Everyone’s cup of tea

Teatotaller coming to downtown Concord

Somersworth native Emmett Soldati found success in his hometown with Teatotaller, a cafe featuring everything from scratch-made sandwiches and salads to coffees, espresso drinks, house tea blends and more. Originally launching the concept in 2011, Soldati relocated a few blocks down the road to his current space on High Street in 2016 — now, he’s getting ready to expand the Teatotaller brand in the form of a second location, coming soon to downtown Concord.

On track to open later this month, Teatotaller’s newest spot is in the former Edible Arrangements storefront in the city’s Capital Plaza. The project, Soldati said, has actually been in the works since before the pandemic — from 2018 and into 2019, he had been looking for potential spots in various cities and towns when he was introduced to Concord property manager Steve Duprey.

egg, bacon, and greens sandwich on english muffin
Courtesy photo.

“I got to know Concord very well over that period of time, scoping out spots, and I definitely had an affinity for it,” Soldati said. “I like that it still has a small-town feel … but it’s certainly more bustling and vibrant than Somersworth, and I thought that the business would do really well.”

Soldati’s plan had been to open on Warren Street in early 2020, but Covid had other plans. The Edible Arrangements store closing in the interim gave him an opening to get onto Main Street.

Last month, Teatotaller’s distinguished pink paint went up outside, attracting significant attention and solidifying Soldati’s intentions to open the doors soon. The eatery’s menu will be similar to that of its predecessor — everything will be made in-house with fresh and local ingredients.

“There are aspects of it that will be distinct and unique because of the space … but our goal is to take the success of what is in Somersworth and bring it to Concord,” Soldati said. “I’m very proud of the menu. … I think just having more made-from-scratch things in Concord is exciting. We also sort of describe ourselves as a full-spectrum bakery and kitchen, which means we have a lot of vegan options, both vegan baked goods and savory items, and gluten-free options as well. We’ve had a lot of success accommodating different dietary palates and lifestyles.”

Teatotaller’s breakfast sandwiches, for instance, can be made on gluten-free breads or on the eatery’s own sourdough English muffins. There’s a build-your-own sandwich option in which you can choose everything from a baked egg or tofu frittata to bacon from North Country Smokehouse of Claremont, veggies and house aiolis with flavors like Dijon, chipotle and pesto.

Coffees are sourced from New Hampshire Coffee Co. out of Dover, which makes a custom Latin-American blend just for Teatotaller. There will be a variety of hot and iced drip coffees and espresso drinks, along with around a dozen of the cafe’s own flavored syrups. As for the teas, Soldati has his own brand called Chai Curious, featuring 10 house blends. In addition to being available in various hot and iced drinks, bagged teas will be sold at the shop and are sold online.

Teatotaller also has a few flavors of bubble tea, or homemade milk tea with tapioca pearls. During the pandemic, Soldati launched a bubble tea delivery company called Doorstep Boba, which is now available in multiple cities and towns, including those in and around Concord.

Eventually, Soldati said he hopes to begin holding regular events like drag shows, similar to those at the Somersworth cafe. He also has two mural artists designing the walls of the new space.

“This has been a long time coming and I’m kind of in a state of disbelief that it’s really happening,” he said. “I’m excited. … The thing I always like to remind people is that it’s meant to be a space for everyone. The public is going to come in and use the space in ways that I couldn’t have even thought of or planned … and so, Teatotaller in that sense is like an evolving brand. We’re sort of an open book of what’s going to happen next.”

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Food for the soul

Riley’s Place now open in Milford

When Kimberley King took over the tavern space adjoining Milford’s historic Colonel Shepard House, her vision was simple — to serve a menu of home-cooked comfort foods with some Southern nods, all to complement a weekly schedule of live blues, rock and country acts.

Riley’s Place, named after King’s 5-month-old granddaughter, is the culmination of that vision. The combination eatery and music hall opened April 22, its menu featuring everything from scratch-cooked jambalaya, macaroni and cheese, Cajun rice and beans and cornbread to locally sourced New York-style bagel sandwiches, acai bowls, ice cream and more.

Pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich on a salted bagel. Photo courtesy of Riley’s Place in Milford.

The space most recently housed Zinger’s, a club known for its blues and comedy shows, but its days as a restaurant and tavern go back to the late 1980s. King, a longtime Milford resident, had previously worked there as a manager before she would go on to serve as a food and beverage director for Amherst Country Club. But she always wanted to one day have her own spot — so when she came across the “for lease” sign outside the building, she saw a unique opportunity.

“I just started getting all of these ideas,” King said. “I wanted to bring together all of the things that people love, and make it a comfort food type of place. Nothing fancy, just good food that fills them up, tastes great and makes them happy. [Food] that is good for their soul.”

King recruited Erica Ceravolo to help design the menu and manage the kitchen. Ceravolo grew up working in her grandmother’s bakery in Bloomfield, New Jersey, just outside of Newark.

“I want people to come in, taste the food and feel like they are sitting at their grandmother’s table, not at a bar or a restaurant,” Ceravolo said. “Just that comforting feeling of home.”

Her baked macaroni and cheese, for instance, uses her own grandmother’s recipe, featuring a unique blend of cheeses and the option to add pulled pork, Buffalo chicken or barbecue chicken.

She also bakes her own cheddar biscuits and jalapeno cornbread, while other favorites out of the gate have included jambalaya with andouille sausage and chicken thighs; Cajun beans and rice; and wings, served “dressed” or “undressed” with a blue cheese dressing or Cajun dipping sauce.

Bagels for the sandwiches are sourced fresh weekly from Bagel Alley in Nashua. There’s plain, everything, cheddar, sesame, pumpernickel and salt, and you can get anything from ham, turkey, roast beef or pulled pork on your bagel to tuna salad or cranberry and walnut chicken salad.

As for cold items, Riley’s Place offers nearly a dozen flavors of Gifford’s Ice Cream out of Maine, along with acai bowls featuring granola, sliced bananas and strawberries and a honey drizzle. As the seasons change, King said she would like to explore the possibility of serving a selection of house soups and chowders in bread bowls during the fall and winter months.

In addition to bar seating with a full offering of beers and cocktails, Riley’s Place has a dining area by the stage and additional seating outdoors. Open-mic nights are featured on Tuesdays, with karaoke nights on Fridays and a live local blues, rock or country act on Saturday nights.

A grab-and-go case of sandwiches, salads and prepared foods is also in the works.

Riley’s Place
Where: 29 Mont Vernon St., Milford
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to about midnight. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
More info: Visit rileysplacellc.com or find them on Facebook @rileysplacellc
Live music includes open-mic nights on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., karaoke nights on Fridays, and a local blues, rock or country act on Saturdays, usually from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. or from 9 p.m. to midnight. Veterans, active military service members and police, fire and rescue personnel receive a 10 percent discount on their food orders.

