In New Hampshire, you never have to go very far to “get away from it all.” Here are four ideas for spending this year’s Fourth of July in any one of four New Hampshire towns, each celebrating Independence Day in its own way. Come early, spend the night and join in the fun. 1) New BostonThree blasts for the Fourth
For an old-fashioned Fourth of July, it’s hard to beat a relic like the Molly Stark Cannon, donated by General John Stark himself to the New Boston Artillery Company in appreciation of service rendered in the Battle of Bennington. Today’s members of the artillery unit, clad in Colonial garb, will fire the cannon three times again this Independence Day in the town’s 77th Fourth of July celebration.
The day begins with breakfast at the Community Church, followed by a parade of antique cars and trucks, fire engines from neighboring towns, a horse-drawn hand-pump engine and the Governor’s Horse Guard. Locally-produced floats will reflect this year’s theme, celebrating characters and scenes found in children’s stories. (Harry Potter will no doubt be there.) Fun and games at the 4-H Youth Center include a mud volleyball tournament, horse pulling and even lawn-tractor pulling contests. A fiddlers contest for musicians of all ages is part of the entertainment leading up to the evening’s bonfire and fireworks display.
>> Best Place to Dine: Get in the spirit the night before at Matt Eggers’ New Boston Tavern and Mad Matty’s Sports Bar, Route 13, New Boston, (603) 487-2733.
>> Best Place to Stay:The Inn at Crotched Mountain, 534 Mountain Rd, Francestown, (603) 588-6840. A short drive from New Boston, the 13-room inn on 65 acres at the foot of Crotched Mountain is a place to “renew, refresh and unwind” on the eve of the big July 4th celebration.
2) Andover “The Main Event”
“The Fourth of July is pretty much the main event in Andover for the whole year,” says Robert Ward, a landscape architect and chairman of this year’s Fourth of July Committee. The annual celebration “started out as a fun event for children whose dads were off fighting World War II and it’s just continued since then,” he says.
True to that spirit, one part of the noontime parade is a children’s parade, featuring babies in strollers and tykes on bikes.
The village green will be a daylong gathering spot with food vendors, flea markets and artisan stands. There will be a concert on the green in the afternoon, tours of the old railroad depot that now houses the local historical society and the “Firecracker 5,” a five kilometer race to help burn off those excess calories from the hot dogs, hamburgers and strawberry shortcake. An ice cream social leads up to the evening’s fireworks display.
>>Best Place to Dine:Peter Christian’s Tavern, 195 Main Street, New London. (603) 526-4042. A mere seven miles from Andover. An Old World tavern, where $12.95 will still fetch a dinner of homemade crab cakes, Captain’s Cod or Tavern Chicken.
>>Best Place to Stay: The New England House Bed and Breakfast, 258 Main Street, Andover, (603) 735-5776. in the heart of Andover Village, it’s a short stroll from the July 4th events.
3) WolfeboroTons of History
Between the 10 a.m. parade and the 7 p.m. concert in the beautifully landscaped and terraced Cate Park on Lake Winnipesaukee, there is plenty to see and do in Wolfeboro. Boat-fanciers might like to visit the New Hampshire Boat Museum, while history buffs could spend hours in the Wright Museum of World War II. Vehicles and armaments on display include 1942 Ford Jeep, a multi-gun M-16 half-track and a 42–ton tank. “If you’ve ever wondered what 84,000 pounds look like, this is the place,” says Mark Foynes, executive director. Exhibits of life on the homefront are in another building, with a Time Tunnel featuring each year of the war connecting the two. The Wright Museum will open from noon to four on July 4th.
The evening concert by the Cate Park Band will continue right up until the fireworks display over Wolfeboro Bay.
>> Best Place to Dine: Jo Greens Garden Café, 27 South Main Street, (603) 569-8668. A cup o’ joe, lots of garden greens and a wide-ranging menu. Dine on the patio of the Upper Deck overlooking Wolfeboro Bay.
>> Best Place to Stay: Tuc’ Me Inn Bed & Breakfast 68 North Main Street, Wolfeboro, (603) 569-5702. Right on the parade route and a short stroll from Cate Park.
4) Orford-FairleeDouble the fun
Two towns in two states combine for “the most fabulous Fourth of July parade you’ve ever seen,” says Orford innkeeper Marshall Ivy. Antique cars, tractors and maybe even a horse or two will join the marching bands for the 11 a.m. procession that begins in Orford and crosses the bridge over the Connecticut River into Fairlee, Vt. People from both communities will gather at the Lake Morey Country Club in Fairlee to picnic, play outdoor games or simply sit in the shade and await the evening’s fireworks display. There will be ample time to hike on Mount Cube or Sunday Mountain, go kayaking on the river or pick up some syrup at the Sunday Mountain Maple Farm.
>> Best Place to Dine: Peyton Place Restaurant at the Historic Mann Tavern, Route 10, Orford, (603) 353-9100. Arrive for dinner on the eve of Independence Day. The restaurant will be closed on the Fourth.
>> Best Place to Stay:The White Goose Inn, Route 10, Orford, (603) 353-4812. Right next door to Peyton Place, the White Goose offers comfort, convenience and no pretentious airs. “We’re just an old country bed and breakfast,” Marshall Ivy says proudly. NH
This article appears in the July 2008 issue of New Hampshire Magazine