had a blast but they learned some things too,” said Amy Hall, executive director of Granite State Dairy Promotion. “It was developed as a way to creatively get information about the value of dairy farms into the hands of consumers.”

Completed passports will be accepted through Oct. 18 and will be entered into a grand prize drawing. The grand prize winner receives a $200 Amazon gift card and a basket of New Hampshire-made goodies, but all who complete the trail still receive a complimentary sweatshirt.

Where to get New Hampshire-made ice cream

This list includes New Hampshire restaurants, dairy farms and ice cream shops and stands that offer ice cream either made on site or, where specified, sourced locally. Some dairy farms also make proprietary flavors for New Hampshire businesses using their own products — those are included here as well. Do you know of another local business serving homemade ice cream that isn’t on this list? Let us know at food@hippopress.com.

Arnie’s Place (164 Loudon Road, Concord, 228-3225, arniesplace.com) offers more than 25 homemade ice cream flavors, in addition to ice cream cakes, novelties and more.

Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Barn (107 Beech Hill Road, Hopkinton, 223-0828, beechhillfarm.com) carries several flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Blake’s Creamery (353 S. Main St., Manchester, 669-0220, blakesicecream.com) offers dozens of unique premium ice cream flavors, and, new for the 2021 season, now has an ice cream takeout window that is open Wednesday through Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. Blake’s also has several seasonal wholesale accounts at restaurants and ice cream stands throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

Bruster’s Ice Cream (621 Amherst St., Nashua, 881-9595, find them on Facebook @brustersnh) has more than two dozen signature and classic flavors of homemade ice cream that are made on site.

Charlie’s Ice Cream (150 Front St., Exeter, 772-7400, find them on Facebook @charliesicecreamnh) offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream made on site in small batches, including a selection of “21+” flavors infused with premium alcohol.

Chuckster’s Family Fun Park (9 Bailey Road, Chichester, 798-3555; 53 Hackett Hill Road, Hooksett, 210-1415; chucksters.com) carries more than two dozen ice cream flavors from Blake’s Creamery.

The Common Man (25 Water St., Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-3463; 88 Range Road, Windham, 898-0088; 10 Pollard Road, Lincoln, 745-3463; 21 Water St., Claremont, 542-6171; 60 Main St., Ashland, 968-7030; Town Docks Restaurant, 289 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-3445; Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040; Tilt’n Diner, 61 Laconia Road, Tilton, 286-2204; 104 Diner, 752 Route 104, New Hampton, 744-0120; thecman.com) offers its own homemade ice cream across each location’s dessert menus.

The Common Man Roadside Market & Deli (1805 S. Willow St., Manchester, 210-2801; 530 W. River Road, Hooksett; 25 Springer Road, Hooksett, 210-5305; 484 Tenney Mountain Highway, Plymouth, 210-5815; thecmanroadside.com) offers Common Man-made ice cream across each location’s dessert menus.

Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm (140 Webster Hwy., Temple, 924-5002, find them on Facebook) offers dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream using a base that comes from the farm’s own cows’ milk. Dozens of flavors are available at the farm store in pre-packaged containers coming in several sizes. Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm also makes proprietary ice cream flavors for other New Hampshire businesses, like Nelson’s Candy & Music in Wilton and Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason.

Countrybrook Farms (175 Lowell Road, Hudson, 886-5200, countrybrookfarms.com) has dozens of flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Cremeland Drive-In (250 Valley St., Manchester, 669-4430, find them on Facebook) offers multiple flavors of homemade hard ice cream, as well as soft-serve, frozen yogurt and sherbet.

Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4043, dancinglion.us) offers unique flavors of house-made small-batch ice cream during the summer, sold in cups and house-made cones as well as sundaes and frappes.

Devriendt Farm Stand and Ice Cream Shoppe (178 S. Mast St., Goffstown, 497-2793, devriendtfarm.com) offers dozens of flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Dr. Davis Ice Cream (75 Route 13, Brookline, 673-6003, drdavisicecream.com) has been in business for more than eight decades, serving up more than two dozen homemade ice cream flavors.

Dudley’s Ice Cream (846 Route 106 N, Loudon, 783-4800, find them on Facebook) offers more than 20 flavors of homemade hard ice cream, in addition to soft-serve and ice cream cakes.

Goldenrod Restaurant Drive-In (1681 Candia Road, Manchester, 623-9469, goldenrodrestaurant.com) has more than 30 flavors of homemade ice cream.

Gould Hill Farm (656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, 746-3811, gouldhillfarm.com) serves ice cream sourced from Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and Manchester.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591; 832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885; granitestatecandyshoppe.com) has around 30 homemade ice cream flavors available at both locations, with specialty and customizable make-your-own sundae options. All of its flavors are made from an ice cream base sourced from Contoocook Creamery, at Bohanan Farm in Hopkinton.

Hatchland Farm’s “Wicked Good” Dairy Delites (3095 Dartmouth College Hwy., North Haverhill, 348-1884, find them on Facebook) is a family-owned and -operated dairy farm that offers its own milk and ice cream products, including dozens of flavors of hard ice cream and soft-serve. The farm also sells its milk and cream to Richardson’s Farm in Boscawen to make ice cream with.

Hayward’s Homemade Ice Cream (7 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-4663; Merrimack 360 Shopping Plaza, Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack; haywardsicecream.com) has been in business for more than seven decades, featuring dozens of homemade ice cream flavors on its menu out of both locations.

Hayward’s Ice Cream of Milford (383 Elm St., Milford, 672-8383, haywardsfamilyicecream.com) is a third-generation ice cream stand that offers more than 50 homemade ice cream flavors, in addition to frozen yogurts and sherbets.

