Best of NH 2016 This & That

The Popzup Microwave Air Popped Popcorn Popper

City on the Rise: Seems like some cities can’t get a break. The Three Rivers City of Franklin has some things going for it beyond being the birthplace of Daniel Webster, but its reputation tends to focus on the deterioration of the downtown. Now the city is bootstrapping its own renaissance with imaginative plans and positive signs in the manufacturing sector. There are even a few bright spots emerging in the downtown with an excellent Thai restaurant on Central Street (Asian Delight) and the Toad Hall art gallery (see more here) that has begun to change minds about what’s possible in an old mill town detached from the flow of I-93. Here’s hoping that Franklin gets the breaks it deserves in the coming year.

Green Church: It’s a “new kind of church,” according to organizers at Church of the Woods in Canterbury, but one that still cherishes the sacred texts and rituals found in its Christian roots.  With 106 acres of wild woods and wetlands as a protected sanctuary, the church and its allied organization, Kairos Earth, base their approach to worship on words from Genesis that describe the entire cosmos, Earth, heavens and diversity of life in three words: “It was good.” The church seeks the creator in the created and finds there “a well-spring of joy, delight and wonder.”

Ketchup: New Hampshire-based Spicy Mike’s Ketchup gets it all right, from the ergonomic and wide-mouthed bottles to the sporty logo to the complex flavor profiles in their rich, spicy ketchups. They come in classic salsa temps (hot, medium and mild) and roughly correspond to those heat ranges. Even the mild has a bit of a bite, which is good. What’s more boring than bland ketchup?

Local Success Secrets: Granite Staters are an enterprising group and the state is famously entrepreneurial in spirit. So kudos to news personality Celine MacArthur of NH1 TV for using her video pulpit to interview passionate investors, restaurateurs and business pros and spread a little bit of the wealth of know-how and insights that are on tap here. Her “Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success” show is the kind of local programming we’d like to see more of, so we wish her success in the effort.

Main Street Revival: The Capital City has always been a bit of a secret treasure for the Granite State. Despite its lively arts scene and a burgeoning night life, people tend to pass it by on their way to the lakes and mountains or bypass it entirely to explore the Seacoast or Monadnock regions. Now, if they do pull off I-93 to cruise by the statehouse, they will see plenty of reasons to get out of the car and stay awhile, with the new multi-million transformation of the downtown thanks to the Concord Main Street Project. Downtown businesses that endured a year of construction debris have taken the changes to heart, and commercial business looks to be responding as well with new restaurants and shops moving in. It’s still a work in progress, with the southern stretch of Main Street currently getting the jackhammer treatment, but even there the city is truly open for business and looking better than ever.

Musical Bones: Most Yankees have heard of cow tipping, but how about cow tapping? Steve Brown lives on the NH border, just south of Keene where he has been making music with the shinbones of cows for nearly 40 years. He’s even been making the instrument, called rhythm bones, since the early 1980s. He’s performed the fascinating clacking patterns of rhythm bones, popularized in 19th-century minstrel shows, with some of the greats in the US and Ireland,and has been the director of the Rhythm Bones Society for the last 12 years. His hand-carved bones (some made of wood) are coveted by performers, and one of his sets is being played by Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Non profit News: With the decline of print journalism, you might joke that every daily paper lately performs as a non profit news outlet, but that wouldn’t be funny. And the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism is very serious about its effort to generate valuable local news and investigative journalism in a publicly supported model. Led by veteran reporter Nancy West, the source has already become a staple of news browsers for other for-profit journals. Now if they can just raise the monthly support they need to continue and grow, that will really be news.

Pop Technology: Popcorn technology has come a long way since Native Americans (and Mexicans) made it in clay pots over a fire. The microwave popcorn boom seemed to be a final word, convenient and tasty, but it takes chemicals and plastics to supply that convenience. Until now. Popzup Microwave Air Popped Popcorn Popper provides a reusable and completely recyclable cardboard device to do the popping and supplies GMO-free, sustainable-farmed popping corn. They also sell a variety of sea salt popcorn flakes (like maple, curry and Sriracha) to mix into the finished product.

Quirky Small Town Event: Blink and you might miss the annual Leif Ericson Day held in downtown Durham. Actually, you might not even be out of bed by the time it’s over — it starts at 6 a.m. and only lasts a few minutes. In fact, this (very short) parade is only about 25 steps or however long it takes you to walk from the Durham Laundercenter to Young’s Restaurant. Held the Sunday before the official National Leif Ericson Day on October 9, this annual mini celebration recognizes Leif Ericson, who discovered the North American continent in early 1,000 AD (sorry, Christopher Columbus).


Categories: Best of NH Winners