Featured photo: Cheddar biscuits. Photo courtesy of Riley’s Place in Milford.

The Weekly Dish 22/05/12

News from the local food scene

Farmers markets return: The Warner Area Farmers Market returns to the Town Hall lawn (5 E. Main St., Warner) on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will feature a selection of local vendors selling produce, honeys, maple syrups and more. The market is set to continue every Saturday through the end of October. The Concord Farmers Market and the Contoocook Farmers Market, meanwhile, both moved outdoors for the first time this season this past Saturday. Concord’s will continue every week from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Capitol Street, adjacent to the Statehouse lawn, while in Contoocook the market is being held behind the town’s Train Depot (896 Main St.) on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. More outdoor markets are expected to return in the Granite State in the coming weeks, including in Henniker on May 26, Derry on June 1, Pelham on June 4, and Bedford and New Boston, both on June 11.

Herbal harvests: Join the Concord Food Co-op for Easy Growing Herbs, a virtual presentation on Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m. featuring Maria Noel Groves, clinical herbalist and owner of Wintergreen Botanicals in Allenstown. She’ll share information with viewers on how to grow and harvest multiple herbs, like lemon balm, tulsi, Korean licorice mint, bee balm and marshmallow, and will discuss their culinary and medicinal benefits. Groves, who is the author of the book Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies, will be participating in the New Hampshire Herbal Network’s annual Herb & Garden Day, set for Saturday, June 4, at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner. She’ll also host a home herbalist series every Thursday from June 9 through Aug. 25. Visit concordfoodcoop.coop to register.

Dinner at the vineyard: Save the date for a Chef’s Table dinner at Flag Hill Distillery & Winery (297 N. River Road, Lee) on Saturday, May 21, from 7 to 9 p.m., the next installment of an ongoing series of four-course meals with wine, spirit and cocktail pairings under a tent by the vineyard. The dinner will include seared polenta crostini and a local greens salad, along with your choice of an entree (elk osso bucco Milanese, stuffed quail gumbo or grilled cauliflower steak), and torta caprese for dessert. Tickets are $75 per person. Visit flaghill.com.

On the rise: Woodman’s Artisan Bakery, featuring 100 percent scratch-baked breads from country ryes and sourdoughs to multiple flavored options, held its grand opening April 30 in North Nashua. It’s in the former spot of Great Harvest Bread Co. on the corner of Amherst and Sunapee streets. Owner and founder Bill Woodman told the Hippo last month that his product line also includes traditional French butter croissants and pain au chocolat pastries, as well as soft blueberry scones and lightly salted German-style pretzels, and he recently began baking baguettes and ciabatta breads. In addition to featuring a display case of grab-and-go pastries and drip coffee sourced from A&E out of his bakery, Woodman can be found selling his breads at the Concord Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Salem Farmers Market on Sundays. Visit woodmansartisanbakery.com.

On The Job – Nate Preisendorfer

Nate Preisendorfer

Solar energy provider

Nate Preisendorfer is managing partner at Seventh Gen Solar, a solar energy company based in Bow.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I wear many hats. I’m very hands-on with every aspect of the company from bookkeeping to installations.

How long have you had this job?

I started as a solar installer in 2015 and continued in a variety of roles in the solar industry until 2020 when I was presented the opportunity to create Seventh Gen Solar.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

Throughout my lifetime I’ve been fortunate to work and volunteer with organizations that make a positive impact on our world … like The Nature Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Club and AmeriCorps. Getting into solar was a way to continue making a positive impact on our world while working with people who shared my same vision.

What kind of education or training did you need?

When I first started in the solar industry, much of the industry was learned through a hands-on approach. As solar has gained traction, many programs have been created to educate people in financing, design, sales, installation and service. Companies we purchase solar products from … also offer great training with their manufacturing partners.

What is your typical at-work attire?


How has your job changed over the course of the pandemic?

The pandemic and other global issues have created some major hurdles with the supply chain. We’ve been able to have some control over supply chain issues by purchasing solar panels in bulk instead of ordering on a per-job basis, so we can confidently quote and install products that we already have on hand.

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

Having a background in business administration is extremely helpful. Not having a business administration background, I had a plethora of new knowledge to learn. At times it was daunting. The assistance of the Small Business Administration and other business owners and doing my own hours of research was critical in gaining the understanding of state and federal requirements.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

We provide a service that we stand behind. The meaning behind Seventh Gen Solar is that everything we do will have a direct positive impact on the seven generations to come. Being able to provide a service we believe in is what makes working seven days a week worth it.

What was the first job you ever had?

At 16, I worked on an apple orchard, assisting with orchard operations. My second job was working for the Appalachian Mountain Club as a professional trail builder.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

Maintain a balance of work life and home life. Running a small business can be extremely mentally and physically taxing. Making sure that you schedule time to unplug to mitigate burning out is critical.

Five favorites

Favorite book:
The Count of Monte Cristo
Favorite movie: Cool Hand Luke
Favorite music: Chris Stapleton
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite thing about NH: What it offers for personal, economic and health safety … and its abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities and community support.

Featured photo: Nate Preisendorfer. Courtesy photo.

Kiddie Pool 22/05/12

Family fun for the weekend

Play dough science

• The Ralph Baer Projects Club will hold a Play Dough Circuits event at the SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester; see-sciencecenter.org, 669-0404) on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The drop-in lab will explain electrical current and the basics of an electrical circuit, which kids can then create (safely!) with play dough, according to the website, which recommends advance reservations.The event is part of the regular admission to SEE (which costs $10 for everyone ages 3 and up). SEE is open on Saturdays (and Sundays) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays).

The event is one of several events and exhibits related to celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of Ralph Baer, the Manchester resident who is credited with creating the first prototype of a video game, the website said. A Ralph Baer birthday celebration will be held Saturday, May 21, in Arms Park in Manchester (from noon to 2:30), with activities at SEE from 2 to 5 p.m. See the SEE’s website for details.

See the show

• Dav Pilkey fans: Head to the Capitol Center for the Arts (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) for Dog Man: The Musical, based on the comics of George and Harold (in the books by Dav Pilkey), a live musical about the titular hero. The show will come to the Cap Center on Saturday, May 14, with performances at 1 and 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 per person or you can get a family four-pack for $50.

• The kids of the Bedford Youth Performing Company will present Descendants the Musical, a musical production based on the Disney Channel movies about the children of Disney villains and heroes, on Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, May 15, both at 1 p.m., at Goffstown High School. Tickets cost $17.50 for adults, $15 for students and seniors. See bypc.org for more on the dance, theater and music school and for links to the group’s social media, where you can find information on purchasing tickets.