Ilsley’s Ice Cream (33 S. Sugar Hill Road, Weare, 529-6455, find them on Facebook) offers about 10 flavors of its homemade ice cream during its season, in addition to specialty flavors of the week that are regularly rotated out.

Jake’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream and Bakery (57 Palm St., Nashua, 594-2424, jakesoldfashionedicecream.com) offers homemade wholesale packaged ice cream in a variety of flavors.

Jordan’s Ice Creamery (894 Laconia Road, Belmont, 267-1900, find them on Facebook @jordansic) has been in business for more than 25 years, serving up dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream in addition to a large selection of cakes and pies.

Just the Wright Place for Ice Cream (95 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham, 775-0223, find them on Facebook @wrightplaceforicecream) offers a wide selection of homemade ice cream flavors, and also takes orders for ice cream cakes.

Kellerhaus (259 Endicott St. N, Weirs Beach, 366-4466, kellerhaus.com) always has a rotating selection of more than a dozen homemade ice cream flavors.

Memories Ice Cream (95 Exeter Road, Kingston, 642-3737, memoriesicecream.com) has been serving dozens of homemade ice cream flavors out of a converted dairy barn since 1992, also offering ice cream cakes and wholesaling to some local restaurants and country stores.

Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream (27 Crystal Ave., Derry, 425-0100; 15 Ermer Road, Salem, 898-0199; moosplace.com) makes all of its own hard ice creams available in several dozen unique flavors, in addition to frozen yogurts, Italian ices and ice cream cakes.

Nelson’s Candy & Music (65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, nelsonscandymusic.com) offers more than a dozen flavors of ice cream produced at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple, using the shop’s own chocolates, candies and other ingredients.

Parker’s Maple Barn (1349 Brookline Road, Mason, 878-2308, parkersmaplebarn.com) offers several flavors of ice cream produced at Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple.

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant (245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com) has more than two dozen traditional and unique homemade ice cream flavors.

Richardson’s Farm (170 Water St., Boscawen, 796-2788, richardsonsfarmnh.com) has dozens of flavors of ice cream made on site, using its own pasteurized ice cream base sourced with milk and cream from Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill.

Sanctuary Dairy Farm Ice Cream (209 Route 103 Sunapee, 863-8940, icecreamkidbeck.com) has dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream available, including many dairy-free, sugar-free, gelato and low-fat options. The farm also has wholesale accounts for businesses that carry its ice cream in quarts, including Achille Agway in Hillsborough.

Stuart & John’s Sugarhouse (31 Route 63, Westmoreland, 399-4486, stuartandjohns.com) offers several flavors of ice cream from Blake’s Creamery.

Sugar & Ice Creamery (146 Calef Hwy., Barrington, 888-616-8452, sugaricecreamery.com) has multiple flavors of homemade ice cream, with sundae options and freshly baked waffle cones also available.

Trombly Gardens (150 N. River Road, Milford, 673-0647, tromblygardens.net) has more than a dozen flavors of its homemade ice cream, available for sale at the farm store in quarts.

Featured photo: Isley’s Ice Cream in Weare.

Adventures in the Air

Get a new view of the world while ziplining above the trees, soaring in a hot air balloon or parasailing over the water

You’ve seen New Hampshire’s forests, mountains and seacoast, but have you seen them from above? Get a new view with a relaxing flight in a hot air balloon, an adrenaline-filled zipline tour or a gentle but exhilarating parasail ride along the coast.

Hot air ballooning

Heading toward the sky in a hot air balloon is a much smoother and quieter ride than most people expect, says Tony Sica of High 5 Ballooning in Derry.

“When we launch, [passengers] don’t even know we’re leaving the ground,” Sica said. “There’s no g-force; we’re just gently drifting off the ground.”

For every launch, riders meet half an hour before sunrise at 15 Ermer Road in Salem, then Sica and his crew pick one of five launch locations, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

“We’re trying to launch from a location that’s going to take us into a decent landing,” Sica said. “You land wherever the wind takes you.”

Once they arrive at the launch site, anyone who wants to help prepare the balloon for inflation is welcome to. Then the gentle ascent begins.

“There’s absolutely zero motion — unless I’m dancing, which I do sometimes,” Sica joked.

The balloon stays right above the trees and maintains a profile up and down the treeline, which Sica referred to as contour flighting. A three- to five-mile ride is typical, though Sica said he’s gone as far as eight miles when the wind is moving quickly. But he prefers to stick to that three to five miles that he says he knows like the back of his hand, because that takes his passengers over the most scenic areas.

“We try to keep it as natural as possible,” Sica said. “When we go over water or wetlands, I’ll get right down in there … so people can take those great reflection [photos].”

There’s also a crew following the passenger balloon that takes photos along the way. Sica said he likes to go for “the money shot,” flying over Melville Lake or Alexander Pond. If they’re in the smiley face balloon — his most popular option — he’ll spin it around and bring the basket down to the water so the crew behind him can capture both the balloon and its reflection on the water.

Once they land, passengers can help squeeze the air out of the balloon if they want, and then they head with the ground crew back to the meeting site for a Champagne celebration. The flight is an hour, but the whole experience is about two and a half hours, Sica said.

For people who think they have a fear of heights, Sica said most actually have a fear of falling, and since you’re surrounded by the basket’s four solid walls, that fear usually isn’t triggered.

He said the most scared passenger he’s ever flown, Paul, got in the basket and the whole thing was shaking because he was so nervous. Two months later, Sica got a letter from Paul’s wife thanking him for helping him overcome his fears — they’d just been on their honeymoon, where they went parasailing, and Paul had gone skydiving too.

“Another success story,” Sica said.

Plus, ballooning is the safest form of aviation in the world, he said. Any accident has been pilot-related, “people doing stupid things,” he said. “You have to be willing to walk away [if conditions aren’t safe]. Don’t ever put your wallet in front of your safety.”

