Fresh air festive

If nothing else, 2020 seems to have inspired a lot of event innovation. Virtual tree-lightings, drive-thru holiday displays and socially distanced performances — New Hampshire is finding ways to celebrate even if those celebrations look a little different this year.
Here’s a look at holiday activities from Thanksgiving through the end of the year (all events are subject to change, of course). Whether it’s enjoying a light display from the comfort of your car (or from your house) or watching a performance in a reduced-capacity venue, find the holiday fun that fits your comfort level.

Holiday fun downtown and outdoors

Celebrate the holidays safely outside (or from your car) with these downtown strolls, light displays, modified parades and other social distance-conscious activities.

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is an ongoing citywide celebration of the holidays featuring a number of shows at The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., themusichall.org, 436-2400); shopping in Market Square; Candlelight Stroll Under the Stars, happening weekends from Dec. 11 through Dec. 20 at Strawbery Banke Museum (14 Hancock St., 433-1100, strawberybanke.org); Labrie Family Skate at Strawbery Banke’s Puddle Dock Pond; the 30th annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at the Portsmouth Historical Society (10 Middle St., 436-8433, portsmouthhistory.org) now through Dec. 22, and more throughout the holiday season. Visit vintagechristmasnh.org.

• The Gift of Lights opens on Thanksgiving Day and continues through Jan. 3 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1122 Route 106 North, Loudon). The drive-thru Christmas light park spans 2.5 miles and features 80 holiday scenes and 520 light displays. It’s open Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Purchase tickets online or at the gate. The cost is $25 per car. Visit nhms.com/events/gift-of-lights.

• The Town of Pelham and Pelham Community Spirit are presenting the first annual Festival of Lights on the town’s Village Green, where you can enjoy a spectacle of tree lighting displays from your car to ensure social distancing. The lights will be up from Thanksgiving until after the New Year. Visit pelhamcommunityspirit.org.

• Downtown Nashua hosts Plaid Friday, a shopping event alternative to Black Friday, on Nov. 27. Wear plaid to be eligible for giveaways, discounts and more at participating businesses. Stop at 201 Main St. first to pick up a swag bag with a map, coupons, discounts and offers. Registration is required. Visit downtownnashua.org.

• Great American Downtown is hosting a holiday lights contest for Nashua families and business owners. Now through Dec. 3, photo submissions will be accepted for residential and downtown Nashua businesses with the best festive decorations. Online voting will take place between Dec. 5 and Jan. 3. To enter, email a jpg image of your festive lights, along with your home or business address, to dazzlingdecember@downtownnashua.org. A printable map of the contenders will be available online. Visit downtownnashua.org for details.

• The Celebrate Laconia Lights Festival is an ongoing citywide celebration of the holidays featuring special events throughout the season. It kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 29, with a downtown holiday parade led by Santa starting at 4:30 p.m. The parade will move through Lakeport and Weirs Beach before returning to downtown, where there will be a City on the Lakes Holiday Walk. There will be trees for sale to decorate and display in Rotary and Stewart parks, and Santa will light the trees around 6:30 p.m. The trees will remain up through the end of the year. Also starting on Sunday, Nov. 29, will be the Lights Festival Coloring Contest, with submissions accepted through Friday, Dec. 11, and the Light-Up Laconia Holiday Decorating Competition, which will run through Dec. 18. An online interactive map of Laconia homes and businesses with holiday displays will be available, and the public is invited to vote for their favorites online. Visit celebratelaconia.org.

• Concord’s Midnight Merriment has been reworked this year as a month-long celebration with holiday decorations, special promotions and refreshments at downtown shops and restaurants throughout December. Visit intownconcord.org.

• The Beaver Brook Association (Brown Lane Barn, 52 Brown Lane, Hollis) will host a greens gathering and wreath making event on Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Participants will go on a hike to gather mountain laurel, hemlock and white pine, pine cones and berries, then create a holiday wreath with those materials. The cost is $25, and registration is required. Visit beaverbrook.org.

• Fright Kingdom (12 Simon St., Nashua) presents its holiday event, “The Fright Before Christmas,on Friday, Dec. 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 10 p.m. It features a scary winter wonderland, a creepy Christmas costume contest and food trucks on site. Tickets cost $29 and must be purchased in advance. Visit frightkingdom.com or call 809-1173.

• In place of its holiday parade, Salem is having a “Christmas in Whoville” holiday display competition from Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6. All participating homes, schools, community centers and businesses will have their displays illuminated from 4:30 to 11 p.m. A list of addresses will be shared with the public, and residents can vote online for their favorite displays. Visit salemnhparade.org.

• This year’s Salem Night of Lights will be a drive-thru holiday experience happening on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Salem High School (44 Geremonty Drive, Salem). Visit townofsalemnh.org.

• In place of its holiday parade, Exeter will host a Drive-Thru Holiday Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Exeter High School (1 Blue Hawk Drive, Exeter). The school will be decorated with holiday lights, displays, inflatables and scenes, and Santa will greet drivers from a safe distance. Visit exeterholidayparade.org.

• Milford presents “Miracle on Elm Street,” a holiday drive-thru event, on Saturday, Dec. 5, with half-hour time slots from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The drive starts at the Keyes Memorial Park west entrance (127 Elm St.) and will have stops along the way with treats for kids. The cost is $5 per car. Registration is required. Visit milford.nh.gov.

Santa’s Merrimack Holiday Tour will take place on Sunday, Dec. 6. Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride through town in a Fire Department vehicle, stopping at seven different locations between 2:45 and 3:45 p.m., to greet people at a safe distance. Visit merrimackparksandrec.org/holiday-happenings or call 882-1046.

• Canterbury Shaker Village (228 Shaker Road, Canterbury) will host A Magic Journey through the North Shop Barn from Dec. 11 through Dec. 23, and from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, daily, from 1 to 5 p.m. The North Shop Barn, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland, will feature art vignettes like a Shaker Christmas, a dollhouse, a skating panorama and snowy forest scenes; a Find-the-Elf treasure hunt; hot cocoa and cider; and shopping at the Village Store. Additionally, there will be a Christkindlmarkt-inspired artisan market of handcrafted holiday gifts on weekends; food trucks with sweet treats on Saturdays, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, and a live musical performance by Massimo Paparello and his Brass Quartet on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 3 to 4 p.m. Admission costs $10 for adults and is free for youth. Visit shakers.org or call 783-9511.