Little gardeners

The New Hampshire Audubon’s McLane Center (84 Silk Farm Road in Concord; nhaudubon.org, 224-9909) will kick off its Buds & Blooms Series for kids and families — a “compilation of six in-person public programs intended to introduce participants to the magic and wonder of our native plants and pollinators,” according to the website — with “Beginner Botany” on Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event is free but registration is required. The website says the material is best suited for children ages 4 to 12 and the first program will include exploring the McLane Center’s Pollinator Garden and a scavenger hunt.

Get out and play

The YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown (116 Goffstown Back Road in Goffstown) will hold a Healthy Kids Day on Sunday, May 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, according to the YMCA’s Facebook post about the event, which said it will feature a bounce house, archery, a low ropes course, crafts, a book fair, snacks and more. Call 497-4663 for more information.

Fairies & gnomes

• The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (2 Washington St. in Dover; 742-2002, childrens-museum.org) is holding its first ever Fairy House & Gnome Home Spring Celebration this weekend, Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15. On Friday, bring a homemade fairy house or gnome home to drop off at the museum to display in Henry Law Park starting Saturday. Or visit the museum to make a packing peanut gnome or fairy house or a paper mushroom hut (and participate in other fairy-related activities and crafts). The fairy and gnome fun continues on Saturday and Sunday, when you can check out the houses brought in and displayed in the park and the museum’s Play Patio (and make your own to add at the natural material building station). Visitors to the museum can take part in more fairy crafts and activities and check out special performances scheduled for the weekend: on Saturday, May 14, it’s Lindsay and her Puppet Pals at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., and on Sunday, May 15, Musical Arts Dover will do a short Fair Ballet performance at 10 a.m.

Admission costs $11 per person, $9 for 65+ (no charge for children under 1). Reserve a spot and pay online in advance; the museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays with sessions from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. and on Sundays with a session from 9 a.m. to noon. (The museum has mask-required and mask-optional sessions; see the website for details.)

Save the date for: Winnie the Pooh at the circus

The middle school students at High Mowing School (Pine Hill Campus, 77 Pine Hill Drive in Wilton; highmowing.org/hilltop) will show off their circus skills and tell the story of Winnie the Pooh at the 2022 Hilltop Circus: In the Hundred Acre Wood. The seventh- and eighth-grade students will present their show of juggling, acrobatics and more on Thursday, May 19, at 4 p.m.; Friday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 21, at 4:30 p.m. The event is described as family-friendly and is open to the public; bring a donation to the Wilton’s Open Cupboard Food Pantry and get a free bag of popcorn, according to a press release. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for kids.

Bulbs, shrubs and trees

Spring blooms I love

Spring has teased us this year. She comes, she goes; warm sunny days are followed by high winds, cold rain and even pellets of ice. But the spring flowers persist, starting with those dainty white snowdrops that appear reliably in early March for me. Let’s look at a few — bulbs, shrubs and trees. Perennials I will do on another day.

Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) bloom with white blossoms on short stems in early March, but seem a bit depressed, I think. They always turn their faces down to the ground. I have some “double” snowdrops that really are gorgeous, but I only see their extra petals when I bend down and turn their faces up. Probably not worth a dollar a bulb, which is what they cost. Snowdrops tend to naturalize, becoming more numerous each year and moving out from flower beds and into the lawn.

After the snowdrops come Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae). These are cheerful blue, pink or white flowers that look up to look at me. Sometimes I think they wink at me, saying, “Hey dude, look at us. We are spring.” I mainly grow the blue ones. These naturalize well, spreading quickly.

Related to Glory of the Snow, but more intense in color and attitude, are Siberian squill, most commonly referred to by their scientific name, Scilla (Scilla siberica).They are a deep purple, and their faces point down, looking at their sneakers.

Along with those flowers come a bright yellow one, Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis). These are low-growing, upward-facing flowers with five to eight petals (actually sepals, but who cares?). Like the others, they tend to spread and increase in number. Order some now, along with the others mentioned, and plant them in the fall.

You know crocus, but you might not know that there are 80 or more distinct species of crocus. Some are very early, others bigger and later. Go online and look at all the varieties. These are good for early pollinators hungry for pollen and nectar.

Daffodils are mildly poisonous to rodents and deer, so they avoid them. Mine are now in full bloom. There are 13 classes of daffies, each quite distinct. Tulips are flavor treats for deer, and rodents love the bulbs. So maybe you should grow them as potted flowers. Or take your chances. Having several cats will help tulip bulbs survive, and a dog will keep the deer away. My favorite is ‘Maureen,’ a 24- to 28-inch-tall late bloomer, but I love them all!

Most trees do not have showy blossoms. Why not? Most are wind-pollinated, so do not need to attract pollinators with flashy blossoms or great fragrances. You might never have noticed the blossoms of pines or oaks or maples. Actually, you must have seen red maples (Acer rubrum) bloom. They are early, one of the first trees to blossom. The blossoms are small and fuzzy in appearance. But there are so many blooming at once, you will notice them if you hike in the woods in April.

But of the showy trees, the best in my opinion is a hybrid magnolia called ‘Merrill’ or ‘Dr. Merrill’ (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’) named after the Director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard in 1952, but actually bred by Karl Sax. It blooms reliably for me in the last week of April and into May. The blossoms are double, fragrant, and 2 to 3 inches across.

This week my leatherwood bush (Dirca palustris) is in bloom with heart-stopping beauty. It is a small native shrub that blooms in dry shade for me. It has lovely gray bark much like beech trees and yellow blossoms that appear before the leaves. The blossoms are small and elegant, and almost seem to glow. It is not a common shrub for sale in nurseries. Mine has upward-growing branches in a vase-shaped arrangement. I love it and visit every day when in bloom.

Then there is February Daphne. Well, maybe it blooms in New Jersey or Virginia in February, but it blooms in April for me. It has lots of small pink-purplish stemless blossoms up its branches. It is highly fragrant. It is only 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, and rarely needs pruning. It is native to Europe and Asia, not here, and is said to spread by seed distributed by birds. But in 20 years I have never seen a volunteer on my property. Some people react poorly to the sap, and the berries are toxic if eaten by humans. It likes a part sun-part shade spot.

Perhaps a better shrub to choose would be a fothergilla, which is native and early. There are two species, Fothergilla major and F. gardenia, also known as dwarf fothergilla. It has wonderful white bottlebrush flowers in May and best of all, it has fabulous fall foliage color. Red, orange, purple and yellow leaves on one plant! It is not a fast-growing plant, and rarely needs pruning.

