The town, we discover, is far more than a tidy village center with playhouse and farm museum
The Barnstormers Theatre is in its 85th season this summer.
Photo by Stillman Rogers
We had heard about the supper served at The Other Store and it sounded too good to miss. It was. A revolving group of volunteers prepares ingredients from the several local farms into three-course dinners. It was a beautiful evening, so we chose a table on the back porch overlooking Swift River. Dinners are BYO, but the store is well stocked with wine so you don’t need to bring it very far. Dinner reservations are a must.
We awoke to a sunny day and beautiful views from Highland House Bed & Breakfast, which has stood on a hill above Tamworth Village since 1792. Built by a Salem sea captain, it has a long history of hospitality that’s admirably maintained. We could see why it’s a popular wedding venue, with its lovely gardens and a restored carriage house for events.
After breakfast we walked down to the village to Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm. The Remick farm was founded at the same time Captain Dodge was building Highland House, and preserves the agricultural landscape and way of life from two centuries. It’s a working farm, and as we toured its barns, sheds, stables and gardens, we met chickens, turkeys, cows, oxen, sheep, goats, lambs and pigs, and gardens of heirloom vegetables and herbs grown from seeds harvested on the farm. A short trail took us to views of Mt. Chocorua and the Ossipee range.
Inside the Captain Enoch Remick House, listed on the National Register, we saw 19th-century hand-painted murals and the original medical office and dispensary used by two generations of country doctors. The house is furnished in antiques, and exhibits here and in the farmhouse highlight the life of a country doctor/farmer.
Across the street the Tamworth Farmers’ Market was in full swing, and we grazed as we gathered provisions for a picnic lunch. We found sourdough breads from Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery in Wonalancet, raw sheep and cow milk cheese and salami from The Big Farm Creamery, organic milk from Red Gables Farm and fresh berries from Roberts Farm. We began to regret not having the car with us to stow our shopping as we added granola, honey, apple cider vinegar, chili powder and beef jerky to carry home with us. We were surprised to learn of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company in Tamworth, selling fresh and dried mushrooms as well as mushroom chutney, infused oils and pasta. Instead of carrying more, we decided to stop by Dube & Robinson winery with the car to buy handcrafted mead and cider.
We stopped at Grammy Gordon’s Bakery for cookies to take with us as we kayaked on the Bearcamp River. I’ve loved the Bearcamp since my parents stopped on hot days for me to play on its sandy beaches alongside Rte. 16. Its meandering course and slow-moving waters are perfect for a relaxing drift through the woods. We stopped to tour the newly opened Tamworth Distilling, where we tasted applejack and admired the beautiful bottles handmade by Peter VanderLaan, of Chocorua. Back at Highland House we joined other guests for afternoon tea.
Dinner at the Barnstormers Supper Club
While The Other Store serves dinner on weeknights, Saturday dinners are catered by Highland House owner Dale Bragdon. Fresh flowers and linen-clad tables dressed up the rustic interior of a 19th-century cooper’s shed, and our three-course dinner of apricot-glazed grilled chicken and roasted potatoes was based on ingredients from the farmers we’d met at the market that morning.
The Barnstormers Theatre is the oldest professional summer theatre in the country, and it attracts top talent to perform in a different show each week. The program varies from musicals through comedy and at least one mystery (often an Agatha Christie) with a new show each week. We could easily see why many in the audience planned their summer vacations around the schedule.
After stopping to see Ordination Rock, where an obelisk commemorating the ordination of Tamworth’s first minister in 1792 stands atop the glacial erratic boulder where the ceremony took place, we followed Great Hill Road to the Hemenway State Forest. We climbed the short trail to Great Hill Fire Tower for a sweeping panorama dominated by Mt. Chocorua. More views of the mountain lay ahead as we followed a maze of country roads along a ridge and down to Chocorua Lake for the best-known postcard view.
We were pleased to see the attractive park Chocorua Village has built by the dam, with benches and a gazebo (although we do miss the ice cream shop). Scandinavian Baking is closed on Sunday, so we feasted our eyes instead, at ArtWorks Gallery. The cooperative serves local artists as the farmers’ market does food producers, bringing their paintings, hand weaving, pottery, stained and blown glass, silver jewelry, photography, wooden ware and art prints together in an appealing setting. Back in Tamworth, we had time for BLTs on local bread at The Daley Café, before the Sunday afternoon Concert by the River behind the store.