• The Southern New Hampshire Tour of Lights will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 27. A list of addresses will soon be released for the public to visit holiday light displays at homes throughout Amherst, Antrim, Fitzwilliam, Jaffrey, Merrimack, Milford, Peterborough and Rindge. Visit merrimackparksandrec.org/holiday-happenings or call 882-1046.

• A modified Hampstead Christmas Parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 13, starting at 2 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church (26 Emerson Ave.). Instead of its traditional march down Main Street, the parade will split into different parts of town, covering 19 miles of road. Visit hampstead.nhlions.org.

• Enjoy a Winter Solstice Luminary Walk at Beaver Brook Association (117 Ridge Road, Hollis) on Sunday, Dec. 20, with time slots from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be a self-guided marked trail with a nature story about the origins of the Winter Solstice and fun facts about New England wildlife and the tradition of the Yule log. The cost is $12. Visit beaverbrook.org.

Featured photo: The Gift of Lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Courtesy photo.

Lose yourself in fall fun

Corn mazes are a quintessential autumn activity

Whatever you want your corn maze experience to be — easy or complex, during the day or under the cover of darkness — local farms have plenty of options to choose from.

Beech Hill Farm in Hopkinton has two corn mazes within an eight-acre corn field, each with themed activities to do along the way.

“That’s what sets our mazes apart,” said Holly Kimball, one of the family owners of the farm. “Having an objective other than just ‘Can I find my out?’ makes the maze-navigating process more meaningful, and most people really enjoy having an activity to do inside the maze.”

“Animal Olympics,” which is shaped like Olympic rings, comes with an animal crossword puzzle activity sheet, and “Ocean Action,” which is shaped like a sea turtle, comes with a game board filled with trivia questions about the ocean and marine life. The answers are revealed on signs hidden throughout the mazes.

“They’re fun, and they have educational merit,” said Kimball, who uses her 20 years of experience as an educator to design the maze themes and activities. “Children can come to the farm, go through the maze and learn something.”

Each maze takes around 45 minutes to complete, and most participants go through both during their visit, Kimball said.

The corn maze at Elwood Orchards in Londonderry, which spans 15 acres, is more traditional, with the only objective being to find your way out.

“We design it ourselves — it changes every year — and we try to make it as difficult as possible,” farm owner Wayne Elwood said, adding that the farm has gotten a lot of positive feedback from corn maze enthusiasts who are seeking a challenge. “It’s not about just going in and following the path. You have to choose all the right paths and really figure it out.”

The time it takes to get through the maze, if you can get through it at all, is unpredictable and completely up to chance based on the choices you make. Elwood said if you make all the right turns, it could take as little as half an hour, but he has seen people spend up to three hours in the maze before reaching the end.

“There are people who go in and come right out, and there are people who never find the end and give up,” he said. “We’ve even had people who wear [pedometers or smart watches] that keep track of how many miles they walk tell us that they walked two or three miles trying to find their way out of the maze.”

There are six emergency/cheat exits in the maze for participants who want to call it a day or need to leave the maze for any reason.

On weekends in October, Elwood Orchards keeps the maze open after dark for bring-your-own-flashlight nights.

“Those have been a big attraction every year since we started doing them 10 years ago,” Elwood said. “It’s more of a challenge to do it in the dark, and I think people just like to go out at night and do something under the stars.”

Some of the farms with the busier or smaller mazes are requiring participants to wear masks while others, including Beech Hill and Elwood Orchards, are not, reasoning that it’s an outdoor activity with plenty of room to practice social distancing, and the number of participants inside the maze at one time is monitored.

“We haven’t really had any issues [with safety],” Kimball said. “Since we’re open all day, people arrive at all different times, and things are just kind of staggered naturally.”

Corn mazes at Beech Hill Farm. Courtesy photo.

Find a corn maze

* Beans & Greens Farm
Where: 245 Intervale Road, Gilford
When: Now through Nov. 1; Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; additional haunted nighttime maze every Friday in October (times TBD)
Cost: $12 per person, $8 for kids age 9 and under, free for kids age 2 and under; tickets must be purchased online in advance.
More info: 293-2853, beansandgreensfarm.com

Beech Hill Farm
Where: 107 Beech Hill Road, Hopkinton
When: Now through October; weekdays, 2 p.m. to dusk, and weekends, noon to dusk
Cost: $6 per person, free for children under age 3
More info: 223-0828, beechhillfarm.com

* Coppal House Farm
Where: 118 N. River Road, Lee
When: Now through Nov. 1, Monday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m. (Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; additional nighttime flashlight mazes on Saturdays, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24, 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $9 per person; $7 for kids ages 5 through 12, seniors age 65 and up, and military; and free for kids age 4 and under; flashlight mazes, $12 per person, for ages 5 and up
More info: 659-3572, nhcornmaze.com

Elwood Orchards
Where: 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry
When: Now through Nov. 7; daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with nighttime mazes on Fridays and Saturdays starting Oct. 2, until 9 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person, free for kids age 5 and under
More info: 434-6017, elwoodorchards.com

* Riverview Farm
Where: 141 River Road, Plainfield
When: Now through October; Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 4 and under.
More info: Call 298-8519 or visit riverviewnh.com

Scamman Farm
Where: 69 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham
When: Now through October; September hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; October hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12), and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus nighttime flashlight mazes on Fridays, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $9 per person, $7 for kids ages 5 through 12, and free for kids age 4 and under.
More info: Call 686-1258 or visit scammanfarm.com

* Sherman Farm
Where: 2679 E. Conway Road, Center Conway
When: Now through Oct. 25; Saturdays and Sundays, plus Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 to $13 per person, depending on the date, and free for kids age 2 and under; purchases tickets online in advance.
More info: 939-2412, shermanfarmnh.com

Trombly Gardens
Where: 150 N. River Road, Milford
When: Now through October; daily, 9 a.m. to dusk, plus nighttime flashlight mazes on Saturdays in October, until 10 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 3 and under
More info: 673-0647, tromblygardens.net

Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard
Where: 66 Mason Road, Greenville
When: Now through October; Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 3 and under
More info: 878-2101, facebook.com/washburnswindyhill

* Masks required

Kiddie Pool 20/09/03

Music at the ballpark

Recycled Percussion will take to the field (well, technically, a stage on the field) at the Fisher Cats’Delta Dental Stadium in downtown Manchester this Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. The shows are at 8 p.m. on both nights, gates open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35. Bring blankets and pillow for on-field viewing spots, the website said. The concession stand will be open. See nhfishercats.com

Day at the beach

The Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic, postponed from earlier in the summer, will run this weekend, Thursday, Sept. 3, through Saturday, Sept. 5, at Hampton Beach. Last week, 200 tons of sand was dropped at the sculpting site, according to hamptonbeach.org. Starting Thursday (and daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday), sculptors will work on their solo creations on this year’s theme, “Enchanted Land of the Sea.” Judging will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, when the public will also have a chance to vote for a people’s choice winner, the website said. All the winners will be announced on Saturday at a ceremony at 7 p.m. and the site will be available for viewing (with nighttime lighting) through Sunday, Sept. 13, the website said.