Sica has owned High 5 Ballooning since 1999; when he opened, there were 27 ballooning companies in New Hampshire, and now there are three.

“I can’t even tell you how busy we are,” he said. “It’s insane.”

High 5 is currently booking into September and October. Sica can take as many as eight passengers; if you want a private flight, you can pay the $1,600 to be alone (you’re paying for all eight spaces), but Sica said most people realize it’s more fun with a group of people, even if they’re all strangers at the beginning.

“It’s an adventure sport and part of that adventure is sharing the experience with other people,” he said.

High 5 Ballooning

Where: 4 Joseph St., Derry (office); meeting place is 15 Ermer Road in Salem

When: Half an hour before sunrise, seven days a week

Cost: $200 per person. Prices are subject to increase for private flights, for passengers weighing more than 200 pounds, and for couples who weigh more than a combined 400 pounds.

To book a flight, call 893-9643 or visit high5ballooning.com.

A&A Balloon rides

Where: 7 E. Derry Road, Chester (office); meeting place is 15 Ermer Road in Salem

When: Half an hour before sunrise

Cost: Sunrise flights are $250 for adults and $125 for children who are 12 or older or who weigh more than 100 pounds. The cost includes Champagne, crackers and cheese for after the flight. Private flights and events are also available. Costs are subject to increase for passengers weighing more than 200 pounds.

To book a flight, call 432-6911 or visit balloonridesnh.com.


For a more intense adrenaline rush above the treetops, ziplining will get you from Point A to Point B much faster than a hot air balloon floating through the sky.

“The zipline is great for people who have the need for speed,” said Jen Karnan, who started working at Gunstock Mountain Resort as a zipline instructor back in 2012 and is now the communications coordinator. “You can get up to 65 mph. … It gives you that wind in the hair sensation.”

But there’s still an element of control, she said — there’s a brake, so you’re in charge of your own speed.

“We actually get a lot of people who come up here to conquer their fear of heights,” Karnan said. “They go from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can’t wait to do this again!’”

Gunstock’s guides get you started on the ground level of the main lodge, going through safety instructions while you put on your helmet and harness and pick up your trolley. The trolley weighs about 18 pounds and is the main piece of equipment you’ll be suspended from (or carrying in a backpack) during the tour. Athleticism is not required, but you do need to be able to walk up to 3/4 of a mile and ascend two 50-foot staircases while carrying the trolley, according to the Gunstock website.

Gunstock’s zipline tour has five lines, starting with a 45-foot demo line, then a 450-foot training line, which allows you to get the sensation of ziplining and practice using the brake, Karnan said. Next up is the Summit Zip; you take a chairlift to the top, then zip down 273 feet. It’s kind of a last call, Karnan said, to make sure you want to move on to the final two lines. Recoil Zip is 140 feet off the ground and one of the longest in the country at 3,981 feet long, with a 688-foot vertical drop. The Pistol Zip is 3,804 feet and is 50 feet off ground.

On the longer zips, it’ll take a couple minutes to get down depending on how fast you’re going. Karnan said a lot of people like to race, since they’re going down next to someone, and there are a few tricks with positioning and steering that can speed up the descent.

“Our zipline guys have some good hacks for that kind of stuff,” she said.

But it’s not all about speed.

“The zipline really forces you to be in the moment … take in the surroundings, kind of enjoy the nature,” Karnan said. “We have unmatched views of Lake Winnipesaukee. You might see Mount Washington on a clear day — if it’s clear enough, you can see up to the observatory.”

She said a lot of people just want to try it once, for the experience, but many come back.

“It’s really a bucket list item, and once you’ve done it, it’s hard not to want to do it again,” Karnan said. “It’s such an adrenaline rush.”

At Candia Springs Adventure Park in Candia, the guided zip tour has six lines that stretch out over about 3,000 feet of cable, according to Clarissa Coppin. Guests zip from platform to platform, she said, and trained guides are in charge of the guests’ trolley and braking.

“We have varying heights of up to 40 feet,” Coppin said in an email. “The best part is at the end; [it] finishes at the 1,000-foot zipline that stretches over the entire park and over the pond.”

Candia Springs also has an Aerial Adventure course with bridges, climbing ladders, scales, obstacles and crossing ziplines.

“We have had many guests cross off their bucket list items here, face their fears, and even get engaged,” Coppin said in the email.

Gunstock Zipline Tour

Where: Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford

When: The Adventure Park is open through the end of October, and zipline tours are available Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $75 for ages 10 and up

You have to be between 4 feet and 6 feet, 8 inches, and between 50 and 260 pounds to ride the ziplines. Children 10 through 15 must be accompanied by a participating adult. Closed-toe and closed-heel shoes are required.

Candia Springs Adventure Park

Where: 446 Raymond Road, Candia

When: Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday until Sept. 6. The Zipline Tour and Aerial Forest stays open until Oct. 31 on weekends only, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: $41 for the Zipline Tour, and $41 for the Aerial Forest. Advance reservations are recommended. Visit candiasprings.com or call 587-2093.

For both adventures, the minimum age is 7, minimum weight is 50 pounds and minimum height is 48 inches. The maximum weight is 250 pounds.


If you’d rather soar above water, parasailing offers scenic views along with an up-in-the-air experience that feels like sitting on a swing with a friend, says Captain Craig Schreck, owner of Hampton Beach Parasail.

“You can see the whole coast of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, the Isles of Shoals. On a clear day you can see the White Mountains,” Schreck said. “It’s a very visual, scenic, relaxing ride up there.”

Hampton Beach Parasail offers rides with either 500 or 1,000 feet of line — the more line, the better the views, Schreck said. Passengers get harnessed to the parasail, usually two or three at a time, then take off from the back of the boat, ascending slowly as the boat takes off. They’re up in the air for about 10 minutes.

