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Sanbornton's Old Home Day a "naturally" good time



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David and Elaine Swain headed up the clan of Swain family members in the Sanbornton Old Home Day parade last Saturday. The entire family was named the Grand Marshalls of this year’s celebration, honoring their 75 years of farming and commitment to the community. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 22, 2012
SANBORNTON — Everyone "naturally" had a great time last weekend at the Sanbornton Old Home Days, as the theme of "Neighbors with Nature" kicked things off for the three day communitywide celebration.

Mother Nature had her say first on Friday evening, with a fast moving rain spoiling some of the fun, but spirits remained high, and on Saturday, the sun brought smiles back to the crowds as they gathered in the Town Square for the annual parade and festivities.

The ever popular Moulton's Band, based in Sanbornton, followed the Knights of Columbus, leading off the march down Tower Hill as they aptly played the classic Temptations hit song, "Get Ready."

Celebrating 75 years of farming in the community, the Swain family was honored as this year's Grand Marshals of the parade and they came out in full force. Towed by a refurbished tractor passed down in the family from Elaine's father, she and her husband David, their children, and grandchildren filled the road to Sanbornton Square as they marched the parade route. Geese, chickens, goats and a beautiful Shetland sheep marched or road along with the family as they waved to the crowds.

Animals of another kind made up an entry from the Sanbornton Congregational Church.

"We're the church circus," said one member as children and adults alike marched by in costumes, dressed as monkeys, lions and other circus animals.

They were joined by antique cars, the Harmony Grange, equestrians, a horse and buggy, farming equipment and other entries.

On the library lawn, a book sale was held, and children's librarian Cedar Sanderson blew up special animal balloons for everyone. Inside, an art exhibit was held, and people were asked to cast votes for their favorites in several categories. Photography, paintings, fiber works, quilting and soft sculptures filled a large room. Besides the adult residents of the town, children had several entries, including one by Eveline Auger, who made a unique stick horse from a wool sock and a stripped branch.

"It's nice to see children doing things like that, and know the arts aren't going to be lost on the next generation," said Old Home Day Committee member Marlene Witham.

Winners of this year's People's Choice awards in the children's art competition were: Black and White photography, Faith Gosselin; Colored photo, Duncan Gosselin; Handicrafts, Eveline Auger; Twine braiding, Beau Auger. For adults the votes went to: Oil painting, Marlene Witham; Water Color painting, Sherry Kemp; Acrylic painting, Glenn Madon; Black and White photography, Irene Gosselin; Colored photo, Cedar Sanderson; Handicrafts, quilted wall hanging, Mary Caverly.

Out on the town field, people browsed booths where they could learn about hiking trails in the area, purchase natural goods like homemade soaps, honey and other products, or grab a bite to eat at the Girl Scouts Troop 10639 food tent.

The 5th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers preferred to make their own meals, however, when they pitched their tents, laid out their equipment then started a fire to cook and brew their own coffee for a Civil War reenactment.

"Today, it's a beef stew with beans, carrots and (other vegetables) all in here," said Private Ray Peavey of Laconia as he stirred the contents of his large cook pot.

Members of the regiment come from all across the region to reenact the lifestyle of what was once termed as New Hampshire's most "noble group of men." The 5th Regiment saw battle in Fredericksburg, Charles Town, Fair Oaks and several other places during the Civil War.

"This year is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, so we wanted them to come camp out here in recognition of that, and show people what it was like to be part of the 5th Regiment," said David Witham of the Sanbornton Historical Society, which sponsored the event.

Visitors got a glimpse of camp life, the equipment soldiers used in those early days, and watched as the re-enactors went through drills with their rifles and bayonets.

The highlight of the day for many, though, was the arrival of Wildlife Encounters, and their exotic creatures. An African Serval cat, Fennec Fox, Cuscus, a baby Nile Crocodile, and an Alligator Snapping Turtle had people ooh-ing and aah-ing over the creatures at times, or leaning back from open jaws as handler Trisha Cheever walked them through the crowds while biologist Nicole Monkiewicz explained a bit about each.

"Most animals don't like the way we humans taste, but the crocodile doesn't care," said Nicole as "Gustav" the crocodile made his rounds. "They can even run on land up to 25 or 30 miles an hour, and they will catch you."

Monkiewicz explained that all of Wildlife Encounters' animals come from other zoos, or from people had had purchased an exotic pet, only to later find they weren't capable of caring for them.

Noah, the green winged macaw, was one of the many creatures who held everyone spellbound with his huge beak and brightly colored feathers. Many of the children wanted to know if he could talk.

"He says 'Hello Noah,' mimicking all of our voices, and sometimes, we hear him mumbling to himself when we come in to work in the morning, so you have to be careful what you say around Noah," laughed Monkiewicz.

The final exotic animal to visit for the day was Chester, a Burmese python, whom everyone was invited to calmly come forward and touch. Chester, who is 11 feet in length and weighs 90 pounds, is still a young python, and the children were fascinated to hear that Burmese pythons could get much bigger.

"They have been known to be 23 feet long, weigh 200 pounds and be as big around as a telephone pole," Monkiewicz told them.

Other activities were the weekly Farmers' Market, tours and a pancake breakfast at Lane Tavern, cribbage tournaments, board games, baking contests, an open house and fire prevention presentation at the fire department, as well as a historic tour of the Tower Hill cemetery. The celebrations wound down on Sunday with a special community worship service at the Congregational Church followed by a luncheon.

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