Kiddie Pool 20/08/27

Children’s Museum to reopen

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org, 742-2002) is scheduled to reopen for a members weekend on Thursday, Sept. 3, through Sunday, Sept. 5. Membership levels include $90 for one adult and one child and $120 for two adults and children under 18 living in the same house. The next week (Sept. 10) the museum will open to the public with two timed-ticket entry sessions, Thursdays through Saturday, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m., according to an email from the museum. Pre-registration will be required for visits and can be done online starting a week in advance, the email said. In October, the museum plans to offer two-hour private rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays, the email said.

At the Discovery Center

After you make those Children’s Museum reservations for next weekend, head to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Dr. in Concord; starhop.com, 271-7827) this weekend. Summer hours at the center continue through Sunday, Aug. 30: Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the website for all the covid-era protocols.

Ready, aim, throw

New axe throwing center opens in Hudson

By Angie Sykeny

asykeny@hippopress.com

The axe throwing trend is growing in New Hampshire, with its newest venue, Axe Play, now open in Hudson.

Axe Play features 16 throwing lanes, housed in a newly built facility. It’s open to both individual players and groups of players aged 18 and up and is BYOB for players of legal age.

Axe Play’s co-owners, husband and wife Matt and Maria Keller, tried axe throwing for the first time with a group of friends at another New Hampshire axe throwing center. After that, they were hooked.

“We all had an absolute blast,” Matt Keller said, “and any time a big group of people can get together and all enjoy the same activity, you know it must be pretty good.”

Keller was retiring and looking for a new venture that would “bring a smile to people’s face.” Knowing of only two axe throwing venues in the state, he and Maria decided to open their own.

If you’re new to axe throwing, here’s the gist: It’s like darts, but with an axe. The player stands in a lane, 12 to 15 feet away from a four-by-four-foot wooden target and tries to hit the bull’s-eye. The short, single-handed axe — more of a hatchet, really — typically has a wooden handle and may vary in weight, from one to two-and-a-half pounds, and in length, with a blade up to four-and-a-half inches and a handle between 16 and 18 inches.

In a standard game each player gets 10 throws and earns points based on where they hit the target. Each ring on the target is worth a different number of points, ranging from one point for the outermost ring to six points for the bull’s-eye. Additionally, there are two small blue dots on the target; if a player announces before their throw that they are aiming for one of the dots and they hit one, they earn eight points.

Axe Play’s trained instructors, or “axeperts,” will help you out if you’re new to the sport or having trouble getting the hang of it.

“We give people as much one-on-one instruction and attention as they need so that they can be able to hit the target and have fun,” Keller said.

Strategy-wise, there is no “right” way to throw an axe. Some people throw with one hand, and some throw with two. Some people take a step forward as they throw, while others keep their feet planted.

“There’s a base to work from, but you can modify it to do what works best for you,” Keller said. “It’s really just about finding your sweet spot.”

Axe throwing is not only a fun pastime, Keller said, but also comes with physical benefits, like building arm and shoulder strength and flexibility, as well as mental benefits.

“There are people who come in who have had a stressful day, and half an hour later they are laughing,” Keller said. “They leave here feeling so much better than when they came in.”

Featured photo: Axe throwing at Axe Play in Hudson. Courtesy photo.

Axe Play
Location:
142 Lowell Road, Unit 19, Hudson
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday from 1 to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. The venue is also available for private parties and corporate events.
Cost: $25 per person. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20-percent discount. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are preferred. Reservations can be made on the website.
Rules: Players must be 18+. BYOB permitted for players 21+. Closed-toe shoes are required.
Leagues: League for individuals will run Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m., from Sept. 14 through Oct. 26. League for teams will run Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., from Sept. 16 through Oct. 28. Entry costs $125 to join, then $25 per week. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 10.
More info: Call 809-9081 or visit axe-play.com.

Back to school?

Experts talk about the new school year and what parents and students can expect

Students in New Hampshire are heading back to school — sort of.

As districts kick off the 2020-2021 year (some this week, some after Labor Day), New Hampshire schools are operating with a mix of strategies and schedules: some districts are returning to fully remote learning, some have returned to all (or most) students being in a school building and some are operating on a hybrid system.

Over the last couple of weeks, we reached out via email and phone to school officials at several southern New Hampshire school districts looking for administrators and teachers to comment on their plans. We didn’t receive a response from many districts, including Nashua, Manchester and Concord. Some that did respond declined to comment, a few citing lack of time.

We spoke to New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut as well as some educators and a school nurse (who all responded to emailed questions) about how they’re planning for next year.

Frank Edelblut

Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education

What are some of the approaches schools are taking to reopening this fall?

We put a survey out and got 56,000-plus [responses] from families, teachers, administrators and wellness providers, so we got a good sense of what the field was thinking as we began to approach the fall. … The primary focus was on how we can safely bring our students and our staff back into the buildings for in-person instruction, and we realized right away that we could probably do it safely, but maybe not for everyone. There are going to be individuals, whether those are staff or children or members of families, who have underlying health conditions that would prevent them from re-engaging in that in-person instructional model. There is still going to be a lot of uncertainty around the coronavirus and how it might present itself in our communities. So, we recognize that we need to have a certain amount of flexibility and nimbleness in the system so that we can provide a continuity of instruction for the students, whatever the circumstances are. … It’s not likely that we’re going to open in September with one [education model] that stays the same as we go forward. It’s more likely that the circumstances are going to be dynamic, and that we will have to pivot from in-person, to hybrid, to remote, and back again.

Are many families shifting to home schooling or transferring to different schools because of their current school’s reopening approach?

There are many different reasons that a school district’s particular plans may not work for certain families. Some families may have [a person with] an underlying health condition. Some families may have two parents who work and need child care for their young children. … We have seen an increase in the number of families that are applying to home-school their children, but it’s not a significant number. … More often, we are seeing families working with their school district to say, “How can we work together to come up with something that’s going to meet the needs of our family?”

