Hippo Best of 2020

The results are (finally) in!

Remember February?

Way way back then, before, well, just, before, you voted for your favorite pizza place, the best garden center and the butt-kicking-est fitness instructor. We counted the votes and were about two weeks away from presenting you with the answers when everything changed. We didn’t think it would be particularly helpful to give you a guide to places you couldn’t go and food you couldn’t eat, so we waited.

Now, finally, here are your picks — your favorite sub spot, the best place to shop for clothes to freshen up your wardrobe and outdoor spots for biking, canoeing or just hanging out.

Every year, what we present with our Best Of is a snapshot — here’s what readers loved and were thinking about during February (the voting month) of that year. This year, what we give you here is, like so many things right now, something of a hybrid. Some sections, like the categories that ask about places with a great crowd or spots to hang out after work with co-workers, can feel a little bit like artifacts from another world (remember “crowds”?). Some winners have modified operations right now (not all of the great bars for live music, for example, are currently offering live music) or might even be sitting out the season; we allowed businesses and events that are currently closed or canceled but give indication that they will resume in the future to still claim their win. A lot can happen in five months — businesses come and go, people move — but we did our best to track down the status of the winners. As always, this poll and the results are for entertainment purposes only and all results are (finally) final.

Despite all this, Hippo’s Best of 2020 still offers lots of places to go and delicious food to eat — and this year it feels especially worth celebrating the things that make southern New Hampshire special. We even came back in July with a new poll asking you to give a little extra love to the shops and takeout spots that helped brighten up those tough shutdown months. So get out (safely) and enjoy (with masks when needed) the unique delights of our piece of the 603. Where should you go? What should you do? Here are some ideas …

THE FINE PRINT

The vote
The results of Hippo’s readers poll are based on readers’ answers to a poll conducted online in February. Readers typed in the names of people and locations they voted for. In situations where the vote is tied or otherwise unclear, Hippo editorial staff makes an effort to determine the will of the greatest number of voters. Hippo reserves the right to disqualify individual votes, ballots and/or entries when they are incomplete or unclear, do not meet the letter or the spirit of the question asked or otherwise do not meet the requirements to make them a usable vote. Hippo’s editorial staff make the ultimate determination of the winners in the categories. Hippo’s advertising staff and its advertisers play no role in the determination of the winners. All results are final.

This survey is for entertainment purposes only and is meant to serve as a snapshot of the people and places in southern New Hampshire. Details about businesses, events and people listed may change between the time of the vote and publication — this year in particular. In some situations, winners may have modified schedules or operations or not yet have reopened since the shutdown. Businesses that have permanently closed or are closed with no indication of plans to reopen were no longer eligible.

Bests
The Best of 2020 is a celebration of all things local. Large national and international chains are, for the most part, not included in the count. Smaller chains are eligible. The “Best of the Best” designation goes to the person, place or thing that receives the most votes in the category. “Best of Manchester,” “Best of Nashua” and “Best of Concord” are awarded to the next top entries located in those areas. In categories with a “Best,” “Runner-up” and “Honorable Mention,” those there are the top vote-getters in that category.

Geography
Here, roughly, is the designation of “Manchester,” “Concord” and “Nashua” areas:

• Manchester area includes Manchester, Goffstown, Auburn, Candia, Bedford, Hooksett, Raymond, Litchfield, Derry, Londonderry, Windham, Salem, New Boston, Francestown and towns to the east along Route 101 to include towns on Route 125.

• Concord area includes Concord as well as Bow, Pembroke, Contoocook, Dunbarton, Hopkinton, Loudon, Boscawen, Chichester, Weare, Henniker, Suncook, Lee and some towns in the Lakes Region.

• Nashua area includes Nashua as well as Merrimack, Amherst, Milford, Hollis, Brookline, Hudson, Mason and Wilton.

Questions, Comments, Concerns
Did we get an address or phone number wrong? Do you have an idea for a new category? Let us know. Contact editor Amy Diaz at adiaz@hippopress.com. Corrections will appear on page 4 in future issues. Is your favorite category missing? Categories change regularly with some categories taking a sabbatical and new categories introduced, so please send your suggestions along. And, again, all results are final.

ARTS

Best Performing Arts Venue|
Best of the best:
Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588, palacetheatre.org. The 890-seat theater is home to its own professional, youth and teen performing companies and hosts visiting theater, music, dance and comedy acts. Its next shows are Peter Pan on Thursday, Aug. 13, and Cinderella on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and Wednesday, Aug. 19, presented by the 2020 Bank of New Hampshire Children’s Summer Series, and comedian Bob Marley Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 20 through Aug. 22, and Aug. 27 through Aug. 29.

Best of Concord: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, 225-1111, ccanh.com. The 1,304-seat theater hosts traveling theater shows, dance performances, musical and comedy acts, film screenings and more. Its next event with tickets still available is An Evening with Chevy Chase on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Best of Manchester: Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, 437-5100, tupelohall.com. The 700-seat venue presents music and comedy events and occasionally theatrical shows. It’s currently hosting a drive-in experience with upcoming shows including tribute bands Foreigners Journey on Friday, Aug. 14, and Saturday, Aug. 15, and The Breakers (Tom Petty tribute) on Sunday, Aug. 16.

Best of Nashua: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua. The theater is home to Nashua theater companies Actorsingers and Peacock Players.

Best Art Gallery
Best of the best:
Jupiter Hall, 89 Hanover St., Manchester, 289-4661, jupiterhallnh.com. The multi-purpose arts venue features visual art exhibitions, performance art, art classes and other events. The gallery is closed until further notice, according to an announcement on its Facebook page.

Best of Concord: League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Concord Gallery, 36 N. Main St., Concord, 228-8171, concord.nhcrafts.org. The gallery and shop features a variety of traditional and contemporary fine crafts created by New Hampshire craftspeople.

Best of Manchester: Art 3 Gallery, 44 W. Brook St., Manchester, 668-6650, art3gallery.com. A fine art retail gallery featuring art in a variety of media and styles by local, regional, national and international artists. It also offers custom framing and corporate and residential art consulting. Its current exhibition, “Freshly Imagined,” features works by 70 artists and is on display through Aug. 30.

Best of Nashua: ArtHub, 30 Temple St., Nashua, 966-4429, naaa-arthub.org. The collaborative gallery and workspace features art by Nashua Area Artists Association members and other artists in the greater Nashua area. The current exhibition, “Summertime,” is on view now through the end of the year.

Best Artists Market
Best:
Concord Arts Market, 1 Bicentennial Square, Concord, concordartsmarket.net. The juried outdoor artisan and fine art market is currently running weekly on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through September.

Runner-up: Craftsmen’s Fair, nhcrafts.org. The nine-day craft fair, hosted by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, normally takes place at Mount Sunapee Resort starting the first week of August.

Honorable mention: Manchester Craft Market, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, 716-5520, manchestercraftmarket.com. The shop features handmade gifts, souvenirs, decor, gourmet foods and more by New England artisans.

Best Live Theatrical Production
Best of the best:
A Christmas Carol, a Palace Theatre professional production. The show ran at the Palace Theatre in Manchester Dec. 6 through Dec. 22, 2019.

Best of Concord: Frozen Jr., performed by the Children’s Theatre Project of The Community Players of Concord at the Concord City Auditorium on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, 2019.

Best of Manchester: Piano Men, a Palace Theatre professional production. The show ran at the Palace Theatre in Manchester Jan. 10 through Feb. 2, 2020.

Best of Nashua: Frozen Jr., performed by youth theater company Peacock Players at the Janice B. Streeter Theatre in Nashua Dec. 13 through Dec. 22, 2019.

Best Dance Performance
Best of the best:
The Nutcracker, performed by Ballet Misha at the Dana Center in Manchester Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, 2019.

Best of Concord: In The Field Irish Dancers’ performance at the Market Days Festival in Concord on June 22, 2019.

Best of Manchester: The Nutcracker, performed by the New Hampshire School of Ballet at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on Dec. 26, 2019.

Best of Nashua: DanceWorks Movement Design’s Recital, held in Milford on June 1 and June 2, 2019.

BEAUTY & HEALTH

Best Barber Shop
Best of the best:
Lucky’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor, 50 S. State St., Concord, 715-5470, luckysbarbershop.biz. (Lucky’s also has a location in Portsmouth.)

Best of Concord: American Barber Studios, 4 Park St., Concord, 225-3052, americanbarberstudios.com

Best of Manchester: Dude’s Barber Shop, 1311 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 626-0533, dudesbarbershop.us

Best of Nashua: The Polished Man, 707 Milford Road, Merrimack, 718-8427, thepolishedman.com. (The Polished Man also has a location in Nashua.)

Best Salon
Best of the best:
5 Diamond Salon, 915 Holt Ave., Suite 4, Manchester, 459-3367, 5diamondsalon.com

Best of Concord: Salon K, 18 Pleasant St., Concord, 225-0099, salonkconcord.com

Best of Manchester: Blank Canvas Salon, 1F Commons Drive, No. 38, Londonderry, 818-4294, blankcanvassalon.com

Best of Nashua: Fancy Nancy’s Elite Hair Designers, 295 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 891-0202, fancynancyssalon.com

Best Spa
Best of the best:
Renew MediSpa, 23 B Crystal Ave., Derry, 932-4701, renewmedispa.com

Best of Concord: Serendipity Day Spa & Float Studio, 23 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 229-0400, serendipitydayspa.com

Best of Manchester: Pellé Medical Spa, 159 Frontage Road, Manchester, 627-7000, pellemedicalspa.com

Best of Nashua: Innovations The Salon & Spa, 228 Naticook Road, Merrimack, 880-7499, innovationsnh.com

Best Gym
Best of the best:
Dynamic Strength and Conditioning, 115 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 882-2348, dynamicsc.com

Best of Concord: Get Fit NH, 287 S. Main St., Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com

Best of Manchester: Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way, Manchester, 668-4753, facebook.com/executivehealthclub

Best of Nashua: SPENGA, 493 Amherst St., Nashua, 324-0355, spenganashua.com

Workout Class That Will Get You to Your Goal Fastest
Best of the best:
Smart Group Training, Get Fit NH, 287 S. Main St., Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com. Classes are held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on the hour from 5 to 9 a.m., and Monday through Thursday on the half hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Best of Concord: Strive Ride, Strive Indoor Cycling, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 513-9464, striveindoorcycling.com. Classes are held on Monday and Wednesday throughout the day, Tuesday and Thursday in the morning and evening, Friday in the morning and afternoon and Saturday and Sunday morning.

Best of Manchester: Boot Camp, Inspire Strength & Fitness, 200 Perimeter Road, Unit 3, Manchester, 782-7933, inspirestrengthandfitness.com. Classes are held Monday through Friday throughout the day and Saturday mornings.

Best of Nashua: Adult Group Training, Dynamic Strength and Conditioning, 115 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 882-2348, dynamicsc.com. Classes held Monday through Friday throughout the day, and on Saturday mornings.

Best Yoga Studio
Best of the best:
YogaBalance, 135 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 625-4000, yogabalance.info

Best of Concord: Sharing Yoga, 64 N. Main St., Concord, 520-8987, sharingyoga.com

Best of Manchester: Sol Power Yoga, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 732-6185, solpoweryoga.com

Best of Nashua: New Hampshire Power Yoga, 704 Milford Road, Merrimack, 594-2494, nhpoweryoga.com

Best Dance Studio
Best of the best:
Dimensions in Dance, 84 Myrtle St., Manchester, 668-4196, dimensionsindance.com

Best of Concord: Concord Dance Academy, 26 Commercial St., Concord, 226-0200, concorddanceacademy.com

Best of Manchester: New Hampshire School of Ballet, 183 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 668-5330, nhschoolofballet.com

Best of Nashua: The Dance Company, 130 Route 101A, Amherst, 864-8374, thedancecompanyonline.com

BEAUTY & HEALTH PERSONALITIES

Butt-kicking-est Fitness Instructor
Best of the best:
Erin Constantin, Get Fit NH, 287 S. Main St., Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com

Best of Concord: Meagan Ferns, Strive Indoor Cycling, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 513-9464, striveindoorcycling.com
Best of Manchester:
Ryan Griffin, Inspire Strength & Fitness, 200 Perimeter Road, Unit 3, Manchester, 782-7933, inspirestrengthandfitness.com

Best of Nashua: Matt Skeffington, Dynamic Strength and Conditioning, 115 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua, 882-2348, dynamicsc.com

Best Barber
Best of the best:
Jason Drapeau, 5 Diamond Salon, 915 Holt Ave., Suite 4, Manchester, 459-3367, 5diamondsalon.com
Best of Concord: AJ Caron, South Mane Barbershop, 28 S. Main St., Concord, 952-2202, southmanebarbershop.com
Best of Manchester: Rafael Robles, Lineup Barbershop, 1271 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 218-3294, lineupbarbershop.com

Best of Nashua: Rick Lindof, The Polished Man, 108 Spitbrook Road, Nashua, 718-1468, thepolishedman.com (The Polished Man also has a location in Merrimack.)

Best Hair Stylist
Best of the best:
Samantha Courtois, 5 Diamond Salon, 915 Holt Ave., Suite 4, Manchester, 459-3367, 5diamondsalon.com

Best of Concord: Kae Mason, Salon K, 18 Pleasant St., Concord, 225-0099, salonkconcord.com

Best of Manchester: Lauren Gamache Dockx, Salon North, 102 Bay St., Manchester, 483-3011, 102salonnorth.com

Best of Nashua: Erin Crowley, Fancy Nancy’s Elite Hair Designers, 295 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 891-0202, fancynancyssalon.com

Friendliest Dentist
Best of the best:
Dr. Elizabeth Spindel, Spindel General and Cosmetic Dentistry, 862 Union St., Manchester, 669-9049, elizabethspindel.com

Best of Concord: Dr. Shannon Arndt, 280 Pleasant St., Concord, 228-4456, orzechowskiardnt.com

Best of Manchester: Dr. Carlivette Santamaria, Oasis Dental, 1525 S. Willow St., Unit 5, Manchester, 641-5200, oasisdentalnh.com

Best of Nashua: Dr. Charles Pipilas, 280 Main St., Suite 311, Nashua, 881-8280

Best Retail Store With Standout Service During the Shutdown
Best of the best: Junction 71

By Angie Sykeny
asykeny@hippopress.com


Modern, vintage, mid-century, bohemian, country, rustic and shabby-chic are just some of the aesthetics you’ll find at Junction 71 in Amherst. The home decor, furniture and gift shop consists of three separate units within a plaza, totaling 3,600 square feet with spaces by more than 50 artisans and dealers.

“It’s not your typical consignment or thrift shop,” said owner and operator Pam Robinson, who opened Junction 71 in June 2019. “We have a more eclectic mix. [The sellers] all have their own look, and we make sure that any new stuff we bring in isn’t stuff that we already have.”

The shop features handcrafted, locally made, new and antique products, including custom metalwork; framed wall art and paintings; upcycled and hand painted furniture; signs and flags; specialty food items like jellies and dips; and more.

“These are all very unique, one-of-a-kind pieces,” Robinson said.

Robinson decided to close Junction 71 in March, a few days before the statewide shutdown was instated. During the shutdown, she and her team posted pictures of products for sale on social media, interacted with interested buyers online and offered contactless curbside pickup. They processed more than 800 orders during the 10 weeks the shop was closed.

“I am so appreciative of our customers who have been so supportive and continued to shop with us online,” Robinson said. “They kept us in business; I don’t know that we would have made it through this without them.”

Junction 71 has reopened for in-person shopping, requiring customers to wear masks at all times and sanitize their hands at the “sanitation station” upon entry, and providing gloves to customers who want them. There will be a “socially distant social” on Thursday, Aug. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m., with a shop-wide sale, door prizes and complimentary rose wine and appetizers served outside.

Junction 71
Location:
71 Route 101A, Amherst
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More info: Call 213-5201 or visit junction71.business.site

Runner-up: Manchester Craft Market, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, 716-5520, manchestercraftmarket.com. The shop features handmade gifts, souvenirs, decor, gourmet foods and more by New England artisans. During the shutdown, customers were able to interact with the artisans directly through the “Manchester NH Craft Market Online” shopping group on Facebook, reserve items for pickup and place custom orders. The shop streamed a showing of its inventory on Facebook Live Sales every Wednesday evening (which it continues to do now every other Wednesday evening) and offered curbside pickup times, flat-rate shipping and local deliveries. Shop hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Honorable mention: Local Baskit, 10 Ferry St., Concord, 219-0882, localbaskit.com. The marketplace features all-local meal kits and individual food items like craft beer, wine, frozen meats and fish, specialty cheeses, select produce and more. During the shutdown, Local Baskit donated meals to frontline workers; created new meal kits, including a Morning Basics kit (with milk, eggs, coffee and bread), Protein Boxes, Pantry Boxes (included flour and sugar) and Longevity Baskits for older adults with low-sodium and diabetic-friendly options; offered curbside pickup for craft beer; and sponsored the NH Brewers Association’s Virtual Beer Festival. Current store hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and by appointment for later pickup and beer orders.

WHAT TO WEAR

Best Independent Clothing Store
Best of the best: Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co., 13 N. Main St., Concord, 228-1101, clothingnh.com

Best of Concord: Indigo Blues & Co., 902 Main St., Contoocook, 660-9290, indigobluesandco.com

Best of Manchester: Alapage, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 622-0550, alapageboutique.com

Best of Nashua: Camaraderie Boutique, 175 Main St., Nashua, 402-1908, camaraderiestyle.com

Best Independent Jewelry Store
Best of the best:
Capitol Craftsman & Romance Jewelers, 16 & 18 N. Main St., Concord, 224-6166, capitolcraftsman.com

Best of Concord: Speer’s Fine Jewelry, 24 N. Main St., Concord, 224-1582, speersfinejewelry.com

Best of Manchester: Bellman Jewelers, 1650 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4653, bellmans.com

Best of Nashua: Scontsas Fine Jewelry & Home Decor, 169-173 Main St., Nashua, 882-3281, scontsas.com

Best Independent Shoe Store
Best of the best:
Alec’s Shoes, 1617 Southwood Drive, Nashua, 882-6811, alecs-shoes.com

Best of Concord: Joe King’s Shoe Shop, 45 N. Main St., Concord, 225-6012, joekings.com

Best of Manchester: Red’s Shoe Barn, 22 Plaistow Road, Plaistow, 382-7688, redsshoebarn.com. (Red’s also has a location in Dover.)

Best of Nashua: The Shoebox, 17 Route 101A, Amherst, 672-6570, shoeboxnh.com

Best Secondhand Store
Best of the best:
Mother & Child Clothing and Gifts, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, 886-6727, mothersays.shoprw.com

Best of Concord: Lilise Designer Resale, 7 N. Main St., Concord, 715-2009, liliseresale.com

Best of Manchester: OutFITters Thrift Store, 394 Second St., Manchester, 641-6691, outfittersnh.org. (The store also has a location in Concord.)

Best of Nashua: Lucky Dog Thrift Shop, 23 Elm St., Nashua, 882-3647, luckydogthriftshop.com

HOME & SERVICES

Best Car Repair Shop
Best of the best:
Pro Image Automotive, 254 Sheffield Road, Manchester, 968-5159, proimageautomotive.com. Shop offers passenger vehicle and small engine automotive repair services with a specialization in snow plows.

Best of Concord: Weed Family Automotive, 124 Storrs St., Concord, 225-7988, weedfamilyautomotive.com. Services include New Hampshire state inspections, oil changes, electrical and electronic systems, brakes, air conditioning and repairs for hybrid vehicles.

Best of Manchester: Henry’s Collision Center, 330 March Ave., Manchester, 624-4086, henrysab.com. Shop offers cosmetic services like pinstriping, painting and small dent and scratch repair, as well as mechanical fixes like wheel alignments and frame repair.

Best of Nashua: Precision Collision, 234 Amherst St., Nashua, 809-4527, find it on Facebook. Services include repainting and custom paint jobs, scratch and dent repair and suspension work with a specialization in high-end performance cars.

Best Garden Center or Nursery
Best of the best:
Demers Garden Center, 656 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 625-8298, demersgardencenter.com. Five acres of greenhouses help to keep the center stocked with a wide line of annuals, perennials, trees, herbs and gardening supplies like soil, fertilizer and more.

Best of Concord: Cole Gardens, 430 Loudon Road, Concord, 229-0655, colegardens.com. Find annuals, tropicals, perennials, trees and gardening supplies as well as a weekly farmers market.

Best of Manchester: Bedford Fields Home and Garden Center, 331 Route 101, Bedford, 472-8880, bedfordfields.com. Garden center offers trees, shrubs and perennials; fruit, berry and vegetable plants; and home decor and pet items.

Best of Nashua: House by the Side of the Road, 370 Gibbons Highway, Wilton, 654-9888, housebythesideoftheroad.com. Browse a wide assortment of annuals, perennials, house plants, shrubs, several greenhouses and a wide array of gardening accessories.

Most Fun Shopping Experience in an Indie Shop
Best of the best:
Manchester Craft Market, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, 716-5520, manchestercraftmarket.com. Shop features crafts, confections, handmade clothing and more by more than 180 local vendors and artisans.

Best of Concord: Gondwana & Divine Clothing, 13 N. Main St., Concord, 228-1101, gondwanaclothing.com. Shop offers designer clothing, jewelry and accessories that rotate with the seasons, as well as in-store styling services.

Best of Manchester: Apotheca Flowers and Gifts, 24 Main St., Goffstown, 497-4940, apothecaflowershoppe.com. Shop offers coffee, tea and pastries; a wide selection of flowers and artisan gifts; and on-site craft workshops.

Best of Nashua: M&C Clothing and Goods, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, 886-6727, m-c-clothing-and-goods.myshopify.com. Browse handmade local items as well as consigned clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry and household wares.

BEST RESTAURANTS

Best Restaurant
Best of the best:
The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

Best of Concord: Revival Kitchen & Bar, 11 Depot St., Concord, 715-5723, revivalkitchennh.com

Best of Manchester: Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Drive, Bedford, 488-2677, copperdoor.com (The Copper Door Restaurant also has a location in Salem.)

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Best New Eatery
Best of the best:
Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, No. 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com. Londonderry native Troy Ward Jr. opened this quick-service eatery in June 2019 with the help of his father and other family members. Troy’s is 100-percent gluten-free and dairy-free, offering smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, grain bowls, grilled wraps, breakfast scrambles and other items with fresh, all-natural and plant-based ingredients, many of which are made in house. The eatery also serves specialty coffee drinks using the Manchester-based Hometown Coffee Roasters.

Best of Concord: Georgia’s Northside, 394 N. State St., Concord, 715-9189, georgiasnorthside.com. A takeout-only Southern kitchen and craft beer market, Georgia’s Northside quietly opened its doors in late June 2019 in the space formerly housing the Korner Kupboard general store. Owner and chef Alan Natkiel posts the ever-changing menu to Facebook each day, which will often include meats from buttermilk fried chicken to barbecue ribs, smoked brisket and pulled pork, plus fresh market sides like Texas caviar, potato salad, tomato cucumber salad, grilled corn on the cob or green beans with bacon and blue cheese. Prior to opening the eatery, the Hill, New Hampshire, native owned Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in New York City for more than a decade.

Best of Manchester: California Burritos Mexican Grill, 655 S. Willow St., No. 103, Manchester, 722-2084, californiaburritosnh.com. Its fourth location overall, this fast casual Mexican eatery arrived in the Queen City this past February. Three locations in the Granite State preceded it — the original California Burritos opened at 101 Factory St. in Nashua in late 2014, followed by two more at 35 Lowell Road in Hudson, in 2017, and 2 Cellu Drive in Nashua, in 2018. Each location serves authentic Mexican options like tacos, burritos, burrito bowls and quesadillas, plus a few specialty items, like carne asada fries (loaded french fries with steak, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo and salsa verde), Dos Equis-infused fish tacos, and pupusas, or traditional Salvadoran dishes that feature cheese, refried beans and chicharrón (pork) filled inside a thick handmade corn tortilla.

Best of Nashua: Greenleaf, 54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447, greenleafmilford.com. Greenleaf is a casual farm-to-table restaurant that arrived in Milford in early May 2019. The space formerly housed the Souhegan Valley National Bank, which was operational all the way back in 1865 — an old bank vault has even been repurposed into a private dining area. Greenleaf’s menu changes all the time, and that’s because it’s based on what the chefs can get for product from the farms they partner with. But you’ll always find some type of beef, chicken, pork or vegetarian options; some popular options have included the grass-fed burgers, as well as the risotto. In late May they introduced Greenleaf Grille, an outdoor dining concept offering several backyard barbecue options under a tented space at the rear of the restaurant.

Best Fine Dining Restaurant
Best of the best:
Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467, hanoverstreetchophouse.com

Best of Concord: Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano, 11 Depot St., Concord, 228-3313, angelinasrestaurant.com

Best of Manchester: Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Drive, Bedford, 488-2677, copperdoor.com (The Copper Door Restaurant also has a location in Salem.)

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Best Family Restaurant
Best of the best:
The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

Best of Concord: The Red Blazer Restaurant and Pub, 72 Manchester St., Concord, 224-4101, theredblazer.com

Best of Manchester: T-Bones Great American Eatery, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100, t-bones.com (T-Bones also has locations in Bedford, Derry, Laconia and Salem, and a sixth one scheduled to open in mid-September in Concord.)

Best of Nashua: T-Bones Great American Eatery, 77 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-6677, t-bones.com (T-Bones also has locations in Bedford, Derry, Laconia and Salem, and a sixth one scheduled to open in mid-September in Concord.)

Best Diner
Best of the best:
The Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118, redarrowdiner.com (The Red Arrow Diner also has locations in Concord, Londonderry and Nashua.)

Best of Concord: The Red Arrow Diner, 112 Loudon Road, Concord, 415-0444, redarrowdiner.com (The Red Arrow Diner also has locations in Londonderry, Manchester and Nashua.)

Best of Manchester: Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040, thecman.com

Best of Nashua: The D.W. Diner, 416 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-1116, thedwdiner.com

Best Eatery Whose Takeout Got You Through the Shutdown
Best of the best: Presto Craft Kitchen


By Matt Ingersoll
mingersoll@hippopress.com


Last month Chef Joe Grella and his wife Jessica celebrated the one-year anniversary of Presto Craft Kitchen, a carry-out restaurant on Manchester’s West Side specializing in Italian pasta dinners and made-to-order subs known as “sticks.” Grella also incorporated his dessert catering business, Custom Eats & Sweets, into the mix by featuring all kinds of unique items out of a refrigerated case, from his wildly popular Oreo cheesecake truffles to other treats like tiramisu, cheesecake and pudding cups, cookies and cannolis.

Already primarily a takeout restaurant, Presto Craft Kitchen has stayed open for business all throughout the shutdown, offering call-ahead ordering and over-the-phone payment options to minimize surface contact. During the onset of the pandemic, the eatery provided discounts for area hospital workers and free lunches for kids who had transitioned to remote learning.

“We didn’t just want to be busy. We also wanted to know that the community could count on us,” Grella said. “We’ve remained a part of so many people’s day-to-day lives and their dinner plans.”