Another early bloomer and a great producer of berries for birds is small tree or large shrub called shadbush, serviceberry or by its scientific name, Amelanchier spp. I see them blooming along the roadsides in May, nice small white blossoms that remind me of wild apple blossoms. It has nice gray bark, and they often grow as multi-stemmed plants. I have a few, but the fruit is eaten by birds before I ever get to it.

Featured photo: Winter aconite blooms about the same time as snowdrops. Courtesy photo.

Treasure Hunt 22/05/12

Dear Donna,

We have an older home and are looking to replace the shutters. We want older wooden ones.

Can you point me in the right direction as to where to look for bulk supplies? I would need 21 of them total.


Dear Carla,

My first thought is, wow, what an undertaking! But I can appreciate the reuse.

First you need to have an exact measurement of each window needing them. Then when you buy old/antique shutters, most are painted. So you either have to use them in the original color or condition or refinish them, which probably isn’t worth all the cost and effort.

I would start off by looking at flea markets, outdoor shows, salvage stores, etc. Twenty-one is not too big a number to look for. It’s just finding them in usable condition as is!

I think you could pick up the lot of them for $200 or less depending on size and where you find them.

I wish you luck in your hunt!

Wilderness for everyone

Finding access along Manchester’s newest trail

Dan Szczesny


My daughter tears up the brand new All Persons Trail at Manchester’s Cedar Swamp Preserve at full speed. No rock or roots here, nothing too steep, and the hard pack prevents ruts or mud.

In short, this is the perfect trail. And it’s by design.

“Daddy, look at the bench,” she yells after hopping up onto a beautiful sitting space, shaped like a wooden fan. There are six such benches through this 1.2-mile out and back, along with seven points of interest signs.

The Cedar Swamp Preserve is already something of a hidden wonder inside the boundary of New Hampshire’s largest city, but the new all-access trail will certainly become a draw for a different type of nature lover.

According to the Nature Conservancy, the global nonprofit that owns and manages the 640-acre preserve on the city’s West Side, nearly 26 percent of adults in the United States have some type of disability. On average, inside the country’s most populated urban areas, differently-abled folks have an average of 44 percent less park acreage available to them, due primarily to lack of access.

The All-Access Trail aims to change that.

On April 22, Earth Day, the trail was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured politicians, environmentalists and activists from around the state. One of those speakers was Aislinn Graves, a disabilities activist who, along with her husband David, runs a YouTube channel called Wheels in the Wilderness. The channel — part outdoor adventure and part informational channel about mobility assistance hiking — provides “a voice for those in the borderlands between fully able-bodied and fully disabled.”

Graves, a one-time long-distance runner and avid hiker, found her world undone in 1992 after a serious car accident, and then the onset of lymphedema. The couple purchased a mobility scooter and set out on an adventure to get Aislinn back into the wilderness.

“What started out as just a grandma wanting to get out of the house somehow turned me into an accidental activist,” she told me. “But if I can be a voice for the community and if someone is inspired to get up and go chase their dreams and challenge their limits rather than sit home in misery, then that thrills me to no end!”

As for the All Persons Trail, Graves said that the Nature Conservancy has thought of everything. The trail is wide, which makes it easy to maneuver for those in wheelchairs or scooters. The hard pack, even in the rain, prevents getting stuck. And the benches along the way provide resting areas for those with other disabilities. There are also signs and even an audio option. Other improvements that could be made, she said, could be a handicap-accessible picnic area. (The New Boston Rail Trail has an all-access picnic table, for example.)

And the biggest factor preventing more trails like the All Persons Trail from being built?

“Cost is pretty obvious,” Graves said. “And not just cost, but maintenance. If a tree falls, the able-bodied can just step over it. But for someone in a wheelchair, they likely have to turn around.”

Indeed. According to the Nature Conservancy, the trail took three years and $664,000 to complete.

The cost and effort is well worth it, though, Graves said, if for no other reason than to reduce the isolation and depression that some differently abled hikers feel.

“So much of the time, we spend in our head,” she said. “Going for a walk (or a ride) forces you to take a break and just let your mind and body reconnect with nature.”

Meanwhile, my daughter is using the new trail to reconnect to a part of the preserve we’re now able to explore for the first time. She climbs up onto a large rock near the trail, one that suspiciously looks like a kitty head, complete with two pointy ears.

“Cat Rock,” she announces proudly. And just like that, the brand new All Persons Trail has a landmark. Before long there will be many more.

Cedar Swamp Preserve

If You Go

The preserve includes nearly 2 miles of trails beyond the All Persons Trail, providing views of rare flora like the Atlantic white cedar, giant rhododendron, winterberry, cinnamon fern and a large black gum tree. The giant rhododendrons are in full bloom in June. A walk near the Millstone Brook wetlands is a great place to see wetland birds like great blue herons and yellowthroat warblers. In winter, grab a pair of snowshoes and hit the mild trails. The brand new All Persons Trail is a universally accessible trail designed for everyone and intended for use by nature lovers of all abilities and backgrounds.  

Parking and Trail Access

The trailhead to Cedar Swamp Preserve is located along Countryside Boulevard in the Hackett Hill section of Manchester’s West Side. The pull-off, along with about a dozen parking spots, can be found about a half mile south of Hackett Hill Road.

Featured photo: Aislinn and David Graves test out the All Persons Trail with Aislinn’s mobility scooter. Courtesy photo.

The Art Roundup 22/05/12

The latest from NH’s theater, arts and literary communities

Sculptors arrive: The 15th annual Nashua International Sculpture Symposium commences with an opening event on Thursday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m., at the Picker Artists studios (3 Pine St. in Nashua), where you can meet this year’s artists, Anna Miller from Connecticut, Brent Howard from New Jersey and Corinna D’Schoto from Massachusetts. The artists will spend the next few weeks creating three outdoor sculptures based on the theme of “Merriment” for permanent installation in the city. The public is invited to watch them work at the studios Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 16 through June 1. Visit nashuasculpturesymposium.org.

Poems in nature: The Monadnock Writers’ Group will have the award ceremony for its Poetry in the Pines contest on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m., at Cathedral of the Pines (10 Hale Hill Road, Rindge). The contest invited poets to submit short poems of no more than eight lines about nature in New England. Winning poets will read their poems at the event. Visit monadnockwriters.org.

Learn oil painting: The League of NH Craftsmen Meredith Fine Craft Gallery (279 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith) will host a two-part landscape oil painting workshop with Ann Xavier on Sundays, May 15 and May 22, from noon to 2 p.m. Participants will learn about oil painting paints, canvases, brushes and pallets. Sample photos to paint from will be provided. The cost is $70, plus a $35 materials fee, paid to the instructor on the day of the first session. Space is limited, and registration is required. Call 279-7920 or visit meredith.nhcrafts.org/classes.

