Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

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

Keene Ice and Snow Festival 2014

On February 8th downtown Keene will host its annual Keene Ice and Snow Festival.  From 10AM to 4PM,  Central Square will be festooned with ice and snow sculptures – and there will be lots of fun activities to participate in.Keene 2/8/2014

Help judge the snow sculptures, join the snowball throwing contest, build a snowman, or have your photo taken with the Ice Princess, Polar Bear, and the Snowman.  Warm up with hot chocolate, s’mores, and more!  Be entertained by magician Ben Pratt and enjoy the other entertainers and food sellers.   DSC_3620

For some colorful photos of previous years’ Festivals, check out the “Keene, NH Ice and Snow Festival” Facebook page.  This event is co-sponsored by the Monadnock Travel Council and the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the Keene Ice and Snow Festival, click here.


Ice Fishing & Bob Houses 2014

With the extreme cold temperatures we have been experiencing recently, ponds and lakes have frozen over throughout the state.  Many souls brave the extreme temperatures to install temporary housing on NH’s bodies of water; within the course of a few weeks, hundreds of small structures dot the lakes and ponds throughout the state.bobhouses13113c

Bob houses, portable “shanties,” as they are called by those in the know, are wheeled or pushed onto ice-covered bodies of water by die hard fisherman and their friends and followers each winter. No one knows for sure where bob houses got their name. There are various theories: they could be named for the bobsleds that some used to bring their shacks out onto the ponds, or because “bob” is an old fashioned term for short or small (as in bobtail or bobbed hair), or because your shanty will be bobbing in the water if you leave it out on a lake too long.

Statistics show that 25{6da90d3849ec5634a5b7617fb2fe46a655feac6f5bf56f53403b0961171136b9} of New Hampshire fishing enthusiasts enjoy going out to fish regardless of the cold weather. Fishing on one of the state’s many lakes and ponds is a great winter pastime. While some people fish out in the open, many bring a plastic tent, the true (and experienced) fisher folk bring shacks out onto the water bodies. These shacks can be crude plywood constructions, or they can be small well-constructed shed-like houses that have carpeting, electricity, stoves, and even heaters and televisions. There are stories of some shanties that not only have lighting, but have crystal chandeliers. Chatting with friends and downing cold drinks (that don’t need any artificial refrigeration) is a great way to while away the hours while you wait for a pull on your line. After drilling holes in the ice with your auger, you can sit back and relax until the active cold weather fish – perch, pike, crappie, and others – tug your line to get your attention.

Bob Houses on Lake Potanipo

The bob house and ice fishing season is from ice-in, usually in December, to ice-out, usually in mid-April. Lakes under State trout and salmon management have an official season of January 1st through March 31st. But don’t venture onto the ice without checking with locals to make sure the ice is thick enough to support you and whatever you are bringing with you. All bob houses must be removed from lakes and ponds by April 1st, but of course, if it’s unseasonably warm, remove it – or lose it – before the ice cracks under the weight of your home and/or vehicle. Every year there are tales of lost houses….

There are a lot of friendly get-togethers among bob house fishermen and women, and they have a lot of fun out on the ice. For the more serious sportsman, there are dozens of competitive ice fishing tournaments across the state, but the one that attracts the most participants is Meredith’s annual Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. As many as 6,000 anglers compete for dozen of prizes, including $ 50,000+ in cash prizes.. This year Derby Weekend will be February 8 – 9. For details, visit the Meredith Rotary Club website.  For details of other ice fishing tournaments, click here.

If you want to try bob housing, check out the New England Sportsman’s extensive ice fishing website. The NH Fish and Game Commission has a good site with the regulations everyone should observe.

On the other hand, if you want to try to convince someone to come in from the cold and give up ice fishing, you may want to show him or her this short video.

First Night Portsmouth 2014

The First Night tradition began in Boston in 1976 and has since spread throughout the country. In New Hampshire, Wolfeboro in the Lakes Region and Portsmouth on the Seacoast are the state’s two official First Night celebrations.  First Night Portsmouth is organized by Pro Portsmouth, a local nonprofit group.  Downtown Portsmouth

First Night includes activities for both children and adults.  Events start around 1PM with ice sculpting in Market Square.  Indoor programs for younger participants begin at 4PM with puppet shows, magicians, storytelling, and face painting in several downtown venues.  At 5PM, the Pontine Theatre will present “Cap’n Eli’s Best Ear,” a puppet performance based on a 19th century story.