In January, Grella began introducing a specials menu each month of his own unique takes on jumbo arancini, pasta and “stick” sandwiches. He kept it going even as the pandemic arrived in mid-March. The specials for the month of July — chicken Parmesan arancini, roasted garlic chicken florentine pasta, and an Italian cold cut stick — were so well received that he decided to keep them for another month, through the end of August.

Grella said he was very excited about learning he had been recognized in the Hippo’s mini Best Of poll, especially since Presto Craft Kitchen is just one year old.

“I think it shows that our goal is paying off, of putting our best foot forward and putting out food for the community that we are proud of,” he said.

Presto Craft Kitchen
Where:
168 Amory St., Manchester
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact: Visit prestocraftkitchen.com, find them on Facebook @prestocraftkitchennh or call 606-1252

Best of Concord: Revival Kitchen & Bar, 11 Depot St., Concord, 715-5723, revivalkitchennh.com. Known more for its in-house fine dining experience than for takeout, Revival Kitchen & Bar had to quickly pivot its daily operations back in March when restaurants in New Hampshire received an executive order by Gov. Chris Sununu to close for indoor dining. The eatery started with selections like special farm-to-table meals for two and burger and beer combos. When Granite State restaurants received the green light to reopen for outdoor dining in May, Revival had an all new outdoor deck built out in front of the restaurant’s doors. Indoor dining is back as of mid-June, but takeout from Revival is still available every Tuesday through Saturday.

Best of Manchester: Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663. Union Street Takeout quietly opened its doors in January, before the onset of the pandemic. But since then, manager and cook Edwin Ward said that the takeout-only eatery has quickly become a popular spot for its meal deal options, including burgers, chili dogs, subs and more, all of which are served with chips and a drink.

Best of Nashua: Papa Joe’s Humble Kitchen, 237 South St., Milford, 672-9130, find them on Facebook. When the pandemic hit, Papa Joe’s felt its effects early on, spacing out the scheduling of its large volume of orders and choosing not to cook Easter dinners for the first time in more than two decades. The longtime Milford staple has always been known for its cooked-to-order gourmet burgers — of which there are countless customizable options — and it’s continued to feature specialty burgers every week.

FOOD SHOPPING

Best Bakery
Best of the best: Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St., Concord, 228-3330

Best of Concord: The Crust & Crumb Baking Co., 126 N. Main St., Concord, 219-0763, thecrustandcrumb.com

Best of Manchester: Klemm’s Bakery, 29 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 437-8810, klemmsbakery.com

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe, 436 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 262-5929, buckleysbakerycafe.com (Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe also has a location in Hollis.)

Best Butcher
Best of the best:
The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com

Best of Concord: Concord Beef & Seafood, 75 S. Main St., Concord, 226-3474, find them on Facebook @concordbeefandseafood

Best of Manchester: Mr. Steer Meats & More, 27 Buttrick Road, Londonderry, 434-1444, mrsteermeats.com

Best of Nashua: The Flying Butcher, 124 Route 101A, Amherst, 598-6328, theflyingbutcher.com

Best Farmers Market
Best:
Concord Farmers Market, concordfarmersmarket.com; after its opening date was delayed by a week, the market began its 2020 season on May 9. It’s expected to continue every Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, on Capitol Street in Concord (near the Statehouse), through October.

Runner-up: Nashua Farmers Market, downtownnashua.org/local; this market began its 2020 season on June 21 and will continue every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Oct. 18. Due to several lane closures on either side of Main Street to accommodate outdoor dining space for restaurants, this year’s market moved from its normal spot between Temple and Pearl streets down to the area in front of City Hall Plaza (229 Main St.).

Honorable mention: Bedford Farmers Market, bedfordfarmersmarketnh.org; the market began its 2020 season on June 16 and will continue on Tuesdays, from 3 to 6 p.m., through Oct. 13. The market is a new spot this year, in the parking lot of the former Harvest Market (209 Route 101, Bedford), which closed its doors earlier this year.

DELICIOUS DISHES

Best Dish or Drink You Had in the Last Year
Best of the best:
Chicken tenders at The River Casino & Sports Bar, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com. These hand-battered tenders are available with your choice of blue cheese, ranch, honey mustard, honey barbecue, sweet chili, Caribbean jerk sauce or mild, medium or hot inferno sauce.

Best of Concord: Garlic chicken nachos at Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., Concord, 224-5669, hermanosmexican.com. These nachos feature hand-cut yellow or blue corn tortilla chips with chicken, cheese and jalapenos, topped with garlic dressing.

Best of Manchester: Mudslides at The Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com. Options include the original mudslide with Baileys Irish cream, Kahlua coffee liqueur and vodka, as well as an Almond Joy mudslide, a maple mudslide and a Milky Way mudslide.

Best of Nashua: Filet mignon at Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com. The filet mignon available at Buckley’s features a red wine demi-glace and comes with creamy mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day.

Best Barbecue
Best of the best:
KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St., Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net

Best of Concord: Smokeshow Barbeque, 89 Fort Eddy Road, Concord, 227-6399, smokeshowbarbeque.com

Best of Manchester: Goody Cole’s Smokehouse and Catering Co., 374 Route 125, Brentwood, 679-8898, goodycoles.com

Best of Nashua: Smokehaus Barbecue, 278 Route 101, Amherst, 249-5734, smokehausbbq.com

Best Breakfast
Best of the best:
Tucker’s, 1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 206-5757, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Dover, Merrimack and New London.)

Best of Concord: Tucker’s, 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Dover, Hooksett, Merrimack and New London.)

Best of Manchester: Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1958, purplefinchcafe.com (The Purple Finch Cafe reopened on Aug. 1.)

Best of Nashua: Tucker’s, 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 413-6477, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Dover, Hooksett and New London.)

Best Restaurant for Weekend Brunch
Best of the best:
The Foundry Restaurant, 50 Commercial St., Manchester, 836-1925, foundrynh.com

Best of Concord: The Red Blazer Restaurant and Pub, 72 Manchester St., Concord, 224-4101, theredblazer.com

Best of Manchester: Tucker’s, 1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 206-5757, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Dover, Merrimack and New London.)

Best of Nashua: Tucker’s, 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 413-6477, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Dover, Hooksett and New London.)

Best Burgers
Best of the best:
The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, thebarleyhouse.com (The Barley House also has a location in North Hampton.)

Best of Concord: Vibes Gourmet Burgers, 25 S. Main St., Concord, 856-8671, vibesgourmetburgers.com

Best of Manchester: The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com

Best of Nashua: Papa Joe’s Humble Kitchen, 237 South St., Milford, 672-9130, find them on Facebook

Best Fish & Chips
Best of the best:
The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best of Concord: Johnson’s Seafood and Steak, 1334 First New Hampshire Turnpike, Northwood, 942-7300, find them on Facebook @johnsonsnorthwood

Best of Manchester: Goldenrod Restaurant, 1681 Candia Road, Manchester, 623-9469, goldenrodrestaurant.com

Best of Nashua: The Lobster Boat, 453 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-5221, lobsterboatrestaurant.com (The Lobster Boat also has locations in Litchfield and Exeter.)

Best Mac & Cheese
Best of the best:
Mr. Mac’s Macaroni & Cheese, 497 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 606-1760, mr-macs.com (Mr. Mac’s also has locations in Portsmouth and Massachusetts)

Best of Concord: O Steaks & Seafood, 11 S. Main St., Concord, 856-7925, magicfoodsrestaurantgroup.com (O Steaks & Seafood also has a location in Laconia)

Best of Manchester: The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com

Best of Nashua: Pressed Cafe, 108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, 718-1250; 3 Cotton Road, Nashua, 402-1003 (this location is drive-thru only); and locations in Massachusetts; pressedcafe.com

Best Essential New Hampshire Dish
Best:
Chicken tenders at The Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

Runner-up: Poutine at Chez Vachon, 136 Kelley St., Manchester, 625-9660, find them on Facebook

Honorable mention: Lobster roll at The Beach Plum, 3 Brickyard Square, Epping, 679-3200; 2800 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, 433-3339; 16 Ocean Blvd., North Hampton, 964-7451; thebeachplum.net

Best Nachos
Best of the best:
Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., Concord, 224-5669, hermanosmexican.com

Best of Concord: Dos Amigos Burritos, 26 N. Main St., Concord, 410-4161, dosamigosburritos.com (Dos Amigos Burritos also has a location in Portsmouth, and a third location in Dover under the name “Dos Mexican Eats.”)

Best of Manchester: La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 545 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 628-6899; 1875 S. Willow St., Manchester, 623-7705; lacarretamex.com (La Carreta also has locations in Derry, Londonderry, Nashua and Portsmouth.)

Best of Nashua: La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 139 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 891-0055, lacarretamex.com (La Carreta also has locations in Derry, Londonderry, Portsmouth and two locations in Manchester.)

Best Noodle Bowl
Best of the best:
Buba Noodle Bar, 36 Lowell St., Manchester, 935-7864, bubanoodle.com

Best of Concord: Whiskey & Wine, 148 N. Main St., Concord, 715-8575, whiskey-wine.business.site

Best of Manchester: Pho Golden Bowl, 12 Lake Ave., Manchester, 622-2000, phogoldenbowlnh.com

Best of Nashua: You You Japanese Bistro, 150 Broad St., Nashua, 882-8337, youyoubistro.com

Best Pizza
Best of the best:
Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St., Manchester, 669-4533, alleycatpizzerianh.com

Best of Concord: Constantly Pizza, 39 S. Main St., Concord, 224-9366, constantlypizza.net (Constantly Pizza also has a location in Penacook.)

Best of Manchester The Pizza Man of Hooksett, 254 W. River Road, Hooksett, 626-7499, thepizzamandelivers.com (The Pizza Man also has locations in Manchester, and in Lyndonville, Vt.)

Best of Nashua: Nashua House of Pizza, 40 E. Hollis St., Nashua, 883-6177, nashuahouseofpizza.com

Best Poutine
Best of the best
: Chez Vachon, 136 Kelley St., Manchester, 625-9660, find them on Facebook

Best of Concord: Vibes Gourmet Burgers, 25 S. Main St., Concord, 856-8671, vibesgourmetburgers.com

Best of Manchester: New England’s Tap House Grille, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 782-5137, taphousenh.com

Best of Nashua: Bar One, 40 Nashua St., Milford, 249-5327, find them on Facebook @baronenh

Best Salad and/or Grain Bowls
Best of the best:
Pressed Cafe, 108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, 718-1250; 3 Cotton Road, Nashua, 402-1003 (this location is drive-through only); pressedcafe.com (Pressed Cafe also has locations in Burlington, Mass., and Newton, Mass.)

Best of Concord: Live Juice, 5 S. Main St., Concord, 226-3024, livejuicenh.com

Best of Manchester: Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, No. 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com

Best of Nashua: Big Kahunas Cafe & Grill, 380 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 494-4975, nhkahuna.com (Big Kahunas opened a sister restaurant in Hooksett, Big Kahunas Smokehouse, in July)

Best Sandwich
Best of the best:
Steak & Cheese sub at Sub Station, 1292 Hooksett Road, Suite H, Hooksett, 625-1800, substationhooksett.com. A shaved steak sandwich with your choice of American or provolone cheese. Subs can also be customized with teriyaki or barbecue sauce.

Best of Concord: The Black Russian sandwich at Beefside Restaurant, 106 Manchester St., Concord, 228-0208, beefsidenh.com. A white turkey breast and roast beef sandwich with Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese on pumpernickel bread, with hand-cut house fries.

Best of Manchester: Steak & Cheese sub at Nadeau’s, 776 Mast Road, Manchester, 623-9315; 100 Cahill Ave., Manchester, 669-7827; 805 Canal St., Manchester, 644-8888; 1095 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-4411; nadeaus.com. Steak & cheese subs can be ordered as steak tips or shaved steak. (Nadeau’s has a fifth location in Exeter and a sixth location in Concord that is temporarily closed.)

Best of Nashua: The Roman sandwich at Marc’s Pizza & Subs, 704 Milford Road, No. 5, Merrimack, 883-7000, eataroman.com. The sandwich includes mortadella, cooked salami, Genoa salami, imported ham, capicola and provolone cheese.

Best Seafood
Best of the best:
Surf Restaurant, 207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293, surfseafood.com (Surf also has a location in Portsmouth.)

Best of Concord: Makris Lobster & Steak House, 354 Sheep Davis Road, Concord, 225-7665, eatalobster.com

Best of Manchester: Hooked Seafood Restaurant, 110 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-1189, hookedonignite.com

Bets of Nashua: The Lobster Boat, 453 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-5221, lobsterboatrestaurant.com (The Lobster Boat also has locations in Litchfield and Exeter.)

Best Subs
Best of the best:
Nadeau’s, 776 Mast Road, Manchester, 623-9315; 100 Cahill Ave., Manchester, 669-7827; 805 Canal St., Manchester, 644-8888; 1095 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-4411; nadeaus.com (Nadeau’s has a fifth location in Exeter and a sixth location in Concord that is temporarily closed.)

Best of Concord: Constantly Pizza, 39 S. Main St., Concord, 224-9366, constantlypizza.net (Constantly Pizza also has a location in Penacook.)

Best of Manchester: Sub Station, 1292 Hooksett Road, Suite H, Hooksett, 625-1800, substationhooksett.com

Best of Nashua: Bill Cahill’s Super Subs, 8 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 882-7710, find them on Facebook @billcahills

Best Tacos
Best of the best:
Dos Amigos Burritos, 26 N. Main St., Concord, 410-4161, dosamigosburritos.com (Dos Amigos Burritos also has a location in Portsmouth, and a third location in Dover under the name “Dos Mexican Eats.”)

Best of Concord: Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., Concord, 224-5669, hermanosmexican.com

Best of Manchester: La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 545 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 628-6899; 1875 S. Willow St., Manchester, 623-7705; lacarretamex.com (La Carreta also has locations in Derry, Londonderry, Nashua and Portsmouth.)

Best of Nashua: California Burritos Mexican Grill, 101 Factory St., Nashua, 718-8745; 2 Cellu Drive, Nashua, 417-6151; californiaburritosnh.com (California Burritos Mexican Grill also has locations in Hudson and Manchester.)

BEST RESTAURANT FOR

Specialty Diet
Best of the best: Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, No. 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com

Best of Concord: Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., Concord, 224-5669, hermanosmexican.com

Best of Manchester: Republic Cafe, 1069 Elm St., Manchester, 666-3723, republiccafe.com (Republic Cafe is currently operating under the roof of its sister restaurant, Campo Enoteca, at 969 Elm St. in Manchester.)

Best of Nashua: Pressed Cafe, 108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, 718-1250; 3 Cotton Road, Nashua, 402-1003 (this location is drive-thru only); pressedcafe.com (Pressed Cafe also has locations in Burlington, Mass., and Newton, Mass.)

Best Guilty Pleasure Food
Best of the best:
Cheesy bread at Romano’s Pizza, 27 Colby Court, Litchfield, 424-0500, romanosnh.com

Best of Concord: Drunken mac and cheese at Tandy’s Pub & Grille, 1 Eagle Square, Concord, 856-7614, tandyspub.com

Best of Manchester: Chicken tenders at The Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

Best of Nashua: Chicken tenders at The River Casino & Sports Bar, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com

SWEET TREATS

Best Baklava
Best of the best: Glendi, stgeorge.nh.goarch.org. Glendi is a popular three-day festival celebrating Greek culture through food, music and dancing that’s usually held in mid-September at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester (2020’s Glendi celebration has been canceled).

Best of Concord: Cookies and Cakes Hooray, 585 Union Ave., Laconia, 528-2253, cookiesandcakeshoo.wixsite.com/website

Best of Manchester: Amphora Restaurant, 55 Crystal Ave., Derry, 537-0111, amphoranh.com

Best of Nashua: JajaBelle’s, 143 Main St., Nashua, 769-1873, jajabelles.com (In February, JajaBelle’s relocated to its current location from down the street, in the former space of Graffiti Paintbar.)

Best Candy or Chocolate Shop
Best of the best:
Granite State Candy Shoppe, 13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591, granitestatecandyshoppe.com (Granite State Candy Shoppe also has a location in Manchester.)

Best of Concord: Kellerhaus, 259 Endicott St. N, Weirs Beach, 366-4466, kellerhaus.com

Best of Manchester: Van Otis Chocolates, 341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611, vanotis.com

Best of Nashua: Nelson’s Candy and Music, 65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, nelsonscandymusic.com

Most Craveable Cookie
Best of the best:
Peanut butter cookie (Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663)

Best of Concord: M&M cookie (Pats Peak Ski Area, 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, 428-3245, patspeak.com)

Best of Manchester: Triple chip cookie (The Cake Fairy, 114 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 518-8733, cakefairynh.com. According to Brianna Lucciano, whose mother Lisa owns The Cake Fairy, the bakery was set to reopen on Aug. 12.)

Best of Nashua: Chocolate chip cookie (Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe, 436 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 262-5929, buckleysbakerycafe.com. Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe also has a location in Hollis.)

Best Locally Made Doughnuts
Best of the best:
Klemm’s Bakery, 29 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 437-8810, klemmsbakery.com

Best of Concord: Brothers Donuts, 426 Central St., Franklin, 934-6678, find them on Facebook @brothersdonuts

Best of Manchester: The Local Moose Cafe, 124 Queen City Ave., Manchester, 232-2669, thelocalmoosecafe.com

Best of Nashua: Crosby Bakery, 51 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 882-1851, crosbybakerynh.com

Best Ice Cream
Best of the best:
Hayward’s Homemade Ice Cream, 7 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 888-4663, haywardsicecream.com (Hayward’s also has a location in Merrimack.)

Best of Concord; Arnie’s Place, 164 Loudon Road, Concord, 228-3225, arniesplace.com

Best of Manchester: The Puritan Backroom Restaurant, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

Best of Nashua: The Big 1, 185 Concord St., Nashua, thebig1icecream.com

DRINKS

Best Beer Selection (at bar/restaurant)
Best of the best:
New England’s Tap House Grille, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 782-5137, taphousenh.com

Best of Concord: Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com

Best of Manchester: The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 795 Elm St., Manchester, 792-2337, thirstymoosetaphouse.com (The Thirsty Moose also has locations in Dover, Exeter, Merrimack and Portsmouth.)

Best of Nashua: The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 670-0270, thirstymoosetaphouse.com (The Thirsty Moose also has locations in Dover, Exeter, Manchester and Portsmouth.)

Best Beer Selection at a Retail Shop
Best of the best:
Bert’s Better Beers, 545 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 413-5992, bertsbetterbeers.com (In mid-December 2019, Bert’s Better Beers moved from Hooksett to its current location in Manchester.)

Best of Concord: Local Baskit, 10 Ferry St., Suite 120A, Concord, 219-0882, localbaskit.com

Best of Manchester: Lazy Dog Beer Shoppe, 27 Buttrick Road, Suite B4, Londonderry, 434-2500, lazydogbeer.com

Best of Nashua: The Beer Store, 433 Amherst St., Nashua, 889-2242, thebeerstorenh.com

Best New Hampshire Winery
Best:
Labelle Winery, 345 Route 101, Amherst, 672-9898, labellewinerynh.com (LaBelle Winery also has a location in Portsmouth.)

Runner-up: Zorvino Vineyards, 226 Main St., Sandown, 887-8463, zorvino.com

Honorable mention: Flag Hill Distillery & Winery, 297 N. River Road, Lee, 659-2949, flaghill.com

Best New Hampshire-made Cider or Mead
Best:
Ancient Fire Mead & Cider, 8030 S. Willow St., Building 1, Unit 7-2, Manchester, 203-4223, ancientfirewines.com

Runner-up: Moonlight Meadery, 23 Londonderry Road, No. 17, Londonderry, 216-2162, moonlightmeadery.com

Honorable mention: Contoocook Cider Co. (Gould Hill Farm), 656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, 746-1175, contoocookcider.com

Best New Hampshire Brewery
Best of the best:
603 Brewery, 42 Main St., Londonderry, 404-6123, 603brewery.com

Best of Concord: Lithermans Limited Brewery, 126 Hall St., Unit B, Concord, 219-0784, lithermans.beer

Best of Manchester: Pipe Dream Brewing, 49 Harvey Road, Londonderry, 404-0751, pipedreambrewingnh.com

Best of Nashua: Able Ebenezer Brewing Co., 31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 844-223-2253, ableebenezer.com

Where They Make Your Coffee Perfect Every Time
Best of the best:
Revelstoke Coffee, 100 N. Main St., Concord, revelstokecoffee.com

Best of Concord: White Mountain Gourmet Coffee, 15 Pleasant St., Concord, 228-3317, wmgconline.com

Best of Manchester: Cafe La Reine, 915 Elm St., Manchester, 232-0332, cafe-la-reine.square.site

Best of Nashua: A&E Coffee & Tea, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, 578-3338, aeroastery.com (A&E Coffee & Tea also has a cafe location in Manchester and a wholesale roastery in Nashua.)

FOOD PERSONALITIES

Most Inventive Chef
Best of the best:
Chris Viaud, Greenleaf, 54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447, greenleafmilford.com

Best of Concord: Corey Fletcher, Revival Kitchen & Bar, 11 Depot St., Concord, 715-5723, revivalkitchennh.com

Best of Manchester: Nicole Leavitt, Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1958, purplefinchcafe.com (The Purple Finch Cafe reopened on Aug. 1.)

Best of Nashua: Michael Buckley, Michael Timothy’s Dining Group (MT’s Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, 212 Main St., Nashua, 595-9334, mtslocal.com; Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com; Surf Restaurant, 207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293; 99 Bow St., Portsmouth, 334-9855; surfseafood.com; Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe, 436 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 262-5929; 9 Market Place, Hollis, 465-5522; buckleysbakerycafe.com)

Restaurant with the Friendliest Staff
Best of the best:
Talia’s Breakfast and Eatery, 44 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 260-5339, taliaseatery.com

Best of Concord: Tucker’s, 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Dover, Hooksett, Merrimack and New London.)

Best of Manchester: The Pizza Man of Hooksett, 254 W. River Road, Hooksett, 626-7499, thepizzamandelivers.com (The Pizza Man also has locations in Manchester, and in Lyndonville, Vt.)

Best of Nashua: T-Bones Great American Eatery, 77 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-6677, t-bones.com (T-Bones also has locations in Bedford, Derry, Laconia and Salem, and a sixth one scheduled to open in mid-September in Concord.)

OUTDOORS

Best Farm for Pick-Your-Own
Best of the best:
Lull Farm, 65 Broad St., Hollis, 465-7079, livefreeandfarm.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include strawberries, apples and pumpkins. (Lull Farm also has a seasonal farm in Milford.)

Best of Concord: Carter Hill Orchard, 73 Carter Hill Road, Concord, 225-2625, carterhillapples.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include peaches, blueberries and apples.

Best of Manchester: Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 434-7619, macksapples.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include apples and pumpkins.

Best of Nashua: Brookdale Fruit Farm, 41 Broad St., Hollis, 465-2240, brookdalefruitfarm.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, apples and pumpkins.

Best City Park
Best of the best:
White Park, 1 White St., Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov/facilities/facility/details/White-Park-21. Amenities include a baseball field, a basketball court, playground equipment, a pool, walking trails, soccer fields, a roller hockey rink, a sledding trail and an ice skating rink.

Best of Concord: Rollins Park, 116 Broadway St., and parking at 33 Bow St., Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov/facilities/facility/details/Rollins-Park-17. Amenities include paved walking paths, a full-sized playground, picnic tables with shelter, baseball and softball fields, a basketball court, tennis courts, a pool and ice skating.

Best of Manchester: Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov/Departments/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks-Trails-and-Facilities/Parks/Livingston-Park. Amenities include a baseball diamond, a soccer field, a running track, a green space, two playgrounds, walking trails, fishing, ice skating and a pool with a slide.

Best of Nashua: Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Greeley-Park-29. Amenities include baseball and softball fields, a playground, picnic areas, horseshoes, a tennis court, walking trails, a wading pool and sledding.

Best State Park
Best:
Pawtuckaway State Park, 7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, 895-3031, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park. The park features more than 5,000 acres of land and trails, overnight camping, a large beach on the lake, boat rentals, a picnic pavilion and a playground.

Runner-up: Bear Brook State Park, 61 Deerfield Road, Allenstown, 485-9874, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/bear-brook-state-park. 10,000 acres and 40 miles of trails makes it the largest developed state park in the Granite State. Activities include biking, hiking, camping, archery, swimming and fishing.

Honorable mention: Hampton Beach State Park, 160 Ocean Blvd., Hampton, 926-8990, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/hampton-beach-state-park. In addition to the sunny shoreline fit for all beachgoing pleasure, the park offers year-round recreation like swimming, fishing, picnicking and RV camping with full hook-ups in the campground.

Best Bike Trail or Spot for a Bike Ride
Best of the best:
Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashua. The 12.3-mile asphalt rail trail connects Nashua to Ayer, Mass.

Best of Concord: Bear Brook State Park, 61 Deerfield Road, Allenstown, 485-9874, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/bear-brook-state-park. The park features 40 miles of trails with opportunities for biking on various terrains and inclines.

Best of Manchester: Goffstown Rail Trail, Goffstown. The Goffstown Rail Trail is unpaved and runs for 7.5 miles from Goffstown to Manchester.

Best of Nashua: Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov/491/Mine-Falls-Park. The 325-acre park features around eight miles of trails.

Best Hike in Southern New Hampshire
Best:
Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey/Dublin, 532-8862, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/monadnock-state-park. The 3,165-foot mountain features more than 35 hiking trails of various levels of difficulty leading to the summit.

Runner-up: Mount Major, Alton, blog.nhstateparks.org/mt-major-family-friendly-hike. The main trail is 1.5 miles to the 1,785-foot peak, which offers panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Honorable mention: Pack Monadnock, 13 Miller Park Road, Peterborough. Three hiking trails and a 1.3-mile paved, driveable road lead to the 2,290-foot summit.

Best Lake to Canoe or Kayak
Best:
Lake Massabesic, Manchester, 624-6482, manchesternh.gov/departments/water-works/lake-massabesic-watershed. Three public boat launches allow for canoeing and kayaking over the 2,500-acre lake.

Runner-up: Pawtuckaway State Park, 7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, 895-3031, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park. The park offers canoe and kayak rentals and has a public canoe and kayak launch on Pawtuckaway Lake.

Honorable mention: Newfound Lake, boat launch at Wellington State Park, 614 W. Shore Road, Bristol, 744-2197, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/wellington-state-park. The 4,106-acre lake is about 2.5 miles wide and seven miles long. Kayak rentals are available at the park.

Best Route for a Motorcycle Ride
Best:
Kancamagus Highway, kancamagushighway.com. It offers a 34.5-mile scenic drive from Lincoln to Conway along New Hampshire’s Route 112, with views of the White Mountains, the Swift River and Lower Falls.

Runner-up: Route 1A on the Seacoast, or the Coastal Byway, visit-newhampshire.com/seacoast/scenic-drives. An 18.4-mile drive along New Hampshire’s coastline through Portsmouth, Rye and Seabrook.

Honorable Mention: Route 3A, northern segment. The 31-mile drive runs from Franklin to Plymouth and offers scenic views of the Lakes Region.