Live opera: The Raylynmor Opera presents Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) at The Park Theatre (19 Main St., Jaffrey) on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. The opera, co-produced by Salt Marsh Opera, will be performed with English libretto by Ben Robinson. It will be preceded by a fashion runway show with “paparazzi” at 7 p.m., and followed by a cocktail party with the performers. Tickets range from $25 to $45. Visit raylynmor.com/la-cenerentola.

Theatrical disaster
The Manchester Community Theatre Players present The Play That Goes Wrong at the Manchester Community Theatre Players Theatre, located at the North End Montessori School (698 Beech St., Manchester), with showtimes on Fridays, May 13 and May 20, and Saturdays, May 14 and May 21, at 7:30 p.m. In this comedy, anything that can go wrong does as a drama society attempts to stage a 1920s murder mystery. Tickets cost $20 and must be purchased in advance. Masks and proof of vaccination are required to enter the theater. Visit manchestercommunitytheatre.com or call 327-6777.

Detective thriller: New Hampshire Theatre Project presents An Inspector Calls at West End Studio Theatre (959 Islington St., Portsmouth) now through May 22, with showtimes on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The detective thriller, set in England in the early 1900s, is “written like an Agatha Christie-type mystery,” according to director Genevieve Aichele. “It’s a well-paced, clever play with excellent dialogue,” she told the Hippo in April. “The script is excellent, the characters are fascinating and the story is absolutely pertinent to our world today.”Tickets cost $30 ($33.26 with fees) for general admission and $26 ($29 with fees) for seniors, students and veterans and must be purchased in advance. Masks are required in the theater. Visit nhtheatreproject.org or call 431-6644.

Sheep trick
Head to the Deerfield Fairgrounds (34 Stage Road in Deerfield) to meet some sheep and learn all about the state’s fiber industry during the 44th annual New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival, happening on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hosted by the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Association, the two-day event features a variety of demonstrations, 4-H competitions and information booths. Educational workshops are also planned, covering everything from sheep shearing and skirting alpaca fleece to spinning wool into yarn, sheep and alpaca health and more. Admission to the festival is $10 per person and free for kids ages 12 and under (no pets are allowed). A full schedule of happenings throughout the two days is available to view at nhswga.org.

Broadway and more: The New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra performs its Spring Pops concert at Seifert Performing Arts Center (44 Geremonty Drive, Salem) on Saturday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. The program will feature pieces by women composers, including Joan Tower’s “Made in America;” as well as Broadway tunes by Stephen Sondheim and music by Star Wars score composer John Williams. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $8 for students. Visit nhphil.org or call 647-6476.

Suessical auditions: Powerhouse Theatre Collaborative is holding auditions for adults and children ages 6+ for its summer musical, Seussical the Musical!, on Sunday, May 15, and Monday, May 16, at the Belknap Mill (25 Beacon St. East in Laconia).Find information on audition times, the registration form and how to prepare at belknapmill.org/seussical. The show will take place Aug. 12 through Aug. 14 and rehearsals will begin in June, according to a press release.

Absurd murder
The Majestic Academy of Dramatic Arts presents Lucky Stiffsat the Derry Opera House (29 W. Broadway, Derry), with showtimes on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. The murder mystery farce follows an English shoe salesman who is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo and pass him off as a living person. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for seniors age 65 and up and $12 for youth age 17 and under. Call 669-7469 or visit majestictheatre.net.

90 voices: The Rockingham Choral Society will perform two spring concerts this weekend — Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston and Sunday, May 15, at 3:30 p.m. at Christ Church Episcopal in Exeter, according to a press release which said each will feature Mozart’s “Requieum” sung by more than 90 voices and accompanied by a full orchestra. Tickets cost $15 (children 6 and under are free). Tickets are available in advance at rockinghamchoral.org; tickets will be available at the door for Saturday’s performance (Sunday’s performance has limited seating capacity).



• “ECHOES & REFLECTIONS: FROM ABSTRACT PAINTING TO MODERN QUILTING AND BEYOND” exhibition features abstract paintings inspired by the bold colors, asymmetry, improvisational layout, alternate grid work and negative space in composition of modern quilting. Two Villages Art Society (Bates Building, 846 Main St., Contoocook). On display now through May 14. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. Visit twovillagesart.org or call 413-210-4372 for more information.

• “IMPACT! ABSTRACT! Exhibition featuring the abstract work of six local artists, including Ann Saunderson, who works in acrylic, mixed media, oil and cold wax and monotype; Daniela Wenzel, who does oil painting, assemblage, ink drawing, driftwood pyrography and improvised quilt-making; Kate Higley, who does printmaking; Ethel Hills, who works in acrylic; and Grace Mattern, who does mixed media collage. Twiggs Gallery (254 King St., Boscawen). On view now through May 28. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Visit twiggsgallery.wordpress.com or call 975-0015.

• “APPEAL OF THE REAL: 19TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD” exhibition features photographs taken throughout the Mediterranean to record the ruins of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St., Manchester). On display now through June 12. Museum admission costs $15 for adults, $13 for seniors age 65 and up, $10 for students, $5 for youth ages 13 through 17 and is free for children age 12 and under and museum members. Current museum hours are Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Monday through Wednesday. Call 669-6144 or visit currier.org for more information.

• “WARHOL SCREEN TESTS” In the mid-1960s, American multimedia artist Andy Warhol had shot more than 400 short, silent, black-and-white films of his friends at his studio in New York City. Warhol referred to the films, which were unscripted and played in slow motion, as “film portraits” or “stillies.” The exhibition will feature 20 of those films, provided by the Andy Warhol Museum, in loops across four large-scale projections. The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St., Manchester). On display now through July 3. Museum admission costs $15 for adults, $13 for seniors age 65 and up, $10 for students, $5 for youth ages 13 through 17 and is free for children age 12 and under and museum members. Current museum hours are Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Monday through Wednesday. Call 669-6144 or visit currier.org for more information.

• “ARGHAVAN KHOSRAVI” Artist’s surrealist paintings explore themes of exile, freedom and empowerment; center female protagonists; and allude to human rights issues, particularly those affecting women and immigrants. The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St., Manchester). On display now through Sept. 5. Museum admission costs $15 for adults, $13 for seniors age 65 and up, $10 for students, $5 for youth ages 13 through 17 and is free for children age 12 and under and museum members. Current museum hours are Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Monday through Wednesday. Call 669-6144 or visit currier.org for more information.