What will in-person learning look like now?

It’s going to be a little bit different at each school, depending on their individual strategies, but generally, you’re going to see social distancing, face masks, cleaning protocols and screening individuals before they enter the building. As [State Epidemiologist] Dr. Chan says, there’s not one mitigating strategy that’s going to be 100 percent foolproof, but if we layer various mitigating strategies on top of one another, hopefully we’ll be able to efficiently and effectively mitigate the spread of coronavirus so that our staff and our students are in a safe environment.

What did you learn from doing remote education last spring, and how will it be improved this academic year?

We learned a lot. … No. 1, we learned that the remote instruction model isn’t able to meet the needs of some of our students. That includes some of our most vulnerable students who have individualized education plans and need some in-person instruction and support around that. … Along those same lines, there is a need for students in career and technical education programs like auto mechanics and welding, who rely on hands-on instruction, to be in a laboratory environment. … The last group this applies to is some English learners, who had a little bit more difficulty accessing the [remote] instruction. … The second thing we learned is the importance of making sure districts have the [remote learning] technology and are able to use that technology to create a more consistent, higher-quality learning experience. In the spring there was a lot of variation in quality from one [class] to the next. You could have one instructor who had a high degree of capacity to pivot to that remote learning and another instructor who struggled with it. We were also offering a very inconsistent product. Students could have one class on Zoom and another class on Google Meet. … This fall we’re looking to really homogenize [remote learning] around a much better standard of delivery so that everyone gets a high-quality, enriching educational experience.

How are you supporting students who have fallen behind as a result of the sudden and major changes last spring?

The first way is to make sure they can have that in-person instructional experience [within a] system where it isn’t difficult for them to access their education. … The second thing we’re doing is working with our educators and families to bring those students in and do assessments to see, what do they know? What don’t they know? Was there any learning loss? If so, what was that learning loss? Then, we can look at how we can mitigate that learning loss … A lot of folks are really concerned about that learning loss. I don’t want to downplay the significance of that, but I’m not as worried about it, because I have a lot of confidence in our education system to fill in those learning gaps. That’s what our system does already. Every day of every year, when students arrive at school, they lack knowledge, and it’s our job to fill in those learning gaps. It’s what we do best.

How are you addressing students’ social and emotional needs?

[The pandemic] has been a traumatic experience for many adults as well as many of our children. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of making sure our students are socially and emotionally grounded. We can provide support for those children, particularly when we get back to in-person instruction, through relationship-building, so that they know us and we know them. Having that trusting relationship will allow us to more effectively engage with them.

What can parents do to help students thrive this year?

I think one of the most important things parents can do is be a calming influence in the lives of their children. Children respond to the demeanor and temperament of the adults around them, so if parents can remain calm and confident that we’re going to work through this, that’s going to help keep their children safe and not create any additional anxiety. … Then, I would ask parents to work with their children, especially young children, on the mitigation protocols. … Talk with them about washing their hands and what social distancing is. They may have an impulse to run over and hug their friends who they haven’t seen in a while; talk with them about how they can greet their friends in an appropriate way. Explain to them that things are going to be a little bit different this year so that they know what to expect when they show up to school. … In terms of academics, show a strong interest in your child’s learning. When parents show an interest and are engaged in their child’s academic studies, it becomes more important to the child, and they perform better. … I would also encourage parents to have a good line of communication with teachers and principals. Reach out and say, ‘How are things going? How can I help? What are the things I need to work on?’ Teachers will be able to give a lot of good feedback to parents to help them better support their child in this new environment. — Angie Sykeny

Linda Gosselin

Teacher and reading interventionist, Center Woods Elementary School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 with a phased-in approach until Sept. 22, during which time about a third of the student population will be in school buildings while the others will work remotely.

How are you planning to approach the start of this year?

I am looking forward to seeing the students again — it’s been a while. I plan on being positive and flexible this year, as there are a lot of unknowns. I hope to make any transitions that come our way as seamless as possible for the students. I think we have to approach this school year one day at a time, as we adjust to all the changes in what we do and what we have done.

How much back-tracking do you plan to do to catch kids up on last year?

For 28 years I have been a classroom teacher. I have taught kindergarten as well as first, second and third grade. This year I will be assuming a new position as a reading interventionist. The reading interventionists will begin the year, as they always do, assessing students to determine their strengths and weaknesses. We will then take that data to come up with a plan to work with students who have the greatest need for reading support and intervention. We will work with them on their weaknesses, build on their strengths, monitor their growth and adjust as needed.

What did you learn about remote teaching from last year and how are you going to apply that this year?

Last year, I spent a lot of time researching and learning about new technologies and ways to make remote learning engaging and fun. For example, one of the math lessons I assigned involved the students using a virtual flashlight to search a darkened room for hidden math facts. When the light of the flashlight revealed the math fact, the student recorded themselves reading the math problem and their solution. It was fun for the students, and it gave me a lot of information about the students’ number fact fluency. … I also learned that setting expectations and holding students accountable was important, especially once the novelty of remote learning wore off. This year, I would expand on that by setting a virtual positive reinforcement reward system to help keep my students motivated.

What do you think are the most important things for your students (skills to learn, emotional development, etc.) going into this year, and how are you addressing them?

I think as we begin this school year, social-emotional development is by far the most important thing. For me, that means being positive and upbeat in front of the students [and] letting them know … that we can get through this different way of doing things together while having fun and learning. Next, I think establishing routines is very important. Children do better when they know what is expected of them, and with all of the changes in routines this year, they will benefit from a lot of modeling and practice. Once day-to-day routines are well-established, the students will be better able to focus on learning.

What are the most important things parents can do to help kids with remote learning this year?

My advice to parents would be to present remote learning in a positive way to your child, regardless of how you feel about it. Remote learning will go a lot more smoothly if it is presented to children in a positive light. Also, whenever possible, try to establish some sort of structure and routine for your child. For example, establish a specific area in your house for schoolwork. That may be a little table and chair with good lighting in a quiet spot, or a certain spot at the kitchen table. If they are bringing home schoolwork, as in a hybrid model, they could have their learning “tools” in a zip-lock bag that is used just for schoolwork. Another suggestion would be to post a schedule, similar to a typical school day, making sure to include outside time as well as snack breaks. Parent involvement is key in remote learning. Checking your child’s work or asking a few questions about what they are working on not only shows them that their education is important to you, but it keeps them accountable. As a reading interventionist, I also have to add that reading to your young child every day is a routine that should be ongoing, whether remote or in school.