Best Road Race
Best:
Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter Run & Walk for Food & Shelter, Nashua, held in April, 889-7770, nsks.org/run-and-walk-for-food-and-shelter. The race includes a Kids Sprint, 10K Run, 5K Run and 3K walk. All proceeds benefit the programs of the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter.

Runner-up: Payson Center for Cancer Care Rock ’N Race, Concord, held in May, 225-2711., giveto.concordhospital.org/rock-n-race/home. The race includes a five-mile run and a one-mile walk. All proceeds benefit the HOPE Resource Center at Payson Center for Cancer Care at Concord Hospital.

Honorable mention: Hollis Fast 5K, Hollis, held in June, hollisfast5k.com. The unique 5K course drops 224 feet from start to finish, earning the title of the fastest 5K in New England. All proceeds are distributed by the Hollis-Brookline Rotary Club to local charities to be used to fund educational scholarships.

ENTERTAINMENT

Best Bowling Alley
Best of the best:
Leda Lanes, 340 Amherst St., Nashua, 889-4884, ledalanes.com

Best of Concord: Boutwell’s Bowling Center, 152 N. State St., Concord, 224-0941, boutwellsbowl.com

Best of Manchester: Lakeside Lanes, 2171 Candia Road, Manchester, 627-7722, lakesidelanes.com

Best of Nashua: Merrimack Ten Pin Center, 698 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 429-0989, merrimacktenpin.com

Best Bookstore or Comic Book Store
Best of the best:
Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com

Best of Concord: MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com

Best of Manchester: The Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com

Best of Nashua: The Toadstool Bookshop, Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., Nashua, 673-1734, toadbooks.com. (The Toadstool also has locations in Peterborough and Keene.)

Best Game Night
Best of the best:
Boards & Brews, 941 Elm St., Manchester, 232-5184, boardsandbrewsnh.com. A board game cafe.

Best of Concord: Trivia Night, Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com. Held every Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Best of Manchester: Trivia Night, The Farm Bar & Grill, 1181 Elm St., Manchester, 641-3276, farmbargrille.com. Not currently running.

Best of Nashua: Trivia Night and Bingo Night, The Pasta Loft Restaurant, 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com. Not currently running.

Best Escape Room
Best of the best:
Granite State Escape, 795 Elm St., Manchester, 935-7455, escapenh.com

Best of Concord: Escape Room Concord, 240 Airport Road, Concord, 225-2271, escaperoomconcordnh.com

Best of Manchester: LOK’d Room Escape, Mall of New Hampshire, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester, 945-3113, lokdrocks.com

Best of Nashua: Key to Escape, 3 Bud Way, Nashua, 809-4018, keytoescape.com

Best Place to See a Movie
Best:
Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St., Concord, 224-4600, redrivertheatres.org. The theater is not currently open but is screening movies through its virtual cinema program, featuring a line-up of new and older independent films; see the website for details.

Runner-up: Chunky’s Cinema, 707 Huse Road, Manchester, 206-3888, chunkys.com. (Chunky’s also has locations in Nashua and Pelham.)

Honorable mention: Chunky’s Cinema, 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, 880-8055, chunkys.com. (Chunky’s also has locations in Manchester and Pelham.)

EVENTS

Best Community Event
Best of the best: Market Days Festival, Concord, intownconcord.org. A three-day street festival, hosted by Intown Concord, featuring shopping, games and live entertainment on Main Street. Typically held in June, this year’s event has been reimagined as Market Month, with “Mini Market Days” going on every weekend in August.

Best of Concord: Midnight Merriment, Concord, intownconcord.org. A holiday event, put on by Intown Concord, featuring food, shopping, entertainment and more. This year’s event is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4.

Best of Manchester: Intown Taco Tour, Manchester, intownmanchester.com. An annual street festival organized by Intown Manchester in May. Restaurants create and sell their own unique tacos, and attendees vote on their favorites. Intown stated that this year’s event has been postponed, with a new date TBD.

Best of Nashua: Winter Holiday Stroll, Nashua, downtownnashua.org. A holiday event, presented by Great American Downtown, featuring live music, food, holiday shopping, a candlelight stroll and a tree-lighting ceremony downtown. It’s normally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but Great American Downtown stated that the status of this year’s event is TBD.

Best Food or Drink Event
Best of the best:
Glendi, Manchester, stgeorge.nh.goarch.org. A three-day festival hosted by St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral celebrating Greek culture through food, music and dancing. The festival is usually held in mid-September but has been canceled this year.

Best of Concord: New Hampshire Brewers Festival, Concord, granitestatebrewersassociation.org. The annual festival, presented by the New Hampshire Brewers Association in July, invites craft breweries from all over the state to pour their original brews for beer-lovers.

Best of Manchester: Intown Taco Tour, Manchester, intownmanchester.com. An annual street festival organized by Intown Manchester in May. Restaurants create and sell their own unique tacos, and attendees vote on their favorites. Intown stated that this year’s event has been postponed, with a new date TBD.

Best of Nashua: Great American Ribfest, Merrimack, greatamericanribfest.com. The three-day event at Anheuser-Busch features professional barbecue vendors from across the country as well as other food vendors, a beer experience, live entertainment, kids activities and more. It’s typically held on Father’s Day weekend but was canceled this year.

Best Event to Show Off Your Cosplay
Best
: Granite State Comic Con, Manchester, granitecon.com. A two-day comic and pop culture convention produced by Double Midnight Comics, featuring guest celebrities and comic artists, educational panels and workshops, costume contests, gaming, vendors and more. It’s normally held in September, but this year’s event has been canceled.

Runner-up: Queen City Kamikaze, Manchester, facebook.com/queencitykamikaze. A one-day comic and pop culture convention held in March, featuring a cosplay contest, video game and tabletop game tournaments, live game shows, panels, vendors, artists and more.

Honorable mention: Free Comic Book Day, freecomicbookday.com, at Double Midnight Comics (245 Maple St., Manchester, 669-9636; 67 S. Main St., Concord, 669-9636, dmcomics.com) and Jetpack Comics (37 N. Main St., Rochester, 330-9636, jetpackcomics.com). The annual worldwide event, held the first Saturday in May, encourages comic book shops to hand out free comic books created specially for that day. The largest FCBD celebration in the state is the Rochester Free Comic Book Day Festival, a partnership between the City of Rochester and Jetpack Comics, featuring local comic creators, vendors, live entertainment, food, a cosplay contest and more throughout downtown. Double Midnight Comics in Manchester hosts a popular cosplay contest at its Manchester store. This year’s FCBD has been reworked as Free Comic Book Summer. Every Wednesday, now through Sept. 9, participating local comic book shops will put out five or six different free comics.

Best Parade
Best:
Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade, saintpatsnh.com.

Runner-up: Litchfield Memorial Day Parade

Honorable mention: Manchester Christmas Parade, intownmanchester.com. Typically held in early December.

FUN — WITH PEOPLE!

Best After-Work Hang-Out Spot
Best of the best:
The River Casino & Sports Bar, 52 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com

Best of Concord: Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com

Best of Manchester: Strange Brew, 88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292, strangebrewtavern.net

Best of Nashua: The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 670-0270, thirstymoosetaphouse.com. (The Thirsty Moose also has locations in Manchester, Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth.)

Best First Date Place
Best of best:
Boards & Brews, 941 Elm St., Manchester, 232-5184, boardsandbrewsnh.com. A board game cafe.

Best of Concord: Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano, 11 Depot St., Concord, 228-3313, angelinasrestaurant.com

Best of Manchester: Mint Bistro, 1105 Elm St., Manchester, 625-6468, mintbistronh.com

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Most Impressive Date Spot
Best of the best:
Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467, hanoverstreetchophouse.com

Best of Concord: Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano, 11 Depot St., Concord, 228-3313, angelinasrestaurant.com

Best of Manchester: Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 472-2001, bedfordvillageinn.com

Best of Nashua: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Best Crowd at Whatever
Best:
Get Fit NH, 287 S. Main St., Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com

Runner-up: The River Casino & Sports Bar, 52 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com

Honorable mention: Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com

FAMILY FUN

Best Family or Kids Event
Best of the best:
Market Days Festival, Concord, intownconcord.org. A three-day street festival, hosted by Intown Concord, featuring shopping, games and live entertainment on Main Street. Typically held in June, the event has been reimagined this year as Market Month, with “Mini Market Days” going on every weekend in August.

Best of Concord: Deerfield Fair, deerfieldfair.com. One of the largest agricultural fairs in the state, featuring rides, entertainment, food and more. It’s usually held for four days in September, but this year’s event has been canceled.

Best of Manchester: Glendi, Manchester, stgeorge.nh.goarch.org. A three-day festival hosted by St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral celebrating Greek culture through food, music and dancing. The festival is usually held in mid-September but has been canceled this year.

Best of Nashua: Kids Con New England, Nashua, kidsconne.com. The first and largest comic convention in New England created just for kids. Held in June, the one-day event features comic-centric activities, workshops and panels, gaming, family-friendly comic book creators and children’s book authors and artists.

Best Place to Take Your Kids
Best of the best:
Fun City Trampoline Park, 553 Mast Road, Goffstown, 606-8807, funcitygoffstown.com. Closed until further notice, according to its Facebook page.

Best of Concord: Krazy Kids, 60 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 228-7529, gokrazykids.com. An indoor playground and party venue. Currently running summer camps, but the indoor play area is closed to the public until further notice, according to the website.

Best of Manchester: Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, 669-4820, nhahs.org. Open only on select dates until further notice. Upcoming dates are Saturdays, Aug. 15 and Aug. 29.

Best of Nashua: Nuthin’ but Good Times, 746 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 429-2200, nuthinbutgoodtimes.com. An indoor playground and party venue.

Best Indoor Play Area
Best of the best:
Fun City Trampoline Park, 553 Mast Road, Goffstown, 606-8807, funcitygoffstown.com. Closed until further notice, according to its Facebook page.

Best of Concord: Krazy Kids, 60 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 228-7529, gokrazykids.com. An indoor playground and party venue. Currently running summer camps, but the indoor play area is closed to the public until further notice, according to the website.

Best of Manchester: Cowabunga’s, 725 Huse Road, Manchester, 935-9659, mycowabungas.com. An indoor inflatable playground and party venue. Currently closed, but plans to reopen this month.

Best of Nashua: Nuthin’ but Good Times, 746 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 429-2200, nuthinbutgoodtimes.com. An indoor playground and party venue.

Best Kids Summer Day Camp
Best of the best:
Melody Pines Day Camp, 510 Corning Road, Manchester, 669-9414, melodypines.com

Best of Concord: New Hampshire Audubon Nature Day Camp, McLane Audubon Center, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, 224-9909, nhaudubon.org. (Camp is also held at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn.)

Best of Manchester: Boys & Girls Club of Manchester’s Camp Foster, 36 Camp Allen Road, Bedford, 625-5031, begreatmanchester.org

Best of Nashua: YMCA of Greater Nashua’s Camp Sargent, 141 Camp Sargent Road, Merrimack, 880-4845, campsargent.org

Best Place to Hold a Kids Birthday Party
Best of the best:
Cowabunga’s, 725 Huse Road, Manchester, 935-9659, mycowabungas.com. An indoor inflatable playground and party venue. Currently closed, but plans to reopen this month.

Best of Concord: Krazy Kids, 60 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 228-7529, gokrazykids.com. An indoor playground and party venue. Currently running summer camps, but the indoor play area is closed to the public until further notice, according to the website.

Best of Manchester: Fun City Trampoline Park, 553 Mast Road, Goffstown, 606-8807, funcitygoffstown.com. Closed until further notice, according to its Facebook page.

Best of Nashua: Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center, 30 Ash St., Hollis, 465-9453, wildsalamander.com.

PETS

Best Doggie Day Care
Best of the best:
American K9 Country, 336 Route 101, Amherst, 672-8448, americank9country.com. Day care and boarding for dogs and cats and training classes in dock jumping, obedience, agility and more for dogs.

Best of Concord: Paws on Pine, 913 Pine St., Contoocook, 568-4022, pawsonpinenh.com. A small boarding and day care center for dogs that specializes in Flower Essence aromatherapy for dogs.

Best of Manchester: All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, 669-4644, alldogsgym.com. Training, boarding and day care services for dogs as well as classes in various dog sports.

Best of Nashua: Cloud K9, 29 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 424-6166, cloudk9.net. Day care and boarding for dogs with an enclosed turfgrass play area.

Best Dog Groomer
Best of the best: Sarah’s Paw Spa, 16 Manning St., Derry, 512-4539, sarahspawspa.com. A certified grooming service with a custom tub and full spa experience that includes tooth brushing, nail painting and aloe facial cleanses.

Best of Concord: Bark Now, 237 S. Main St., Concord, 229-3700, barknow.com. Full grooming treatments available as well as facials, luxury baths, paw pedicures and Reiki energy therapy.

Best of Manchester: Hollywood Hounds Pet Spa, 250 Wallace Road, Bedford, 472-7387, hollywoodhoundsnh.com. A full-service pet spa using only all-natural, hypoallergenic materials and offering basic grooming, flea and tick removal and emergency de-skunking.

Best of Nashua: Cloud K9, 29 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 424-6166, cloudk9.net. Grooming services include blow-outs, brush-outs, ear cleaning and plucking and nail trims and cuts. Package deals with half-day day care and grooming are available.

Best Place to Let Your Dog Off Leash
Best of the best: Hudson Dog Park at Benson Park,19 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov/bensonpark/page/dog-park. A fenced-in public dog park that includes two separate areas for large and small dogs. Dog waste bags are available.

Best of Concord: Terrill Park, Old Turnpike Road, Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov/facilities/facility/details/Terrill-Park-28. The 21-acre park features a fenced-in dog park for both large and small dogs.

Best of Manchester: Hooksett Dog Park, 101 Merrimack St., Hooksett, 668-8019, hooksett.org/parks-recreation-cemeteries-division/pages/dog-park. Two off-leash fenced-in play areas for small and large dogs. Dog waste bags are available.

Best of Nashua: American K9 Country, 336 Route 101, Amherst, 672-8448, americank9country.com. Fenced-in dog park available at the doggie day care, free of charge.

Best On-Leash Dog Outing
Best of the best:
Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov/491/Mine-Falls-Park. A 325-acre park with forest, wetlands, open fields and around eight miles of trails.

Best of Concord: Downtown Concord, North Main Street, Concord. The open lawn green space of the Statehouse lawn, the weekly Farmers Market and Market Days offer a great chance for humans and dogs alike to get out and about in the Capital City.

Best of Manchester: Livingston Park, Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov/Departments/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks-Trails-and-Facilities/Parks/Livingston-Park. Includes a loop walking trail that circles Dorr’s Pond.

Best of Nashua: Benson Park,19 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov/bensonpark. A 166-acre recreational spot with plenty of walking trails.

NIGHTLIFE

Best Bar for Live Music
Best of the best:
The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, 909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, theshaskeenpub.com. Regular live music has not yet resumed, but there will be a trial run performance by Marty Quirk on the patio on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m.

Best of Concord: Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com. Live music every Friday and Saturday night and Saturday afternoon.

Best of Manchester: Strange Brew, 88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292, strangebrewtavern.net. The bar stated that it will not be having any live music in the near future due to Covid-19 regulations.

Best of Nashua: The Pasta Loft Restaurant, 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com. The bar stated that it does not have live music at this time.

Best Bar with an Outdoor Deck
Best of the best:
The Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880, thederryfield.com

Best of Concord: Downtown Cheers Grille & Bar, 17 Depot St., Concord, 228-0181, cheersnh.com

Best of Manchester: Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St., Manchester, 644-3535, murphystaproom.com

Best of Nashua: The Pasta Loft Restaurant, 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com.

Best Pub
Best of the best:
The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, 909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, theshaskeenpub.com

Best of Concord: The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, thebarleyhouse.com. (The Barley House also has a location in North Hampton.)

Best of Manchester: Strange Brew, 88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292, strangebrewtavern.net

Best of Nashua: The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, thepeddlersdaughter.com

Best Sports Bar
Best of the best:
Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road, Manchester, 622-3644, billyssportsbar.com

Best of Concord: The Draft Sports Bar and Grill, 67 S. Main St., Concord, 227-1175, draftsportsbar.com

Best of Manchester: The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 795 Elm St., Manchester, 792-2337, thirstymoosetaphouse.com. (The Thirsty Moose also has locations in Merrimack, Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth.)

Best of Nashua: The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 670-0270, thirstymoosetaphouse.com. (The Thirsty Moose also has locations in Manchester, Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth.)

Best Regular Event at a Bar
Best of the best:
Famous Friday Rubber Chicken Toss at The River Casino & Sports Bar, 52 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com. Held every Friday at 7 p.m. Players get three rubber chickens. Sink one rubber chicken into the pot and win a six-piece chicken tenders dinner; sink two, win a 12-piece chicken tenders dinner; sink all three, win $200.

Best of Concord: Open Mic Night at Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com. Every Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Best of Manchester: Queen City Improv at Stark Brewing Co., 500 Commercial St., Manchester, 625-4444, starkbrewingcompany.com. The Manchester-based improvisational theater troupe typically performs at the bar monthly, but shows have been put on hold until further notice.

Best of Nashua: Open Mic at Fody’s Tavern, 9 Clinton St., Nashua, 577-9015, fodystavern.com. Fody’s is planning to resume open mic soon.

Where to Go when you want to See and be Seen
Best of the best:
The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, 909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, theshaskeenpub.com

Best of Concord: Tandy’s Pub & Grille, 1 Eagle Square, Concord, 856-7614, tandyspub.com

Best of Manchester: The Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880, thederryfield.com

Best of Nashua: The River Casino & Sports Bar, 52 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com

NOTABLE LOCALS

Friendliest Mechanic
Best of the best:
Mike Alton, Pro-Image Automotive, 254 Sheffield Road, Manchester, 644-8480, proimageautomotive.com

Best of Concord: Gunnar Wicklund, Wicklund’s Automotive Center, 240 N. State St., Concord, 224-2102, wicklundsauto.com

Best of Manchester: Ralph Brutus, Brutus Auto Repair & Service, 148 Merrimack St., Manchester, 624-8881, brutusauto.com

Best of Nashua: Chad Tanguay, Merrimack Auto Center, 9 Webb Drive, Merrimack, 216-9596; 150 Amherst St., Nashua, 546-0157; merrimackautocenterllc.com

Best Local Music Act
Best
: Alli Beaudry, allibeaudry.com

Runner-up: Matt the Sax, find him on Facebook @mattthesax

Honorable mention: Songs With Molly, find them on Facebook @songswithmolly

Friendliest Librarians
Best:
Concord Public Library, 45 Green St., Concord, 225-8670, concordpubliclibrary.net (The Concord Public Library reopened to the public on July 13, operating under limited hours.)

Runner-up: Bedford Public Library, 3 Meetinghouse Road, Bedford, 472-2300, bedfordnhlibrary.org (The Bedford Public Library is currently closed to the public, but contact-free curbside pickups are available every Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.)

Honorable mention: Aaron Cutler Memorial Library, 269 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, 424-4044, cutlerlibrary.blogspot.com (The Aaron Cutler Memorial Library is currently closed to the public, but porch pickups are available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

New Hampshire-based Celebrity Who Seems Like They’d Be the Most Fun at a Party
Best: Pete Psaledas, Director of Distributor Relations at Presence Marketing and a Litchfield resident

Runner-up: Fred “Fritz” Wetherbee, “Fritz Wetherbee’s New Hampshire,” as seen on WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle

Honorable mention: Steven Tyler, frontman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Aerosmith

Favorite Fictional Granite Stater
Best:
The Old Man of the Mountain (a series of cliff ledges resembling the profile of a man’s face, The Old Man of the Mountain was a popular tourist attraction at Franconia Notch State Park until its collapse in May 2003.)

Runner-up: President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (who is portrayed by Martin Sheen in the critically acclaimed political drama series The West Wing.)

Honorable mention: Binky Sears (a fictional character often featured in Fritz Wetherbee’s stories in “Fritz Wetherbee’s New Hampshire,” as seen on WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle.)

LIVING HERE

Happiest Place in NH
Best:
Get Fit NH (287 S. Main St. in Concord; getfitnh.com, 344-2651). Get Fit NH is currently offering both in-person and virtual fitness classes.

Runner-up: The White Mountains (The Forest Service’s website, fs.usda.gov/whitemountain, sells day-use passes online to the White Mountain National Forest as well as maps and more. At visitwhitemountains.com, you can find more about visiting the area, including advice on alternative hiking and parking sites when popular locations are crowded.)

Honorable mention: Hampton Beach (Though many of the regular Hampton Beach events have been canceled for this summer, you can still find outdoor movies on Monday nights and nightly live music starting at 7 p.m. See hamptonbeach.org.)

Best Thing About Living in NH in the Winter
Best:
Skiing (As one reader said “Skiing is Awesome.”)

Runner-up: Snow

Honorable mention: Snowshoeing

Best Thing We Forgot to Ask About
Best:
Best New Hampshire Product/Best Jams and Jellies made in NH: Laurel Hill Jams & Jellies (laurelhilljams.com). Find them at stores throughout the area including Bedford Hannaford and Christmas Tree Shops in Nashua and Salem; see a list on the website.

Runner-up: Best Tattoos: Arrows and Embers Tattoo (117 Manchester St. in Concord; arrowsandemberstattoo.com, 988-6067)

Honorable mention: Best Massage Therapist: Bethany Chabot, LMT 444 Hands, Innately Integrative Massage & Energy Therapy, located in The Wellness Center at Family Chiropractic of Merrimack, 36 Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack, 834-2758, 444hands.com.

Soundtrack to your summer

7 performers talk about playing in a time when local music is center stage

In the midst of live music’s strangest season — with most national acts having canceled their tours — local talent is getting a lot of love.

“From farmer’s markets to on stage gigs, everyone has been so attentive and so appreciative,” Paul Driscoll said. “I’ve gotten some of the best and most generous feedback this year.”

MB Padfield, a Granite State native who heads home from L.A. every summer, agrees.

“People are bored of being bored and I think they’re far more receptive now that they’ve had this time to really reflect on priorities in their life,” she said. “Quarantine was a really big pause button.”

Here’s a look at seven performers currently playing around the state.

Gabby Martin

Performing since 2017, Gabby Martin is from Rochester and currently lives in Thornton.

What should people know about your music?

First of all, I see myself as a local kid — I really do love the state of New Hampshire. I love the venues and just being able to meet members of the community that I normally would not interact with. … Musically, I love performing covers. I do write music as well but there’s something really special about recreating music that people know and love in my own way.

What did you do during quarantine?

One thing that makes me unique from some of the other artists is that I’m also in grad school so that keeps me busy. During quarantine I did a live concert every Sunday and also learned some new equipment, played with some software. I am not one of those that wrote an entire album or anything like that.

When did you start playing out again?

May 22 at Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton.

How’s your summer going so far?

It’s going well. The biggest challenge would be the weather. I’ve been playing at Schilling Brewery in Littleton about once a weekend and that’s been a good addition, something that I didn’t have on the books before the beginning of the summer. It’s going well and it’s very nice to be back out with people.

What are some of your favorite venues?

Schilling Beer … the Copper Doors, Kettlehead Brewing, and I love Hart’s Turkey Farm — it’s a classic New Hampshire venue.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

I’m finding it’s going very quickly compared to last summer.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

I’m pretty active on Facebook and Instagram and I also have a YouTube page.

Typical set list

“Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John

“Bobbie McGee” – Janis Joplin

“Big Yellow Taxi” – Joni Mitchell

“Valerie” – Amy Winehouse

“Angel from Montgomery” – John Prine

“Wish I Knew You” – The Revivalists

“Love Song” – Sara Bareilles

“Put Your Records On” – Corrine Bailey Rae

“Sunrise – Norah Jones

“Ironic” – Alanis Morissette

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 7 – Lone Wolf Brewing, Wolfeboro

Aug. 8 – Tumbledown Café, Sanbornville

Aug. 9 – Ore Mill, Warren

Aug. 11 – Common Man, Ashland

Aug. 13 – Sea Dog Brewing, Exeter

Aug. 27 – Revolution Taproom, Rochester

MB Padfield

Performing since she was 16, MB Padfield is originally from Manchester and is now based in North Hollywood, California. She comes back to New England to perform from the end of June to Labor Day since she moved to L.A. in 2017.

What should people know about your music?

The elevator pitch is I’m a pretty versatile live performer but my original music is grounded in pop and songwriting, so I’d like people to know that I’m a songwriter and that I write original music as well as play it in addition to live performances.

What did you do during quarantine?

I was just writing. I was songwriting and working on recording. I’m prepping, I want to do a record and I’m in the place I think mentally now where I’m really ready to do that, and I have the songs. So I spent the entire quarantine time just writing and making good music and then learning new stuff — spending time on, you know, things that I think were on the to-do list but I haven’t gotten to yet. … I wanted to learn a new computer program, I wanted to learn more about bass, and I think I was able to have that time so I could really dive in.

When did you start playing out again?

June 24 at Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester [a weekly residency for the summer].

How’s your summer going so far?

Everything has honestly been really great other than the fact that I lost more than half of my work — shows that I booked at the beginning of 2020 and canceled and then rebooked and then with the shutdown they canceled again. … But crowds want to be entertained and they are a bit more receptive. … In a world of background noise, I feel like now has been the time where we’re able to really step out from that.

What are some of your favorite venues?

I love playing at Bernie’s Beach Bar, it has a big stage, and at Wally’s; Hampton Beach feels like the Las Vegas strip.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

I’m still taking requests for private parties and events and I’m still looking to book new venues and more venues. For the most part things have been status quo, or they have been in the past couple of weeks. Hopefully the Covid numbers will continue to decline and we’ll be able to start really moving past this.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

All my shows are on my website, mbpadfield.com

Typical set list

“Give Me One Reason” – Tracy Chapman

“Pretty for a Living” – MB Padfield

“Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin

“Havana” – Camila Cabello

“Into You” – MB Padfield

“The Real Slim Shady” – Eminem

“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath

“Full Throttle” – MB Padfield

“Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” – Lauryn Hill

“The Cat Song” – MB Padfield

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 8 – Bernie’s Beach Bar, Hampton Beach

Aug. 9 – Wally’s, Hampton Beach

Aug. 10 – Bernie’s Beach Bar, Hampton Beach

Aug. 12 – Murphy’s Taproom, Manchester (Wednesday residency)

Aug. 13 – Stumble Inn, Londonderry

Brad Bosse

Brad Bosse, originally from Milford, has been performing full time for eight years. He currently lives in Hooksett and has a summer place in Wells, Maine.

What should people know about your music?

I’m upbeat. I bring a good time. I do everything from Sinatra to Notorious B.I.G. to Sublime to Kenny Chesney. I kind of do it all, but I kind of make it into my own style.

What did you do during quarantine?

I was super bummed just because I’m a driven guy [and am] used to working all the time. The first couple of days, it was nice to have some time off, but I forecast my schedule six to eight months out and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I have no income.’ … I went on unemployment [so] I was making some money. I did a couple of livestreams … I called them Pajama Jams … but sitting in front of your phone in your bedroom playing guitar just doesn’t have the same effect as playing live. Then I said, when have I had this much time to just relax and write music, to not have to perform? Just picking up my guitar … it was nice to just do it for the pure joy of music again.

