Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

The 75th Annual Cheshire Fair

The theme for this year’s Cheshire Fair is “Love What’s Old – See What’s New.” The Fair runs from Wednesday July 31st through Sunday August 4th.

The Cheshire Fair is one of the largest festivals of its type in the area, with five activity-filled days. The fairground opens at 8AM every morning.  Each day will be filled with animal shows and contests, educational seminars, and shows by comedians, musicians, and other entertainers.  And – of course – the Midway!

Ten demonstration gardens will be on display, including a patio garden, hydroponic garden, and an herb alley.  The Cheshire Fair Horse Show starts Friday August 2nd at 2PM and continues through Sunday afternoon August 4th.

Saturday at Noon will be the Fair Parade.  Special Grandstand activities are: Thursday evening – Battle of the Bands; Friday and Saturday afternoons – 4×4 Truck Pulls; and Sunday afternoon –  Demolition Derby.  A full schedule of Fair events is available on the Fair’s website.

The first day of the Fair will end with fireworks at 9PM.  Thursday through Saturday the last activity starts at 7PM; on Sunday the Lumber Jills end the Fair with their 6PM show.

The Fair will be at the Cheshire Fair Grounds at 247 Monadnock Highway in Swanzey.  Tickets to the Cheshire Fair may be purchased in advance by calling 603-357-4740; children 4 and younger are admitted free.  There are additional charges for Grandstand events and Midway activities. Some campsites are also available. For more information on tickets, click here.

The Cheshire Railroad Stone Arch Bridge in Keene

New England is famed for its covered bridges, but its stone arch bridges are also deserving of admiration.  One of New England’s most impressive stone bridges is the one in South Keene.  Traveling west on 101, shortly after exiting Marlborough, one may see a massive white-gray stone span to the left of the road; this is the celebrated Cheshire Railroad Bridge.


When Keene was bypassed by other railways in the mid-1800’s, the residents banded together to form a railroad company that would connect Keene to other towns in New England; the Cheshire Railroad Company was the result.  This structure was built in 1847 as a part of the rail line for the Cheshire Railroad which went from Winchendon, Massachusetts to Bellows Falls, Vermont.  From Winchendon, the line connected with other railways to enable people to travel all the way to Boston.

This arch over the Branch River was one of the most demanding sections of the railway built; it has a span of 90 feet and is over 50 feet high. It is built of split-faced granite ashlar stones quarried from the nearby Thompson Farm in Roxbury, NH.  It is considered one of the most impressive stone arch structures built in the United States before 1850.  It wasn’t until the 20th century that other bridges were built to rival its height, span, or mass.

The railway was abandoned in 1972 and was eventually taken over by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation; the bridge is currently administered by the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development as part of its hiking trails division.

By the mid 1990’s the bridge was deteriorating, but due to a concerted effort by local historic and preservation groups and Keene city officials, the bridge was restored to its current condition with the aid of state and federal funding.


The bridge is open to pedestrians, and is a favorite of rock climbers.  Please note if visiting this site: there are no railings on the bridge or its approaches, so one must be careful walking on or near it.

The bridge was placed on the National Historic Register in 2012.  For a detailed history of the bridge with construction and engineering facts, consult the application that secured its place on the Register, available online.

Country Cuisine 10: Zeppelin & Kaleidoscope in Marlborough

Zeppelin & Kaleidoscope is one of the few vegetarian/vegan restaurants in this area of New England.  They aim to please, and will delete or substitute ingredients to fulfill the patron’s request.

Its breakfast menu, which includes bagels, egg and cheese sandwiches, etc., is served all day.  For lunch and dinner, they offer soups, wraps, five different veggie burgers, and eight kinds of sandwiches, including the Inner Child (a cheese panini) and The Fungus Among Us (a mushroom, onion, and cheese panini).  Their reuben is vegetarian, as is their Green Monster salad platter and their Falafel platter, which features chickpea croquettes.   20130622_131915-1

Zep & Kal serves a wide variety of natural drinks, including juices, carbonated beverages, fair trade coffee, and teas.  Cakes, cookies, muffins, and ice creams feature in their dessert list.

There are four tables inside and six outside during good weather.  The restaurant also has a grocery area, with a large selection of natural, organic, vegan, and gluten free foods, including spices, teas, cookies, candy, nut butters, etc. –  even Marmite.  They also carry a selection of natural and ecological friendly cleaning supplies and housewares.