Karen Merill-Antle & Victoria Brown

School counselors, John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 on an alternating day hybrid schedule.

What do you say to parents who are worried about how the impacts from the pandemic are going to affect their kids’ ability to get into and succeed in college? How might your advice be different for freshmen versus seniors?

Colleges are going through parallel crises to that of the students and families. Some good news is that colleges are becoming ever better at their virtual options for students to learn about their school. However, it is not business as usual for admission offices and this may be the most important thing for students and families to understand. How one college is responding may look very different to another, and things may continue to change. NHHEAF [New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation] is a reliable and up-to-date resource for students and families. … We want students to know that there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Student decisions now are about where to apply, and those decisions can definitely be made virtually. … When it comes time for students to decide where to attend, there will be other options. What students must know also is that while some has changed, much is still the same. Colleges still want to see students taking a full load of the most appropriately rigorous courses. … While there are limitations to our current circumstance, it actually gives us a different way to view the student and help answer the following questions — How does a student respond to adversity? Is the student self-motivated and independent? Does the student have time management skills in place and can the student effectively self-advocate to have their needs met? These are all characteristics of a successful college student and our current circumstances gives our students the opportunity to practice and refine these skills. … As far as the freshmen, our message will be the same. They only have four years to build a beautiful transcript, reflective of their passions, tenacity and work ethic. For as we have learned, the future is unknown and so we simply do the best we can with what we have each day.

Michele Leclerc

School nurse at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will reopen for in-person instruction, with the option for students to learn virtually.

What has your school been doing to get ready for the year?

The Derryfield School has been preparing for the 2020-2021 restart of school since last spring. We are reopening in the fall with the ability for all of our students to be physically on campus, and we have an excellent option for students to learn synchronously but virtually. We used the advice of consultants, who are public health experts with training in epidemiology, and guidelines from the State of New Hampshire and CDC to create health and safety protocols in our reopening plan. Our teachers have participated in professional development and updated curriculum to allow for an easy transition between in-class and online learning.

Are there specific common areas, like buses or the cafeteria, that are cause for the most concern? How are you addressing that?

At The Derryfield School buses will be at half capacity; students will have assigned seats and be prescreened, masked, and as distanced as they can be. Since that distance might not be six feet on some buses and ventilation on buses isn’t to the standard of the classroom environment, if a student or driver is positive for Covid-19, the whole bus group will be quarantined for 14 days.

What is the protocol if there is a coronavirus case at your school?

An extremely important part of our plan is the ability to keep students at home if there is any question about their health. If students are feeling well but need to quarantine, they are able to virtually participate in instruction using in-classroom technology. In the event our school needs to close the physical campus, we are prepared to switch all of our students to virtual learning.

How will you differentiate between influenza cases or normal colds and coronavirus?

Some of the symptoms of Covid-19 (temperature of 100 F or greater, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) can be confused with colds or the flu. I highly recommend everyone get a flu vaccine this year, especially considering it may be hard to tell the difference between Covid-19 and the flu based on symptoms alone. Although policies may differ slightly between schools in the state, NH Grade K-12 Back-to-School Guidance says any person with any new or unexplained Covid-19 symptoms (even if only mild symptoms) should not be allowed to enter a school facility. The individual should contact their health care provider for a Covid-19 test and self-quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Symptoms must also be improved and the student must be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to school. If there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a school, extra cleaning and disinfecting should be done in all areas used by the person who is sick, such as classrooms, offices, bathrooms and common areas. If a member of a school community tests positive for Covid-19, New Hampshire Public Health will work with the school to begin contact tracing.

Are you getting the PPE that you need?

We needed to check with multiple vendors to order the quantity of supplies we anticipate needing, but we were able to order hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, gloves, thermometers and additional PPE. It was helpful that we started the process of ordering early in the summer. Many of these supplies are now backordered.

How will you handle Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks?

At The Derryfield School, classes will be taught virtually from Thanksgiving until mid-January. This will allow for family travel and visiting and also to quarantine before and after visits to keep loved ones and school community members safe. New Hampshire Grade K-12 Back-to-School Guidance says any person who has traveled in the prior 14 days outside of New England should not be allowed to enter a school facility and should self-quarantine for 14 days from the last day of travel. If a student has to travel at other times of the year, we will work with the family to transition the student to remote learning during their quarantine period.

What advice would you give to families about planning for this school year? What should we expect this fall and winter?

What to expect this fall and winter is somewhat unpredictable. It is likely there will be waves of increased Covid-19 infections in New Hampshire. I recommend being prepared for the worst-case scenario.

1. Prepare back-up plans now in case your child needs to be home because their school needs to go remote or your child needs to quarantine for up to 14 days due to possible exposure to someone with Covid-19.

2. Families should have a working thermometer as many schools will require temperature checks each morning before school.

3. Get hand sanitizer for your child to keep in their backpack at school.

4. Check with your child’s school regarding face mask policies. If you need to provide your own cloth masks, be sure the masks you get meet your school’s standards (WHO recommends cloth masks be three-layer).

5. Prepare your child by practicing mask wearing and social distancing (six feet recommended) in public spaces.

6. Prepare your child by practicing good hand hygiene. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If hand washing is not ideal, use hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol).

7. Be sure your child has a flu vaccine.

Maureen Colby

English teacher, John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 on an alternating day hybrid schedule.

How did remote learning go for you and your students last year? What did you learn from it?

I definitely think that it went pretty well, even though it was a super-challenging experience for teachers and families. I’ve got 18 years of teaching under my belt and this was, by far, the most difficult time in my professional career. At first we weren’t sure how long we’d be remote for, so it was definitely hard to have that unknown hanging out there for much of the semester. … Not being able to see my students every day in person felt like a tremendous loss; however, I think that we — teachers and students — learned a lot about the importance of the relationships that we build with each other. One of the best things to come out of remote learning was being able to have virtual individual and small group conferences with students. Obviously, it’s not the same thing as in-person conversation, but being able to provide this attention really helped me to partner with my students so that I could help them to reflect on their progress, set meaningful goals, solve problems and talk about their learning. Time and again, I was blown away by my students’ honesty and insight. … I also think that we gained a better understanding of who we were as people. Sometimes it is easy for teachers to forget that a student comes to their classroom with an entire background that affects how they respond — for better or worse — in any given moment. Our backgrounds were there for all to see during this experience. … I have a five-year-old and there were many times [when] he would interrupt a virtual lesson or meeting. My students were so patient, kind and understanding whenever this happened. … Finally, I think that remote learning really highlighted how everyone learns differently, and how important it is for teachers to continue to use creativity to meet the needs of their learners. Obviously we know this … but it was a powerful reminder that we owe … to our students to provide relevant, rigorous and meaningful learning opportunities that appeal to a variety of interests and needs.