When did you start playing out again?

The first Monday that New Hampshire opened up outdoor dining May 20 at Penuche’s, then I played Wednesday at Stumble Inn in Londonderry, then Thursday at Tuscan Kitchen in Salem.

How’s your summer going so far?

It’s been really good. I was worried about the weather, because you just never know, and I personally super lucked out … every [time] it’s rained it was either before or after my gig. I’ve only gotten rained out twice. In regards to people coming out it’s a sense of normalcy that’s nice. … I love my job. It’s work, but at the same time I like that with music I get to forget anything else in life for three hours and just get lost in the music. I missed that, and it’s nice to have that again.

What are some of your favorite venues?

Instabar — that’s a new and really fun place. Stumble Inn is great … and Tuscan [Market & Kitchen in Salem].

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

More of the same. … I was doing Friday, Saturday and Sunday doubles every single week last summer, and I decided to stop, but when somebody offers me a gig, I have such a hard time saying no even though I know the day is going to kick my ass. This summer … I picked up a couple, because I had gigs set up before Covid hit, then I booked all these new dates.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

My Brad Bosse Music Facebook page is the best place.

Typical set list

“Steal My Kisses” – Ben Harper

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – “Rolling Stones

“No Diggity” – Blackstreet

“Franklin’s Tower” – Grateful Dead

“Fly Me to the Moon” – Frank Sinatra

“Humble” – Kendrick Lamar

“Danny’s Song” – Kenny Loggins

“Give Me One Reason” – Tracy Chapman

“Closer to the Sun” – Slightly Stoopid

“Small Worlds” – Mac Miller

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 7 – The Oven, Epping

Aug. 8 – Community Oven, Hampton

Aug. 9 – Instabar, Hampton & Cheers, Concord

Aug. 11 – McGuirks, Hampton Beach

Aug. 14 – Stumble Inn, Londonderry & The Oven, Epping

Aug. 15 – Community Oven, Hampton

Aug. 16 – Instabar, Hampton

Aug. 18 – McGuirks, Hampton Beach

Paul Driscoll

Paul Driscoll, who was born in Stoneham, Mass., grew up in Everett, Mass., and spent most of his life in Colorado, is now based in Milford and has been performing for three and a half years.

What should people know about your music?

I always want to give people something new, whether it’s my original music or something that I know that they probably haven’t heard yet. … If it’s one of my own songs and it goes over that’s something I’ll always come back to, because it’s just the best to be able to, like, make someone bob their head or get up and dance to your own song.

What did you do during quarantine?

That first month or so I think like a lot of people I was just wishing that it was just kind of going to blow over really quick. I was stuck in a place of not really being motivated besides doing online shows. I wasn’t writing a lot and my head was a little foggy. Over the past few months I’ve really come out of that and I’ve started writing more from different points of view. I feel like I’ve become a lot more thoughtful as a songwriter and as an entertainer.

When did you start playing out again?

May, at Trombly Gardens in Milford.

How’s your summer going so far?

I’ve been playing a lot. … There are some places that I’ve never played before that reached out to me just because they need local music in some capacity.

What are some of your favorite venues?

Fresh Chicks Market in Peterborough is really awesome and the farmers always tip well with baked goods and all that stuff. So that’s really cool. And definitely Trombly Gardens in Milford.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

The shows have picked up exponentially so now it’s pretty much back to a normal schedule, just playing outside pretty much instead of all the indoor shows. I’m also three songs into my second album as far as writing and I’ve got a little bit of a concept going. So a lot of writing and a lot of playing. Just trying to stay creative.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

My Facebook page, Paul Driscoll Music.

Typical set list

“Hold On” – Tom Waits

“Thirteen Silver Dollars” – Colter Wall

“Lenny’s Song” (original)

“Old Paint” (traditional)

“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

“Whitehouse Road” – Tyler Childers

“Million Pound Man” (original)

“These Days” – Black Keys

“Poor Man’s Son” – Noah Gunderson

“Ain’t Nobody’s Problem” – Sawmill Joe

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 8 – Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry

Aug. 10 – Fresh Chicks Local Outdoor Market, Peterborough

Aug. 22 – Concord Arts Market

Sept. 6 – Trombly Gardens, Milford

April Cushman

Originally from Brookline and now living in Swanzey, April Cushman has been playing guitar since she was 5. As an adult, she’s been performing for five or six years and is now a full-time musician.

What should people know about your music?

As a songwriter I feel like I’m really trying to stay on my own path and … to know that my music is telling stories that are true to me, telling stories that other people can relate to…. I grew up with a lot of country, folk and rock, and I’m trying to stay on the Southern rock side of things versus the country pop scene that’s really popular right now.

What did you do during quarantine?

I lost almost four months’ worth of shows, so I tried to try to keep as much contact with my fans as I possibly could. Thank goodness for social media. I was able to do a bunch of online shows, going live across the country. … My husband, my daughter and I do a lot of fishing and four-wheeling, so we tried to stay outside and enjoy life as much as we could and just kind of hang tight until things started to open again. It was a difficult time.

When did you start playing out again?

My first was an acoustic show at a venue I never played before in Hampton called WHYM Brewery. It was nice to sit there and play for three hours and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, people are real!’

How’s your summer going so far?

Great. I had recorded and released my first single about a month ago … got that all out of the way and came back home. I started gigging again, and it has been rolling.

What are some of your favorite venues?

I’ve been hitting up the craft brewery scene really hard, because all these places have really great patios and little stages away from everyone [like] Backyard Brewery in Manchester [and] Smuttynose in Hampton.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

I’m really looking forward to playing Fletcher Murphy Park in Concord on Aug. 8 with my band. It will be the first time we’ve been on stage together since the beginning of February.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

The best way is through my website — aprilcushman.com. A lot of people follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Typical set list

“Walking In Memphis” – Mark Cohn

“In A Small Town” – Original

“Soundtrack to My City” – Original

“Dust On The Bottle” – David Lee Murphy

“Fire And Rain” – James Taylor

“Once Upon A Time” – Original

“Come To My Window” – Melissa Etheridge

“Ain’t No Stopping You” – Original

“Skin And Bones” – Liz Longley

“Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 6 – Village Trestle, Goffstown

Aug. 7 – Murphy’s Taproom, Bedford

Aug. 8 – Fletcher-Murphy Park, Concord

Sept. 4 – Murphy’s Taproom

Ryan Williamson

Ryan Williamson, who grew up in Concord and still lives there, has been performing for almost three years.

What should people know about your music?

I tell everyone from the beginning that all the sounds I’m going to play are going to be played live. I use a lot of looping stuff but I don’t use any pre-recorded sounds; I make all of it myself. I play all kinds of genres … anything from Lee Brice country to Taylor Swift and Usher. Stuff that you wouldn’t expect to hear out of a solo guitarist.

What did you do during quarantine?

For the first couple weeks I just enjoyed not playing gigs all the time and kind of decompressed — I actually really liked that for a while. I started messing around with GarageBand, recording my original stuff, working on a range of different things trying to stay creative. I did a couple of online shows, which was really weird, because I’ve played at places where there are no people in the crowd, but this time there were definitely no people … but I got some good feedback on it. It was fun to try new stuff. That went on until the gigs came back.

When did you start playing out again?

End of May, at Backyard Brewery in Manchester.

How’s your summer going so far?

The last couple of weeks I have been really busy, and the next couple of months are really busy too, so I don’t feel like I’ve lost a whole lot. A lot of places have done a really good job creating outdoor seating areas for their patrons, and on the off chance that it’s raining, some places are still doing inside seating if people are comfortable with that.

What are some of your favorite venues?

I love Backyard Brewery and little places like Firefly in Manchester. Fratello’s in Nashua — the city has done a really good job opening up the Main Street area to have outdoor seating. You’re like hybrid busking out there. I’m on the street corner playing to patrons of a restaurant and to anyone who’s walking down the streets. That’s a new experience for me.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

I’m going to be just playing gigs; I can’t go anywhere. Normally my family and I would go to our house in Canada, but we’re not allowed to go there, so I’m just going to be here playing gigs at various places around New Hampshire.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

I’m pretty bad at Facebook, but I try to keep my website up to date — ryanwilliamson.com.

Typical set list

“Moondance” – Van Morrison

“Hard to Love” – Lee Brice mashup with “Learning to Fly” – Tom Petty

“I Don’t Care” – Ed Sheeran

“Rhiannon” – Fleetwood Mac

“Slow Burn” – Kacey Musgraves

“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

“Delicate” – Taylor Swift

“Faithfully” – Journey

“Die a Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett mashup with “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer

“Watermelon Sugar” – Harry Styles

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 7 – Cactus Jack’s, Manchester

Aug. 8 – Backyard Brewery, Manchester

Aug. 11 – Murphy’s Taproom, Bedford

Aug. 14 – WHYM Brewery, Hampton

Aug. 15 – Cactus Jack’s, Manchester

Aug. 16 – KC’s Rib Shack, Manchester

Aug. 17 – Homestead, Merrimack

Aug. 18 – Fratello’s, Nashua

Aug. 20 – Firefly, Manchester

Maddi Ryan

Maddi Ryan of Methuen, Mass., who has been performing since she was 16, just finished her senior year of college at Boston University and moved back to her home town.

What should people know about your music?

I always want to be genuine and honest with listeners and I want to do something people resonate with, like, yeah, I’ve gone through that. I want to connect with people and be that friend through my music. I usually lean toward more of the pop country realm, because I love the attitude behind it. Singers like Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood — I feel the emotions.

What did you do during quarantine?

I was finishing up my senior year of college, which was interesting, but I was also writing, writing, writing all the time. I annoyed my parents with the loud sounds coming out of my room. Me and the drummer I play with, Charles Greenwood, we were playing some livestreams and writing, reflecting and thinking of the next steps of where I want to be when this is all over.

When did you start playing out again?

June 27 was my first gig, at Liberty & Union Ale House in Taunton.

How’s your summer going so far?

It’s going pretty well. Most of these gigs are outside so it’s very dependent on the weather, which luckily has been holding up.

What are some of your favorite places to play?

Bonfire in Manchester is always such a fun time. All the places I play are awesome; it’s hard to pick a favorite.

What’s the rest of your summer look like?

Playing shows of course, and it looks like a lot of recording — I’ve put all my energy into [working in] my basement, trying to get some writing done and make demos. Looking forward to putting out some music in the near future.

How can people keep up with your shows and projects?

My Maddi Ryan Music Facebook page and my website too.

Typical set list

“Free Fallin’” – Tom Petty

“Stuck Like Glue” – Sugarland

“Folsom Prison Blues” – Johnny Cash

“Lonely” – Maddi Ryan

“Come Together” – The Beatles

“Hotel California” – Eagles

“Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band

“Tennessee Whiskey” – Chris Stapleton

“Zombie” – The Cranberries

“My Church” – Maren Morris

Upcoming appearances

Aug. 7 – Bonfire, Manchester

Aug. 28 – Old School Bar & Grill, Windham

Featured Image: MB Padfield. Courtesy photo.

On-the-go deliciousness

How food trucks are finding new ways to serve up their eats

It’s a hot afternoon in July as Tony Elias begins gearing up his new food truck, The Spot To-Go, for dinner outside Manchester Firing Line. You’ll find him there every Monday during the range’s Cruise Night car shows, in addition to other spots throughout the week, serving up Puerto Rican foods he grew up eating, from empanadas to jibaritos.

Even though he’s in the middle of his first season behind the wheel of The Spot To-Go, Elias is no stranger to food trucks — he’s also owned Made With Love 603 since 2014, a food trailer offering a similar menu of Puerto Rican eats. He took about two years off from the business, getting a day job while working with different recipes under what would be a new, rebranded concept.

Earlier this year, Elias was all ready to get out there and cook — but then the pandemic arrived, forcing the closure of city government offices and temporarily preventing him from getting his licenses. He eventually was able to open for business, albeit several months later than planned, during the first week of June.

“I had the food truck custom-made and everything … and it must have been like three days after I got the truck that everything started getting shut down,” he said. “At that time, I had already given my notice at my job. So everything was kind of stuck in limbo, and I had no choice but to ride it out, but I did have time to come up with a menu and imagine everything I wanted to do.”

Indeed, the pandemic came to New Hampshire as the state’s food truck industry was continuing to boom. Currently, there are 199 licensed mobile cook units in the state, according to Colleen Smith of New Hampshire Food Protection — an increase of nearly 50 percent since April 2016. Now, as the virus has all but wiped out the already short window of time for food truck festivals in the Granite State, many truck and trailer owners already licensed with the state have chosen to sit out the season, while those who are carrying on have sought out other avenues to make up for lost business.

New trucks rolling in

Launching a food truck is hard enough, Elias said, never mind maintaining a regular schedule during a pandemic. That’s why he jumped on the opportunity when he was contacted earlier this year about parking The Spot To-Go at the Firing Line every Monday. He can also be found on the Beech Street side of the JFK Arena and in the parking lot of Titan Auto Repair on Elm Street, depending on the day.

His menu is similar to that of the Made With Love 603 trailer, featuring favorites like beef and chicken empanadas, combo plates with pork, rice and beans, and jibaritos, or fried plantain sliders with pork, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo ketchup. But Elias has also added a number of new items — his tacos, for instance, have been a huge hit.

“I call them Puerto Rican tacos. I do them differently with the seasoning in the meat and on the shell,” he said. “You bite into this taco and it’s just an explosion of flavor in your mouth.”

He has also introduced canoas and mofongo “cones.” Canoas feature a roasted yellow sweet plantain sliced all the way down the middle and stuffed with beef, melted cheese and cilantro, resembling the shape of a canoe.

Mofongo traditionally consists of fried plantains mashed up and stuffed with meat, cheese and seasonings. Elias takes his creation a step further by shaping the mashed plantains into a cone and wrapping it in foil. You can get it with roast pork, fried pork or chicken.

“I actually came across a video on Facebook of a place in Puerto Rico doing it, and I said, ‘Man, that is a great idea,’” he said. “So we shape [the mofongo] into a cone, and then we fry it a second time, so it’s a nice crunchy outside with a soft inside, and a bang of flavor.”

A plant-based comfort food truck known as The Hungry Caterpillar also launched last month, owned by Christy and Nick Ortins of Geary Farms in Chester. Christy Ortins said the couple’s original plan for the truck was to secure bookings at festivals. But once all of the festival cancellations were set in motion, she said, they began contacting nearby business owners inquiring about possible parking spots.

“We reached out basically to anybody we could think of that had commercial property,” she said, adding that The Hungry Caterpillar can now be found at Hampstead Health & Fitness most Mondays and at Sue Padden Real Estate in Sandown most Wednesdays and Fridays. “Our next step is to contact some breweries and wineries.”

Popular items at the truck include a homemade black bean burger, fried cauliflower bites, “plant-a-rella” sticks, or plant-based cheese sticks that are breaded and deep fried, and a tempeh sandwich with sliced tomato plant-based mayo and local greens on bread from the Portsmouth-based Me & Ollie’s Bakery & Cafe. Christy Ortin said the truck has also recently begun offering a few flavors of vegan ice cream from Memories Ice Cream of Kingston, while specials may include fried zucchini slices or summer squash they grow themselves on the farm.

In Concord, a 20-foot food trailer called Wander Roll made its debut earlier this month, serving several types of locally inspired Vietnamese-style egg rolls. Co-owner Andrew Weakly of Bow said he and his wife Inga were supposed to receive the custom-built trailer from M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks in Florida in April — but due to the pandemic, it didn’t actually arrive until mid-June, delaying the couple’s licensing application process. Once they were ready to go, they had what they called a “soft launch” on July 11 outside a friend’s South End home.

“I think, short of having actual events, one of our strategies is going to be around … pop-up neighborhood events, and then also some private events,” Andrew Weakly said.

Wander Roll is starting with five types of egg rolls, named after places the Weaklys have lived, are from or have traveled to — a traditional pork roll (the “Can Tho”), a Buffalo chicken roll (the “Brighton”), a sweet potato black bean roll (the “Bristol”), a honey ginger tofu roll (the “Concord”), and a cake puff dessert roll topped with powdered sugar and homemade chocolate sauce. Andrew Weakly said the trailer also offers fresh limeade and is in the process of collaborating with downtown Concord’s Revelstoke Coffee to introduce a Vietnamese iced coffee. Wander Roll’s next public appearance will be on Sunday, Aug. 2, at Lithermans Limited Brewery in Concord.

Also recently serving its first customers in the Capital City is The Food Abides, a new food truck named after a play on words from the famous quote “the dude abides” in the ’90s film The Big Lebowski. The Lunch Lady food truck, as it was formerly known, was sold to Jesika Belair, owner of Umami Farm Fresh Cafe in Northwood, in February.

Now, Umami chefs Patrick Harris and Max G. Dowling are a two-man team, bringing The Food Abides to several local breweries. The truck served a special Jamaican-themed menu on July 26 at Lithermans, but Harris said the menu will feature all kinds of creative takes on sandwiches, tacos and salads. The Food Abides is scheduled to appear at Henniker Brewing Co. on Saturday, Aug. 15, according to Harris, and will be available to rent for private events later this fall.

“We definitely want to alternate [menu items] depending on where we go, and if we’re at a brewery then we want to use that brewery’s beer in our cooking … to give people a full culinary experience,” Harris said.

The Gyro Spot in downtown Manchester recently announced it has built a food truck. According to owner Alex Lambroulis, the plan is for the truck to offer catering services and to be at various breweries in the area in the near future.

In Loudon, the Whisked Away Cafe food truck is also in the middle of its inaugural season. You can find it most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at a dirt turnaround road on Route 106 in Loudon, steps away from the Cascade Campground. The truck is run by sisters Korrie Garland and Crystal Hopkins, along with their mother, Louise Cloutier, who owned the Bonne Femmes restaurant in downtown Pembroke about 15 years ago.

Socially distanced catering

Despite the absence of festivals, some seasoned food truckers have reported a surge in other aspects of business, most notably in the form of private event catering requests.

Dan DeCourcey is the owner and pitmaster of Up in Your Grill, a barbecue food trailer based in Merrimack. He said he initially had to pivot his operations to roadside vending only because every fair, festival and catering event he had booked at the onset of the pandemic was canceled. But by the end of June, “the catering floodgates seemed to open,” he said — now he gets at least one and oftentimes multiple catering inquiries a day.

“People are looking for good social distancing alternatives to traditional catering buffets and summer barbecue buffet-style events. Food trucks are very well positioned to fill the need,” DeCourcey said in an email. “We can provide individual meals from the window and folks can have socially distanced outdoor events.”

Lately, DeCourcey said he’s seen an increase in requests for “treat the team for lunch” company parties and gatherings. When he’s not catering for an event, he can be found in the parking lot of Vault Motor Storage in Merrimack on weekends, offering several items that can be ordered as combo plates or sandwiches, like pulled pork, pulled chicken and beef brisket.

Windham chef Adam Wactowski of Walking Gourmet, a food truck converted from an old church bus in Ohio, is at a few public locations in New Hampshire during the week, while his weekends have mostly been devoted to private events. He said rescheduled weddings and rehearsal dinners from months ago have been some of the most common.

“Brides and grooms had to scramble when everything shut down, so they’re being creative and having a lot of fun with their menus,” said Wactowski, who will often create personalized menus from the truck for his clients. For instance, he said he recently did a breakfast-themed menu for a wedding with made-to-order crepes, croissants and hash brown “egg nests.” When he’s parked at a public spot, he’ll usually dabble in his own gourmet burgers, chicken sandwiches and rangoons with a variety of fillings.

The Winni Wagon food truck, which appears at several spots in Laconia, has also been getting attention from couples looking to have a caterer at their rehearsal dinners. Owner Janine Geddis started the Winni Wagon last year in a former FedEx truck. She serves all kinds of comfort options from burgers and hot dogs to a Buffalo chicken grilled cheese and a cheesesteak sandwich with peppers and onions, many of which are named after an island on Lake Winnipesaukee.

“People have changed their plans from this big wedding to a small backyard wedding where they can’t necessarily take a large group to a restaurant, so they’ll contact me and say, ‘Hey, you can come to my backyard rehearsal?’” Geddis said. “I’ve had them do what they want [with the menu]. They’ll pick maybe three or four items from my main menu and a couple of sides.”

Safe gatherings

Like Elias’s weekly appearances at the Cruise Night car shows, food truck owners are still finding ways to serve their customers in safe environments. Last month the Derry-Salem Elks introduced food trucks to its outdoor pavilion on Shadow Lake Road in Salem every Tuesday through Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., rain or shine.

“[The pavilion] is normally private, but during these times we’ve allowed the public to come sit at the picnic tables by the gate,” Derry-Salem Elks member Melissa Levesque said. “We’re trying to plan something like a small festival at the lodge, since we have a huge parking lot.”

Every Tuesday you can find B’s Tacos outside the pavilion gate. Owner Kenny Spilman launched the Londonderry-based truck in 2013, serving Tex-Mex-style tacos, burritos and other items using fresh ingredients. He has a second trailer that you can also find every Tuesday through Saturday outside the BP Gas Station on Mohawk Road in Londonderry.

On Wednesdays the Walking Gourmet takes over cooking duties at the gate, and Wactowski will often have at least one burger, one chicken sandwich and one rangoon option in addition to a few sides and children’s meal items. Then on Thursdays it’s all about the barbecue as Doug Loranger of the Nashua-based Ranger’s BBQ comes around to serve several meats and sides.

The pavilion, according to Levesque, features eight tables that seat up to six diners each that are first-come, first-served and regularly sanitized.

In Milford, owner John Goldberg of The Riverhouse Cafe has put together his own outdoor seating area for his recently launched food trailer, Fuel — complete with a full-service craft cocktail bar, covered seating and live local music acts every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. Fuel features several upscale comfort foods like its own ground burgers, hand-cut fries and dry-rubbed chicken wings and, as of earlier this month, fried seafood and buttered lobster rolls. Goldberg said the trailer is expected to provide food options for the upcoming Station 101 craft beer and wine bar opening next door.

Breweries also continue to be popular spots to enjoy food trucks. Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. in Merrimack, Lithermans Limited in Concord, Henniker Brewing Co. and Twin Barns Brewing Co. in Meredith all have regular schedules of food trucks and outdoor patio seating.

Where to find local food trucks and trailers

Even though there are almost no annual food truck festivals this year, dozens of New Hampshire-based food trucks, food trailers and mobile caterers are still actively operating across the state. Here’s a list of them with information on what they offer, as well as where and when you can find each one. Know of an active food truck or trailer in New Hampshire that’s not on this list? Let us know at food@hippopress.com.

B’s Tacos (nhtacotruck.com, find them on Facebook) offers a menu of fresh Tex-Mex options like tacos, burritos and rice bowls prepared using family recipes. Find them outside the BP Gas Station (3 Mohawk Drive, Londonderry) every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A second truck regularly appears at several locations across New Hampshire. On Tuesdays, for example, you can find them at the Derry-Salem Elks Lodge (39 Shadow Lake Road, Salem) from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Follow them on Facebook for updates.

Baked, Brewed & Organically Moo’ed (bakedbrewed.com, find them on Facebook @organicallymooed) features a menu of organic ice cream, locally roasted coffee and baked goods, like the “bubble waffle,” made to order with a scoop of ice cream, maple syrup, freshly made whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. Find them at 915 Suncook Valley Road in Alton (hours vary) and at the Gilmanton Community Farmers Market (1385 Route 140) on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

Dulces Bakery (dulcesbakerynh.com, find them on Facebook @dulcesbakerynh) launched a dessert truck earlier this year, offering its own assorted cookies, cupcakes and other pastries and treats, including more than two dozen flavors of tres leches. Find them at 16 Walnut St. in Nashua on Saturdays, from 1 to 8 p.m.

Flaco’s Mexican Street Food (find them on Facebook @flacosmexicanstreetfood) offers a variety of made-to-order Mexican options, like tacos, burritos and quesadillas, with fillings such as asada (grilled steak), al pastor (marinated pork), chicken, slow-cooked pork and Mexican sausage. Find them at 185 S. Main St. in Newton every Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m., weather permitting.

The Food Abides (find them on Facebook @thefoodabidestruck) is a new food truck run by Patrick Harris and Max G. Dowling of Umami Farm Fresh Cafe in Northwood. It held its first public event on July 26 at Lithermans Limited Brewery in Concord, offering creative takes on sandwiches, tacos, salads and more. The truck is scheduled to appear at Henniker Brewing Co. on Saturday, Aug. 15.

Fuel (damngoodgrub.com/fuel, find them on Facebook @fuelnh) is a new food trailer offering scratch-made options like its own ground burgers, hand-cut fries and hand-breaded chicken tenders, along with more than a dozen original sauces, or “fuel,” to choose from. Find them outside The Riverhouse Cafe (167 Union Square, Milford) every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Live music begins at 6 p.m. outside the truck on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Gyro Spot (thegyrospot.com, find them on Facebook @gyrospottruck) recently announced a food truck that is available for catering, according to owner Alex Lambroulis. He said they also plan to park at local breweries weekly in the near future.

The Hungry Caterpillar (gearyfarmsnh.squarespace.com/foodtruck, find them on Facebook @thehungrycaterpillarnh) is a new food truck offering plant-based comfort items like black bean veggie burgers, hand-cut fries, fried cauliflower, fried zucchini and summer squash and more, owned and operated by Christy and Nick Ortins of Geary Farms in Chester. Find them on Mondays from about 4 to 8 p.m. at Hampstead Health & Fitness (45 Danville Road, E. Hampstead), and on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sue Padden Real Estate (346 Main St., Sandown).

Island Bowls (islandbowlsllc.com, find them on Facebook @islandbowlsllcnh) is a mobile food wagon offering organic açaí bowls, spirulina bowls and Hawaiian shaved ice. Find them at 589 Elm St. in Milford every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Jayrard’s Java Cafe (jayrardsjava.square.site, find them on Facebook @jayrardsjavacafe) is a mobile coffee shop specializing in Costa Rican coffees, organic teas and more. The trailer appears at several locations throughout southern New Hampshire. Its next event will be during the Village Green Summer Concert Series in Pelham on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 5 p.m.

Just Like Meme’s (find them on Facebook @justlikememes) is a Rumney-based food trailer offering comfort items like doughnuts, burgers, steak tips and more. On select dates in August you can find them at the Heritage Harley-Davidson in Concord (142 Manchester St.).

Mama’s On the Run (find them on Facebook @mamasontherunn) is a Hillsborough-based food truck brought to you by the owners of Mama McDonough’s Irish Pub, offering a selection of American-style foods with an Irish twist. Their featured locations vary week to week, including at Twins Smoke Shop (80 Perkins Road, Londonderry) and at the Henniker Brewing Co. (129 Centervale Road). Follow them on Facebook for the most up-to-date details.