Musicians will be in various locations throughout the area.  The New Connie Bean Center will feature a “Battle of the Bands” from 8 to 10:30PM. Local singers will be featured at the Middle Street Baptist Hall starting at 8:15PM.  T. J. Wheeler & Company will be at North Church from 8:15PM.   At South Church there will be a chili cook-off and gospel and folk music.  The Randy Armstrong Trio at Temple Israel will feature world fusion jazz. North Church

The Seacoast Repertory Theater will host Poor Howard and Bullfrog, a blues band, from 5 to 7PM, followed by psychic/illusionist Roderick Russell at 8PM.  The NH Theater Company is offering “Singing in the New Year: A Comic Cabaret” at the West End Studio Theatre.

Outdoor activities will be centered around Market Square, with a street dance on Pleasant Street beginning at 5PM, fireworks at South Mill Pond at 7:30PM, and of course, the Countdown to Midnight in the Square.

The First Night Portsmouth’s website has full details about the events and locations.  You will need a First Night Portsmouth 2014 Button to gain entry to the indoor activities; the buttons may be purchased online by clicking here, or at the Portsmouth Hannaford’s, the Flower Kiosk, G. Williker’s,  and People’s United Bank branches in the NH Seacoast area and nearby ME locations.

Most downtown streets will be open to traffic; but Pleasant Street from State Street to the Square, Church Street (next to the North Church) and Parrot Avenue (from Richards to Junkins) will be closed.  The parking garage at Hanover Street will offer reduced rate parking starting at 4PM.  There will be a free shuttle for all First Nighters, which will transport celebrants between the various event locations.

First Night Portsmouth will be an afternoon and evening of fun-filled activities for all ages.  Don’t miss it!

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth 2013

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is a month-long celebration of the December holiday season.  The leading sponsors, the Strawbery Banke Museum and the Music Hall, have planned holiday-themed caroling, strolling, musical productions, and other activities for almost every day in December. The Boston Globe called this celebration of the season “One of the top ten holiday things not to miss in New England.”    Portsmouth Xmas Tree

Traditional winter decorations enliven the downtown area, and holiday themed presentations at the Music Hall make this a very festive time in New Hampshire’s old port city.   Special productions include stagings of The Nutcracker (Dec. 14 & 15), concerts by local choruses (Dec. 18 & 19), and a Messiah sing (Dec. 20).            DSC00777

Strawbery Banke’s Candlelight Stroll – every Saturday and Sunday through December 22nd – features musicians, carolers, and presenters interpreting how holidays were celebrated in years past; it is a major highlight of Vintage Christmas. Strawbery Banke (6)

There is an admission charge for most activities.  For full details, visit Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth’s website.

The 2nd Annual New Hampshire for the Holidays Expo

Manchester’s Radisson Hotel Expo Center will once again be the locale for New Hampshire for the Holidays.  This seasonal fair will be held on Saturday the 7th from 10AM to 8PM and Sunday the 8th from 10AM to 4:30PM. The Expo Center will be transformed with holiday decorations and live entertainers to amuse and delight visitors.  It will be the perfect place for gift shopping, with over 50 local exhibitors offering their wares.

Featured will be select New Hampshire and New England crafters, artists, jewelers, and service providers, including Aaron Slater Glass, Bloomingstars Arts, Just Naturals, and the Moose Mountain Candle Company. Many local gourmet food companies such as Simply Delish, The Crust and Crumb, The Cozy Tea Cart, Simply Cannoli, and the Three Acre Kitchen will also be present to introduce their delicious creations.

The entertainers include bell ringers, Christmas carolers, dancers, and Santa, of course! There is a small admission charge, with discounts for seniors and children, and also a $ 1 discount for anyone who brings in a nonperishable food item to contribute to the NH Food Bank. The Expo Center is adjacent to the Radisson Hotel at 700 Elm Street in Manchester.  For more information on the New Hampshire for the Holidays fair, go to their webpage by clicking here or visit their Facebook page.