“It’s basically like I’m flying a big kite with people in it,” Schreck said.

One of the best things about parasailing, he said, is that pretty much anyone can do it. He recently took a woman who was celebrating her 80th birthday with a friend who was in her 70s, and he took his own kids when they were 7 and 9. He said parasailing isn’t so much like an amusement ride as it is a relaxing experience — even for people who are initially nervous.

“We get a lot of people who are afraid of heights [but] it’s a gradual increase [and] because you’re over the water you don’t necessarily feel how high you are,” he said.

He said 99 percent of people who are afraid of heights end up loving it.

“We take pictures too, and sometimes you see that first picture and you can see the nervousness in their eyes and then the next two pictures, all of a sudden [you can see] the relief and excitement,” he said.

There’s no need to be afraid of the boat ride either, Schreck said.

“If it’s really windy, we don’t go very fast at all,” he said. “If it’s not windy, we get up to about 15 miles per hour. … The [faster] part of the boat ride is going in and out of the harbor.”

Passengers start out at Hampton Beach Parasail’s office in Hampton Harbor, then walk to the boat and take off from the state pier. The boat holds up to 12 people, so it’s typically Schreck, his “mate,” who helps harness the passengers into the parasail, and about eight to 10 passengers. The whole ride is about an hour.

Rides start at 8 a.m. and run every hour until the last trip at 6:30 p.m. Schreck said he prefers the last couple of rides of the day.

“The evenings are nice,” he said. “It’s usually really calm and the sun’s starting to go down.”

Schreck has been parasailing off and on for years; he used to drive a parasail boat in Hampton when he was younger, and then later in Miami, Cape Cod and Newport, Rhode Island. The best part of driving the boat, he said, is seeing how excited people are when they land. And when he goes up himself, which he still does a handful of times each summer, he thinks it’s cool to look down and see all the people on the beach. But no matter how many times he goes up, he has the same thought: “I forgot how high this is!”

Hampton Beach Parasail

Where: 1 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton

When: Open seven days a week until the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival (Sept. 10 through Sept. 12 this year), and then weekends and reservations until October.

Cost: $99 per person for a 500-foot line, $139 per person for the 1,000-foot line

Reservations are recommended but not required. Visit hamptonbeachparasail.com or call 929-4386.

Featured photo: Ziplining at Gunstock. Courtesy photo.

Just Fore Fun

Mini golf can be your date night family outing or relaxing way to hit the links

If you’re looking for something to do that’s active and fun for the whole family and gets you out of the house this summer, it’s hard to go wrong with mini golf.

“You don’t have to be a certain age, you don’t have to be in shape, none of that,” said Michael Accomando, owner of Mel’s Funway Park in Litchfield. “Husbands, wives, kids, parents, boyfriends, girlfriends — anyone can go out and play mini golf and enjoy it.”

Mini golf course at Mel’s Funway Park. Courtesy photo.

Mel’s features two 18-hole mini golf courses, an easy one geared toward families and young children, and one that is a bit more competitive.

“You don’t want to put the little ones out on a super challenging course, because you want them to have fun,” Accomando said, “but then you have the high school kids and the date nights and the families [without young children], and they want something that is challenging so they can get bragging rights after they beat someone.”

LaBelle Winery, which is headquartered in Amherst, purchased the property that was formerly Brookstone Event Center in Derry in December. In addition to its event spaces, a restaurant facility and a nine-hole executive golf course, the grounds included a mini golf course.

“It’s a great activity to get the kids away from their screens and to get outside in the fresh air and the sunshine,” said LaBelle Winery owner Amy LaBelle.

The course, called Mini Links, was designed by COST of Wisconsin, the same designers who do work for Disney World. It features 18 multi-level holes with sand traps, rock formations and a waterfall.

“It’s not like a get-the-ball-in-the-clown-mouth kind of mini golf,” LaBelle said. “It’s a beautiful, landscaped, upscale mini golf course.”

The holes vary in difficulty, making the course suitable for players of all ages.

“There are definitely easy holes that are totally geared toward a beginner, and then there are a couple others that are more challenging that even I find difficult,” LaBelle said, “so it’s a good mix. There’s a little bit of something for everybody.”

Over the last two years, Mel’s has been making big improvements to its mini golf courses, like installing new carpeting throughout and redesigning or expanding more than half of the holes.

“For some, we made the green different, or we added some new rock formations and more things in the middle for you to putt around,” Accomando said.

On the trickiest hole at Mel’s, known as “the granite hole,” players must putt the ball into a hole that is drilled into the middle of a slab of granite. It has gotten the park many repeat and regular visitors, Accomando said, who are determined to master the hole.

“The ball moves a heck of a lot differently on granite than it does on the outdoor carpet, so you really have to think about how you want to do it,” he said, adding that, even for him, it usually takes five tries or so to get the ball in the hole. “People love to come back to that one.”

It comes as no surprise that the new Mini Links course has been popular with families, LaBelle said, but a unique feature of the course has made it also very popular with grown-ups:

“You can have a glass of wine on the mini golf course, so you see a lot of adults finding their way over there, too,” she said, adding that Mini Links will start hosting adult mini golf tournaments in August, with prizes including wine prizes.

For Mel’s, Accomando said, being open late (until 10 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on weekends) has been a big draw for adults as a date night or after-dinner activity.

“We always get a rush right around 9 or 9:30 [p.m.],” he said. “People love it, because you can work all day, go home, have dinner, and still have time to go out and play a round of mini golf and enjoy yourself.”