Messy Mike’s Barbecue & Catering Co. (messymikesbarbecue, find them on Facebook @messymikesbbq) is launching a 30-foot mobile food trailer in the coming weeks that will soon be in the parking lot of Rockingham Acres Greenhouse (159 Rockingham Road, Derry). The menu, according to owner Michael “Messy Mike” Massiglia, will include various meats sold by the pound, sandwiches and sides, including cornbread provided by Cheryl Holbert of Nomad Bakery in Derry. Details on days and times are still to be determined, but Massiglia said the trailer will likely be there at least every Thursday through Sunday.

Pressed for Time Mobile Cafe (pressedfortimecoffee.com, find them on Facebook @pressedfortimemobilecafe) offers all kinds of specialty coffees, creative takes on breakfast sandwiches, bagels, crepes and more. Find them at Seacoast Sport Cycle (129 Rockingham Road, Derry) every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on Fridays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ranger’s BBQ (rangers-bbq.com, find them on Facebook @rangersbbq17) is a food trailer specializing in a variety of styles of barbecue, including North Carolina-style pulled pork and slow-cooked Memphis-style ribs, as well as smoked brisket, pulled chicken and several sides, like homemade macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread and smoked baked beans with bacon. Find them at the Derry-Salem Elks Lodge (39 Shadow Lake Road, Salem) on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and at 324 Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua (near the Tyngsboro, Mass., state line) most Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Follow them on Facebook for the most up-to-date information, as owner Doug Loranger will sometimes cater for private events on the weekends.

The Rolling Stoves (find them on Facebook) is a new Meredith-based food trailer offering menu items like burgers, hot dogs, wraps, french fries and more. They appear at several different locations, but most regularly at Twin Barns Brewing Co. (194 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith).

Smoke N’ Butts BBQ (smokenbuttsbbq.com, find them on Facebook @smokenbuttsbbq) offers several barbecue options like pulled pork tacos and burritos, seasoned pork spareribs and smoked chicken wings. Find them at The Farmer’s Wife (20 Main St., Candia) on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Spot To-Go (find them on Facebook @thespottogo603) offers a variety of Puerto Rican options, like beef or chicken empanadas, pinchos (chicken kebabs), tostones (fried plantains), canoas (roasted yellow plantains stuffed with beef and cheese) and mofongo cones, or cone-shaped plantains, fried and stuffed with your choice of fried pork, roast pork or chicken. Follow them on social media for the most up-to-date details on their whereabouts, but they’re most often found at the Manchester Firing Line (2540 Brown Ave.) on Mondays from about 5 to 8 p.m. during the shooting range’s weekly Cruise Nights; at the JFK Memorial Coliseum (303 Beech St.) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from about 3 to 8 p.m.; and at Titan Auto Repair (151 Elm St., Manchester) on Thursdays and Fridays from about 3 to 8 p.m.

Taco Time (find them on Facebook @tacotimenh) offers authentic Mexican cuisine like tacos, quesadillas, nachos and occasional specials, like tres leches, coconut rice pudding, three-bean chili with cornbread and fresh fish tacos with haddock or shrimp. Find them at 244 Elm St. in Milford (in front of the former Lefty’s Lanes bowling alley) every Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Up In Your Grill (upinyourgrill.com, find them on Facebook @upinyourgrill) is a Merrimack-based barbecue food trailer offering pulled pork, pulled chicken, beef brisket, sausage, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread and more. Find them at Vault Motor Storage (526 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack) most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., except for when the trailer is hired for a private event. Hours for the week are always posted to the Facebook page.

Walking Gourmet (find them on Facebook @walkinggourmetnh) is a food truck converted from an old church bus from Ohio, offering an ever-changing menu of comfort foods. Popular items include unique takes on burgers, chicken sandwiches and rangoons. The Sunday chicken sandwich (pictured on the cover of this issue), for example, features fried chicken breast with Swiss cheese, Brussels sprout and radish slaw, garlic dill pickles, black pepper aioli and maple Dijon. Find them on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Derry-Salem Elks Lodge (39 Shadow Lake Road, Salem), and on Fridays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Griffin Park (101 Range Road, Windham).

Wander Roll (wanderroll.com, find them on Facebook @wanderroll) is a new mobile food trailer launched by Andrew and Inga Weakly of Bow, specializing in Vietnamese-style egg rolls. They also offer fresh limeade and are in the process of introducing Vietnamese iced coffee in collaboration with Revelstoke Coffee in Concord. They’ll be at Lithermans Limited Brewery (126 Hall St., Unit B, Concord) on Sunday, Aug. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m., and will likely appear at other venues and pop-up events later this summer.

Whisked Away Cafe (find them on Facebook @whiskedawayfoodtruck) offers a diverse menu of sandwiches, wraps, chicken fingers, empanadas, sides, salads and more. Find them at 485 Route 106 South in Loudon, near the Cascade Campground, most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (hours vary).

Winni Wagon (winniwagonfoodtruck.com, find them on Facebook @winniwagon) offers a menu of fresh comfort foods, many of which are named after different islands on Lake Winnipesaukee. The Cow Island, for example, features a four-ounce Angus patty topped with macaroni and cheese and a drizzle of barbecue sauce, while the Mark Island is a cheesesteak sandwich with peppers and onions. The menu also includes sides like loaded cajun fries and drinks like homemade strawberry lemonade. Find them most Mondays at Trustworthy Hardware (1084 Union Ave., Laconia) and Thursdays at the Irwin Hyundai dealership (446 Union Ave., Laconia), from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on both days. If the truck does not have a private event booked on Fridays or Saturdays, it will sometimes appear at Trustworthy Hardware on those days as well, according to owner Janine Geddis.

Licensing and permitting
All food trucks and trailers must have a mobile food unit license from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. If a truck is operating in any one of the state’s 15 self-inspecting cities and towns — Bedford, Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Derry, Dover, Exeter, Keene, Manchester, Merrimack, Nashua, Plaistow, Portsmouth, Rochester and Salem — its owner must additionally have a hawkers and peddlers license issued by that municipality.
Additional single-day permits are also required for a truck to participate in an event such as a festival. Some food truckers, either to save money on fees or because an event in a self-inspecting city or town has been canceled, have chosen not to renew their hawkers and peddlers licenses.
Earlier this year a bill had been introduced in the New Hampshire Legislature calling for the establishment of a committee to study food truck regulation, with the goal to streamline the licensing process. SB 479 was passed in the Senate with amendment on March 5 before it died in the House, but Sen. Harold French of Franklin, the bill’s prime sponsor, said he plans to raise the issue again during the next legislative session.

Featured image: Sunday chicken sandwich (fried chicken breast, Swiss cheese, Brussels sprout and radish slaw, garlic dill pickles, black pepper aioli and maple Dijon) from the Walking Gourmet food truck. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

47 ideas for family fun this summer

Pick flowers, play mini-golf — and more ideas for getting out of the house

After months of limiting your away-from-home excursions to the supermarket, there are an increasing number of places where you can go and have (safe, often masked) fun with the whole family. Here are 47 ideas for how to spend your summer days.

Indoor Activities

1. Learn about the history of telephones at the New Hampshire Telephone Museum (1 Depot St., Warner), open now, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum features nearly 1,000 telephones, switchboards and other telecommunication memorabilia, plus an interactive kids room. Admission costs $7 for adults, $6 for seniors age 60 and up and $3 for students in grades 1 through 12. Call 456-2234 or visit nhtelephonemuseum.com.

2. Try your hand at felting at Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center (30 Ash St., Hollis). Upcoming in-person felting workshops include a felted jellyfish for kids in grades 4 and up and adults and a felted strawberry keychain for kids in grades 4 through 7 on Friday, July 17, and a felted unicorn for kids in grades 4 and up and adults on Friday, Aug. 7. The cost is $29. Register online at wildsalamander.com.

3. Go bowling at a local alley, several of which have reopened across the state. Yankee Lanes (216 Maple St., Manchester, 625-9656, yankeelanesentertainment.com), for example, has unlimited bowling from 7 to 10 p.m. four nights a week for $10 per person (including shoe rentals). Other alleys like Merrimack Ten Pin (698 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 429-0989, merrimacktenpin.com) and Leda Lanes (340 Amherst St., Nashua, 889-5459, ledalanes.com) are also now open.

4. Free Comic Book Day has been rescheduled and reworked as Free Comic Book Summer. From July 15 through Sept. 9, participating local comic book shops will put out five or six different free comics every week. The comics include superhero stories, television and move spin-offs, sci-fi adventures and more. Visit freecomicbookday.com for the full list of this year’s free comics and to find participating comic book shops in your area.

5. Enjoy a game of laser tag at Block Party Social (51 Zapora Drive, Hooksett), formerly known as the Space Entertainment Center, in its multi-story LED-illuminated arena. Multiple types of games are available between two teams and each player receives a personalized score sheet. The cost starts at $18 per person. Visit blockpartysocial.com or call 621-5150.

6. Take a cooking class with the Culinary Playground (16 Manning St., Derry), which is hosting all kinds of classes both in person and virtually. “Mini chefs” cooking classes for kids ages 3 to 6 are currently being offered virtually through Zoom, while cooking camps are held throughout the summer. Costs vary; visit culinary-playground.com, or call 339-1664 for class availability. LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) is also offering a series of cooking classes for kids, the next of which is happening on Wednesday, July 15, at noon. The cost is $20 per child. Visit labellewinerynh.com or call 672-9898.

7. You’ll find all kinds of STEM fun at SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St., Manchester), which plans to reopen in early August. The museum features more than 90 exhibits focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is home to the Lego Millyard Project, the largest permanent minifigure scale Lego installation in the world, depicting Manchester’s Amoskeag Millyard circa 1900. Call 669-0400 or visit see-sciencecenter.org.

8. Let the kids climb! Go indoor rock climbing at Vertical Dreams (250 Commercial St., Manchester, 625-6919; 25 E. Otterson St., Nashua, 943-7571, verticaldreams.com), which reopens on Monday, July 6. A day pass is $15 for adults and $13 for kids under age 18, and a 10-visit pass is $125/$105. Rentals packages including shoes and a harness are $10, plus an additional $2 for a chalk bag rental. For younger kids, check out the indoor playground with slides and a climbing structure at Nuthin But Good Times (746 DW Highway in Merrimack; nuthinbutgoodtimes.com, 429-2200) which is open now at 25 to 30 percent capacity, according to their website. The cost is $9.50 for children ages 4 and above ($6 for 3 and under, $2.50 for “crawlers” and adults and free for infants).

9. Jump into a good time at Altitude Trampoline Park (270 Loudon Road, Concord; 360 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack), which reopened on June 19 to 50 percent capacity at both its Concord and Merrimack locations. Jump passes are available for purchase for 60, 90 or 120 minutes (buying them online ahead of time is encouraged). Specials are also available throughout the week, depending on the day. Both parks are open Sunday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m. Visit altitudeconcord.com or altitudemerrimack.com.

10. You can go indoor skydiving, indoor surfing and more at SkyVenture (100 Adventure Way, Nashua), which is open now by reservation. Skydiving rates are $55 for a two-minute flight and $95 for a four-minute flight. Fifteen-minute surfing sessions are $45. Call 897-0002 or visit skyventurenh.com.

11. Explore Manchester history,from the native people who fished at Amoskeag Falls 11,000 years ago to the city’s early farmers and lumbermen and the rise of industry, at the Millyard Museum(200 Bedford St., Manchester), open now, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs $8 for adults, $6 for seniors age 62 and up and college students, $4 for youth ages 12 through 18 and is free for kids under age 12. Call 622-7531 or visit manchesterhistoric.org/millyard-museum.

12. You’re Fired pottery studio (25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-3473; 133 Loudon Road, No. 101, Concord, 226-3473; 264 N. Broadway, Salem, 894-5456; 4 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, 204-5559; yourefirednh.com) has open studio hours on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. All-day studio fees are $8 for adults and $6 for kids age 12 and under, except on “Mini Mondays,” when kids get in for $3. Visit yourefirednh.com.

13. Bring the family for some retro fun at Electric Avenue (24 Bridge St., Manchester), where you’ll find 24 classic arcade games, nine classic pinball machines and skee-ball. The barcade, which plans to reopen the second week of July, is family-friendly and open to gamers of all ages before 8 p.m. New hours are TBA. Call 518-5770 or visit electricavearcade.com.

14. Bounce around at Cowabunga’s indoor inflatable playground (725 Huse Road, Manchester), which plans to reopen on July 31. All-day admission costs $12 for kids and is free for accompanying adults and babies. Call 935-9659 or visit mycowabungas.com.

15. Catch a planetarium show at McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Drive, Concord). Showtimes for three different shows are scheduled now through July 12, Wednesday through Sunday. Learn about the Wright brothers and other pioneers of flight in Take Flight! (11:30 a.m.) and the early days of space exploration in Dawn of the Space Age (1 p.m.), or get a look at the night sky in the center’s classical planetarium show Tonight’s Sky (2:30 p.m.). General admission costs $11.50 for adults, $8.50 for children ages 3 through 12, $10.50 for students age 13 through college and seniors, and is free for children age 2 and under. Planetarium show tickets cost an additional $5 per person. Call 271-7827 or visit starhop.com.

16. Have fun working together and solving puzzles at 102 Escape (123 Nashua Road, Unit 34, Londonderry). Escape room experiences are available by appointment Monday through Thursday and are open to kids age 7 and up. The cost is $25 per person. Call 260-6198 or visit 102escape.com.

17. Catch a movie at a local theater. Chunky’s Cinema & Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester, 206-3888; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, 880-8055; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, 635-7499) has reopened all of its locations as of June 29. All three theaters are showing The Jungle Book, Trolls World Tour and Despicable Me this weekend, while in Nashua and Manchester, you can see The Lorax. Visit chunkys.com for available showtimes.

18. Let the beanbags fly during a game of cornhole at Game Changer Sports Bar & Grill (4 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry), a new indoor cornhole facility with eight courts available for pickup and play. The courts are normally open during weekdays when tournaments are not being held. Visit gamechangersportsbar.com or call 216-1396 for availability.

Outdoor Adventures

19. Head to Chuckster’s Family Fun Park (9 Bailey Road, Chichester, 798-3555; 53 Hackett Hill Road, Hooksett, 210-1415) for a round of mini-golf. The park, according to its website, has two of the “longest miniature golf holes on the planet,” or a pair of 201-foot-long holes, at both its Chichester and Hooksett parks. Not a single hole is duplicated at either park. In Chichester, miniature golf is one of more than a dozen attractions, while at the Hooksett park the focus is more solely on miniature golf, with two large 18-hole courses to choose from. No masks are required for players once on the course. Visit chucksters.com or call your local park for hours of operation, which are weather-dependent and subject to change.

20. Ride the go-carts at Mel’s Funway Park (454 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield), which is now open seven days a week for the season, according to its website. Rates are available for a single ride around the 1/5-mile track or for up to five rides. There is a height restriction of 58 inches per driver, but those under that height can ride with a driver over the age of 18. Mel’s is currently open Monday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday from noon to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visit melsfunwaypark.com or call 424-2292.

21. Spend a day later this summer at an amusement or theme park. Canobie Lake Park (85 N. Policy St., Salem, 893-3506, canobie.com) has announced its plan to reopen for the season on Thursday, July 16, at limited capacity. Visit the website or follow them on social media for updates. Story Land (850 Route 16, Glen, 383-4186, storylandnh.com), another park to return later this summer, will reopen on July 17 to season pass holders and on July 22 to the public, according to its website. Those with season passes are able to have unlimited admission extended through the 2021 season, the park recently announced.

22. Learn to golf at the Amherst Country Club (72 Ponemah Road), which is offering lessons and camps this summer for kids of all ages and abilities. Visit playamherst.com or call 673-9908.

23. Take the kids out to the ballgame. The Nashua Silver Knights, part of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, will play 21 home games at Holman Stadium (67 Amherst St., Nashua) this season, which opens Thursday, July 2, and concludes on Wednesday, Aug. 19, followed by a best-of-three series to determine the season’s league champion. Visit nashuasilverknights.com.

24. Pay a visit to America’s Stonehenge (105 Haverhill Road, Salem), a 4,000-year-old stone construction — likely the oldest man-made construction in the United States — built by an ancient people as an astronomical calendar to determine solar and lunar events of the year. Now through Labor Day, kids age 12 and under can participate in the Kid’s Gem Dig Open (included with admission) in which they can keep up to three gemstones they find using real archaeologist tools. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission rates are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors age 65 and up, $7.50 for kids ages 5 through 12, and free for kids age 4 and under. Call 893-8300 or visit stonehengeusa.com.

25. Create your own flower bouquet from more than 60 varieties of annual and perennial flowers at Petals in the Pines’ (126 Baptist Road, Canterbury) Pick-Your-Own Flower Field starting in mid-July. The 7.5-acre nature center also has wooded trails, 24 themed gardens and a monarch butterfly sanctuary to explore. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 783-0220 or visit petalsinthepines.com.

26. Take the kids fishing at a local body of water. In New Hampshire, kids under age 16 can fish for free and without a license all summer long. Visit wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing for information about where to fish and what kinds of fish you can catch, plus tips for fishing with kids.

27. Take a walk through history at Canterbury Shaker Village (288 Shaker Road, Canterbury) and see the village’s 25 restored original Shaker buildings, four reconstructed Shaker buildings and 694 acres of forests, fields, gardens, nature trails and mill ponds. The buildings are closed for now, but visitors can walk the grounds for free, and beginning July 5 there will be free outdoor guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 783-9511 or visit shakers.org.

28. Go hiking at a state park trail, nearly all of which are open with social distancing guidelines. Visit nhstateparks.org to view a list of the parks that are open (playgrounds and indoor venues at each of the state parks remain closed until further notice). Some parks are requiring advanced day use reservations.

29. You may still be able to go swimming close to home this summer, depending on what town you live in. Manchester expects to open Crystal Lake and Dupont Splash Pad in mid-July and Hunt Pool some time after, and Merrimack has already opened its Wasserman Park Beach. Town and city swimming areas are typically only open to residents, so check with your town or city for updates.

30. Go camping at a local campground in the state. As of last week, select state park campgrounds are accepting reservations for July and August. Camping reservations are currently being accepted, for example, at Bear Brook State Park (61 Deerfield Road, Allenstown) and at Pawtuckaway State Park (7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham), both of which are open at 100 percent capacity as of June 29. Visit nhstateparks.org or contact your local private campground regarding availability.

31. Visit the animals at Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia), open now on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (must arrive before 1 p.m.). It features a large hands-on petting area with a variety of farm animals as well as wildlife exhibits. Admission costs $19 per person and must be reserved online in advance. Call 483-5623 or visit visitthefarm.com.

32. Get your adrenaline pumping with a game of paintball at AG Adventure Park (158 Deering Center Road, Weare), open now by reservation. There’s the painless Paintball Lite for kids as young as age 7 and Low Impact Paintball for kids as young as age 9, and regular paintball is open to players age 12 and up. Rates vary. Equipment rental packages are available. Call 529-3524 or visit agpaintball.com.

33. You can view a movie from your car at the Milford Drive-In Theater (531 Elm St., Milford). Weekly movie schedules are posted on the website. Tickets cost $30 for a vehicle with one to six people and can be purchased online. Visit milforddrivein.movie.

34. Or you can sit outside and watch a movie in the park. Merrimack Parks & Recreation’s Movies in the Park Series will feature Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Friday, July 10, at 8:30 p.m.; Toy Story 4 on Friday, Aug. 7, at 8 p.m.; and Frozen 2 on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m. All screenings take place at Abbie Griffin Park (6 Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack) and are free and open to both Merrimack residents and non-residents. Visit merrimackparksandrec.org or call 882-1046.

35. Practice your swing at one of the batting cages in the state. Concord Sports Center (2 Whitney Road, No. 1, Concord) is accepting reservations now for its batting cages. The cost is $20 per half-hour or $35 per hour with the pitching machine, or you can be your own batter’s pitcher. Visit concordsportscenter.com or call 224-1655 to reserve your spot now.

36. Farms all over the Granite State are open now for pick-your-own strawberries, which typically last through about mid-July. Apple Hill Farm (580 Mountain Road, Concord, 224-8862, applehillfarmnh.com) and Sunnycrest Farm (59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-7753, sunnycrestfarmnh.com) are among some of the farms offering pick-your-own. Call or visit the website or social media pages for updates and availability.

Special Events

37. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Atlas Fireworks are presenting three special nights of fireworks on Thursday, July 2; Friday, July 3; and Saturday, July 4, with socially distanced seating available in the stands and on the field at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (1 Line Drive, Manchester). The gates open at 7 p.m., with fireworks beginning at 9:30 p.m. Limited concessions will be available, or you can bring your own sealed food and non-alcoholic beverages in a cooler. The cost is $10 per person or $40 per group of four for stadium seating, or $13.33 per person or $80 per group of four for on-field picnic seating. Visit nhfishercats.com.

38. See a classic car show. The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road, Londonderry) will host its annual car show on Saturday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (rain date is July 12), featuring raffles, prizes, food trucks and more. Vehicles of all makes and eras will be featured, with trophies given out for the People’s Choice Award and the Museum Award. Registration is $10 per vehicle per entry (plus occupants). General public admission is $5 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under (cash only). Visit nhahs.org or call 669-4820.

39. The Hampstead Cable Television Summer Concert Series presents a free kids concert by Steve Blunt & Friends on Tuesday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at Meetinghouse Park (20 Emerson Ave., Hampstead). Visit meetinghousepark.org.

40. Head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1122 Route 106, Loudon) for the rescheduled NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race on Sunday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m. The grandstands and suites at “The Magic Mile” will be open to fans, with social distancing requirements. Attendance in the stands will be limited to 35 percent capacity. Tickets are $10 for kids ages 12 and under and $50 for adults. Visit nhms.com or call 783-4931.

41. A socially distanced version of the annual Great New England Barbecue & Food Truck Festival will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday, Aug. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., both inside and out in the parking lot of the Hampshire Dome (34 Emerson Road, Milford). The event will feature a kids’ zone with face-painting, slime making, cookie decorating and bounce houses, plus craft and specialty food vendors, live music, and Jell-O and Twinkie eating contests. General admission tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the gate. Kids ages 12 and under receive free admittance.

42. The Londonderry Old Home Day, normally scheduled across four days in August, is being condensed into a one-day celebration of four activities on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Londonderry Town Common. According to assistant town manager Lisa Drabik, the day will kick off with a socially distanced parade at 10 a.m., followed by a road race overseen by Millennium Running, a first responders’ softball game on the field at Londonderry High School (295 Mammoth Road) and fireworks in the evening. Visit londonderrynh.org.

43. Intown Concord’s Market Days Festival, rescheduled from June, is happening on Thursday, Aug. 20; Friday, Aug. 21; and Saturday, Aug. 22, along Main Street in downtown Concord, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. In addition to a kids’ zone with bounce houses and mini-golf down by City Hall Plaza, there will be multiple games, crafts and activities on the Statehouse lawn, plus vendors, live entertainment and more. Visit intownconcord.org.

44. The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St., Dover) will hold its annual New Hampshire Maker & Food Fest virtually this year, with a new date of Saturday, Aug. 29. Up to 150 Maker Fest kits will be available for people to reserve online for free on a first-come, first-served basis, to be picked up at the museum prior to Aug. 29. The kits will include at-home projects, hands-on activities and more, all provided by the museum and participating makers. All videos, tutorials, demonstrations and performances will be available online through about a week after the festival. Visit childrens-museum.org or call 742-2002.

Featured Photo: Cowabunga’s. Courtesy photo.

Just keep running

How to challenge yourself to get going, stay at it and get in a race — even now

Two years ago, I got my dad a shirt that says “I’m a streaker,” and he gets endless enjoyment out of allowing strangers to think he is in the habit of taking off his clothes and running naked in public. In reality, it’s a Runner’s World shirt created for crazy people like my dad who have (fully clothed) running streaks of days, months or years.

You don’t have to run every day, or far, or quickly, to reap the benefits of running. Find out how and why to get off the couch, why streaks are, in fact, awesome (should you choose to go that route), and why running a virtual race is a great way to alleviate the fear of the starting line.

Just do it

One of the best things about running is how easy it is to get started, no matter what your fitness level is, how much time or money you have — or how much you dread the thought of being seen by your neighbors as you struggle, red-faced and sweaty, around the block.

Millennium Running owner John Mortimer watched his mom become a runner, starting by walking one mile a day — and only at night.

“She would put her reflective vest on in the cover of darkness and walk the mile,” Mortimer said.

She then started adding jogging intervals, going from one mailbox to the next while jogging, then walking to the next, and so on. She worked her way up to three laps — three miles — and then ran her first 5K.

“You can take baby steps,” Mortimer said. “It’s literally just about trying to move a little bit each day.”

Christine Lewis, co-owner of Total Image Running with business partner Lisa Misiaszek, has similar stories; she’s been training runners for more than two decades. She remembers training a friend, Lisa Trisciani, who had lost 100 pounds and set a goal to run the Disney half marathon. But she had never run before and was afraid to take that first step because she thought people would judge her. Lewis worked with her on walk/jog intervals as well as strength, core and balance training.

“Within eight weeks Lisa ran her first 5K,” Lewis said. “We continued to train and she ran the Disney half and crushed it.”

Trisciani has since run several full marathons, relay events and half marathons.

“You’re never too young, too old or too out of shape to start running,” Lewis said.

Gear up

“The best part about running is you don’t need a gym membership or fancy, expensive equipment to begin,” Lewis said. “Just get yourself a good pair of running sneakers and step out your front door.”

She recommends getting fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store such as Runner’s Alley.

The Millenium Running retail store in Bedford can help you find the right shoes too, taking you through a full fit process that includes gait analysis.

Running too much in the wrong shoe can turn you off to the sport altogether, whether it’s because the shoes themselves are uncomfortable or because they cause aches and pains.

“I think runners or walkers often stop doing it because it starts to hurt,” Mortimer said.

Other gear might include reflective vests or headlamps for safety if you’re running in the dark.

But other than the right shoes, “There’s nothing overly critical that you need,” Mortimer said.

Start slow, but stick with it

Mortimer has three key suggestions to help people get in the right mindframe to start running. First, he says, is to find your motivation. Why do you want to start running? It could be to improve your heart health, to lose weight for a wedding or to change your lifestyle. Keeping that motivation in mind will help you commit to yourself mentally and emotionally.

Second, Mortimer says, is to be consistent; if you stop doing it after a week, you haven’t gained anything from the experience.

“But that doesn’t mean you have to run 10 miles every day,” he said.

Lewis agrees.

“The reason people get discouraged quickly is because they do too much too soon,” Lewis said. “Don’t plan to run the entire time. Start with very short jog/walk intervals, doing more walking than running at first. Do not be ashamed to walk. It’s all part of the process. Listen to your body and take a break when and if you need it.

Similarly, Mortimer’s third guideline is to be patient. You’re not going to see results overnight — you won’t lose five pounds overnight, and you won’t be able to go from running zero miles a day to running three overnight.

Lewis also recommends cross training, doing things like strength training and yoga to keep your body strong and limber. Mixing it up and balancing your body will help you stick with it, too, she said.

“It will help keep you injury-free and [avoid becoming] bored of the same running routine day in, day out,” she said.

