The 15 Best Free Events Happening in September

Where you can have fun on (less than) a dime this month



courtesy photo
Lebanon's 8th annual Wings of Hope Butterfly Release is one of the 15 best free events of the month.

1. Backyard Barbecue Festival, Hooksett, September 2-3

Everyone's favorite sporting and hunting store, Bass Pro Shops, is holding a Labor Day weekend family barbecue. From noon un til 5 p.m. on both days, families can enjoy free hot dogs and dessert samples (while they last) as well as enjoy games and activities for the kids. In addition to the food and fun, Bass Pro will be holding seminars at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. with topics on grilling, grill accessories as well as barbecue sauce making. (603) 541-5200; stores.basspro.com


2. Sandown Old Home Day, Sandown, September 8-9

A classic New England festival comes to Sandown for two days of free festivities. Enjoy a parade, live tunes and kids' activities, and, new this year, go for a spin on the fest's steam train. (603) 887-0212; sandown.us


3. Something Wild This Way Comes, Hollis, September 8-October 13

Get your girl power on with this exhibition featuring artists from two local chapters of the Women's Caucus for Art. Interpretations of the wild-woman theme range from colorful landscapes to trippy abstracts. (603) 464-4293; wcanh.org


4. Auburn Day & 25th Annual Duck Race, Auburn, September 9

The town of Auburn takes center stage at this free festival featuring the Salmon Falls Apple Pie Contest, Duckling Dash 5K, first-ever Pretty Chicken Contest, local artisans, Roaming Railroad, Wildlife Encounters, food vendors and more. Don't miss the day's main event: the official duck race, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Top prize is $1,000 and cash prizes are awarded for the top 10 fasted ducks. auburnday.com


5. 25th Anniversary Free Family Fun Day, Rye, September 9

After a quarter-century in business, the Seacoast Science Center has a lot to celebrate — so they're doing it in style. Mascot dance parties, appearances from te Octonauts and seaside bingo are all on the schedule, as is an official proclamation by the governor of the first-ever Seacoast Science Center Ocean Education Day. (603) 436-8043; seacoastsciencecenter.org


6. Calef's Book and Birthday Bash, Barrington, September 9

Legendary Calef's Country Store employee Joel Sherburne has been on the job for six decades this year, and his employers are marking the occasion with a party and a book. Catch the launch of Rebecca Rule's "Sixty Years of Cuttin' the Cheese" at this anniversary event. (207) 752-7012; calefs.com


7. 8th Annual Wings of Hope Butterfly Release, Lebanon, September 9

Pay tribute to the loved ones you've lost by joining in a mass release of monarch butterflies. To reserve your own monarch, come with $20 to donate to the Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire program. (888) 300-8853; vnhcare.org


8. "Queer Kids" by M. Sharkey, Exeter, September 12-October 21

Step into the world of LGBTQ youth with this solo exhibition from photographer M. Sharkey. The powerful portraits were assembled over a decade of work with gay youth both in the US and abroad. (603) 777-3461; exeter.edu


9. Derryfest, Derry, September 16

Grow up in Derry? This is your chance for a homecoming. The free fest features live entertainment, a presentation from the Wildlife Encounters Zoo, and appearances from the top finishers in the Greater Derry's Got Talent competition. (603) 437-0505; derryfest.org


10. Shadows Fall North Screenings, Keene and Plymouth, September 17 and 27

In our October 2016 issue, we told you about "Shadows Fall North," a new documentary on New Hampshire's African-American history. Catch the flick — and a talkback with its creators — at these two free screenings. nhhumanities.org


11. Art in the Mountains, Littleton, September 22-24

A party and concert at hip art space 42 Maple kicks off this ode to the Littleton area art scene, and, all weekend long, you can stroll through downtown galleries and get a glimpse at the handiwork of nearly three dozen artists. (603) 444-6561; littletonareachamber.com


12. Henniker Brewing Flap Jack Fall Fest, Henniker, September 23 

It's almost Oktoberfest season! Get a head start with this release party for Henniker's newest creation, the Flap Jack maple double brown ale. If beer isn't your style, the free fest features other fun too, from food trucks to live music and lawn games. (603) 428-3579; hennikerbrewing.com


13. Dublin Market & Bazaar, Dublin, September 23-24 

Vintage Label Co.'s hip new antiques fair returns for its second iteration, this one fall festival-themed. Come ready to shop (and eat): more than 150 vendors of crafts, goods and farm-to-table goodies will be spread across the fair's 26 acres. Facebook


14. New England Roots Festival, Nashua, September 30-October 1

Folk, americana and bluegrass lovers, this one's for you. Musicians from those genres and more move into downtown Nashua for this two-day fest, shutting down Main Street and filling various other venues with live performances and festival accoutrements including food trucks, demos and a vendor fair. Berklee-educated mandolinist Jacob Joliff is among the headliners. (603) 883-5700; downtownnashua.org


15. Chili Challenge & Brews, Waterville Valley, September 30 

Hear that? It's the sound of an ice-cold beer and a steaming bowl of chili calling your name. This 17-year-old ski country contest is free to enter, and for only a few bucks, you can earn unlimited samples of the participating chilis. Ahh, September. (800) 468-2553; waterville.com

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