Unique Shopping Opportunities: Gibson Pewter in Hillsborough

In an era of mass produced throw-aways, it’s great that some craftsmen and artisans are carrying on the centuries-old tradition of crafting one-of-a-kind items by hand. In Southern New Hampshire we are very fortunate to have Gibson Pewter, a second-generation family craft shop in Hillsborough.

Jonathan Gibson today carries on the craft he learned from his father growing up, using lead-free pewter. The shop is filled with reproductions of 18th and 19th century tableware, Christmas ornaments, and other original creations that he has fashioned. Gibson Pewter 2

Although Gibson’s works are represented in the collections of the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, they are very affordable. Gibson Pewter 2

From talking with Jon Gibson, you can see how much he loves his work. He was featured in a WMUR Chronicle segment, available by clicking here. His excellent workmanship is easy to see. 

Gibson Pewter 3

The Gibson Pewter Shop is located in a 250-year old barn in Hillsborough Center at 18 East Washington Road; it’s open Monday through Saturday from 10AM to 4PM. Visitors are encouraged and demonstrations are frequently given. Gibson Pewter sign

If visiting the shop is not possible, check out the Gibson Pewter website; it is very comprehensive, with a gallery of the works that are currently available and directions for ordering by mail or phone.

2013 Winter Holiday Stroll in Nashua

The Winter Holiday Stroll will enliven downtown Nashua on Saturday November 30th.  Beginning with a candle light procession from City Hall to Railroad Square at 5PM, the downtown area will host a variety of entertainments for the evening, until 10PM.  Many area streets will be closed to traffic to allow strollers to walk to the many shops open late that day and to enjoy the 34 music venues set up along Main Street, West Pearl Street, and other nearby lanes.  Hunt Building

There will be musical performances for everyone’s taste, from folk (the Cow Hampshire Folk group), classical (Merrimack Valley Flute Choir), and traditional (Steve Blunt), to jazz (The Legionnaires), soul (Queen City Soul), rock (Bellwire) and psychedelic (Megafauna).

The Artists Collective Theater will be previewing their “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.”  The Peacock Players and the Upstage Dramatics Arts will also be featured. The Northern Ballet Theatre and other dance companies will be among the 50+ groups that will be performing.

In addition to music and theater offerings, the Holiday Stroll will feature magicians, martial arts and lumberjack demonstrations, and ice carving.  The New Hampshire Astronomical Society will be manning telescope stations to show visitors our starry heavens; the Bishop Guertin Robotics Team 811 will be exhibiting their basketball-playing robot, GROM.  And it wouldn’t be a Winter Holiday Stroll without an appearance by Santa Claus!Nashua City Hall

This year a gingerbread house contest, “Home for the Holidays,” will be added to the entertainments.  The contest will be held upstairs at Martha’s Exchange from 4 to 9PM.  Competitors can enter in one of six categories:  kids, teen, family, group, adult nonprofessional and adult professional. The houses will be raffled off after the judging.  This activity is sponsored by the St. Phillip Greek Orthodox Church teen youth group.  For more information on this event, click here.

Plan to come early and stay late. Streets will be closed off starting at 3:30PM, but there will be parking available at the Elm Street Parking Garage, the High Street Parking Garage, and the Southern NH Medical Center Parking Garage.  There will also be shuttles available from the parking areas at Rivier University and Holman Stadium from 4 through 10:30PM.

For a complete list of performers, parking information, and other details, see the special Nashua Holiday Stroll website.

New Hampshire Open Doors 2013

New Hampshire Open Doors gives everyone the opportunity to meet hundreds of crafters, artists, farmers, and other creative folk in their own workshops or studios.  This year Open Doors will be held the weekend of November 2nd and 3rd.   For an “up close and personal” time with these inventive people, this can’t be beat!

Gibson Pewter, Hillsborough
Gibson Pewter, Hillsborough

What began 9 years ago as a way of letting New Hampshire residents know about the great crafters in their midst has grown into a celebration of everything created in New Hampshire – from beer to high-end paintings. Local farms, chocolatiers, wineries, and bakeries join potters, jewelers, clothiers, quilters, photographers and painters for this event.  No matter where you live in the state, you will be able to meet dozens of your most creative neighbors during this two-day celebration.  Also included in the Open Doors event are retail stores like Wilderness Creations (Dublin) and the Black Moose Country Store (Windham) which specialize in handcrafted New Hampshire made products.