How are you doing things differently for the fall?

We will be using a hybrid model this fall. This will mean that students will participate in remote instruction for three days of the week and will meet for in-person instruction for at least two days a week, depending upon what letter of the alphabet their name begins with.

What do you say to parents who are worried about how all of this is going to affect their kids’ ability to get into and succeed in college? And how is your advice different for freshmen versus seniors?

First of all, I want parents to know that I understand this concern — and that we’re going to work really hard at helping students to develop the skills that they need to succeed in college and their careers. Obviously, we are facing a really challenging time in our country and our world, but I think that this circumstance is providing a lot of opportunities for personal growth. We are all in this together, but our success really depends upon everyone stepping up, taking responsibility and becoming engaged members of their communities. I know that I’m going to have to work really hard at helping my students to practice increased independence and accountability this year. When they are learning from home, I am going to have to trust them to work independently and to use their resources. … Our students have shown a lot of resilience and this is something that we are going to continue to work on. If we view this experience as an opportunity to develop independence, responsibility, resilience and communication skills, I believe that our students will be ready to tackle the challenges of college or their chosen career.

How can parents best help high school-level students with remote learning?

Making sure that students have a place to do school work is a great first step. I usually recommend that this isn’t in the student’s bedroom. Reviewing and posting a daily schedule with class meeting times, lunch and meal breaks, and time for exercise and recreation is helpful. A lot of high school students need support with executive function skills, so communicating the daily plan is a great way to reinforce these skills and to help students stay on track. Using a planner or a checklist also helps students to identify and manage what needs to be done. Lastly, encourage your students to reach out to teachers if they need help, have questions or are struggling. This really helps teachers to better serve their students — and it helps to build a trusting, supportive relationship between your student and their teachers.

Angie Sykeny and Matt Ingersoll

Kiddie Pool 20/08/20

Walk the village

Take a walk through the Canterbury Shaker Village (288 Shaker Road in Canterbury; shakers.org, 783-9511) on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The walks are free; masks are mandatory and social distancing will be in place, according to the website. No reservations are needed; arrive five minutes early.

Walk in the galleries

The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; currier.org, 669-6144) opens to the public on Thursday, Aug. 20. The current exhibits include “Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art” and “Richard Haynes: Whisper Quilts.” The museum will be open Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and closed Monday through Wednesday); for the rest of August, 10 to 11 a.m. will be reserved for members and seniors, according to the website. The museum will have timed tickets, which will be available for purchase online or via phone two weeks in advance. Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for youth (age 13 to 17) and free for children under 13.

Find art outdoors

Watch artists at work, hunt clay monsters and browse a bazaar, plus more in-person arts events

It’s been a trying year for the art world. Galleries and theaters have been closed, art shows and festivals have been canceled and artist collaborations have been forced to go remote or stop altogether. But things are looking up. As restrictions on public gatherings are lightened, some arts organizations have found a way to still hold their events, and to do so safely: take it outdoors.

Nashua International Sculpture Symposium

The sculptors for this year’s Nashua International Sculpture Symposium had already been selected by the time a state of emergency was declared. Jina Lee from Australia (originally from South Korea), Jorg Van Daele from Belgium and Taylor Apostol from the Boston area were expected to arrive in Nashua in May, but the travel ban made that impossible, and with the quarantine order in place, the Symposium’s start date of May 7 was out of the question.

Because the symposium takes place entirely outdoors, organizers and the City of Nashua were hopeful that they could still hold the event later in the year. They set a new tentative start date of Aug. 20 and invited two sculptors from the U.S. — Elijah Ober of Maine and Kelly Cave of Pennsylvania — to join Apostol and take the places of Lee and Van Daele.

“We felt that, if we could figure out a way to continue this annual tradition and do it in a way that is safe, we should do it,” symposium co-chair Kathy Hersh said. “Having it outside is the perfect way to do that, because that’s what we do anyway.”

Started in 2008, the Nashua International Sculpture Symposium was inspired by the Andres Institute of Art International Sculpture Symposium, a similar event held in Brookline every fall. It is the only international sculpture symposium in the U.S. that is held in a city, with the sculptures being placed on public property.

“The idea is that these sculptures belong to the public,” Hersh said. “There are no signs saying, ‘Fragile’ or ‘Don’t touch.’ They are made for people to see, touch, sit and climb on.”

Traditionally, the symposium brings in three experienced sculptors from all over the world. They spend three weeks in Nashua, creating sculptures that are permanently installed at different sites of their choosing throughout the city.

This year’s symposium, however, will look very different. For one thing, it will be the first time that all three sculptors are from the U.S.

“Even though it’s supposed to be the ‘international’ sculpture symposium, I think it’s really exciting to be able to give local and regional artists this opportunity,” symposium artistic director Jim Larson said.

All in their 20s, the sculptors are also the youngest to ever participate in the symposium.

“We really wanted to help out emerging artists, artists who are early in their career,” said Larson, also in his 20s and acting as the sole artistic director for the first time. “This gives them a chance to expand their portfolios with large-scale public work, and to work with new media.”

Rather than creating standalone sculptures to be placed in separate locations, the sculptors will work collaboratively to create their sculptures as a series. All three pieces will be placed together at the west entrance of Mine Falls Park, situated on a secluded wooded hill above the parking lots for a boat ramp and skate park.

“The space itself is definitely off the beaten path and doesn’t get much traffic,” Larson said, “but I think the artists are excited to make work for this forgotten little patch of woods that will surprise viewers as they stumble upon it.”

Some aspects of the traditional symposium, however, will remain the same. Volunteers from the community will still host the sculptors at their homes and provide them with meals and transportation to the worksite. The sculptors will still work six days a week, Monday through Saturday, outside of The Picker Artists collaborative, and, as always, the public will be welcome to observe and interact with the sculptors, as long as they practice social distancing.