Find support

There are all kinds of running clubs in New Hampshire, including the Millenium Running Club, the Runner’s Alley Club, and the Total Image Running Run Walk Brew Social Club. Becoming part of a club helps you meet other runners who will offer support and motivation.

“Our club is not just about running,” Lewis said. “It’s about motivating each other to work out then celebrate with socializing and a brew.”

Most clubs welcome all fitness levels and abilities, so even if you hesitate to call yourself a runner, well, you are.

“If you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you’re part of the running family,” Mortimer said.

Start streaking

Streaking runs in my family (yes, the terrible pun was unavoidable). My dad’s longest was 9,056 days; my uncle’s was 10,328 days (that’s more than 27 years of running every. single. day.). My cousin made it just past 1,000 days. It took an operation for prostate cancer to end my dad’s streak, and knee surgery to end my uncle’s.

I’m not a professional runner, but I have joined the streaking club (I’ll hit 1,000 days Aug. 16, barring injury or heat stroke), which I would say makes me qualified enough to tell you why running streaks are good for your mind, body and soul, whether you’ve never run before or you’ve run marathons.

1. They’re motivating. A streak will get you out the door when nothing else will. It was 96 degrees the other day, and the humidity brought the “feels like” temp to well over 100. If I didn’t have a streak to maintain, I absolutely would not have laced up my Sauconys and headed out for a run. I would have continued sitting on the deck in the shade at my parents’ cottage on the lake, justifying to myself that it was definitely too hot to run.

When I started this streak, I had no goal in mind. My thought was that I’d just run every day until I had a good enough reason not to and that hasn’t happened yet. Snowstorms, heat waves, being insanely busy none of those are real excuses. Dress warmly and watch for plows, dress lightly and drink plenty of fluids, bring running shoes everywhere so you can run after dropping one kid off at soccer practice but before picking up the other kid at football — “I have to run” means you figure it out. Without a streak, a million excuses can get in your way.

2. They’re better for your body than a Netflix streak. Again, I’m not a professional, and many runners and doctors might cringe at the whole concept of a running streak because rest days! but I personally think the pros outweigh the risks. (Still, talk to a doctor before starting any serious fitness endeavor or if you have any preexisting conditions or concerns.)

Every body is different, and so far mine is holding up just fine. In fact, I would argue that I’m healthier now than ever before. When I started running in my early 30s, I couldn’t even finish a mile without walking. I’m not a natural athlete, and I spent the first 30+ years of my life doing very little in the way of exercise. Now, I generally feel better, I’m stronger, and all my vitals are fantastic. If I weren’t streaking, I would choose the couch more often than not.

Still, if you’re sick, achy, or just not feeling it, there’s no need to overexert yourself. The running community generally sees one mile a day as the minimum you need to keep your streak intact. It’s unlikely you will die while running or jogging one mile if you don’t have any medical issues. But, you know, bring your phone just in case.

3. They keep you sane. Perhaps even more importantly than the physical benefits, my streak has provided a no-excuses outlet to clear my mind and alleviate stress. It’s built-in self care; my kids are almost always my priority, but because of this streak, I sometimes choose running over their wants and needs (I know, the audacity). If I didn’t “have” to run every day, I probably would put them — or work, or laundry, or lawn mowing — first 99 percent of the time. Running is my outlet. It’s where I can clear my head or think things through. I don’t even listen to music. I like the silence, the sound of rain, the quiet when the roads are covered in snow and no one else is crazy enough to be out. Not every run is amazing, and sometimes all I want is for it to be over. But I have never, ever regretted going for a run.

4. They make memories! Having to run means I sometimes have to carve out time in creative ways, and I’ve had some great experiences come out of that. I once ran laps around a parking garage at the Fort Lauderdale airport during a layover. During a trip out west last summer that was jam-packed with sightseeing and driving, I ran along the Grand Canyon, at Yellowstone (while stuck in not-moving traffic for more than two hours due to a herd of buffalo crossing the road), on a trail at the Grand Tetons, in a parking lot at Mesa Verde, in four states at once at Four Corners, and, less glamorously, on random roads when my family stopped for food on long days of driving. One of my favorite runs ever was with my brother on a snowy Christmas Day that was otherwise not very festive. I’ve also run races with my dad, my brother and my kids, because why not get some swag and have some family fun when you have to run anyway?

5. Anyone can do it. Your streak can be whatever you want it to be you make the rules. Run a little, run a lot, have an end goal in mind or just keep going until you can’t or don’t want to anymore. Some people do holiday streaks, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Some people start with 30 days. Just start and see what happens. That’s what I did and now I’m the proud owner of my very own “I’m a streaker” shirt.

Race your way

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running for years, races can provide motivation in the form of time goals, finishing goals and community support — and the swag doesn’t hurt either.

Of course, the racing landscape looks a little different right now. The cancellation of road races in the spring quickly led to a transition to virtual races. Many organizations that typically held 5Ks as fundraisers turned them into virtual runs, and companies like Millennium Running in Bedford and Total Image Running in Auburn, which organize runs throughout the state, did the same.

There are some benefits to virtual runs, including their flexibility — most races offer a range of days and times you can run, and you can typically run anywhere you want.

Virtual runs can minimize race jitters, too.

“The fear of the starting line, the fear of that first step, is sometimes mitigated by [running virtually],” said John Mortimer, owner of Millennium Running in Bedford.

Millennium reintroduced in-person runs several weeks ago with exclusive 5Ks, keeping them to 100 participants, with two races every Saturday. The runners start one at a time, every five or 10 seconds, to avoid crowds gathering at the starting line and bunching up on the course.

Participants are taking the changes in stride, Mortimer said.

“By and large I think our running community has been super positive,” he said.

Virtual runs

Here’s a list of upcoming virtual races that under normal circumstances would be held at various locations around southern New Hampshire this summer and fall. A few are offering the option of running virtually or in person. Many races benefit local organizations. Check event websites for up-to-date information.

• There’s still time to participate in the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series’ Christmas in July Virtual 5K, going on now through July 25. Prizes will be awarded to the first-place male and female finisher. Registration costs $30 and includes a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, July 25. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

Goffstown’s Berry Classic Road Race is going on now through July 26. Participants must run a continuous five miles, which they can do on the five-mile loop around the Piscataquog River in Goffstown or at another location of their choosing. Registration costs $20 and closes on July 26 at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/goffstown/berryclassic.

• Swimming with a Mission presents Virtual Swim with a Mission. Participants can swim, paddle or kayak any body of water now through July 31. There are 1K, 5K and 10K options. Registration is free and closes on July 24. Visit runreg.com/swim-with-a-mission-virtual.

• The Colon Cancer Coalition presents Get Your Rear in Gear virtually. To participate, do a physical activity of your choosing between now and Saturday, Sept. 12, then join the virtual event on Facebook on Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Registration is free. Visit donate.coloncancercoalition.org/newhampshire.

• The Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Virtual Road Race is open now through Saturday, Sept. 12. Run, walk or bike a five-mile course anywhere. Registration costs $10. Visit foxpoint5miler.org.

• The Total Image Running Virtual Race Series presents the Hula Hustle Virtual 5K & 10K from July 26 through Aug. 9. Register by July 24. The cost is $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 10K and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

• The Cigna/Elliot Corporate Virtual Challenge & 5K will be held July 27 through Aug. 23 and is open to corporate teams and individuals. Participants are challenged to run or walk every day to train for the virtual 5K, which they can complete between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23. Registration costs $25 per person and includes a race bib and race mask. The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m. Visit runreg.com/cigna-elliot-5k.

• Granite Ledges of Concord’s Race to the Ledges 5K Run/Walk will be held virtually from July 31 through Aug. 9. The deadline to register is Aug. 7. Registration costs $20 now through Aug. 5 and $25 on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. Visit genesishcc.com/gl5k.

• The Alton NH Old Home Week Virtual 5K will take place Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $15 and closes on Aug. 16 at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/altonbay/oldhomeweekvirtual5k.

Lamprey Health Care’s Annual 5K Road Race will be held virtually from Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $25 and closes on Aug. 16. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/anywhere/lampreyhealthcaresvirtual5k.

• You can do the Wine Run 4 Miler in person in Auburn, or you can do it virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. The race takes place on Thursday, Aug. 13. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Registration is limited to 300 participants, so register soon. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

• The Saunders at Rye Harbor 5K will take place virtually from Aug. 13 through Aug. 20. Participants can do a run or a competitive walk. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 19, at noon. Registration costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt. This race is a part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit saunders10k.com.

• The Sabine Strong 3.3 will be held virtually on Sunday, Aug. 30. Registration costs $35 and closes on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/newington/sabinestrong33kidsdash.

• The Marcus Warner Memorial 5K Race will take place virtually on Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. Registration costs $10 and closes on Sept. 5 at noon. Visit marcuswarner7.wixsite.com/marcuswarner5k.

• Veterans Count presents the Wolfeboro Pirates Cove 5K Fun Run & Walk from Saturday, Sept. 5, through Monday, Sept. 7. Registration costs $25 for runners and walkers age 13 and up and $15 for service members, veterans and children age 12 and under and includes a printable bib and finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 4, at noon. Register by Aug. 12 to receive a free long-sleeved race T-shirt. Visit runreg.com/wolfeboro-pirates-cove-5k.

• Join the 12th annual Celebrate Pink 5K Run & Walk virtually between Monday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 13. Registration costs $30 for adults and $20 for youth under age 14 and closes on Sept. 13, at noon. Register by Aug. 14 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit cp5k.mybreastcancersupport.org.

• The Hunger is the Pitts 5K will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17, in person in Auburn and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 16. Visit totalimagerunning.com/hungeristhepitts.

• The 15th annual CHaD HERO will be held virtually from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18. Participants can run, walk, hike or bike, or they can complete their own “Virtual Quest” activity like hiking the Appalachian Trail or racing across the state. A virtual celebration with live music, special guests, raffle prizes and more will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18. Registration costs $15; register by Oct. 17. Visit chadhero.org.

• You can walk or run the Great Island 5K in person in New Castle or virtually on Sunday, Oct. 11. Registration costs $25 and closes on Oct. 10 at noon. This race is part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit greatisland5k.org.

• The TangerFIT Virtual 5K takes place Oct. 11 through Oct. 18. Registration costs $25 for participants age 16 and up $15 for youth age 15 and under and closes on Friday, Oct. 2, at noon. Visit tangeroutlet.com/race.

• The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire presents its Howl-O-Ween 5K virtually from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 18, with a finish line celebration on Facebook Live on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Registration costs $30 for participants age 13 and up, $20 for youth age 12 and under and an extra $5 to include your dog as an official participant. The registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 16, at noon. Electronic bibs will be emailed to participants the week of the race. Register by Sept. 12 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit rescueleague.org/howloween5k.

• The Pumpkin Regatta 10K takes place on Sunday, Oct. 18, in person in Goffstown and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib, a training plan and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, Oct. 17. Visit totalimagerunning.com/pumpkinregatta.

• The Seacoast Half Marathon is going virtual. Participants can do a 5K, quarter-marathon (6.55 miles) or half-marathon anywhere, any day between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8. Standard registration costs $15. Registration for the 5K or quarter-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt costs $35, and registration for the half-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt and finishers medal costs $40. Registration closes on Saturday, Oct. 31 at noon. Visit seacoasthalfmarathon.com.

• Veterans Count, an Easterseals program, presents Penmen for Patriots Virtual 5K from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. Registration costs $30 and includes a race bib and long-sleeve T-shirt. The registration deadline is Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Visit vetscount.org/nh/events/penmen-patriots-5k.

Photo: Meghan Siegler proudly wears her “I’m a streaker” shirt on a (slow, walking) hike with her kids, Ben and Eisley, who have been very supportive of her streak despite constantly hearing things like “I’ll be back in time for the second inning” and “We can’t — I still have to run.”

Your backyard animal adventure

Hovering hummingbirds, colorful salamanders, the occasional porcupine and more neighborhood wildlife

Curious about the wildlife you’ve seen during your neighborhood hikes and backyard hangouts? Rebecca Suomala, a biologist for New Hampshire Audubon, and Lindsay Webb, wildlife educator for New Hampshire Fish and Game, shared fun facts about 22 birds, insects, mammals and reptiles you might see in the nature around you.

By Matt Ingersoll & Angie Sykeny

Birds

Blackpoll warbler
Most likely seen during the summer into early September, especially in spruce-fir forests
“Blackpoll,” Suomala said, refers to the black cap of this bird seen in males, similar to that of a chickadee or a goldfinch. Blackpoll warblers are characterized by their white breasts, black streaks and yellow feet. They also weigh less than half an ounce. Beginning in September, these birds make long-distance migrations, flying non-stop over the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 2,000 miles before reaching their wintering grounds in South America.

Northern cardinal
Most commonly seen at lower elevations
According to Suomala, the northern cardinal is the only species of cardinal you’ll find in North America. Over the past several decades the species has extended its range farther north, and it’s now found almost everywhere in the Granite State except in higher elevations. Males are bright red with a fat red bill, while females are a brownish color with red highlights and an orange-red bill. The northern cardinal is a year-round, non-migrating resident of New Hampshire.

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Most likely seen during the summer into early September
At around three to three-and-a-half inches long, the ruby-throated hummingbird, Suomala said, is the smallest bird that can be found in New Hampshire. It makes its home in the Northeast in the summer before migrating to Central America in the winter. Males have a bright red throat with feathers that are reflective in the sunlight. These birds feed on nectar from honeysuckle plants and cardinal flowers. According to Suomala, this hummingbird’s wings can flap up to 53 times per second and its heartbeat rests at 250 times per minute. A male can go into a dive at more than 60 miles per hour.

Insects

Green darner dragonfly
Most likely seen in your backyard if you live on or near a body of water
Green darners are among the largest dragonflies you’ll see in the Granite State, growing up to three inches long, about the size of a hummingbird, with a wingspan of another three inches, Suomala said. You’re most likely to see them around water — these dragonflies migrate to the north in the spring and south in the fall. Females will typically lay their eggs on vegetation in or near the water. In its nymph phase (or larva phase) it lives entirely underwater, feeding on insects, tadpoles and small fish, before the dragonfly emerges out of the water as an adult.

Luna moth
Not likely to see them often; your best chances are at night, or around big lights, in June or July, when the adults emerge from their cocoons
These bright green moths, according to Suomala, are commonly known as giant silk moths because of their size, which can be as large as seven inches with a wingspan of four-and-a-half inches. They used to be very common in New Hampshire, but their population has since declined. If you live in a city you’re less likely to see them, because the caterpillars feed on trees like white birches and hickories. Caterpillars will eat all summer before they spin a cocoon, where they spend the winter before emerging in June or July.

Monarch butterfly
Very likely to see them at the peak of summertime and into the early fall
Monarch butterflies are characterized by their large orange and black markings. According to Suomala, they spend their winters in Mexico, but the same butterflies don’t make it all the way back up north. In fact, it takes about three generations for them to return to New Hampshire in the summer. The caterpillars feed on milkweed and eventually make a chrysalis, which takes them about 8 to 15 days to hatch from.

Large mammals

Black bear
Common, with an increasing population throughout New Hampshire.
Black bears are omnivores, eating with the seasons whatever they can find. “They have a great memory and sense of smell, so keep your trash locked up tight and reduce other bear food sources such as pet food, bird seed, and keep your grill cleaned up and secured,” Webb said.

Bobcat
Sightings have been on the rise in recent years, especially in the southern part of the state
According to Webb, the bobcat gets its name from its “bobbed” tail, which is shorter than the tails on most domesticated cats. The average length of a bobcat tail is around six inches but can reach up to 10 inches. A mother bobcat may raise a litter of two to four kittens in the spring. Elusive and lovers of solitude, these nocturnal feline predators are always on the hunt for rabbits, squirrels, mice, chipmunks and birds, Webb said, adding that they can swim and have little hesitation going into the water in pursuit of their prey.

Moose
Reside throughout New Hampshire, but are most commonly seen in the northern part of the state
Moose are active all day but do most of their moving around in the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler. They’re also, according to Webb, “pretty good swimmers.” “They love to feed on wetland plants and will dive down under the water to get at aquatic vegetation,” she said.

White-tailed deer
Common throughout New Hampshire in a variety of habitats, such as fields, farms, neighborhoods and woodlands
Though white-tailed deer prefer to hide out in the woods, they often make an appearance along woodland edges of towns and cities and in many farming communities. “In the summer, you may be lucky to see a fawn curled up in some tall grass or in a hidden spot in the woods,” Webb said. “Don’t be alarmed; this young one is not abandoned. Fawns are left alone for long periods of time while their mother goes off to feed and lead predators away, but she will come back for her fawn.”

Reptiles and amphibians

Gray treefrog
Much more likely to be heard than seen
Despite their name, gray treefrogs have the ability to change their color to match their background, from black to almost white or even a greenish-gray. Suomala said you can identify them by their trilling call at night. They are year-round natives of New Hampshire, hibernating underground. In fact, about 40 percent of a gray treefrog’s body can freeze — it can survive freezing temperatures by producing its own glycerol that’s circulated through its bloodstream and vital organs.

Painted turtle
This is the most commonly found species of turtle in the state
You can find painted turtles statewide, anywhere there are ponds. They reach a maximum length of just over seven inches; according Suomala, their sexual maturity is determined by the length of their shell, not by how old they are. Males require a length of at least three inches before they can reproduce, whereas for females, the required length of their shell is about four inches. If you see a turtle moving away from a pond, don’t move it in the direction of the water; Suomala said this is because female turtles are moving toward an area with sand or loose soil to lay their eggs. Painted turtles are also year-round residents of the Granite State, hibernating below the mud in the bottom of ponds.

Red eft salamander
Most likely found in damp, rainy conditions
Also known as the red-spotted newt, this amphibian has two different stages, according to Suomala — a water stage where it is characterized by its olive-green color with red spots, and a land stage, where it’s a bright orange-red color. You’ll most likely see them on land if you’re walking on a trail just after it has rained, she said. The female will lay its eggs underwater. Once the salamander reaches the land stage, it spends the rest of its life that way, for about two to three years.

Small mammals

Beaver
Common throughout New Hampshire in ponds, lakes and other wetlands
“If you’re lucky to have a lake or pond in your backyard, beavers might be a common sight for you,” Webb said, adding that, if you see one beaver, a whole family, consisting of anywhere from three to eight beavers, probably isn’t too far away. They can be difficult to spot as their dark brown fur blends in well with dark water, but there is “no mistaking the ‘slap’ of their tail when they feel threatened,” Webb said. Beavers leave a lot of clear evidence of their presence, including chewed stumps along the edges of bodies of water; stick dams that hold back water, creating deeper ponds; and stick lodges that extend down into the water. They may also build their lodges on islands or along the shore.

Eastern chipmunk
Common throughout New Hampshire, in woodland edges and forests
Though similar to squirrels, chipmunks can be differentiated by their size — they are a bit smaller than squirrels — and by their coloring, which includes brown fur with black and white stripes that run down their backs. According to Webb, chipmunks also have extra skin in their cheeks, allowing them to expand their mouths to carry more food back to their burrows. They often build their burrows at the base of a tree or under a stone wall. In the winter they spend most of their time sleeping, waking up every few days to eat from their stockpile of food. In a good year, when food is abundant, chipmunks can produce up to two litters of pups. “If you see a lot of chipmunks this year, you can bet that food availability was really high the previous year,” Webb said.

Eastern cottontail
Common in southern New Hampshire, often seen nibbling on clover and grass in backyards and parks
Eastern cottontails have multiple litters a year. In New Hampshire, they can have up to four or five. The mother cottontail builds a small shallow nest in the grass, well-disguised, with dead fern leaves covering the hole. “She only visits [the nest] a few times a day, so if you find a nest of kits — baby cottontails — just leave them be,” Webb said. “They are not abandoned; their mother will be back soon.” A rarer species of cottontail, the New England cottontail, can also be seen within a smaller range, restricted to the southern part of the state.

Eastern gray squirrel
Common throughout most of New Hampshire in woods and neighborhoods with plenty of deciduous trees
While gray squirrels have, as their name implies, mostly gray fur, there can be some variations in color. “Melanistic gray squirrels are black in coloration and albinistic gray squirrels look white,” Webb said. “Sometimes, small localized populations of black squirrels show up and persist for a few years. Gray squirrels often bury more acorns and seeds than they can recover, facilitating seed dispersal and resulting in the growth of many new trees every year.

Fisher
Most likely found in forested areas
Fishers — or “fisher cats,” if you prefer — are not actually cats. According to Suomala, they’re part of the mustelid (or weasel) family, with brown fur, a long tail and a pointed nose. They have a reputation for emitting a loud, caterwauling scream. But in reality, Suomala said, this sound is more likely made by a fox, while fishers are generally silent, instead occasionally making low chuckling or hissing noises. They’re the only animal in the state that regularly targets porcupines.

North American porcupine
Most likely seen in forested areas, at night
One of nearly two dozen species of porcupines throughout the world, the North American porcupine is found throughout New Hampshire. According to NH Wildlife Journal, a publication from New Hampshire Fish & Game, porcupines are large rodents covered in around 30,000 sharp quills. These quills, Suomala said, are hollow hairs with barbed tips made of keratin. Some people believe porcupines have the ability to shoot or throw their quills. In reality, Suomala said, this is not the case, although they can raise their quills in self-defense. Porcupines are nocturnal animals that feed on woody vegetation. They do not hibernate in the winter.

Raccoon
Common throughout New Hampshire, in wetlands, woods, farmlands and neighborhoods
Raccoons often do their food hunting, with much success, in human-populated areas and claim their den sites under porches and sheds. In fact, raccoon populations tend to be higher in cities than in their natural woodland and forest habitats. “Raccoons have easily adapted to the presence of humans and will gladly check your trash can for scraps of food,” Webb said. “[If] you’re battling a raccoon family this summer, keep your trash locked up tight or store it in a secure building instead of outside.”

Red squirrel
Common throughout New Hampshire in forests with plenty of coniferous trees
“These chattery squirrels are quick to let you know when you are bothering them with their red bushy tails raised, announcing themselves with loud trills, chatters and chips,” Webb said. Surviving on food they stashed during the winter months, the squirrels often forget to dig up all of their hidden seeds and nuts each year, which then grow into trees.

Vole
Especially likely to be found if you have a garden in your backyard
Not to be confused with moles, voles are small rodents that are experiencing a population boom in New Hampshire right now, according to Suomala. They look similar to mice, except they have smaller eyes and smaller ears. Voles are a nuisance in backyard gardens and orchards, but are actually a key food source for large birds like hawks and owls, as well as foxes and coyotes, she said. There are two types — meadow voles, and pine voles, which are slightly smaller, lighter in color and have a shorter tail than meadow voles. One female vole can produce four to eight litters per year, Suomala said, with about five young per litter.

Have a Greek food weekend

Your guide to finding Greek festival favorites

Nearly all of this year’s Greek food festivals in the state have been canceled or postponed — but that doesn’t mean you can’t embark on a Greek food adventure of your own. Offering everything from savory dishes like pastichio and lamb shanks to sweet treats like baklava and loukoumades, several local Greek eateries talk about what they do best and what you can look forward to the next time you visit.

Pastichio

Known as a “Greek lasagna,” pastichio — sometimes also spelled pastitsio — is a baked pasta casserole dish with a creamy white béchamel sauce and meat, most commonly ground beef. Ioanis Kourtis, whose father and uncle together run Athens Restaurant in Manchester, said it’s available as a big, hearty serving on the eatery’s house specialties menu. It’s one of several dishes the two brothers prepare daily.

You’ll see different variations of pasta or meat. Peter Tsoupelis of Amphora Restaurant in Derry said he gets his macaroni imported directly from Greece to make the pastichio, which is often available out of the eatery’s refrigerated take-and-bake case. In Greece, because ground beef is not as readily available as in the United States, according to Tsoupelis, pastichio can instead be made with pork, lamb or even goat.

“The way we make it at Amphora, we use ground Angus beef, which is the way my father taught me how to make it,” he said, “but if there was going to be meat in my yiayia’s kitchen, it was going to be either pork or goat. We didn’t have ground beef or lamb often.”

At The Windmill Restaurant in Concord, pastichio is one of several rotating weekly specials prepared by Sofia Smirnioudis. She also has a hand in making the dish for the annual Taste of Greece festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Concord, normally held in September.

“I like to use a big [pasta] … like a ziti,” she said. “I do pasta on the bottom, then a red meat-based sauce in the middle, and creamy cheese sauce on the top.”

Gyros

Pronounced “YEE-rohs,” gyros are popular street food dishes all over Greece, consisting of meat, vegetables and tzatziki sauce wrapped or stuffed in pita. At The Gyro Spot in downtown Manchester you can order all kinds of gyros, from pork, chicken or a mix of lamb and beef, to vegetarian or vegan versions with mixed greens.

“It’s kind of like the perfect hand-held meal. It’s got everything from your carbs to your proteins and veggies, wrapped up together,” Gyro Spot owner Alex Lambroulis said. “Most gyro shops in Greece will have a counter right outside the window in the summertime.”

The meats used for all gyros at the restaurant are hand-cut and marinated before being stacked as a döner kebab, or on a vertical rotisserie. The cone-shaped stack of meat is then layered with fat on the top and sliced into thin shavings when ready to be stuffed in a gyro.

Down in Nashua, Main Street Gyro offers more than a half dozen types of gyros daily, including the traditional pork but also chicken, lamb and bifteki, or a mix of pork and beef. Those are also stuffed with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.

“We make all our sauces in house as well, so we have tzatziki, and also kopanisti, which has roasted red bell peppers, feta cheese, olive oil, hot pepper flakes and Tabasco, so it’s a good spicy spread,” owner Basil Tourlitis said.

The traditional pork gyro is not only one of The Gyro Spot’s biggest sellers, but it’s the most common filling you’ll find in Greece, according to Lambroulis.

“We make our own tzatziki with Greek yogurt, garlic and cucumber, and then it comes with onions, tomatoes and our hand-cut fries,” he said. “Now, you might find different regional variations on the sauces, like tzatziki, ketchup and mustard, [but] everywhere you go [in Greece], they put fries in it.”

The eatery’s chicken gyro features a spicy mayonnaise known as its signature “G sauce.” Other less traditional options at The Gyro Spot include gyros reimagined as loaded french fries or burritos with rice.

Spanakopita

Also known as “spinach pie,” this popular pastry dish features layers of spinach and feta cheese stuffed inside phyllo dough, often also with scallions or onions, Tsoupelis said. Its phyllo pastry cousins include “tiropita” — with cheese and egg — and “kreatopita” — with meat, usually beef or pork. Variations on spanakopita might include the types of cheeses or vegetables used, or even the portion sizes. Main Street Gyro, Tourlitis said, makes its own spanakopita with spinach, feta cheese, dill, salt and pepper.

“Some people use leeks, [or] some use a majority of egg and feta,” Kourtis said. “My uncle makes it fresh with phyllo dough, spinach, feta, eggs and spices, and he butters the dough, so it’s very rich and delicious. … Spinach is the most universal.”

In some Greek households, according to Tsoupelis, it can be customary to bake an entire pan of spanakopita at a time, with large square-sized servings.