• “THE PEOPLE’S SCULPTOR: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF JOHN ROGERS” Exhibit celebrates the art of American sculptor John Rogers, who came to Manchester in 1850, and explores the influence that Manchester had on Rogers’ life and work. Presented by the Manchester Historic Association. On view now through September. Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St., Manchester). Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs $8 for adults, $6 for seniors age 62 and up and college students, $4 for youth ages 12 through 18, and is free for kids under age 12. Call 622-7531 or visit manchesterhistoric.org/millyard-museum.

• “NATURE AT NIGHT: PAINTINGS BY OWEN KRZYZANIAK GEARY” Two Villages Art Society (46 Main St., Contoocook). On display from May 27 through June 18. Visit twovillagesart.org or call 413-210-4372 for more information.

ART ON MAIN The City of Concord and the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce present a year-round outdoor public art exhibition in Concord’s downtown featuring works by professional sculptors. All sculptures will be for sale. Visit concordnhchamber.com/creativeconcord, call 224-2508 or email tsink@concordnhchamber.com for more information.

Workshops and classes

• “BLACKSMITHING BASICS” Beginner level workshop. Sanborn Mills Farm(7097 Sanborn Road, Loudon). Fri., May 20, through Sun., May 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The cost is $375. Call 435-7314 or visit sanbornmills.org for more information.



LUCKY STIFFS The Majestic Academy of Dramatic Arts presents. Derry Opera House (29 W. Broadway, Derry). Showtimes on Fri., May 12, and Sat., May 14, 7 p.m., and Sun., May 15, 2 p.m. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for seniors age 65 and up and $12 for youth age 17 and under. Call 669-7469 or visit majestictheatre.net.

THE PRODUCERS A mainstage production of the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester). Now through May 15, with showtimes on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at noon. Tickets cost $39 to $46. Call 668-5588 or visit palacetheatre.org.

AN INSPECTOR CALLS Presented by New Hampshire Theatre Project. West End Studio Theatre (959 Islington St., Portsmouth). Now through May 22, with showtimes on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $30 ($33.26 with fees) for general admission, $26 ($29 with fees) for seniors, students and veterans and must be purchased in advance. Masks are required in the theater. Visit nhtheatreproject.org or call 431-6644.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG Presented by the Manchester Community Theatre Players, located at the North End Montessori School (698 Beech St., Manchester). Showtimes on Fri., May 13 and May 20, and Sat., May 14 and May 21, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and must be purchased in advance. Masks and proof of vaccination are required to enter the theater. Visit manchestercommunitytheatre.com.

CHILDREN OF THE GRIM Presented by Bitter Pill. Players’ Ring Theatre (105 Marcy St., Portsmouth). May 13 through June 5, with showtimes on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $28 for adults and $25 for seniors age 65 and up and students. Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test are required. Visit playersring.org or call 436-8123.

THE BALD SOPRANO Produced by the Community Players of Concord. The Hatbox Theatre (located inside the Steeplegate Mall, 270 Loudon Road, Concord). Fri., June 17 through Sun., June 26. Showtimes are on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $19 for students, seniors and members and $16 for senior members. Visit hatboxnh.com or call 715-2315 for more information.


SPRING POPS BROADWAY AND MORE The New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra performs. Seifert Performing Arts Center, 44 Geremonty Drive, Salem. Sat., May 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sun., May 22, at 2 p.m. Visit nhphil.org or call 647-6476 for more information.

Open calls

THE RHYTHM OF NEW HAMPSHIRE SHOW CHORUS Women’s a cappella chorus is looking for female singers in the region to join. The group, an affiliate of the North American singing organization Harmony, Inc., performs a wide variety of music, including Broadway musical songs, patriotic songs, pop, jazz and seasonal pieces, for community and veterans’ events and private functions. Rehearsals are held weekly on Thursdays from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 W. Broadway, Derry. Masks are required for singing, but both vaccinated and unvaccinated singers are welcome. Visit rnhchorus.org or email info@rnhchorus.org for more information.


Get two weekends of swords, ladies and lords, music and more at the NH Renaissance Faire

Knights, archers, jousters, pirates — you’ll find them all at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, back in person and happening over the course of two weekends, May 14 and 15 and May 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

“We’re very excited,” said Marc Bernier, general manager and president of the Board of Directors for the Renaissance Faire. “There have been a lot of changes because of Covid, and it’s been a lot of work. … Some of our acts and vendors have had to shut their doors either because of their health or [for financial reasons] … [but] we have a number of new acts.”

There are also new food vendors and new interactive activities for kids, including ax and knife throwing. And the whole fair has moved across the street to a bigger field.

“People will be parking in the same parking lot but just walk in the other direction,” Bernier said.

Traditional favorites will be back, including archery demos and practice shooting with the Junior Olympic archery division, as well as the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword and the jousting demos.

Bernier said about 30 percent of the people who attend dress in full Renaissance “garb,” which is what they call costumes, and about 20 percent come in partial garb.

“A lot of people will build their costumes as they go to fairs, so they might start with a tunic and then add a cloak [at the next fair] and then add footwear,” he said.

Each day of the fair has a theme, and visitors are encouraged to dress up based on the day’s theme: There’s Wizards and Fairies Day the first Saturday, and Heritage Day the first Sunday, then Pirates and Barbarians Day the second Saturday, and the last day is Literature, TV and Movies.

“Ren faires have probably gotten a little bit of an odd or bad rap — a bunch of nerdy kids running around in costumes,” Bernier said. “But thousands of people come in [and are able to] let their inner nerd out a little bit, because everyone is doing it.”

The Hippo reached out to some of this year’s entertainers, who shared via email their techniques for getting into character, their favorite part of the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire and more.

Marc Bernier as Master Marcus Bowyer, archer

Bernier is also the general manager and president of the Board of Directors for the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire.

man at renaissance faire dressed in costume
Marc Bernier. Photo by Triple-G Photography.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

I am the general manager of the Faire and I have been involved in ren faires for over 20 years in one capacity or another. I have worked in nearly every aspect of Faire except food service.

What’s your process for getting into character?

I play a variety of characters. The process depends on which, but most of them are primarily based on the garb (costume) the character wears.

What do you do to psych yourself up for performances?

I don’t generally have to. I slide right into the role.

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

This also relates to the character. I try to fit the theme for the day unless I have a specific role. I like being available for pictures with people and improvised interacting.

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

The charity donation we raise is my reason for putting in the work.

J.D. Lauriat as pirate Avery Meritt

Lauriat is the Village Cast Director and Combat Director for New Hampshire Renaissance Faire and one of the members of the musical act The Penniless Jacks.

man in costume at renaissance faire, playing hand drum
J.D. Lauriat. Photo by Triple-G Photography.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

Well, I have been working/performing at various renaissance faires since 2006. I started out as part of a village cast that focused on patron interaction and mixed in a bit of singing and sword fighting. Fast forward to today and I’ve been director at a few events, I’ve been part of several stage shows and performances, and [I have] traveled throughout New England doing everything from acting to fight performance to music shows to directing cast to teaching stage combat.