“It’s still very much a community project,” Hersh said. “That’s the way it was designed, and that’s the way we want it to be.”

“Being able to see the artists working gives the community a better understanding of where the work comes from and what it took to get it there,” Larson added, “and being able to have that communal experience is meaningful, especially right now.”

The sculptors were all required to quarantine for 14 days before their arrival. They will be kept at least six feet apart from each other at the worksite and “are no strangers to wearing masks,” Larson said, since respirators are needed while sculpting anyway, to protect from inhaling debris.

Visitors will also be required to wear face masks and stay at a safe distance from the sculptors and other visitors.

An opening ceremony will be held on Thursday, Aug. 20, where the mayor, the symposium board, Chamber of Commerce members, funders and others involved with the symposium will welcome the sculptors to Nashua. The ceremony is not open to the public but will be streamed online.

The closing ceremony, at which the finished sculptures will be revealed, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the installation site. The public can attend, as long as they wear face masks and maintain social distance, or they can watch the ceremony online as it will also be streamed.

13th annual Nashua International Sculpture Symposium
Opening reception:
Thursday, Aug. 20, 5:30 p.m., not open to the public but will be streamed online at accessnashua.org/stream.php at 8:30 p.m.
Visit the sculptors: Sculptors will work Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., outside The Picker Artists studios (3 Pine St., Nashua) from Aug. 24 through Sept. 4, and at the installation site at the west entrance of Mine Falls Park from Saturday, Sept. 5, through Friday, Sept. 11.
Closing ceremony: Saturday, Sept. 12, 1 p.m., at the west entrance of Mine Falls Park, open to the public and will be streamed online.
More info: nashuasculpturesymposium.org

Meet the sculptors

Elijah Ober, Maine

What do you enjoy most about sculpting?

I really enjoy how there are so many different stages to it: the conceptual thinking at the start of a sculpture, considering what a material brings to the table, seeing how the material responds. The process is often meditative.

What do you have planned for the symposium?

I’ve been letting the site inspire me. It’s right next to the Mine Falls dam, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the river as a timepiece … and how it creates a sense of time without really telling it. I want to create a work that does that in a similar way.

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

I hope to learn some new skills and get some experience working with new materials that I haven’t worked with much in the past … and [to form] new friendships, connections and a tie to Nashua.

Kelly Cave, Pennsylvania

What do you enjoy most about sculpting?

I love making things come to life, especially as public art. I love the idea of creating work that can talk to a community, introduce people to art and bring people together to admire a space.

What do you have planned for the symposium?

With Covid and so many people losing so much, I’ve been thinking a lot about memorializing loss. … I’ve been doing a lot of research about monuments and memorial markers, and how they’re incorporated into our society. … I definitely want to get there and feel the space first, though, and let the space have its effect on me, so I’m keeping things a little loose.

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

The symposium is very unique in that it’s encouraging us [artists] to talk to each other and have our work talk to each other, so I’m hoping that will lead to a lifelong connection with them, and with people in the community.

Taylor Apostol, Massachusetts

What do you enjoy most about sculpting?

I think it’s the physicality of it, especially with public works. I love making something that draws people in, that people want to touch. I love that sense of interaction.

What do you have planned for the symposium?

My piece will be very connected to the natural setting, but also brightly colored with flocking. … Right now, I’m planning one large piece with a few smaller abstract pieces emerging and scattered around, kind of playing with scale and manipulating form.

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

The experience of shifting to more collaborative work as opposed to installation-based work, and of doing something more spontaneous, taking things as they come, instead of being stuck in that focus, ‘finish-it’ mode like when I’m doing something for commission.

Greeley Park Art Show

Nashua’s 67th annual Greeley Park Art Show is still on for Saturday, Aug. 22, and Sunday, Aug. 23.

“So many art shows have been canceled already,” said Lauren Boss, co-president of the Nashua Area Artists’ Association, which hosts the event. “We didn’t want to take away another show from these artists when we know we can have it safely outside and the park is big enough to spread everyone out.”

Around two dozen juried artists from New Hampshire and Massachusetts will display and sell a variety of artwork, including oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, drawings, mixed media, jewelry, photography and digital art. Works will range in price from under $20 to over $1,000.

“Everyone has their own style,” Boss said. “It’s a good representation of all the talented, professional artists in our region.”

The artists’ booths will be situated 10 feet apart, and artists are encouraged to display their art on the outsides of their booths as much as possible. Visitors must wear masks (masks will be provided to those who don’t have one) and observe social distance from others. There will be hand sanitizing stations set up as well as hand sanitizer at the artists’ booths.

Boss said the Greeley Park Art Show is a “Nashua staple” and an event that people look forward to all year.

“Even though it’s going to be a little different than in past years due to the pandemic, I think this is something people need right now,” Boss said. “People need to be able to get out and do something normal, and if we can help them do that safely, we’re going to do it.”

Where: Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua
When: Saturday, Aug. 22, and Sunday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free admission
More info: nashuaarts.org

Capital City Art Bazaar

The Concord Arts Market and Concord Handmade present the first Capital City Art Bazaar on Friday, Aug. 21, outside in Concord’s Bicentennial and Eagle squares. The evening arts market will feature 10 to 13 local and regional vendors in each square, selling a variety of handmade items like jewelry, pottery, textiles, paintings, photography, home decor, fashion accessories, soaps and more.

The bazaar was originally scheduled to take place in May at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage. Instead of canceling, organizers decided to postpone the event and move it outdoors.

“Having it outside is a viable option, and it’s definitely safer,” Concord Arts Market producer Christa Zuber said.

All vendors are required to wear face masks and have hand sanitizer available at their tables. Attendees are requested to wear masks and not touch the items for sale unless they plan to purchase them. Payment will be contactless, via card.

The bazaar gives artists an opportunity to “get back in the habit” of participating in arts events and selling their work, Boss said, and art lovers an opportunity to reconnect with and support local artists.

“Artists, whether they do [art] as a living or as a hobby, do it because they love it,” Boss said. “After having so many events canceled this year, I think they are really excited to be able to get out in a safe way and talk to people about their art again.”

When: Friday, Aug. 21, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Where: Bicentennial and Eagle squares, Concord
Cost: Free admission
More info: concordartsmarket.net/capital-city-art-bazaar

More outdoor art

• The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth) presents two outdoor author events as part of its Live Under the Arch Series. Meg Mitchel Moore will discuss her book Two Truths and a Lie on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $44.75. Then, Acadia Tucker will discuss her book Growing Good Food on Thursday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $38.75. Tickets include a signed copy of the featured book. Events will be held right outside of the theater. Visit themusichall.org.