Another reason mini golf is so universally appealing, Accomando said, is that it can be as infrequent and casual or as structured and competitive as a player wants to make it. Most people do it as a one-time or occasional outing with family or friends; others play for fun on a weekly or monthly basis; but about 20 percent of the players Accomando sees at Mel’s take the game “extremely seriously,” he said.

“It’s amazing how much some people really get into it,” he said. “There are even people who come and ask for a certain color ball because they say it brings them luck.”

Atmosphere is just as important to the mini golf experience as the activity itself, Accomando said. The courses at Mel’s are filled with rock formations, bridges, caves, fountains and a large waterfall, measuring around 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, that sends water cascading throughout the park.

“It’s everything together — the sights, the sounds, the colors, the water rushing all around you — that makes it a whole experience,” he said. “It’s an escape for people to get away from some of the reality of their work day and what is going on in their lives.”

Check out this list of family fun parks and country clubs for your next round of miniature golf. All outdoor times are weather permitting — be sure to contact each park directly for the most up-to-date information.

Chuckster’s Family Fun Park
9 Bailey Road, Chichester, 798-3555; 53 Hackett Hill Road, Hooksett, 210-1415; chucksters.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.
Cost: Chichester rates are $9 per round of mini golf and $5 for ages 5 and under. Hooksett rates are $9.50 per round on one of the two courses and $6 for ages 5 and under. You can also play the second course on the same day for an additional $6.50.
What makes it unique: Each Chuckster’s park claims to have the “world’s longest mini-golf hole,” as one of the featured holes, at just over 200 feet long. Both parks are also completely different from each other, with not a single hole duplicated.

579 Endicott St. N., Laconia, 366-4377, funspotnh.com
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person
What makes it unique: This self-service indoor mini golf course features refurbished ornaments of New Hampshire landmarks.

Legends Golf & Family Recreation
18 Legends Drive, Hooksett, 627-0099, legendsgolfnh.com
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $8 for adults, $6 for kids ages 12 and under, and $3 for replays
What makes it unique: With natural rock ledges, running streams and a waterfall, Legends is known for having among the more challenging mini golf courses in the area.

Mammoth Green Driving Range & Mini Golf
135 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 432-4653, mammothgreendrivingrange.business.site
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $7 per person and free for kids ages 3 and under
What makes it unique: Holes are of varying difficulty, with a driving range also directly adjacent to the course if you want to further test your skills.

Mel’s Funway Park
454 Charles Bancroft Hwy., Litchfield, 424-2292, melsfunwaypark.com
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cost: $10.50 for adults, $8.50 for kids ages 4 to 12 and free for kids ages 3 and under
What makes it unique: Mel’s features two separate 18-hole mini golf courses to choose from, each with features like waterfalls and bridges. The property also has other attractions like go-carts, batting cages, bumper boats, laser tag and an arcade.

Mini Links at LaBelle Winery
14 Route 111, Derry, 672-9898, labellewinery.com
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $8 per person
What makes it unique: Southern New Hampshire’s newest miniature golf course, the Mini Links at LaBelle Winery in Derry opened in May. There are opportunities for birthday parties and other personalized outings at the course, as well as Junior Golf Camp for players ages 8 to 14 that is underway.

Ponemah Green Family Golf Center
55 Ponemah Road, Amherst, 673-9908, playamherst.com
Hours: Daily, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $9 for adults and $6 for kids ages 8 and under
What makes it unique: This newly renovated mini golf course has plenty of obstacles, as well as opportunities for birthday parties and other gatherings.

Featured photo: Chucksters. Courtesy photo.

Travel the World

Your guide to a summer of books with exciting locales, thrilling adventures, mysteries and more

Travel the world this summer, even if you’re staying home. Whether you’re on a hammock in your backyard or sitting by the community pool, you can travel near and far with a book. This past year welcomed all kinds of new releases, from page-turning thrillers to thought-provoking memoirs and everything in between. To help you find the perfect read, we asked local library staff and indie booksellers to recommend some of their favorite titles of 2020 and 2021.

See the world

These recommended recent releases highlight different places and cultures throughout the world during both the past and the present.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston, published June 2021.

After moving to New York City to finish her college degree, August finds family, romance and herself in an unexpected place: the subway.

Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “August grows into her own throughout this story with the help of so many wonderful people, with a true representation of New York City serving as the backdrop.”

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles, published February 2021.

An intersection of two stories about two women from different places and times: in 1939, Odile is living her dream of working as a librarian at the American Library in Paris, until the Nazis march into town and threaten everything she holds dear; in 1983, Lily, a lonely teenager living in rural Montana, develops a unique bond with the reclusive elderly woman next door.

Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “Interesting history — the 1939 storyline is based on true events — and themes of friendship, love and betrayal are a winning combination.”

West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge, published February 2021.

A 105-year-old man recounts his incredible tale, based on real events, of driving two giraffes that survived the New England hurricane of 1938 across the country to California, where they were given a new life as the first giraffes at the San Diego Zoo.

Recommended by: Dianne Hathaway, Library Director at Goffstown Public Library. “This is a beautifully written book with characters that come alive.”

A Measure of Belonging: Writers of Color on the New American South, edited by Cinelle Barnes, published October 2020.

Writers living and working in the South reflect on the contemporary South and the complex challenges of race in southern culture in this collection of essays.

Recommended by: Dianne Hathaway, Library Director at Goffstown Public Library. “This is an important work in understanding the experiences of others in a place far removed from New Hampshire.”

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper, published February 2021. 

After graduating high school, Marty leaves his small home town in Kentucky to pursue a career playing oboe in London, England.

Recommended by: Emily Fortin, Teen and Information Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “This is a sweet coming of age story, and you’ll be rooting for Marty as he finds his way in a new country.”

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen, published October 2020.