Zeppelin & Kaleidoscope is open seven days a week, from early morning to early evening. Check out their website for their menu and hours.

When you stop at Zep & Kal, you may want to spend some time exploring some of the interesting shops in town.  Along 101 (Main Street) there are several unique stores: Inkubus, Mother’s Hardware, Muse Books & Gifts, and the Homestead Bookshop; most are just a short walk from the Zeppelin & Kaleidoscope restaurant.

Inkubus specializes in gothic clothing and accessories for adults and children.  Mother’s Hardware is an independent locally owned hardware store with great customer service; their motto is: “Old time service with all the modern perks.” Muse Books carries metaphysical items such as crystals, books, tarots, incense, candles, statuary, jewelry, etc.  The Homestead, a short drive from the restaurant,  has one of the most extensive collections of gently used books in New England, presided over by the very knowledgeable owners, Robert and Connie Kenney.

Country Cuisine 9: Audrey’s Cafe in Dublin

Audrey’s Café is one of the few eateries on the stretch of State Route 101 between Wilton and Keene.  If you’re in the area and a little peckish, it’s definitely worth a stop.  20130622_121238-1-1

Audrey’s motto is “Classic Meals with a Twist,” which is borne out by their extensive menu.  Everything is prepared to order.  Their breakfast menu has everything you would expect, with interesting variations on some traditional dishes, like their Seafood Omelet with Mornay sauce, and Creole Eggs (a type of eggs benedict) with a hint of New Orleans.

Their lunch and dinner menu features sixteen sandwich and wrap offerings as well as comfort dishes like meatloaf, pot roast, and pork pie (a classic tourtiere).  Their six types of burgers include a Cheddar Turkey Burger and a Black n Bleu Burger.  Hearty pasta, fish, and rib meals are great for lunch or dinner.  Salads, appetizers, and daily specials round out the menu.  Desserts include chocolate mousse, ice cream, etc.  Almost all entrees are priced at $ 10.00 or less.

The waitstaff is friendly and very competent, and make you feel at home. The décor is “country casual,” with booths and tables a spaced comfortably apart and several windows letting natural light in.

Audrey’s Café is located at 13 Main Street (State Route 101) in Dublin, near the Marlborough border.  Audrey’s serves breakfast and lunch on Sundays and Tuesdays through Saturdays, and adds dining hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings; closed Mondays. (Hours subject to change; check out their facebook page for current schedule.)

The Gilsum Rock Swap & Mineral Show

One of the largest shows of its kind in New England, the 49th Annual Gilsum Rock Swap and Mineral Show will be held on Saturday June 22nd and Sunday the 23rd on the grounds of the Gilsum Elementary School and Community Center, 640 Route 10 in Gilsum.  Amethyst

Over 65 dealers of gems, minerals, jewelry, geodes, and fossils will be participating.  Some specimens will be in the condition they were when they came out of the earth, but there will also be many polished specimens, and minerals made into jewelry, bookends, tableware, etc.  Some dealers swap as well as buy, so if you have an item you would like to exchange, bring it along. In addition to the dealer tables, there will be presentations for the budding rock hound, maps of local mines, panning demonstrations, etc.  table display

Refreshments will be on sale.  Limited camping spaces are available for a small fee.  Admission is free; contributions to help defray costs are encouraged. The Gilsum Rock Swap and Mineral Show will be held rain or shine.  Hours: Saturday 8AM to 6PM, Sunday 8AM to 4PM.  For more information, see the Show’s website.  Jewelry

Keene Restaurant Week

During Greater Keene Restaurant Week 2012  –  running from Monday 4/23 through Saturday 4/28  –  15 restaurants will be offering special low-priced menus to entice you to try their cuisine.   This is a great time to try a new eatery or to return to one you know but haven’t been to in a while.   Restaurants participating include traditional ones such as Papagallo’s, Luca’s, and Timberview (at the Keene Country Club), Asian eateries like Thai Garden, casual ones like Fireworks and Ramunto’s, and popular night spots such as Fritz, the Elm City Brewing Company, and Waxy O’Connor’s Traditional Irish Pub.

For more information on Greater Keene Restaurant Week –  including sample menus –  click here.