What’s your process for getting into character?

It ultimately depends on the character that I am playing, but I always tell my cast, especially those who are new to this, to use a piece of your costume as a sort of catalyst for getting into character. It could be your hat, or a doublet, or even something mundane like a pin or brooch that you wear. I’ve played several very different characters over the years, from Pirate to Grave Digger to Nobility. This year, I am simply the owner of a local tavern. For me, it’s often the hat. The main process for getting ready, for me, is to silently role-play or act out a scene that my character might be in. It’s often a variation of the same scene each time, but it’s something that really encompasses the mindset and characteristics of the person I’m going to be playing for the day.

What do you do to psych yourself up for performances?

As I mentioned, I will often play out a scene that the character could be in, but that doesn’t work for all situations. Some shows, when I’m just performing with The Penniless Jacks, don’t lend themselves well to being a character because we spend so much time on stage. So the start of the day is typically a bit of panic with a dash of fear. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years and a stage show still terrifies me, and I suspect it always will. I had a wonderful director years ago tell me that it’s a good sign to have a bit of fear before a show, because it means you care.

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

My character, Avery Meritt, brings a sense of protection to the rest of the village. Many of the locals are unaware of his past, but they know he isn’t to be trifled with. Still, he runs the local tavern and inn, and keeps the doors open as a sort of hospitality house for his neighbors. For the patrons attending the faire, he brings a warm welcome, a bit of conversation, and music to remember.

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

Honestly, aside from the fact that it’s a charity event, I would say the music. Throughout the years, I have seen so many amazing musicians and acts pass through, and many of them have become good friends. I love that it’s a rare moment that you don’t hear wonderful songs echoing throughout the grounds.

Ilkka Eskelinen as Lord Sheriff Alistair Fynne

Eskelinen performs with the Shimmynanigans, belly dancers at the Faire.

man at renaissance faire, resting on cushions
Ilkka Eskelinen. Courtesy photo.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

My regular day-to-day work is as a job superintendent for a commercial construction company, as well as the safety officer and equipment trainer. I’m 52, born in Fitchburg, Mass. I have been a performer since 2010, originally as a villager. I sang shanties with a pirate crew for a few years. I also perform as a Viking, and recently had the honor to lead a service for a Viking-style funeral.

What’s your process for getting into character?

My process for getting into character: It all starts as soon as I wake on the day of faire. Getting my gear together for the day, sorting through and choosing what particular accouterments I’ll wear that day. While my costume stays fairly constant, I’ll adjust my outfit based on the temperature and weather outlook. My mindset, I go through a mental checklist of what’s lined up for the day, meet up with my fellow castmates and confirm everything is set. If doing stage combat, doing a few dry runs to make sure my partner and I have things in order.

What do you do to psych yourself up for performances?

I remind myself of some of my favorite memories from previous faires. One story in particular stands out, and I’ll try to keep it brief but I’d like to share it so you have the mental picture. Around 10 years ago, I spent some time chatting with a woman at faire, and was about to head off to a show. I asked for her hand, kissed it gently, and wished her a good day. She started crying! I asked what was amiss, and she told me (paraphrase) that no man ever pays her as much attention as I did that day. I still remember what I said to her (paraphrased of course): “Miss, you are very lucky! You have avoided being stuck with some idiot who doesn’t appreciate you! You are now free for an intelligent man to see you for who you really are, and be who you deserve.” I saw her again the following year at faire, and I didn’t recognize her at first. She had lost a lot of weight, changed her style, and introduced me to her boyfriend of several months. How wonderful is that?! The thought of making someone’s day even a little brighter, bringing a smile, a laugh, a shared moment — it brings me back year after year.

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

I am a wandering performer. I travel around the site, greeting people, engaging in conversations, perhaps joining a wandering singing group to sing a song. … This year we are introducing stage combat, and I will be doing a fight with one of the villagers. I love to make folk laugh. We never know what kind of day someone is having when they set foot onto the faire site. If I can bring a smile, a laugh, and give them a pleasant memory to take away from the day, it is all worth it.

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

Aside from my wanderings, my favorites are watching full-contact fighting in armor, such as The Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword, or listening to the various singing groups and their stage performances, like The Penniless Jacks, The King’s Busketeers, and Myschyffe Managed.

Brian Caton as Sir Brian de Caton, Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword

Caton formed the historical reenactment group at the Faire that demonstrates combat.

men in armor fighting in front of audience at Renaissance faire.
Photo courtesy of Brian Caton.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

Well, I started in the ren faire scene roughly about 26 years ago as a merchant but joined a reenactment group that performed at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire in 2007. In 2015, several educators in the group and I formed the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword.

Our primary focus is educational reenactment of the medieval time period. Our goal is to show the difference between real history and Hollywood. We present at ren faires and schools throughout New England. At faire we will set up a hands-on medieval encampment where patrons can come in and see people performing period chores and also try on armor and weapons.

We also perform several types of presentations. One being our weapons presentation/life on the battlefield presentation. Another, and our most popular, is our fully armored, full steel fight show where we demonstrate fighting styles of the time period and modern-day tournament fighting in full-speed, full-contact combat.

What’s your process for getting into character?

My character, Sir Brian de Catton, portrays a knight from 1475 Yorkshire England. My armor and garb are all patterned off examples from the time period and are all handmade. At NHRF, I am also the Queen’s Champion.

What do you do to psych yourself up for performances?

I’d say that I start psyching up for the faire or getting into character by putting the garb on in the morning and our fighters, myself included, start psyching up for the fight show with the process of putting the armor on. Which can be a pretty involved process.

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

My favorite part of a faire is experiencing the crowds and especially the children when they see our fighters in armor and when they themselves get to try the armor. The making of memories is very important to us.

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

At NHRF, my favorite part is the Faire family that has come together to put on the charity event. From performers, merchants to volunteers and staff. There is a real sense of family at the event.

Danny Scialdone as Lord Aspergillius Gleekman

Scialdone is also the entertainment director of the Faire.

man dressed in jester hat, riding pony with horn on its head
Photo courtesy of Danny Scialdone.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

I have been performing as a variety of characters at renaissance faires for 15 years now and found my way to NHRF in 2011 as their first official court jester, Aspergillius Gleekman, joining the rank of the royal court. In 2012, I took on the role of entertainment director for NHRF as well as Treasury Senior Officer for the Three Maples Renaissance Corp (a 501(c)3 charity organization). As for my character, Aspergillius is an energetic, spontaneous silly man that tends to do just the thing you don’t expect him to … he likes to keep people on their toes. A trusted advisor to Queen Catherine and a compassionate soul that ensures that there is a smile on everyone’s faces.