“My aunt lived in a small house outside of Athens, and she’d make a big pan of it,” he said. “It was almost like having a cake at the house for when somebody would come over. It might last 15 minutes or it might last a day and a half.”

But at Amphora, Tsoupelis said he likes to roll his spanakopita into individual 3-by-3-inch triangles and cook them to order, serving them more as intimate appetizers.

Spanakopita is also available homemade year-round at Chrysanthi’s Restaurant in Brookline, manager Amanda Pelletier said, as large pieces per serving.

Moussaka

Like the pastichio, moussaka commonly has ground meat and béchamel, only it’s baked in layers of eggplant, potatoes, or sometimes zucchini instead of pasta. Also known as an eggplant- or potato-based casserole, it’s another dish that Smirnioudis will often bake as a special at The Windmill Restaurant and for Holy Trinity Church’s Taste of Greece festival. In fact, she said she’ll use the same type of béchamel sauce used in the pastichio.

It’s also a frequent special at Chrysanthi’s, especially during the colder months, Pelletier said. Their version features layers of sliced potato and roasted eggplant with seasoned ground beef.

Amphora makes it with ground Angus beef, but Tsoupelis said he’s seen it with just about any other type of meat, especially lamb, pork or goat.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki features skewered meats and occasionally vegetables that can be consumed either as side dishes or as full meals over rice or with pita bread and tzatziki.

“[An order] comes with six pieces of lamb per skewer, and you get a Greek pita, tzatziki sauce, salad and hummus with that,” Pelletier said of the souvlaki offered at Chrysanthi’s.

Tourlitis said both pork and chicken souvlaki are options as dinners or sides at Main Street Gyro. A souvlaki dinner will include two skewers of meat, served with a side salad, hand-cut fries or rice pilaf and warm pita bread.

Souvlaki Pizza & Subs in Manchester, in addition to offering marinated pork souvlaki as a dinner with salad, rice or fries, prepares souvlaki as grinders on Syrian bread or as meats for salads. Pork and chicken souvlaki are also available at Salona Bar & Grill in Manchester, according to manager Maria Kostakis.

Even though pork is more traditional, Smirnioudis of The Windmill Restaurant said chicken tends to be the more popular meat for souvlaki. When it’s served as a special, the dish features chicken cut into cubes and cooked with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Lamb shanks

Hand-cut marinated lamb is one of the biggest draws at many of the state’s Greek food festivals, whether it comes fresh off the skewer or in a gyro. At Amphora, you can get lamb shanks, or roasted leg of lamb, one of the eatery’s many Greek specialties. Each order comes with a side of lemon-oregano potatoes.

“We braise the lamb slowly until [the meat falls] off the bone, and then we … [make] a very rich sauce from all the drippings of the lamb that gives it a very nice flavor,” Tsoupelis said.

Lamb shanks are prepared similarly at Athens Restaurant in Manchester and are, according to Kourtis, a special item made at the request of customers. The meat is baked on the bone in a tomato sauce and spices, and served with a side like rice or vegetables.

At Chrysanthi’s, lamb shanks are on the menu during the fall and winter. They’re slow-roasted for 12 hours in a homemade sauce before they’re served over vegetables and rice, according to Pelletier.

Dolmathes

Featuring meat or vegetables with assorted spices, dolmathes are often sold as an a la carte item at Greek festivals, or sometimes as part of meals. They’re most commonly rolled and stuffed inside of individual grape leaves, but Tsoupelis said you might see regional variations of dolmathes that use larger cabbage leaves.

“We do them vegetarian style with the grape leaves, so they’re small. They’re the size of your hand,” he said. “We put them on our antipasto salad or on the side. It has seasoned white rice, lemon juice and mint.”

Salona Bar & Grill, according to Kostakis, offers the stuffed grape leaves with beef, while at Athens Restaurant, Kourtis said, the dolmathes can be made in both variations of leaves. You get three stuffed grape leaves and two stuffed cabbage leaves per order, from the appetizer menu, with either lemon or tomato sauce. The dolmathes are also incorporated on the eatery’s house specialties menu, coming with rice or potato or as part of a combo special with roast lamb, chicken or meatballs.

“It’s ground beef, spices, lemon and rice, and the lemon sauce is really thick. They’re very popular,” he said.

Baklava

Perhaps one of the most recognizable staples at Greek festivals and restaurants, baklava is a dessert featuring layers of phyllo dough, honey or syrup and chopped nuts, most commonly walnuts or almonds. Variations can include pistachios or hazelnuts, or a simple syrup made with sugar and water, or lemon juice, instead of honey.

Youla Winarta of Youlove Bakery, a homestead business based in Nashua, said even though the word “baklava” has roots in the Turkish language, the word “phyllo” comes from the Greek word meaning “leaf.” Indeed, baklava is often characterized by the leaf-like texture of the dough.

The phyllo dough can be either made or pre-bought at a supermarket or wholesale grocery store. Church members who make their own baklava for the festivals will use large cooking pans, because the baklava is easier to roll in larger quantities.

JajaBelle’s in Nashua doesn’t use honey in its homemade baklava, but rather a house syrup, a homemade phyllo dough and tons of butter. In addition to offering it in the case at the cafe, owner Jessica dePontbriand sells it at the Nashua Farmers Market at City Hall Plaza on Sundays.

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester, according to manager Eric Zink, makes its own baklava, as well as a baklava ice cream, which features a vanilla base with cinnamon, honey, walnuts and baklava pieces.

In addition to offering a traditional baklava, Winarta makes a version with hazelnuts and a chocolate drizzle, or “chocolate rolls” with walnuts, almonds, chocolate and organic milk rolled in phyllo dough. All are available to order per eight pieces, for local pickups or shipping.

Loukoumades

Many Greek festivals in the state will have special stations for loukoumades made to order. More colloquially known as “Greek donuts” or “fried dough balls,” these bite-sized morsels are deep-fried before they are often drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, or both.

You get eight loukoumades per order at The Gyro Spot, according to Lambroulis, which are made from an old family recipe. Regional variations of the dish might include a simple syrup in lieu of honey, or with chopped walnuts as a garnish.

“It’s a very loose dough, almost like a fluffy pancake batter,” he said, “and we just drop them into the fryer and then drizzle with honey, cinnamon and sugar or give it to you on the side. … I like to soak mine in honey.”

Greek cookies
Most Greek food festivals in New Hampshire have a wide selection of desserts, and while baklava is often the star, you’ve probably seen all kinds of cookies for sale too.

If you want to try Greek cookies you’d normally see at festivals this time of year, you can order them from Youla Winarta of the Nashua-based Youlove Bakery, who bakes them to order in a fully licensed commercial kitchen. She’s not currently at any farmers markets or public events, but offers her full product line for online ordering at youlovebakery.com/shop. One of the most traditional Greek cookies — and one of Winarta’s biggest sellers — is the melomakarona, or honey cookies with walnuts. Similar to melomakarona, she said, is finikia, with slight variations on the cooking method or toppings, from nuts to dates.

“I make them … with flour, olive oil, honey and then they have a lot of good flavors like orange zest and cinnamon cloves,” Winarta said. “It’s a cookie primarily prepared during Christmastime but one that everyone enjoys throughout the year now.”

She also makes kourabiedes and koulourakia. Kourabiedes are shortbread cookies also traditionally consumed around the holidays, covered with powdered sugar and baked with flour, butter, canola oil, eggs, baking powder, baking soda and natural flavors.

Koulourakia are butter cookies shaped in a twisted design and topped with sesame seeds.

“Those are traditionally prepared during Easter,” Winarta said. “They are very good with a cup of coffee or tea. … They are not really sweet and have a good crunchy taste to them.”

All of Winarta’s cookies are available for shipping or local pickups in the Nashua area.

Summer bookcation

Laughs, adventure and more for your summer reading list

For this year’s summer reading guide, we asked local library staff and indie booksellers to recommend some of their favorite fun or inspiring reads published since June 2019, and they came up with more than 50, including memoirs, offbeat graphic novels, self-improvement guides, magical tales, page-turning romances and more.

Fiction

Contemporary

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Published: October 2019
Plot: Meet Olive, a cantankerous but lovable old lady.
Recommended by: Dianne Hathaway, Director at Goffstown Public Library. “Olive is funny, speaks her mind and may remind you of your own old lady family member.”

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis
Published: June 2020
Plot: Three friends reconnect over the summer and must discover forgiveness and trust.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, Interim Director at Kelley Library in Salem. “A fun mix of humor, romance and family.”

Fantasy

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
Published: March 2020
Plot: Five of the Earth’s greatest cities are alive, and five people unexpectedly become the living embodiments of New York City’s five boroughs.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library. “A tale of magic, culture, fantasy and adventure.”

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Published: March 2020
Plot: Linus Baker, a case worker for the government agency in charge of the welfare of magical youth, is sent to inspect a classified orphanage on a beautiful hidden island.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, Technical Services at Bedford Public Library; Julie Andrews, Reference Librarian at Nashua Public Library; and Dianne Hathaway, Director at Goffstown Public Library. “A character-driven story about kindness, finding a place to belong, and fighting harder than one knew they could in order to keep it,” Sylvia said. “A funny, gentle, heart-warming story about love and found family,” Andrews said.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Published: September 2019
Plot: A young woman discovers a world of magic within a mysterious book.
Recommended by: Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com). “Achingly beautiful.”

Historical

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Published: October 2019
Plot: A group of volunteer traveling librarians finds new strength and independence as they deliver books to people in rural Tennessee.
Recommended by: Katie Spofford, Young Adult and Reference Librarian at Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford. “This inspiring tale touches lightly on issues women faced in the 1930s and includes a bookish romance.”

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published: May 2020
Plot: What if Hillary Clinton never married Bill? This alternate history imagines that, after several years of dating, Hillary decides to go her own way instead of tying her fate to Bill’s.
Recommended by: Caitlin Loving, Head of Circulation at Bedford Public Library. “Sittenfeld perfectly captures what I imagine Hillary’s inner voice sounds like and creates a completely compelling narrative. A perfect beach read for political junkies or anyone who wants a juicier version of HRC’s biography.”

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Published: March 2020
Plot: The 1989 Danvers Field Hockey team will do anything to win the championship, even if that means summoning dark powers through an Emilio Estevez spiral notebook.
Recommended by: David Gain, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua (375 Amherst St., toadbooks.com, 673-1734), and Caitlin Loving, Head of Circulation at Bedford Public Library. “This novel is hilarious and clever, but also heartwarming. Come for the comic relief and late ’80s references, stay for the true-to-life characters, female friendships and fist-pumping girl-power feels,” Loving said.

Romance

Beach Read by Emily Henry
Published: May 2020
Plot: A romance writer and a literary fiction writer spend the summer next door to each other and trade genres.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore (32 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com). “This is pretty light fare, but with a quick wit and some unexpected perceptions.”

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Published: July 2019
Plot: At the beginning, you might think Nina’s life is lonely, but by the end, you’ll see the richness of her new family and friends.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “The quirky, sweet, introverted heroine of this romantic comedy will absolutely charm you.”

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Published: June 2019
Plot: A widow and a washed-up professional athlete find themselves and each other.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “Warm and uplifting … this book strikes just the right balance between romantic, humorous, quirky and sweet.”

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
Published: April 2020
Plot: Sloan and Jason have intense chemistry, exchange flirty texts and share a great sense of humor.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “A fun beach read that might keep you up all night trying to see how the couple can get past their different situations.”

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher
Published: April 2020
Plot: A hard-working lawyer struggling with student loan debt and a failed relationship meets a wealthy younger man who understands her struggles without judgment.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “A fun, lighthearted romance with a realistic look at what a millennial dream romantic encounter would include.”

Nonfiction

Memoir

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford
Published: May 2020
Plot: Buford’s memoir follows his trip with family to spend time in France trying to master French cooking.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore.

Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton
Published: April 2020
Plot: The author chronicles the year he spent visiting every national park.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, interim director at Kelley Library in Salem. “[Knighton] brings the parks to life with humor and charisma.”

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Published: November 2019
Plot: A collection of essays from comedian and actress Jenny Slate about the little things that make us who we are.
Recommended by: David Gain, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua. “Both profoundly deep and laugh-out-loud ridiculous, Slate shows us about our eccentricities and how they bring us all together.”

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall
Published: October 2019
Plot: The author tells his story about adopting a neglected donkey and giving it a new life and purpose as a burro racer.
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin, Head of Technical Services at Manchester City Library. “I enjoyed how this story transcends cultures and generations. The author depicted otherwise ordinary people as charismatic characters drawn together to achieve a unified goal.”

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran
Published: April 2020
Plot: Tran writes about growing up as an immigrant in a predominantly white Midwest town.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks, assistant manager at Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com). “Hilarious, poignant and inspiring, this book reads like a good work of fiction with real-world implications.”

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby
Published: March 2020
Plot: Upon turning 40 years old, Irby writes about aging, marriage and settling down in a small town.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks at Bookery and Katrina Feraco, frontline bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene (12 Emerald St., 352-8815; toadbooks.com). “This collection of essays will help you fight the Covid blues by reminding you that you never really wanted to leave the house anyway. Irby uses self-deprecation to help us see that we are all hilariously imperfect beings,” Brooks said. “This collection of essays is heartfelt, funny and irreverent. Showcasing Irby’s charismatic voice and pitch-perfect storytelling, this book is perfect for a little bit of escapism and a lot of laughing,” Feraco said.

You & Me: Reflections on Becoming Your Dad by Dan Szczesny
Published: June 2020
Plot: Szczesny reflects on fatherhood and the passage of time as his young daughter grows up.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library.

Select Topics

Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram by Isha Sesay
Published: July 2019
Plot: A story about the faith and courage of the Nigerian school girls who were abducted by Boko Harum.
Recommended by: Prudence Wells, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua. “This wonderful story… highlights the strength of the girls, families and communities.”

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
Published: June 2020
Plot: An exploration of the idea that humans are intrinsically kind and cooperative, despite the nightly news.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore. “Obviously, a fresh, original take on our global situation.”

Splash!: 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means
Published: June 2020
Plot: A look at the cultural and social history of swimming, from Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages to today’s Olympics.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, Interim Director at Kelley Library in Salem. “A fun, readable book that helps us understand why water calls to us humans and why we can’t resist splashing in it.”

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk
Published: June 2019
Plot: A journey across the country discovering the gifts and treasures hidden in our national parks.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “For those who may not be able to visit any parks in person this summer, here is a beautiful way to discover them through the animals who inhabit them via lovely illustrations.”

Self-Help

How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer
Published: March 2020
Plot: The authors share their findings after testing out a variety of self-help methods to see what works and what doesn’t.
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin, Head of Technical Services at Manchester City Library. “I liked being able to quickly scan multiple strategies rather than deep diving into one particular method. The authors use an entertaining and light style, even when presenting serious scenarios.”

Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan
Published: April 2020
Plot: Khazan discusses the sociology, psychology and power of being “weird,” and how the traits that make you feel like an outsider can actually help you stand out in the world and reach your greatest potential.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks, assistant manager at Bookery in Manchester. “Khazan’s writing is well-researched and very entertaining. … I learned a better way to celebrate and embrace my weirdness.”

Children’s

Picture Books

Happy Right Now by Julie Berry
Published: October 2019
Plot: A young girl shows us how to find gratitude and joy amidst the not-so-great moments of our lives.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “What a beautiful way to share with children that we all have things that try to rob our happiness … [and how] to march right past them into living … in thankfulness every moment.”

The Hike by Alison Farrell
Published: October 2019
Plot: Three little friends and one eager pet go hiking and find a trove of delights along the way.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “This darling tale shows the spirit of adventure outdoors and what surprises are around each corner.”

I’m Sorry! by Barry Timms, illustrated by Sean Julian
Published: March 2020
Plot: Two best friends, an owl and a squirrel, must learn how to live together in a shared space, despite their differences.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “As these two sweet creatures discover, their respect and love for each other win, and they realize that compromise is better than they imagined it could be.”

Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox
Published: May 2020
Plot: As a llama goes through his day and prepares his many meals, chaos ensues.
Recommended by: Betsy Vecchi, Head of Children’s Services at Pelham Public Library. “It is very funny for both grownups and kids, and we all need some humor these days.”

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Published: November 2019
Plot: A little girl named Sofia decides to do something about the trash heap in her town, so she goes to City Hall to demand change.
Recommended by: Daniele Guest, Youth Librarian at Kimball Library in Atkinson. “A clever, well-written rhyme scheme and cute illustrations … [and a message] of empowerment for kids, [which] feels especially valuable today.”

Summer Song by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
Published: April 2020
Plot: A book about the magic of summer.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds (16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com). “The perfect read-aloud book for bedtime and to snuggle with an amazed child.”

Things That Go Away by Beatrice Alemagna
Published: March 2020
Plot: This book shows kids that all things good and bad will eventually go away, except for a parent’s love.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, Children’s Librarian at Dover Public Library. “A very timely book with an important lesson for everyone to learn.”

When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Published: March 2020
Plot: A boy is disappointed with his grandfather’s gift until he learns that he can use it to build exactly what he wanted with his own two hands, with a little help from his grandfather.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library. “A clever story that celebrates kindness, hard work and community.”

Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel
Published: November 2019
Plot: A mother shrew goes to the moon to find the medicine that will heal her child.
Recommended by: Nancy Sheridan, Children’s Services Librarian at Colby Memorial Library in Danville. “Beautifully illustrated with intricate details, this book is a comforting adventure … that shows that there are no limits to a mother’s love.”

Middle Grade

Contemporary Fiction

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Published: October 2019
Plot: Rahul Kapoor is on a search to be the best at something, and it has to be cool.
Recommended by: Ji-Eun Alice Ahn at Water Street Bookstore (125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com). “[It’s] about following your instincts, [being] who you are without fear and allowing yourself the room to breathe if something gets to be too much.”

Chirp by Kate Messner
Published: February 2020
Plot: Twelve-year-old Mia moves to Vermont and spends her summer making new friends, helping her grandmother with her cricket farm, solving a mystery and finding the courage to speak up about a past trauma.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, children’s librarian at Dover Public Library. “This book deals with a sensitive subject in a very accessible way for young children, and it is wrapped up in a mystery.”

Con Quest! by Sam Maggs
Published: June 2020
Plot: Two friends attend the most popular comic con in the world and set out to win The Quest, a giant scavenger hunt that requires participants to complete odd and bizarre tasks, so they can meet one of their favorite celebrities.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This is a fun, fast-moving story that makes you really want to dive into the world of fandoms. My favorite part [is] trying to identify all the fandoms represented throughout this book and chuckling at the cleverness.”

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker
Published: February 2020
Plot: Ware prefers to spend his time alone, dreaming of other worlds, but when his parents sign him up to spend the summer at the rec center against his will, he must learn how to find his place in the real world.
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy, children’s book buyer at Gibson’s Bookstore. “This is a sweet book for all the introverts and kids that see the world in a different way.”

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
Published: March 2020
Plot: Maybelle has never met her father. When she learns he is judging a singing contest in Nashville, she becomes determined to overcome her stage fright and embarks on a road trip to Louisiana to sing in the contest.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, children’s librarian at Dover Public Library. “I’m a sucker for a road trip book.”

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Published: March 2020
Plot: A young boy, seeking answers about his missing mother, finds himself on a perilous journey to help someone in danger that will test his strength, courage and determination.
Recommended by: Betsy Covert, children’s book buyer at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A beautiful tale, lightly brushed with magic, that speaks to the heart and reverberates with issues faced by contemporary society.”

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
Published: May 2020
Plot: Three zoo animals discover the meaning of friendship and family as they set out on a dangerous journey after their zoo is hit by a hurricane.
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy, children’s book buyer at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord.

Fantasy

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong, illustrated by Xavière Daumarie
Published: August 2019
Plot: Royal twins — one destined to be the ruler of her kingdom, and the other a Royal Monster Slayer — long to switch roles. When a family tragedy forces them into battle with both humans and monsters, the twins must work together to save their kingdom.
Recommended by: Nancy Sheridan, children’s services librarian at Colby Memorial Library in Danville. “Not only is this rollicking adventure full of humor, nonstop action and plenty of monsters, but it turns traditional roles upside down.”

Graphic Novel

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland
Published: January 2020
Plot: An aspiring journalist apprentices at her local newspaper while balancing family, friends and romantic interests during her middle school years in the 1970s.
Recommended by: Katrina Feraco, frontline bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A charming and relatable read [that’s] perfect for middle grade readers and those who enjoy graphic novels.”

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
Published: September 2019
Plot: The daughter of a witch starts to develop special powers of her own and must learn how to navigate the world of magic.
Recommended by: Daniele Guest, youth librarian at Kimball Library in Atkinson. “The theme of the book … [is] valuing your roots, knowing your history and using that knowledge to choose how to move forward.”

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Published: March 2020
Plot: Eleven-year-old Yumi, an aspiring comedian, struggles with stage fright, a moral dilemma and pressure from her parents to excel academically and help out at their family restaurant.
Recommended by: Azra Palo, Head of Youth Services at Nesmith Library in Windham, and Betsy Covert, children’s book buyer at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A fun relatable book just in time for summer,” Palo said. “Full of well-rounded characters and tons of humor,” Covert said.

Stargazing by Jen Wang
Published: September 2019
Plot: A girl, who has visions of celestial beings telling her she belongs among the stars, develops an unlikely friendship with her new next-door neighbor.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, technical services staff at Bedford Public Library. “Wang’s cartoony art gives vibrant life to a middle school tale of friendship.”

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Published: June 2019
Plot: Ben wants to fit in, but social outcast Nathaniel just won’t leave him alone. When the two of them make a pact to find out where their floating lanterns go every year after the equinox festival, they’ll have to work together to make it back home.
Recommended by: Rachel Stover, office assistant at Manchester City Library. “Full of charming illustrations and a quiet wonder reminiscent of works by Studio Ghibli. A great pick-me-up for fans of magical realism.”

Young Adult

Contemporary Fiction

Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb
Published: October 2019
Plot: Three high school misfits find solace in rock climbing and learn how to face their bullies.
Recommended by: Katie Spofford, Young Adult and Reference Librarian at Wadleigh Memorial Library. “A heartwarming story of friendship and finding advantages in the disadvantages.”

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Published: January 2020
Plot: Two high school students at a highly competitive private school in New York City try to navigate the pressures of school while also helping their respective family businesses after a Twitter feud begins between the two competing businesses.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This adorable romance accurately portrays the pressure students feel in high school and the difficulty they have balancing school, work, friends and family.”

Graphic Novel

Check, Please!, Book 2: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
Published: April 2020
Plot: An unlikely romance develops between a closeted gay professional athlete and a baking college athlete.
Recommended by: Lincoln Wert, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “The support shown from [the main characters’] friends and family is fantastic and entertaining. The artwork and writing work perfectly together to tell this fun story.”

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Published: August 2019
Plot: Two friends are determined to make their last Halloween working at the pumpkin patch together count one, by talking to his longtime crush, and the other, by eating every fair food she can get her hands on.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, technical services staff at Bedford Public Library. “A hilarious graphic novel about friendship and last chances, with detailed, expressive art.”

Bookstores
Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com)
Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com)
RiverRun Bookstore (32 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com)
The Toadstool Bookshop (375 Amherst St., Nashua, 673-1734; 12 Emerald St., Keene, 352-8815; toadbooks.com)
.• Water Street Bookstore (125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com)

Libraries
As of June 15, the Governor’s Economic Re-Opening Task Force has permitted libraries to reopen their physical locations to the public, with some precautions. Not all libraries have reopened yet, but those that remain closed may have alternative ways to check out books, such as curbside pickup for hard copies or virtual platforms for e-book borrowing. Check with your local library for updates on how it is operating.

Find your farmers markets

A look at the socially distant summer market scene

You can still get your leafy greens, grass-fed meats and fresh poultry at local farmers markets this summer, but there’s no denying that the fresh-air market vibe won’t be the same, with regulations in place to promote social distancing and the cancellation of vendor demonstrations, tastings and live music.

“It has really been a shift from hanging out and socializing at the market … to just coming in and purchasing or picking up the product,” said Julie Dewdney, market manager of the Canterbury Community Farmers Market, which began on June 3.

Farmers markets have been considered essential businesses from the beginning, according to Gail McWilliam Jellie, director of agricultural development for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food. The department has encouraged markets to stay open, both to maintain cash flow for the vendors and to provide food sources for customers. Despite that, many summer markets started late and some have canceled altogether.

Early season markets

One of the only markets in the Granite State that has remained uninterrupted during the pandemic is in Salem. The year-round market, which normally operates indoors from November through about April or May, moved outside several weeks earlier than planned, on March 15, despite temperatures barely above freezing.

“I think on that first day [we went outside] it was 37 degrees out,” board president Bonnie Wright said, “but people wanted to come and vendors wanted to come, so we kept the market going. … We’ve had to adapt a great deal and make a lot of changes as the virus situation has evolved.”

After being in the parking lot of the Mary A. Fisk Elementary School for a few weeks, the Salem Farmers Market moved back to its normal summer location at Salem Marketplace a few miles away on April 5. Since then the market has been operating at limited hours each week, on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon only — it’s normally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Wright.

Moving the market outdoors in a paved parking lot, Wright said, has allowed its board members to further space out each vendor and control the flow of customers. Only 100 people are allowed into the market at a time to prevent long lines from forming. Table fees are, for the time being, waived for all vendors in an effort to help supplement the income some have lost.

“It definitely doesn’t have that farmers market feel that people are used to,” Wright said, “but we are seeing quite a bit of people … and occasionally people have to wait to get in.”

In Concord, after the cancellation of its winter market in Eagle Square on March 17 with more than a month left to go, growing uncertainty loomed over whether the city’s summer market on Capitol Street could go on. The market did miss its targeted opening date of May 2 by one week, resuming operations on May 9 with just a fraction of its vendors, but president Wayne Hall said it has exceeded his expectations since then.

“It’s been tremendous,” said Hall, who owns Rockey Ole Farm in Concord. “It’s been very, very steady, and people have been very respectful of the things we’ve been putting in place. … We are also constantly adding more new vendors as we go along.”

Hall said there is still an abundance of leafy greens available at the market, such as lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard. Next up for produce will be strawberries, coming from Apple Hill Farm, followed by blueberries later in July. Summer squash, tomatoes and cucumbers are all expected to be available soon too.

A second summer market has also debuted in Concord this year. For the first time, Cole Gardens is hosting an outdoor market in its parking lot following the conclusion of its indoor winter market in April, market manager Jane Iarussi said.

The Contoocook Farmers Market, according to manager Karin Cohen, began its summer season a couple of weeks earlier than planned, on May 23. Another year-round market, Contoocook had suspended operations indoors at Maple Street Elementary School on March 14.

“We were slated to reopen outdoors on June 6, but there were a lot of community requests for us to open [earlier], and a lot of our farmers also felt like they were ready to go,” Cohen said.

Now back at its normal summer location next to the Contoocook Railroad Museum, the market is encouraging just one member per household to visit if possible, and to leave all children and pets home. Reusable and single-use plastic bags are allowed, as long as you don’t place them on any table surfaces. Product sampling, vendor demonstrations, live music and arts and crafts vendors have all been temporarily suspended until further notice.

