Celebrate Your Town

August is just about here. The flowers are blooming, the garden is producing, fall sports practices will be starting – yet there’s still plenty of time to sit on the porch and enjoy the season.

It’s the heart of summer – even if you can’t help but catch a glimpse of fall some evenings – and that means it’s town festival time.

It started last Saturday with Hampstead’s Summerfest, presented by St. Anne’s Parish. Next up is Londonderry’s Old Home Day celebration Aug. 12-16, followed by Chester’s Town Fair on Sept. 12 and the revived Derryfest in Derry on Sept. 19.

Events in Sandown are a little different this year. Its Old Home Days Festival, traditionally held in August, has been moved to Sept. 11 and 12, under the new name Old Home Days Fall Festival. It has a new location too – the Edward Garvey Recreation Building and fields. But the traditional Old Home Day activities – an open house at the Old Meeting House and a chicken barbecue at the fire department, and the annual Old Home Day Service at the Old Meeting House, followed by a reservations-only pot roast dinner, will be held on the usual dates, Aug. 8 and 9, respectively.

Whatever the date or the name of the event, you’re treated to a back-to-basics festival with games of skill or chance, hearty food, parades, displays of old-time kitchen skills and the newest emergency vehicles, and often fireworks to cap off the evening. What’s new is often what’s old too, as long-ago games of tug of war and sack races catch the attention of today’s youngsters.

Regardless of the hectic life we lead the rest of the year, the town festivals bring us together.  They get us out of our homes and our backyards and into the town center, and slow us down to relax with our neighbors.

But celebrations don’t come packaged and ready to go, they’re the work of a multitude of volunteers and a variety of groups, all sharing a love of their real or adopted hometown, and a desire to make their town festival something everyone will want to schedule and come back to every year. That’s the heart of what these old-fashioned summer gatherings are all about.

And while our weekdays often require long hours in another community or state, summer encourages us to enjoy where we live.

So mark your calendar for your local festival and plan to celebrate where you live. Make this the year to get better acquainted with your neighbors and your town history, and take part in a summer rite that is part of the heart of New England.

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