What’s your process for getting into character?

Put on my garb, simple as that. Aspergillius is really just my own everyday goofball personality, which makes it very easy for me to get into character … put on my costume (or “garb” as we call it), flip the switch, and off I go … 40 jingle bells and all!

What do you do to psych yourself up for performances?

Honestly, nothing really. Just like I said, flip the switch.

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

Happiness, smiles and laughter

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

That is a tough one, there are so many … if I had to pick one, I would say the interaction with patrons, especially the kids. Kids really soak up the whole renaissance faire experience like no other, you can actually see the magic in their eyes and smiles. The best ones, though, are those that are only at the faire because they got “dragged along” by friends or family. When they come through the gate they arrive with an obvious disinterest, but by the end of the day, they end up having the time of their life and can’t wait to come back!

Brian Weiland of the Misfits of Avalon

The Misfits of Avalon will perform the second weekend of the Faire.

3 string musicians standing in arched stone windows, dressed in historic costume
Photo courtesy of Brian Weiland.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

My group is called the Misfits of Avalon, and we are a Celtic music act based in Massachusetts. Since our founding in 2009 we have at one time or another performed at pretty much every renaissance faire in New England, including performing at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire every year since 2011. The core of the group is two lifelong best friends — myself on the hammered dulcimer and mandolin, and Max Cohen on guitar and vocals. All three of my children have also performed in the group over the years, and currently my youngest son, Aiden, is our fiddler. When I am not at faire I am a public school music teacher, and Max is a full-time professional musician.

What’s your process for getting into character?

Our characters are basically street musicians, which in renaissance terms means that we are definitely among the lower-class inhabitants of the realm! We therefore mostly wear simple peasant garb, though when we want to look a little fancier we sometimes wear full kilts. My mindset as a renaissance musician is actually not dissimilar to my mindset as a modern musician: I am there to hopefully gladden the hearts of all who hear me, from the humblest peasant to the queen herself!

What does your character/act bring to the ren faire?

Hopefully what the Misfits of Avalon brings to the faire is a little bit of beauty, a little bit of history, and maybe even a little bit of magic. I have for my entire life believed that music is a form of magic, and we do our best to cast good spells! We play several stage shows each day, but we actually spend the majority of our time — pretty much every moment when we are not on stage — busking around the fairgrounds, so that as visitors wander around throughout the day, the delicate ethereal tones of the hammered dulcimer playing beautiful Celtic melodies transports all within the realm back to a more mystical and beautiful time and place!

Aside from your own act, what’s your favorite part of the faire?

My favorite part of faire is the friendships and camaraderie. The people who work at ren faires are some of the most wonderful creative talented quirky people I know. We all have our own mundane lives and jobs and burdens, and we all live in this great big complex world, but we have all chosen to invest a pretty serious amount of time, effort, preparation and money in order to occasionally get together and create this little alternate world whose entire function is to share and inspire joy. I love being part of a community that does that!

New Hampshire Renaissance Faire

When: Saturdays and Sundays, May 14 and 15, and May 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Where: 80 Martin Road, Fremont

Cost: Adults $18; kids over 4 $12 and kids 4 and under get in free. Tickets available at nhrenfaire.com or at the faire, and proceeds support the New Hampshire Food Bank and Rockingham Meals on Wheels.

Event is held rain or shine; check nhrenfaire.com in case of extreme weather.


Information according to the schedule at nhrenfaire.com.

Children’s Glen: Games, crafts and fun activities for the kiddies! Let them test their coordination on Jacob’s Ladder.

Archery Range: Archery at the Three Maples run by JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development). Free to play, but donations to JOAD are encouraged!

Craft Demonstrations: Many merchants will be demonstrating their craft at their booths, such as weaving, leather work and jewelry making.

Encampment Demonstrations: Visit the knights from the Brotherhood of the Arrow & Sword in the backfield and check out their camp, armor and weapons. Or visit our pirates and gypsies and see what trouble they’re up to!

Charity Wench & Lad Auction: Bid on goods donated from vendors and modeled by strapping lads and lovely wenches.

Bellydance Lesson: Learn to bellydance with the Shimmynanigans.


See performance schedule and map at nhrenfaire.com.

B.O.N.E.S. – New England Pirate Guild sings songs of the sea

Brother Sylvan – Poetry and readings from the traveled wandering bard

Duchess of Yorkshire Pudding – Whimsical tales, stories and songs of the heartwarming Duchess of Yorkshire Pudding

Gibbon The Troubadour – The minstrel plays a wide array of Irish-Celtic, nautical and folk songs

Guy Todd, Wandering Harpist – Enchanting music that will take you to another place and time

IJA – A group of jousters from all over brings the thrill of the “Game of Kings”

Medieval Music Jam – All of the faire’s talented musicians and musical performers come together for one big musical performance

Michael OJ Magician – Magic and illusions

Phoenix Swords – Medieval performance troupe demonstrates sword and weapon combat, fire breathing and flame handling

Primrose Pirates – Sword fighting and live black powder

Shimmynanigans – Bellydancing gypsies

Sir Timothy the Enchanter – The first-ever bullwhip act at the faire

The Brotherhood of the Arrow & Sword –Historical reenactment group demonstrates fully armored live steel combat

The Corr Thieves – Action and humor-filled show

The Dirge Queen – A musical queen

The Foxy BardPG13 – Roving bard playing folk-rock, Celtic rock and medieval songs

The Harlot QueensPG13 – Acapella singing queens

The Harper and The MinstrelMay 14 & 15 only – Historically inspired performances of Medieval, Renaissance and Celtic Music

The King’s Busketeers – Band of musical bards with Irish pub songs, shanties and more

The Longshanks: Stilt Walkers & Storytellers – A storytelling duo wandering about the shire on stilts

The Misfits of AvalonMay 21 & 22 only – Duo of minstrels playing contemporary and traditional Celtic songs on the harp, guitar and hand dulcimer

The Penniless Jacks – Old-style pub music trio singing shanties and rousing rebel songs

The Pillage Idiots – Silly stories, songs and tales from a crew of comedic pirates

The Shank PaintersMay 21 & 22 only – Sea-shanty singing trio

Two and a Halfwits – Improv comedy group

Queen’s Tea – Bring the wee ones for lemonade and cookies with the Queen herself

Featured photo: J.D. Lauriat, left, and Andy Prete, right, of the Penniless Jacks. Courtesy photo.

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