“We’re really trying to encourage people not to linger, just because we are such a small market,” Cohen said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the social market that we’re used to, but I think everyone so far has been happy to still be able to come out and support our local farmers.”

Jim Ramanek of Warner River Produce in Webster is a featured vendor at the Contoocook, Cole Gardens and Canterbury markets — he’ll also be joining the Franklin market on Tuesdays when it gets underway on June 23, and has started an online ordering system via harvesttomarket.com.

“We still have a few winter vegetables and we’re doing lots of mixed lettuce, radishes and baby turnips,” Ramanek said. “Spinach is on the decline because it’s just been too hot for it.”

Work Song Farm in Hopkinton, another vendor at this year’s Contoocook market, has certified organic strawberries available first-come, first-serve. According to co-owner Dan Kilrain, the farm will have them for at least the next two to three weeks.

June and beyond

The month of June has brought with it several more summer markets in the state kicking off their seasons under new guidelines. The Canterbury Community Farmers Market was able to begin on schedule, Dewdney said, after its association spent several weeks discussing what the safest practices would be for vendors and customers.

“It was really important to us that we opened up that access to good products,” she said, “so we came up with a whole set of guidelines, with help from the UNH Cooperative Extension and the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets.”

In addition to encouraging masks, all handling of products is done by the vendors until after purchases are made. The Canterbury market has also eliminated all special activities it would normally have throughout the season, and is encouraging people to limit attendance to one visitor per household.

“Our first week was really successful,” Dewdney said of the June 3 market. “We didn’t have to control the crowd level. We had one entry point and we kind of just had a steady stream.”

The Canterbury market averages about 20 vendors — and even though Dewdney said a few vendors have dropped out, the Association has been receiving interest from newcomers.

One of the returning vendors, Kathy Doherty of Sanborn Meadow Farm in Canterbury, said the market’s opening day went well and that many customers even thanked her for being there. Doherty focuses primarily on herbs and leafy greens.

“Early in the season, it’s a lot of radishes, arugula and mixed Asian greens. That’s what I brought the first week, and I’ll diversify a bit with lettuce, broccoli, rhubarb and some varieties of kale,” Doherty said. “The spring was very cold and it seemed to delay everything … but they’re starting to catch up now. I think tomatoes will be coming a bit later than usual.”

The New Boston Farmers Market, which opened for the season on June 6, has roped off access from outside the town common, only allowing one-way entrances and exits for customers. Market co-manager Allison Vermette said the response to the changes has been positive so far.

“Most of the people who have shown up have been very thankful that we’ve been open. I think there’s been a very big push to have more local products available during this whole pandemic,” Vermette said. “It’s normally a very community-based market, so this year we do look a lot different. … We usually have different community guests come in, but that’s unfortunately been cut out for the foreseeable future. We’re also not doing our children’s market this year.”

In Milford the pandemic caused the cancellation of the town’s final two indoor winter market dates on March 14 and March 28. But on June 13 the market was able to start its summer season under new guidelines at 300 Elm St. across from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op.

“I’ve done a lot of research on how to open safely,” market manager Adrienne Colsia said. “Last year I used probably only half the parking lot, but now we’re using the whole perimeter of the lot to space everybody out. … We have one entrance, and we’re encouraging people to just grab and go and not hang around if they can. Customers are allowed to bring reusable bags.”

Colsia, who also co-owns Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough with her husband Wayne, said they will have strawberries available at the market. Other items you can expect at the market include meats like grass-fed beef, pork and lamb, poultry, fresh fish, cheeses, and leafy greens like kale, arugula and Swiss chard.

The Bedford Farmers Market, scheduled to begin on June 16, is in a new spot this year — the parking lot of the Harvest Market on Route 101 in Bedford, which closed its doors about a month ago, according to market manager Lauren Ritz. The market had previously been in the parking lot of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church on Meetinghouse Road.

“The Diocese of Manchester … wasn’t comfortable with having us in the parking lot with the state that New Hampshire was at, at the time the decision was made,” said Ritz, who also co-owns Hoof and Feather Farm in Amherst, one of this year’s vendors. “So we actually reached out on the Bedford’s town Facebook page, and the Harvest Market offered us their parking lot.”

The market will feature 30 vendors throughout the season, some of which will rotate depending on the product availability of each. Hoof and Feather Farm is the meat vendor, featuring chicken, beef and pork, while other vendors are selling various fruits and vegetables, cheeses, honey, maple syrup and personal care products.

Newcomers include Jennifer Lee’s Bakery out of Worcester, Mass., which makes gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods; and the Bedford Sewing Battalion, which will have a table handing out free masks and accepting fabric and elastic donations. Like many of the state’s other markets, Ritz said Bedford had to cancel all planned live entertainment and demonstrations.

Merrimack’s farmers market is also expected to begin this week. According to market manager and town agricultural commission chair Bob McCabe, the Merrimack Town Council on June 11 approved the market to begin on June 17, one week after its proposed start date. That market is expected to continue through mid-October, in the parking lot of Vault Motor Storage on Daniel Webster Highway.

More markets to come

A few more summer markets in the state are expected to get going as the month winds down.

In Nashua, for example, the market will resume on June 21, continuing every Sunday through the middle of October. Due to several lane closures on either side of Main Street to accommodate outdoor dining space for restaurants, this year’s market has moved from its normal spot between Temple and Pearl streets down to the area in front of City Hall Plaza.

“We’ll be around City Hall on the Main Street side, as well as in the shaded area of the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail and [in] the surface parking lot to the rear of the building,” Great American Downtown executive director Paul Shea said. “It’s a larger area than where we normally operate … so customers will have a lot of space to move through the market while distancing.”

The Franklin Farmers Market is expected to begin on June 23 at Marceau Park on Central Street, while in Wilmot the farmers market will start on June 27 on the town green.

While the Intown Farmers Market in Manchester will not be taking place in the traditional sense, plans are in the works for a limited version of the market to return. Starting on June 25 farmers with Fresh Start Farms, a program of the Manchester-based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, will be at Victory Park every Thursday through August.

“It’s going to be more like a farm stand,” Intown Manchester executive director Sara Beaudry said. “We were already in the process of restructuring our farmers market … to move from Stanton Plaza back to Victory Park, but then with everything going on we teamed up with ORIS to bring the market back and to simplify it.”

Jameson Small, program manager for the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at ORIS, said members of Fresh Start Farms are also at the Bedford, Concord, Merrimack, Milford and Salem markets. In addition to leafy greens they’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers and squash later in the summer, as well as ethnic crops, like amaranth greens and African eggplant.

Market cancellations

The pandemic has caused a few markets in New Hampshire to pull the plug on their summer seasons entirely. One of the most notable to shut down for the year is the Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market, which would have begun earlier this month in downtown Derry.

The market’s board had initially announced that the season would at least be delayed before the decision was made to cancel it altogether on June 2, one day before its original opening date.

“It was a really, really difficult decision that we did not want to have to do,” market manager and board vice president Neil Wetherbee said of its cancellation.

Wetherbee said it came down to the market’s location and its board ensuring the safety of all vendors and customers. Unlike most of the other markets, which are on paved surfaces, Derry’s is on grass, eliminating the ability to make six-foot markers with chalk. He also said its unique location in the center of town, along with its proximity to the rail trail, made it difficult to mandate specific entry and exit points for visitors. Other potential locations in town were considered but its board ultimately could not find one suitable.

In addition to all of those factors, Wetherbee said if the market were to take place it would have featured less than half of its regular vendors.

“We spent the last three years trying to turn this into a community event … and it really would’ve been a shell of what it has been,” he said. “A big part of discussion also was that we didn’t want to live with the responsibility if one of our vendors, especially one of our older vendors, was to get sick, or if we started to see a spike in virus cases in Derry.”

The Lee Farmers Market, which would have started on the last Thursday in May, has also canceled its season, instead “existing virtually,” according to manager Tina Sawtelle.

“We’ve sort of pivoted to becoming an online source to help local farms connect to customers, and to point people in the right direction for where to get product,” said Sawtelle, who originally started the market with her husband through the Lee Agricultural Commission. “It’s actually helped our vendors increase their CSA shares too.”

Find a market everyday
Here’s a list of summer farmers markets happening in southern New Hampshire.

Sundays
• Cole Gardens Farmers Market is from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cole Gardens (430 Loudon Road, Concord), now through October. Visit colegardens.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Henry Law Park (1 Washington St., Dover), now through Oct. 11. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Nashua Farmers Market will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall Plaza (229 Main St.), June 21 through Oct. 18. Visit downtownnashua.org/local.
• Salem Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to noon at Salem Marketplace (224 N. Broadway). Visit salemnhfarmersmarket.org.

Mondays
• Durham Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Sammy’s Market (5 Madbury Road), now through October. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Fresh Chicks Local Outdoor Market is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Monadnock Community Hospital (452 Old Street Road, Peterborough), now through October. Email freshchicksmarket@gmail.com.

Tuesdays
• Bedford Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the former Harvest Market (209 Route 101), now through Sept. 29. Visit bedfordfarmersmarketnh.org.
• Franklin Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Marceau Park (Central Street), June 23 through Sept. 29. Find them on Facebook @franklinlocalmarket.
• Rochester Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Rochester Community Center (150 Wakefield St.). Visit rochesternhfarmersmarket.com.

Wednesdays
• Canterbury Community Farmers Market is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Elkins Public Library (9 Center Road), now through Sept. 30. Visit canterburyfarmersmarket.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Dover Chamber of Commerce (550 Central Ave), now through Oct. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Merrimack Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Vault Motor Storage (526 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack), now through Oct. 7. Visit merrimacknh.gov/farmers-market.
• Peterborough Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lawn of the Peterborough Community Center (25 Elm St.). Find them on Facebook @peterboroughnhfarmersmarket.

Thursdays
• Exeter Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. behind the Seacoast School of Technology (30 Linden St.), now through Oct. 29. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Henniker Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. at Henniker Community Center (57 Main St.), now through October. Find them on Facebook @hennikercommunitymarket.
• Intown Manchester’s Farmers Market will be from 3 to 6 p.m. at Victory Park (Concord and Chestnut streets, Manchester), June 25 through Aug. 27. Find them on Facebook @manchesterfood.
• Rindge Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at West Rindge Common (Route 202 North), now through Oct. 8. Find them on Facebook @rindgefarmersandcraftersmarket.
• Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market is from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Clark Park (233 S. Main St., Wolfeboro), now through Oct. 15. Visit wolfeboroareafarmersmarket.com.

Fridays
• Francestown Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. across from the Francestown Police Station (15 New Boston Road). Find them on Facebook @francestowncommunitymarket.

Saturdays
• Barnstead Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 96 Maple St. in Center Barnstead, now through September. Visit barnsteadfarmersmarket.club.
• Concord Farmers Market is from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Capitol Street in Concord (near the Statehouse), now through October. Visit concordfarmersmarket.com.
• Contoocook Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at 896 Main St. in Contoocook. The year-round market usually moves indoors to Maple Street Elementary School (194 Main St.) beginning in early November, according to market manager Karin Cohen.
• New Boston Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Route 13 and Meetinghouse Hill Road, now through October (no market on Saturday, July 4). Visit newbostonfarmersmarket.webs.com.
• New Ipswich Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at the New Ipswich town offices (661 Turnpike Road). Find them on Facebook @newipswichfarmersmarket.
• Milford Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 300 Elm St. in Milford (across the street from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op), now through Oct. 10. Visit milfordnhfarmersmarket.com.
• Portsmouth Farmers Market is from 8 a.m. to noon at the Little Harbour School (50 Clough Drive, Portsmouth), now through Nov. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Warner Area Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the lawn of Warner Town Hall (5 E. Main St.), now through October. Visit warnerfarmersmarket.org.
• Wilmot Farmers Market will be from 9 a.m. to noon at 9 Kearsarge Valley Road in Wilmot, June 27 through Sept. 26. Visit wilmotfarmersmarket.com.

2020 graduates

What they missed most, plus hopes for the future

It has been a strange end to the school year for all students, but especially seniors, many of whom missed out on fun celebrations and saying goodbye to all of their classmates. We talked to a few 2020 college and high school grads (and the mom of a kindergarten grad!) about what they missed most and what their hopes are for the future.

Alycia Ashby
Senior at Manchester School of Technology, which moved its graduation ceremony to June 20 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Alycia will attend Colby-Sawyer College in New London in the fall.

Ever since the fifth grade I have been working toward this moment. Walking across the stage. Grabbing my diploma. Shaking the hands of my admin and educators. Seven years later everything has changed. … I can’t help but marvel at the fact I may not walk across the stage. The Manchester School of Technology was my second home, my happy place, one that I had taken for granted. … I miss going to school. I miss my friends. I miss learning from a physical teacher teaching in the classroom. … I will never get the time back or the experience but one thing I know moving forward is I need balance. … Recent unfortunate events have allowed for many of us to find ourselves again. As we get back to our lives, I hope I can hold on to the me I have found and never take for granted my happy places.

Jessica Aviles
Jessica’s daughter, Evangeline, recently completed kindergarten at Jacques Memorial Elementary School in Milford. On May 29, Jacques hosted a special drive-through “sendoff” reverse parade to commemorate the conclusion of the school year.

Initially, our whole family was feeling uncertain about everything going on. My dad is a dialysis patient so we are used to self-quarantining when we get sick, but never expected it to be for this long. I reached out to fellow mom friends and was grateful for the constant communication from Jacques. … I expected remote learning to be like homeschooling. It was not at all! The most challenging part for Evangeline was being away from her teacher, Miss Casey, and her first set of classmates. For me, it was finding a balance of time and a schedule for her and her sister, Adalaide. [Evangeline] told me her favorite part was that I try to make learning fun, like Miss Casey. … For the fall, we plan to consider the advice of health officials along with Jacques and the state. I expect that Covid-19 will still be around, along with the usual concerns, and we will just have to take extra healthcare measures. We plan to learn and grow from this experience.

Katherine Buck
Communication and politics graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremony. A livestreamed celebratory event for graduates was held on May 16.

Preparing for graduation this year has been a lot different than how I initially planned it at the beginning of the year. I remember talking with my parents trying to decide where we would want to go to celebrate after graduation and how we wanted to be with the families of my roommates one last time. … My roommates and I were looking forward to being able to take those celebratory pictures … with our diplomas in hand, like so many past. … My future plans were to enter into my career. Although this has not changed, it has become increasingly difficult during this time. I remain hopeful and vigilant in my job search and actively work to not be discouraged while looking for jobs.

Samantha Burns
Senior at Merrimack Valley High School, which will have its commencement ceremony on June 13 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Students and their families will remain in their vehicles throughout the ceremony and will drive around the track, crossing the finish line to signify their official moment of graduation. Burns plans to attend New England College in the fall.

I have been preparing for graduation by making sure I have everything in line as far as [school] work goes, and picking out what I want to wear is a big part. Obviously, graduation is not going to go the same way I expected it to go. I am going to miss seeing the faces in the crowd as each of us walk down the aisle in our caps and gowns, but I believe that our graduation is going to be unique and one that we are all going to remember.

Julissa Castro
English graduate of Nashua Community College, which has moved its commencement to Sept. 26.

This semester was an adventure for me with online classes and working from home. I took six classes this semester so I could finish in time for graduation, which became more challenging when we switched online. … Thankfully, I have been able to manage my time and balance classes and work, and I was able to finish all of my classes with higher marks. … After graduation, I was going to spend my summer volunteering in Honduras, and then I was transferring to a four-year university to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m attending John Cabot University in Rome. … Now, I have decided to defer for a semester so I could still be able to volunteer once the quarantine is over.

Hope Cataldo
Elementary education graduate of Rivier University in Nashua, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

I sat down at my computer at the beginning of April and wrote my commencement speech without knowing if I’d ever give it. … I feel with every ounce of my being the desire to be back at my school, my home, with the people who mean the world to me. … At the start of the school, I was so ready to graduate. And now, all I want is to be back. … Before this pandemic began, my plans were the same as any college graduate. I was excited and ready to start my job search. I was going to live in Nashua, at Rivier, working with some of my favorite people. I was focusing my job search mainly in the Nashua area, as I have truly found a home here. Yet once the pandemic hit, that changed. … I conducted my job search in northern New Hampshire and Vermont, where I live. I accepted a job teaching fourth grade in Vermont, which I am so excited about. … I find myself upset when thinking about what could have been, so instead I focus on the positives. I am home, with a family that supports me unconditionally. We are all safe and well and doing our best to continue to be.

Shaun Collupy
Science in Business Management master’s program graduate of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremonies, with a new date TBD.

At the beginning of the school year, I envisioned planning for graduation to consist of hugs and goodbyes to my friends, professors, and colleagues, spending last moments in my favorite places on campus, and celebration. Come April, preparation for graduation primarily consisted of ensuring my coursework items were completed on time and virtual goodbyes by way of phone calls and video conferences. What I was looking forward to most about graduating was having the opportunity to cheer on my friends and colleagues as they receive their diploma on Commencement Day. … My plans before the pandemic were, and still are, to begin my career with a Boston-based tech company. Although the initial plan was to start my journey [at the company’s headquarters], I am grateful to have committed to an employer who cares about their employees’ success and is providing me with the tools and resources I need to start my journey on time and remotely. I am excited for the physical office location to reopen and [to] have the opportunity to build relationships with my co-workers in person.

Cordell “CJ” Drabble
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its commencement on June 13.

I had initially planned on all my immediate family coming to graduation to see myself and my close friends they’ve watched grow with me graduate. Now I am bringing just my parents. … [I] am just fortunate we are having a graduation, period. … My future plans haven’t changed. I am still going to be attending Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri this July, and returning home as a New Hampshire National Guard soldier.

Emily Gamache
Senior and class vice president of Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its commencement on June 12. She plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

There are many events that I have planned in the past and at the beginning of the school year which are much different from how we have to plan events now. At the start of the school year we could hold in-person meetings [and] talk to different teachers for help while in the building. … Now, everything needs to be thought out in a certain form. We need to make sure people are six feet apart, there is no interaction between different families and friends and there is a certain number of people on the field. … I have attended different graduations in the past and there has always been a powerful energy throughout them. There are so many emotions, hugs and pictures at every graduation. I never thought much about being able to hug my friends until it is now something I am no longer able to do.

Ridge Gonzales
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1.

I am looking forward to an in-class graduation in August. It has been very different from beginning to plan to graduate at the beginning of this year. For starters, I think there’s less closure with the physical spaces that students correlate with school. For me, this means I can’t even remember what room my last class was in, [and] I never got to say goodbye, knowing this is the last time I’m going to sit down at this exact library table. I was definitely looking forward to the actual graduation ceremony where everyone is dressed up all nice and there’s a multitude of pictures with family and fellow students. To me, it’s pretty magical knowing that all those people have supported you all for this one last event. … My independent senior project was originally [to] visit different workspaces of people who work in business. However, this changed into Zoom and phone calls, which is still amazing, but not as immersive as I would’ve liked. Beyond high school, I was planning to find a good summer job, but some places are not hiring or even open yet. In regards to college, I’m just hoping I can be there in person for the fall.

Trey Haynes
Senior at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, which will hold a virtual graduation ceremony on June 14, streamed via Facebook live.

I was looking forward to [having] a last day with all my teachers and friends, but it was spent in front of a computer screen. … I also looked forward to hanging out with my friends and going on trips but those will have to be postponed. I still plan on going to college, although it might be online for the first semester, which isn’t what I expected to do. I plan to major in biology at NHTI.

Samantha Jette
Communication graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremony. A livestreamed celebratory event was held May 16.

The last months of senior year [are] usually filled with traditions and activities to commemorate the ending of a great four years. When Saint Anselm closed in March, that meant that a lot of these traditions that my classmates and I have looked forward to would not happen. … While it was difficult to be home knowing I was missing time with my friends that I wouldn’t get back, I am lucky to have had such great experiences at St. A’s over the years. … The pandemic has definitely made my post-grad job search more challenging. At the beginning of the year, my hope was to have a job secured after graduation. Now that graduation has come and gone, I am realizing this may be more difficult than I expected.

Morgan Kidwell
Graduate of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremonies, with a new date TBD.

I started my senior year off by making lists of what type of career I wanted to have, … where I wanted to relocate to, … and what types of companies I was interested in working for post-graduation. I also had a mindset [of making] every moment of my senior year count, which I definitely did! I was looking forward to … [an] entire day celebrating everything that my friends and I have overcome [and] accomplished over the last four years. We all sacrificed so much, pushed ourselves, and grew into amazing young adults throughout our time at SNHU. I did not have any set plans [for after graduation]. I was still searching for jobs, mostly in Colorado, Texas and Arizona. … I have been actively applying and using connections to inquire about [job] positions, [but] with the current situation in the world, most companies … have completely halted their hiring processes until as late as October. It’s tough, but I have faith I will find the perfect marketing position for me. I am currently doing part-time remote work for my internship … as a digital marketing intern as well as creating a website and curating social media posts for a construction company.

Jillian LaBrecque
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its commencement on June 13. She’ll be attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

At the beginning of the year … I expected to be preparing for graduation by performing in my last school concert … and spending this last year with my friends that would soon be going to far away schools for military training. Instead, I am now working at a supermarket and spending several hours per week on Zoom calls. … For everything I lost in connection with concerts, performances and prom, I gained in humility and understanding. I finally understood for the first time what it means to have to sacrifice something important. We sacrificed our proms and large graduation ceremonies … for public safety. … I may never get to experience what I most looked forward to, but in reality what I experienced instead will be significantly more valuable to me in the future. So for that, I am very grateful.

Anna Lapadula
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1. She will attend Boston University in the fall.

This past fall, I was focused on getting good grades, making it through the year, and being accepted into one of my top college choices. Graduation passed my mind once, maybe twice. … By the time graduation was actually within sight, I wasn’t allowed to be near people nor leave my house for anything other than essential errands. It wasn’t until a week before the original graduation date that it hit me: I don’t get to celebrate what was supposed to be one of the most momentous days of my personal and academic career, and I definitely won’t get to experience it alongside the people that I love the most and have gone through it all with. I wanted to be able to say that I did it. That I survived 15 years of hard work and dedication to my academics in order to create the future that I wanted for myself. I wanted to be able to look at my parents from the stage with my diploma in my hand and tell them that I didn’t let their unwavering support go to waste. I know that walking across a stage seems irrelevant in the light of a burning world, but I still wish I could’ve closed this chapter of my life in the way I had planned to for 15 years. My plan was to maintain my job through the summer, volunteer at local food banks and shelters, finish moving houses, go on a short road trip with my best friend (and fellow senior) as a “last hurrah” before college. … Now … my summer is shaping up to be a lot of solitary and indoor activities.

Emma Montenero
Senior at Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 12. She plans to attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

Since most of my senior activities have been canceled, this part of the year hasn’t been as exciting as it would have been. My school has put together a different version of graduation for us this year, as we need to follow state orders regarding social distancing. … We don’t have to do rehearsals, there will be no speeches … and we can’t take pictures with classmates at our ceremony. These past couple of months have really made me think about what I’m most grateful for and how much I took certain activities for granted. … My class is only 100 students and we’ve all been together since first grade. I’m grateful that we can still graduate together … even though the rest of town isn’t allowed to come and watch.

Rebecca Oswald
Senior at Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 12. She plans to attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut in the fall.

Under the circumstances, planning for graduation this year has been different than what I expected it to be. … I am truly so grateful that as a class we do get a live graduation, and though we don’t have a Senior Week or any of the activities that come with the last month of senior year, we do get to spend that time together and cherish those moments. … After graduation, I was going to go abroad in Europe with my grandparents and truly enjoy my summer before I go off to college in the fall. Sadly, due to the pandemic, I have had the trip to Europe canceled.

Erica Royle
Public health graduate of Rivier University in Nashua, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

Unfortunately, my time on campus came to an abrupt end when students had to move off campus due to Covid-19. I was devastated. I never thought this was how my senior year was going to end. … Although the seniors at my school were not able to celebrate together in person, my school did an amazing job making all the seniors feel loved with virtual ways to connect during these difficult times. … The thing I was looking forward to the most was getting to walk across the stage, receive my degree and getting to celebrate with my friends and family. … Of course, it would have been amazing to celebrate that accomplishment with a graduation, but I still achieved what I set out to achieve, and that makes me happy. … It was always my goal to secure a job immediately after finishing school, and with a lot of hard work, I was able to accomplish that goal. … On May 4, I started my new job as an intensive case manager at Eliot Community Human Services.

Josh Sargent
Art and human development graduate at Plymouth State University, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

Graduation this year didn’t go as planned. There was no preparation once Covid-19 hit. … The number one thing I was looking forward to about graduating was seeing my mother’s reaction to me walking across the stage. She deserves that piece of paper for supporting me just as much as I earned it.

Rose Speigel
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1. She hopes to attend the New England College Institute of Art and Design in the fall.

I had the idea in my head that I would wrap up my schooling, finish final assignments and then graduate among my peers. Now due to Covid-19, I am not sure what day I will graduate. My school has prepared three different dates throughout this coming fall and winter to hold our commencement ceremony, and there is no determining which date, if any, it will be. … I left school on a Thursday in March assuming I’d be there that Friday, but school was canceled and now it’s June. … It felt like all these years would lead up to those special senior moments, and now it’s been cut short. … As far as I know, NECIAD will have classes on campus in the fall. However, if these plans and courses become online only, I will not attend until they are on campus again … because my intent was to work in a studio with all of the art amenities it has to offer.

Victoria Williams
Senior at Manchester School of Technology, which has moved its graduation ceremony to June 20 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

I started off the year as senior class president and looked forward to making this senior year the best one yet. I intended for graduation to be as heartwarming and memorable as possible but now it [seems] like that really isn’t even my decision anymore. … My original plans after graduation [were] leaving the state and going to college, but with all the colleges closing, I honestly doubt that I will actually be able to. I do still intend on doing what I can to get as close to my long-term goal as possible, but I feel like it is not going to be a cake walk.

Kayleigh Zervos
Graduate of New England College in Henniker, which has postponed its commencement ceremony until Oct. 4, during Alumni Weekend.

I took extra classes so I was able to finish a semester early, allowing me to walk this May, but finish my last semester in the fall. … One of the main reasons I wanted to walk early was the fact that all my best friends and boyfriend are older than me [and are] graduating this year. It was definitely disappointing working so hard by taking extra courses for graduation to be postponed. We always have a senior week the week of graduation … so it was really sad knowing that we’ll never get to experience that together. I was really looking forward to … all of us [being] together one last time before entering the big world. My future plans were to finish my student teaching in the fall and possibly get hired at that school to work until the end of the school year. Otherwise, I would just move to Washington … to live with my boyfriend. If schools don’t open in the fall, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to do student teaching with remote learning or have to wait until the next semester.

Lauren Zervos
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 13. She’ll be attending the Maine College of Art in the fall.

I initially thought leading up to graduation would be extremely stressful. … Instead, the year ended so quickly I feel like it’s not real. Yesterday was March 13 in my mind. Now it’s June. Preparing for graduation has been quite different because we’ve been saying goodbye over video chat instead of … in person. I still am [attending college] but it might be a little different because of the chance that we would have to begin remotely.

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