• Intown Concord’s Market Month continues in downtown Concord with International Arts Week from Thursday, Aug. 20, through Sunday, Aug. 23, with a full schedule of multicultural music and dance performances, arts and activities on Saturday; and a Sidewalk Sale from Thursday, Aug. 27, through Sunday, Aug. 30. Admission is free. Visit facebook.com/intownconcord.

• The Concord Arts Market takes place in Concord’s Bicentennial Square every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., now through Sept. 26. The juried outdoor market features a variety of art and crafts by local artists and craftspeople. Visit concordartsmarket.net.

Monsters are on the loose again in Manchester. On Saturday, Aug. 22, Studio 550 Art Center will hide 100 small red clay monsters — each a unique and handmade piece of art — around downtown in outdoor places that are typically overlooked, such as windowsills, benches and flower planters. The hunt starts at 1 p.m. and goes until all of the monsters are found. If you find a monster, you get to keep it, and receive goodies, giveaways and discounts from downtown businesses like Dancing Lion Chocolate and Bookery. The person who finds the one colored monster will get a free workshop at Studio 550. It’s free to participate in the hunt. Also on that day from 1 to 3 p.m., Studio 550 will host outdoor low-cost monster-themed activities for all ages. Visit 550arts.com.

• Alnoba (24 Cottage Road, Kensington) will give an outdoor guided tour of its international and eclectic collection of art on its property on Friday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon. Visitors will be able to see the art up close, touch it and hear stories about it and the artists who created it. Tickets cost $15 and must be purchased in advance. Visit alnoba.org.

• Enjoy some outdoor theater with Seussical Jr., presented by All That Drama and Nottingham Parks & Recreation, outside at the Nottingham town bandstand (139 Stage Road). Performances are on Saturday, Aug. 29, and Sunday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation to see the show. Visit allthatdramanh.com.

• The 20th annual Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic is still on for Thursday, Sept. 3, through Saturday, Sept. 5. Head to Ocean Boulevard to watch as 10 of the world’s top sand sculptors compete for cash prizes and awards. Stick around on Saturday for the judging and to vote for your favorite sculpture from 1 to 3 p.m., and for the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. The sculpture site will be illuminated for night viewing through Sept. 13. Visit hamptonbeach.org/events/sand-sculpture-event.

• Theater and baseball come together at “Shakespeare in the (Ball) Park” on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m., at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (1 Line Drive, Manchester). Cue Zero Theatre Company will perform a reimagined baseball-themed version of Romeo and Juliet. Tickets will go on sale soon and will cost $10. Visit cztheatre.com.

• Now, you can take a self-guided audio tour of the public art in downtown Nashua. There are two types of tours — sculptures and murals — with 10 to 15 stops on each. They are offered through the Distrx app (available for free on Android and iOS), which uses Bluetooth iBeacon technology to automatically display photos and text and provide audio descriptions as tourists approach the works of art. Visit downtownnashua.org/nashua-art-tour.

Featured Photo: “For the Love of Friendship” sculpture by Tony Jimenez, near Lovewell Pond in Nashua. Photo by Matt Ingersoll.

Kiddie Pool 20/08/13

Tinker Bell & the Fairy Godmother

The 2020 Bank of New Hampshire Children’s Summer Series wraps up next week at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588). Catch Peter Panon Thursday, Aug. 13, and Cinderella on Tuesday, Aug. 18, or Wednesday, Aug. 19. The kid-friendly shows are at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and are about 45 minutes long. Tickets cost $10 and are only being sold over the phone.

Back to SEE

SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester; see-sciencecenter.org, 669-0400) opens to the general public for weekends starting this weekend, Saturday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 16. Buy tickets and register a time in advance (you can call from the parking lot but openings are not guaranteed), according to the website. Some exhibits and demonstrations will not be open; the rules for visiting (including wearing masks, temperature checks, etc.) are on the website.

Play ball

Sign up for the Fisher Cats baseball or softball camp, which runs next Monday, Aug. 17, through Wednesday, Aug. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. Get baseball instruction from Fisher Cats staff, according to nhfishercats.com, where you can sign up for $125 per child (with discounts for additional children; get a T-shirt for $10 per shirt). The camp is open for kids ages 6 to 15, the website said.

Movie nights

Finding Nemo (G, 2003) will screen Friday, Aug. 14, at 8:30 p.m. (or so, depending on darkness) at Fieldhouse Sports Drive-In (12 Tallwood Dr. in Bow; fieldhousesports.com, 226-4646). Tickets cost $25 per vehicle (for up to four people, $5 for each additional person) and can be purchased online. Tickets may also be available at the gate (cash only).

Catch Back to the Future(a 1985 PG; Common Sense Media gives it an age 10+ rating) on Sunday, Aug. 16, via O’neil Cinemas’ drive-in at The Ridge shopping plaza in Rochester (92 Farmington Road). The screening is one of four held in August by O’neil. Tickets to the Rochester presentation cost $30 per car with up to five occupants (additional people cost $6) and can be purchased in advance at drivedinerewind.com, as can concessions. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the screening starts at 8:30 p.m.

Head to Hampton Beach on Monday, Aug. 17, for Movie Night Mondays on the Beach featuring Frozen II(PG, 2019) starting at dusk, projected to be about 7:42 p.m., according to hamptonbeach.org. Admission is free; social distancing and mask wearing are required, the website said.

Out in Dover, the Dover Public Library (73 Locust St.; library.dover.nh.gov, 516-6050) is kicking off Movies on the Lawn Monday, Aug. 17, at 8:30 p.m. with the movie Labyrinth (PG, 1986; Common Sense Media rates it at age 8+), according to the library website. Showings will be limited to the first 50 people, the website said.

Red River Theatres in Concord (with the Concord Parks & Recreation department and Endicott Furniture) is presenting Toy Story (G, 1995) on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at dusk in Memorial Field. The event is free but preregistration for a spot (with a maximum of six family members per spot) is required. See redrivertheatres.org for the details.

And for a family movie night at home, check out Red River Theatres’ Virtual Cinema’s presentation of One Small Step, a collection of family-friendly short films, according to the website. The collection runs a total of 84 minutes long and costs $8 to rent. Find it at redrivertheatres.org/film/one-small-step-family-friendly-short-films.

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.

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