Oak Leaves Studio, Wilton

Oak Leaves Studio, Wilton

It’s a great way to start your holiday shopping.  The New Hampshire Open Doors website makes stopping and shopping very easy.  The website includes lists of the participants by name, category, and location, and even contains tours that take you to several crafters who live in adjacent areas, such as the Keene area, Mont Vernon, and the Peterborough region.  Further afield, tours are also listed for central and northern New Hampshire places like, Canterbury, Walpole, and Plymouth. Check out the website for the list of participants, detailed maps and directions, and the times each shop or studio will be open.

Restaurant Week Portsmouth & the Seacoast – Fall 2013

Restaurants in New Hampshire’s shore towns are collaborating on a Fall Restaurant Week Portsmouth and the Seacoast which will be held from November 7th through the 16th.  Some of the best eating places in the greater Portsmouth area will be offering 3-course prix fixe lunch menus for $ 16.95 and dinners for $ 29.95 (per person; not including drinks and taxes).  The types of eateries joining in this event include a wide variety establishments, from casual dining to elegant upscale restaurants.Market Square

Popular Portsmouth eateries such as the Black Trumpet Bistro, Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, the Portsmouth Gas Light Co., and the reborn Rosa are being joined by select restaurants in surrounding towns to make this a special happening. Restaurants from Exeter to New Castle and from Hampton to York, ME are participating.  The list includes the Three Chimneys Inn in Durham, Anneke Jans in Kittery, Blue Moon Evolution in Exeter, Salt in New Castle, and the Stage Neck Inn in York.

For more information on Restaurant Week Portsmouth and a list of all the participating eateries, check out the Restaurant Week Portsmouth page on the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce website.

2013 Southern New Hampshire Expo

Mark your calendars for October 17th. The 2013 Southern New Hampshire Expo is an event you won’t want to miss!  Over 200 local businesses will be on hand to introduce themselves, show their products, and answer questions about their services.  More than 3,500 people came to the Hampshire Dome in Milford, NH to experience last year’s Expo, and it looks like this year’s fair will be bigger and better than ever.

The Expo is a great way to find out about the wide variety of services and products available in the area.  Big companies and small, old and new, they’ll be there! You are sure to discover businesses you didn’t know about – products you didn’t know were available – and services you didn’t think you could find. The scope of companies range from Aquatic Creations to the Wireless Zone, services like Amherst Recreation and Bridges to the Milford Rotary and Welcome Wagon.  Hampshire Hills will have a booth, as will Chappell, Home Depot, Staples, and hundreds of others. SONH Expo

Several eating establishments will also be present – offering free tastings. Sample the savory flavors of some of the area’s best restaurants, including Giorgio’s, the Mile Away, and the Copper Door.  Casual dining restaurants like T-Bones, the Hilltop Café, and Longhorn Steakhouse will also be well-represented.  In addition, many other quality food purveyors such as The Cozy Tea Cart and A&E Coffee Roastery will be distributing samples of their flavorful creations.

The service companies that will be represented cover a wide field, from institutions like the Bridges and the NH Citizen’s Corp to the Birth Cottage of Milford and Living at Home Senior Care.

There will be prize drawings every half hour, entertainment at the main stage, and strolling entertainers. The Expo will once again be hosting the high school Robotics Challenge this year. Teams from several area high schools will be on hand to demonstrate their innovative robotic creations.  Come visit with some of the brightest engineers and scientists of tomorrow and see what they have designed.PVR at SONHE2012

I and some of my associates from Prudential Verani Realty will have a booth at the Expo.  Please stop by and say hello!  Donna Damore, Fred Massone, Sanna Card, Lynn Daigle and I can assist you with any questions you have about buying or selling a home.  This year we will be offering our popular raffle again, with gift cards and other great prizes donated by our business partners:  Residential Mortgage Services (RMS), Broker’s Title, Merrimack Mortgage, and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

The Southern New Hampshire Expo is a program of the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce. Expo hours will be 2 to 7:30PM Thursday October 17th at the Hampshire Dome on Emerson Road in Milford.  More information may be found on the Expo’s website.  For a list of vendors, click here.