Young Tien and his first-generation immigrant mother bond over a shared love of fairy tales as Tien seeks the right language to come out to his family as gay, and his mother looks back on memories of fleeing Vietnam and the connections she left behind.

Recommended by: Aidan Sonia-Bolduc, librarian at Dover Public Library. “A beautiful comic about overcoming differences in culture and language for the sake of a mother and child’s love.”

Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams, published June 2021.

No one knew why the diplomatic Digby family defected to Russia in 1948. Four years later, Ruth, the twin sister of Iris Digby, is sent undercover by the CIA to retrieve them.

Recommended by: Willard Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. “High stakes, high adventure and moral quandary — it’s a true page-turner. Yes, Beatriz is my niece-in-law, but there’s no bias on this one.”

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy, published March 2020.

Eleven-year-old Maybelle sets out on a RV road trip to Nashville with her neighbor and the local bully, where she plans to compete in a singing contest being judged by the father she never met.

Recommended by: Patty Falconer, Children’s Librarianat Dover Public Library. “This summer adventure brings Maybelle lots of discoveries about herself and others.”

* The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest by Mark Synnott, published April 2021.

Synnott, a Jackson, New Hampshire, resident, tells the story of his 2019 expedition to try to find out whether explorers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine ever reached the summit of Mount Everest before they disappeared in 1924.

Recommended by: Susan Dunker, Adult Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “A great book for a hot day; you’ll appreciate reading about the freezing temperature the climbers endure.”

The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey, published June 2021.

Perveen Mistry, India’s first female solicitor, battles conflicting religious and gender roles in 20th-century India as she investigates the death of a young Parsi student who had come to her for legal advice not long before.

Recommended by: Barbara Tosiano, Library Director at Hampton Falls Free Library. “While the series is entertaining, it is also insight into cultures and customs about which the reader might not be familiar.”

The Searcher by Tana French, published October 2020.

Ex-cop Cal Hooper looks forward to a quiet retirement when he moves from Chicago to a small town in the West of Ireland, but instead finds himself trying to find a missing person and discover the mystery behind a series of mutilations of local sheep.

Recommended by: Caitlin Loving, Assistant Director at Bedford Public Library. “I drop everything else I’m reading the minute French has a new book out. I read an advance copy of the book last summer, and I was completely transported.”

From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War That Made the West by John Sedgwick, published June 2021.

The true story of William Palmer of the Rio Grande railroad and William Strong of the Santa Fe railroad, who were both determined to expand their rail lines into the American southwest in the 1870s.

Recommended by: Willard Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. “Well-told. It was a history unknown to me.”

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, publishedOctober 2020

In 18th-century France, Addie, a young girl destined for an arranged marriage that she doesn’t want, makes a deal with the devil that spares her from the marriage but costs more than she bargained for.

Recommended by: Kathy Growney, Library Director at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “A great read for people who are romantic at heart and enjoy a book with a bit of magical realism, historical fiction and an unexpected but satisfying ending.”

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, published May 2021.

A man steps off a train into a 19th-century French colony in England, with a mysterious postcard in his possession and no memory of who he is.

Recommended by: Hope Garner, Paralibrarian II at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “This book manages to include time travel, alternative reality and historical events. … It was fascinating and unpredictable.”

* I Have Struck Mrs. Cochran with a Stake: Sleepwalking, Insanity, and the Trial of Abraham Prescott by Leslie Lambert Rounds, published October 2020.

The story of a brutal murder that took place in rural Pembroke, New Hampshire, in 1833.

Recommended by: Tim Sheehan, Library Director at Pembroke Town Library. “Readers who enjoy true crime and local history will enjoy this book.”

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sis, published January 2021.

Picture book tells the little-known story of Nicholas Winton, a man who saved the lives of nearly 700 children trapped in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “A great way to learn more of those troubling times … [and of] another hero.”

The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America by Elizabeth Letts, published June 2021.

In 1954, after losing her farm in Maine, Annie Wilkins, with no money and no family, set out on a two-year-long pilgrimage across America to achieve her lifelong dream of seeing the Pacific Ocean.

Recommended by: Holly Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops in Nashua, Peterborough and Keene. “The world was different then, but Annie Wilkins’ journey is still an inspiring one today.”

* Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden by Bill Noble, published May 2020.

Noble, a self-taught garden designer, offers a guide to creating a garden in the New England landscape.

Recommended by: Hope Garner, Paralibrarian II at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “This book is full of inspirational photos and great ideas from his own garden in Vermont.”

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang, published February 2021. 

The true story of an Oregon mom who is compelled to act after she finds a letter inside a package of Halloween decorations, written by a sweatshop worker in China pleading for help.

Recommended by: Amy Hanmer, Information and Technology Librarian at Manchester City Library. “This true life mystery/adventure inspires us to speak out and to stop supporting products from authoritarian countries that don’t value human life.”

Color your world

Mythographic Color and Discover: Frozen Fantasies: An Artist’s Coloring Book of Winter Wonderlands by Fabiana Attanasio, published January 2021. 

Adult coloring book filled with magical ice castles, snowy landscapes and wintery fantastical beings, and challenges to find secret items hidden in the pictures.

Recommended by: Yvonne R. Loomis, Information and Technology Librarian at Manchester City Library. “Yes, folks thought that the adult coloring phase was over, that is, until we were all in lockdown with time and stress on our hands. So consider this unusual and fun coloring book as a tool for self-care and relaxation.”


The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult, published September 2020.

As the plane Dawn is on is about to go down, the thoughts that come rushing to her mind are not of her husband, but of a man whom she hasn’t seen for 15 years.

Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “Picoult explores the choices that alter the course of your life, [with] fascinating side information about death and dying and ancient Egypt. This is Picoult’s most complex book and, in my opinion, one of her best.”

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson, published March 2021.

