Campton Old Home Day provides fun for all



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Guests at the Campton Historical Society building check out George Short’s tool collection and try to match up the tool to its name and function. (Brianna Hand) (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011
CAMPTON — Last Saturday, Campton residents gathered at the Campton Historical Society building and Campton Elementary School to celebrate Old Home Day.

The day included a variety of events, exhibits, games, contests, and demonstrations that certainly kept everyone who attended entertained.

The heart of the event was based at the Campton Historical Society building, which combined showcasing its everyday exhibits with craft demonstrations from various Campton residents.

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Campton families compete in an intense game of Musical Chairs, angling their bodies to be the first to snag one once the music stops! (Brianna Hand) (click for larger version)
One such exhibitor was George Short, who spent the day showing off his collection of antique tools, collected specifically in New Hampshire. He stumped attendees with the task of identifying various tools. Late in the afternoon, the record was only 40 percent correct, even though Short insisted that he chose tools that were common in their day. When asked if he intentionally chose the most unique tools to stump people, Short laughed and replied, "I could come up with much weirder than that." Short has traveled all over the state to collect his tools. He also showed off some copies of handwritten patents from as early as 1830. "I learned more about American history with these tools than I did in school," Short said. Jackie Dearborn demonstrated her skills at chair caning for interested participants, weaving reeds in and out of old, antique-looking chairs. "This is a good way to show people what I'm doing," said Dearborn, who believes that she is the only chair caner in the area, although there may be some more in the Laconia region. "I never have to advertise." Dearborn showed off chairs at every stage of the process, from completely bare to half done, to a beautiful star-pattern chair that sat at the front of the room. This chair, which took her two months to do, was not for sale. Also weaving was Marcia Vandermast, who sat in a corner working quietly on a newly restored loom, procured by the Society and refurbished by herself. "I like to keep the craft going," she said, pointing to the pumps and threads of the machine.

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Three girls dig in at the Campton Old Home Day Pie Eating Contest! (Brianna Hand) (click for larger version)
According to her, this homemade loom is not that different from modern looms, since the same principles are still intact. Back in the Grange room, there was a wide variety of food for participants to enjoy, including franks and beans, ice cream, and Priscilla Whitney's grandmother's bread, mixed in her 1904 mixing bowl. She told the story of how she learned to make bread as a child, and how each grandchild wanted to be the one to crank the mixer so they could sneak some dough. While mixing, she added that it was easy to get mixers like hers on Ebay for as cheap as $35. She buys them often for wedding presents since most of her family members want to be able to make grandma's bread. Between the normal exhibits in the CHS building and the ones specifically set up for the event, no one lacked in interesting things to look at. Old World War II uniforms lined the walls, with antique postcards spinning on a rack for people to peruse. CHS also sponsored a themed photo contest, "Building Bridges" which included pictures of bridges in the area. The day also marked the grand opening of the carriage shed museum, which included items such as old ice cream makers, butter churners, a cheese press, and an old hearse. The words, "Mom, what is this?" were heard very often throughout the afternoon. Most of these items had been cleared out of Grange Hall and moved into the shed, according to Bob Mardin, the CHS librarian. Eighth graders from Campton Elementary also made an appearance at the event, hosting a 50/50 raffle and bake sale to raise money for their class trip in Spring 2012. This will be one of many fundraisers held throughout the year. The eighth graders are unsure whether they will be going to New York City, Montreal, or Boston. At 12:30 p.m., a Robertson Transit bus pulled into the parking lot to begin a one-hour bus tour around Campton. This tour was led by Martha Aguiar and Bob Mardin, and included historical stops such as Campton Congregational Church, Blair Bridge, the last elm tree in the area, Campton Hollow, the old mill community, and a loop around Upper Village. Reed Harrigan, who was driving the bus, managed to squeeze the bus through the fence at Blair cemetery and dodged trees as the branches stuck into the open windows of the bus. The tour was candid and informative, as Mardin and Aguiar bantered and told multiple variations of Campton's history. It appeared that collectively, the entire bus could piece together the history of Campton. Longtime residents added their own facts, remarks, and personal stories to supplement the tour. Meanwhile, at Campton Elementary School, more events were taking place. Old Home Day began there at 8:15 a.m. with a fun walk/ 5K race, and a parade at 10 a.m. During the afternoon, children and adults alike had fun at a carnival, with doughnut eating contests, a sack race, water balloon toss, an egg and spoon race, an egg toss game, musical chairs, and a mini pie eating contest. Residents of all ages participated in the musical chairs, prompting one fan to sarcastically praise his older friend, saying, "Congrats, you just beat a sixth grader!" The calm, relaxing guitar music played during the game certainly did not match the intense, high-stakes attitude that most participants were taking when trying to beat out their friends for a chair. The event also hosted the BJ Hickman Magic Show, Mo the Clown, and a Roaming Tortoise from Granite State Zoo, and many craftsmen and vendors from the area in tents. One highlight of the day was a book sale headed by CES librarian Shelly Thompson, or "Mrs. T." to her students. While last year, the books cost money to buy, this year, residents could donate as much as they could for a book. By noon, the committee had surpassed its $300 goal. "We are trying to become self-sufficient," said Thompson. "One hundred percent of our profits will go to fund next year's Old Home Day." There were thousands of books available, all handled individually by Thompson's "worker bees" over the course of two full days. The books had been collected since this spring. "We tried to make it as easy as possible for shoppers," said Thompson, who spent hours and hours grouping the books by authors. However, this amount of work did not seem to be an issue for Thompson, who felt satisfied with knowing she was getting books out into the community. "I am privileged enough to live in this town," she said. "The least I can do is give back." Throughout the day, many praising comments were heard at both locations for the Campton Historical Society and the great job they did putting this day together. "This is one of the most active historical societies I've ever seen," said one observer. Reed Harrigan said that CHS' involvement in the town went very far, and is the reason that this event is successful year after year. "This place [CHS] is really the soul of the town," he said.

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