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"Celebrate New Durham" festivities benefit from town-wide support, excellent weather



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Contestants go to town in the pie-eating contest as part of Celebrate New Durham Day Saturday. The contest was just one of many activities held throughout the day. Weston Sager. (click for larger version)
August 11, 2010
NEW DURHAM — Bright blue skies broke through cloud cover early Saturday morning to provide the ideal setting for New Durham's annual town-wide celebration on Aug. 7.

New Durham Parks and Recreation Director Kellie Chase was pleased not only with the weather, but also the day's events. It was New Durham's first full-day of activities in some time, but considering how seamless the schedule unfolded, it might as well have been a regular occurrence.

The day's activities kicked off at 8 a.m. with a duo of races at the Farmington Fish and Game Club. The 5K road race for adults included roughly 110 participants from all over New England.

Reid Sullivan, a 17-year-old high school student from Bolston, Mass., took the race easily with a blisteringly fast time of 17:31 for his first New Durham 5K victory.

Sullivan won the race by a remarkable 39 seconds.

"It felt pretty good to win," he said. "I've been running the annual New Durham race since I was a little kid, maybe since I was 6 or 7 years old."

The first woman to cross the finish line was Laurie Gaudreau of York, Maine.

"It feels really good to be the first woman to cross the finish line," said Gaudreau. "It's a beautiful day to run."

She was part of a trio of runners from Winner's Circle Running Club. John Webber and Matthew Tilbury, the other two club members in attendance, placed third and fourth respectively in the 5K overall standings. Look for complete local results on page B1.

Immediately following the race was the Kids' Fun Run. Nine-year-old Brooke Perry of Dover won this quick .2-mile semi-sprint with a time of 3:41. Racing is apparently in her blood; her grandmother, Vicki Kennedy of Rochester, ran in the 5K.

Indeed, family was a main theme of the day's festivities.

Charitable giving was another.

The New Durham Food Pantry, which moved to its current location across from the New Durham Town Hall roughly two years ago, welcomed food and monetary donations at its midday open house and bake sale.

According to Dot Veisel, a member of the food pantry's board of directors, the charitable organization raised $800 from monetary donations alone. They also filled many shopping bags full of non-perishable food items donated by members of the community.

"People tend to be very generous to us," she said.

She also stressed the importance of having a food pantry during a recession.

"With this economy, the Food Pantry has been a Godsend," she said.

Back at the Farmington Fish and Game Club, the competition heated up with a horseshoe tournament. Although the number of participants was lacking, the competitive spirit was not.

Adam Rogers of Middleton took the round-robin tournament in dominating fashion, winning the final match 21-14 after several hours of play.

The volleyball tournament, which was scheduled for Aug. 7, was postponed to Aug. 21 due to several last-minute cancellations.

Although participation was meager for these particular contests, the dodgeball tournament at the nearby New Durham Elementary School was remarkably well attended.

Eight five-man teams squared off in the gymnasium just before lunchtime in front of a large crowd. Using six red foam balls, evasive maneuvers, and lots of arm strength, the teams dipped, ducked and chucked until the last team was standing.

It was New Durham's first dodgeball tournament, but given its popularity, it will likely not be its last.

Following a midday break, fair-like festivities arrived at the Farmington Fish and Game Club starting at 5:30 p.m.

Chase booked a smorgasbord of different vendors and acts which ranged from rock music to animal exhibits to pie eating contests.

The highlight was the Wildlife Encounters exhibit, which showcased a variety of exotic animals, including an arctic fox, anaconda, tortoise, green-winged macaw, albino hedgehog and baby wallaby. The exhibit was part of an effort to raise money and awareness for a yet-to-be-built New Hampshire zoo.

They were not the only vendor with animals, however. "Miss Behavior," a dog training company owned and operated by Laura Chapman of New Durham, showcased her well-trained canines to onlookers.

"Camp Fire Boogie," a classic-rock cover band, provided music throughout the evening. They performed a variety of hits from such artists as the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The band had to stop briefly for a riotous pie-eating contest during which roughly 10 participants inhaled whipped cream-covered chocolate mini-pies.

Mary Brown won the adult pie-eating contest. Other members of the Brown family also performed well in the gastronomic competition. Brown's daughter placed third in the adult group and her son placed third in the children's group.

In true American spirit, there was an apple pie baking contest. Six-year-old Greg Lamontagne won the 12-and-under age group.

New Durham's Cooper Welch, age seven, sold $.25 lemonade and freeze-pops to visitors. Sporto's and the New Durham General Store sold food and drinks at opposite ends of the grounds.

The New Durham Public Library featured a raffle and spinning game wheel for visitors in order to raise money for new books geared towards readers in the fifth and sixth grades.

Children enjoyed playing in a large inflated bouncy house on the edge of the grounds. There was also a face-painting booth for children and several volunteer-led children's activities throughout the evening.

The New Durham Historical Society and the New Durham Conservation Commission shared a booth. Each organization discussed its ongoing preservation and restoration projects to interested visitors.

New Durham Parks and Recreation sponsored a 50/50 raffle and a grocery-shopping spree.

The New Durham Fire Department opened one of its trucks to curious visitors.

Other stalls included Christian- and conservative-talk radio station WSEW, a Tupperware stand and half-priced baked goods left over from the New Durham Food Pantry's midday bake sale.

Boy Scout Troop 53 volunteered to coordinate parking at the event.

A frying-pan throwing competition and a fireworks display capped the "Celebrate New Durham" festivities.

There was a box car drive-in at the New Durham library on Friday, Aug. 6. There were roughly 30 people there, according to Chase. Participants watched the computer-animated movie "Cars" on a projector screen over popcorn and drinks.

Weston Sager can be reached at 569-3126 or wsager@salmonpress.com

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