Abigail is on her honeymoon on a secluded island with her new millionaire husband when a secret from her past upends her marriage and puts her life in danger.

Recommended by: Amy Bain, Library Assistant at Baker Free Library in Bow. “Rip-roaring thrillers/mysteries are my summer go-to … and Peter Swanson is my new favorite thriller writer. You won’t soon forget this story.”

Exit by Belinda Bauer, published January 2021.

Felix, a British man in the second half of his life and a member of an inconspicuous group that helps terminally ill people die with dignity, makes a horrible mistake with a ripple of consequences.

Recommended by: Susan Dunker, Adult Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “A delightfully quirky story that will keep your heart pumping throughout.”

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, published March 2020.

The story of the family William Shakespeare left behind when he went to London to write, produce and perform plays.

Recommended by: Susan Dunker, Adult Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “A beautifully written and fascinating novel about possibly the greatest author of all time.”

* The Languid Belly of the Beast by J.S. Carter Gilson, published September 2020.

In the second installment of the Deep Space Cargoist series by Nashua’s own Carter Gilson, old flames are rekindled and new dangers abound as cargoist Inez Stanton sets out to deliver a revolutionary-for-hire deep into the heart of the Free Earth’s capital.

Recommended by: Mary Ellen Carter Gilson, Reference Librarian at Nashua Public Library. “The writing is snappy, the characters are engaging, and the story just pulls you right in. … Yep, [the author] is my husband, but the books really are great!”

* Margreete’s Harbor by Eleanor Morse, published April 2021.

Set in the 1960s, the story follows a family that moves from Michigan to a rural coastal town in Maine to care for an aging mother.

Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. “This wonderful Maine author beautifully intertwines dealing with Alzheimer’s, the pressures of marriage and work and the struggles unique to families during the Vietnam era.”

The Newcomerby Mary Kay Andrews, published May 2021.

On the run from her sister’s murderer, Letty tries to build a new life for herself and her niece and questions whether her new love interest, a local police detective named Joe, can be trusted.

Recommended by: Kathy Growney, Library Director at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “This book is a perfect beach read — a well-written mystery with just a splash of romance and a happy ending.”

The People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry, published April 2021. 

The dynamic between best friends Poppy and Alex starts shifting toward romance when they meet up for their 10th traditional summer trip.

Recommended by: Joanna Meighan, Library Assistant at Hampton Falls Free Library. “Summer is the perfect time for romance, and this book does not disappoint. Emily Henry’s characters are relatable, and the story is light and breezy.”

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth, published October 2020.

In 1902, a series of mysterious deaths at The Brookhants School for Girls leads to a curse on the school that no one can seem to unravel.

Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This creepy and intriguing story kept me turning the pages … and the horror elements will keep you looking over your shoulder. This book will stick with you.”

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, published March 2021.

The second book in a fantasy duology following a young king as he battles a dark power growing inside him.

Recommended by: Hope Garner, Paralibrarian II at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “Ms. Bardugo is fun and easy to read. She takes the reader into her universe quickly, like J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter series.”

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, published June 2020.

A modern take on E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel A Room with a View that follows Lucie, a 19-year-old biracial woman who finds herself torn between two men and two cultures in a land of decadence and privilege.

Recommended by: Hope Garner, Paralibrarian II at Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn. “Mr. Kwan also wrote the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. I consider his books a classic beach read —humorous and quickly read.”

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver, published June 2021.

After seeing the long and taxing decline of their own parents’ physical and mental capacities toward the end of their lives, a healthy couple in their 50s make a pact to die with dignity and leave the world together once they turn 80. Fast-forward three decades, and the time has come, but they’re having second thoughts.

Recommended by: Amy Bain, Library Assistant at Baker Free Library in Bow. “This is the most difficult book to describe, but the most mesmerizing. Each chapter depicts a different outcome … and every outcome seems meant to be.”

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin, publishedFebruary 2021.

This modern take on Edith Wharton’s 1911 novel Ethan Frome is based on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the rage it causes Zo and her group of fellow activists All Them Witches and the toll it takes on her marriage to husband Ethan.

Recommended by: Susan Dunker, Adult Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “I read Ethan Frome in high school and found this story to be a great complement to that excellent book.”

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, published August 2020.

With a suicidal mother and a brother who died of a heroin overdose, Gifty, a Ghanaian immigrant working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford, struggles to make sense of the suffering in the world and begins to question the evangelical faith in which she was raised.

Recommended by: Carol Luers Eyman, Outreach and Marketing Librarian at Nashua Public Library. “A moving account of a young woman’s attempt to achieve her own goals amid family strife.”


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, published April 2021.

A memoir centered on the author’s relationship with her mother and her journey of self-discovery following her mother’s death.

Recommended by: Danielle Arpin, Library Assistant at Pelham Public Library. “Zauner does not hold back her complicated feelings about her family and her own identity.”

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard, published May 2021.

Simard, a forest ecologist, explores the lives of trees and their critical role in the circle of life and reflects on the connection between trees and her personal journey of self-discovery.

Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. “Simard tells her own story and the research that has forever changed how we view forests and their preservation. A very important book and a must-read for us all.”

Olive, Mabel and Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogsby Andrew Cotter, published October 2020.

Sports commentator Andrew Cotter tells the story of how his two dogs, Olive and Mabel, became part of his family and captured the hearts of people around the world with viral videos of their antics.

Recommended by: Susan Dunker, Adult Services Librarian at Dover Public Library. “As a dog-lover and owner of a few Labradors over the years, I found it really hilarious and touching. It’s a rare dog book where the dogs don’t die in the end.”

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee, published February 2021.

The author explores issues of income inequality, the Great Recession, environmental degradation and more to refute the idea that economic and social progress for one group is only possible at the expense of another.

Recommended by: Carol Luers Eyman, Outreach and Marketing Librarian at Nashua Public Library. “While the book exposes shameful racist practices that have, in fact, affected people of all colors, the final chapter presents hopeful suggestions for creating a more equitable society.”


The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables – With Recipes by Lee Jones, published April 2021.

A recipe book featuring a wide variety of vegetable-based dishes, with chapters divided by different plant families.

Recommended by: Hillary Nelson, Bookseller at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. “The real glory of this book, to me, is the gorgeous photography. Who knew beet marshmallows could look so delicious? Or that there is a super-cute tuber called oka that looks kind of like a Pokemon and grows like potatoes?”

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food: Step-By-Step Vegetable Gardening for Everyoneby Joseph Tychonievich, published February 2021.

An easy-to-navigate guide for newbie vegetable growers that includes tips on how to find the best planting location, which vegetables are the easiest to grow, how to water, how to protect the plants from pests and more.

Recommended by: Bre’Anna Beard, Adult Services Assistant at Merrimack Public Library. “This book is both beautifully illustrated and very informative, and it’s an excellent reference for anyone looking to start their own vegetable garden.”

How to Grill Vegetables: The New Bible for Barbecuing Vegetables over Live Fire by Steven Raichlen, published April 2021.

A recipe book with 115 creative dishes centered around grilled veggies.

Recommended by: Amy Bain, Library Assistant at Baker Free Library in Bow. “If you are trying to limit your intake of meat, this is the book for you. Vegetables are the stars of these dishes and always taste better when kissed by fire and smoke.”

Graphic novel

* The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptationby F. Scott Fitzgerald, illustrated and adapted by K. Woodman Maynard, published January 2021.

Woodman-Maynard, originally from Concord, gives new life to the 1925 classic.

Recommended by: Ryan Clark, Bookseller at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. “The illustrations are lovely, with a soft and warm color palette that is aesthetically pleasing to look at while still capturing the roaring-twenties-jazz-age tale of obsession and wealth and class.”

Stuck Together by Brian “Smitty” Smith, published in September 2020.

The first book in the children’s graphic novel series Pea, Bee & Jay, which follows the adventures of a pea, a bee and a blue jay.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “Very colorful, unique, simple, funny books for kids to enjoy.”

Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh, published February 2021.

Three mermaids turn themselves into humans so that they can go out drinking at the beach bars, only to realize the next morning that they don’t know how to return to their mermaid form.

Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, Library Technician at Bedford Public Library. “Kat Leyh’s vibrant art fills the mermaid trio and the human friends they make with distinct, lively personalities.”


* Becoming a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery, with contributions by Rebecca Green, publishedSeptember 2020.

Picture book adaptation of Montgomery and Green’s 2018 book How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals looks to animals for lessons about friendship, compassion and sharing the Earth.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “A fascinating story [for] kids to learn about our world … and [how] to be a good citizen of the world.”

The Dirt Book: Poems about Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove, published June 2021.

Collection of poetry explores the ecosystem of dirt and the animals that inhabit it.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “I love it because it’s written as a ‘vertical’ book, giving the sense of going down, [and] includes lots of fun facts and thought-provoking poems.”

* Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden, published May 2021.

The Vermont-based author’s second middle-grade novel follows four seventh-graders struggling to affirm their identity as their families’ expectations of them are in direct conflict with who they are and who they want to become.

Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. “Such an important book for our times and one that every school should take up.”

The Lights and Types of Ships at Night by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Annie Dills, publishedOctober 2020.

Educational picture book explores different types of ships.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “Simple yet factual and beautiful.”

* On the Farm by David Elliott, illustrated by Holly Meade, originally published March 2008, re-released as a picture book in April 2021.

Picture book adaptation of Elliott’s 2008 book of the same name evokes the sights and sounds of a traditional country farm through poetry and illustrations.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “Awesome, feel-good poems that bring you to the farm.”

* Once Upon Another Time by Charles Ghigna & Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Andres F. Landazabal, published March 2021.

Picture book, written in poetry, explores the natural world of the past and present.

Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner at MainStreet BookEnds of Warner. “Co-authored by Warner’s own Matt Forrest Esenwine, here is a wonderful picture book about the world before humans, inviting children to marvel in the magic that once was and to preserve and protect our only Earth.”

Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler, published March 2021.

A look at how things are made and the work it takes to build a civilization.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “A very creative way to show children how things are done from the bottom up [and that] things don’t magically appear. I like that it gets them to think about what they might want to do.”

Wild Outside: Around the World with Survivorman by Les Stroud, illustrated by Paul Barr, published March 2021.

A wilderness survival guide for kids, with practical skills and activities to try at home.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “I love the idea of getting kids more involved outside and learning how to survive without being plugged in.”

Young adult

City Spies by James Ponti, published March 2020.

The first book in Ponti’s middle-grade series of the same name, which follows a group of five delinquent kids recruited by a spy agency.

Recommended by: Sue Matott, Children’s Librarian at Pillsbury Free Library in Warner. “It was so well-written. I didn’t want to stop reading, and it kept me wondering how it would turn out.”

Legendborn by Tracy Deon, published September 2020.

Arthurian legends and Southern Black Girl Magic converge in this contemporary fantasy, which follows Bree, a student at a residential program for high schoolers, as she grieves the death of her mother.

Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This book has a little bit of a slow start, but once I began to learn about Bree, her family, and her power, I was hooked.”

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, published September 2020.

Avery Grambs receives a mysterious inheritance from Tobias Hawthorne, a billionaire she never knew, but can only keep it under the condition that she reside at the Hawthorne estate. There, she and the Hawthorne brothers work to solve a series of riddles to discover why she was named heiress.

Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This book was impossible to put down and kept me guessing until the very end.”

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