Plymouth’s summer-long 250th celebration continues

July 26th, 2013 by Lynn

    Union Leader Correspondent

    Selectman Bill Bolton in costume the town's 250th anniversary celebration last weekend. (COURTESY)

    PLYMOUTH — The town continues to celebrate its 250th anniversary and the festivities continue this summer with walking tours and the release of a new book celebrating the town’s history.

    The town has had events running all summer, highlighted by a parade last weekend, and continues to celebrate its history, some of it newly discovered, said celebration chair Steve Rand.

    “We, as a town, discovered ourselves as a result of this work,” Rand said. “We’ve discovered we are a town with lots and lots of history.”

    Many town groups, including the Young Ladies Library Association, the Royal Eagles, and Plymouth State University took part in the parade and have been contributors to the year-long celebration.

    High-tech walking tours continue throughout the summer with the help of PSU students. In partnership with the Plymouth Historical Society, students in Plymouth State University’s Public History course planned and designed a tour of selected historical sites to celebrate the town’s 250th anniversary.

    The students chose locations that reflect on four historic themes: work, leisure, religion, and justice.

    At each site — the Daniel Webster Courthouse, the Grafton County Courthouse, the Congregational Church, the Pemigewasset Hotel, the Railroad Station, Kidder Block, the Methodist Church, and Foster’s Peg Mill — there are signs with code panels that can be scanned with cell phones to get full backgrounds on each site.

    And within the next few weeks a new book celebrating the town’s anniversary, “Five More Decades in Plymouth — 1963-2013,” will be on sale for $20 (or $15 for pre-orders by contacting the Plymouth Historical Society).

    The book was originally due out in May, but has been delayed, Rand said. The historical society intends it to be an update and companion book to Eva Speare’s “Twenty Decades in Plymouth, New Hampshire 1763–1963,” which was published on the occasion of Plymouth’s bicentennial.

    A list of ongoing activities, including a Royal Eagles reunion dinner on Oct. 5, can be found at the town anniversary’s website,

    Familiar faces salute Plymouth’s past with old fashioned barn dance

    July 25th, 2013 by Lynn

      By Donna Rhodes

      Staff Writer

      An old fashioned barn dance, led by Dudley Laufman and friends, helped kick off Plymouth’s 250th Birthday Celebration at the Senior Center last Friday evening. Among those honoring the past and “Marking the Moment,” stylishly dressed in attire from earlier days in the town, were Deb Reynolds, Mike Conklin, Joan and John Randlett, and Lynn Durham. DONNA RHODES

      PLYMOUTH — Last week was filled with numerous activities as the Town of Plymouth prepared for their much anticipated semiquincentennial celebration.

      SummerFest kicked off the festivities on the lawn of Mary Lyons Hall at Plymouth State University last Wednesday evening when members of both the town and university communities, both admittedly joined as one,were invited to a free barbecue dinner. The barbecue was courtesy of the university’s food service company Sodexo, and live entertainment by “Annie” and the Orphans helped create a most festive atmosphere. The night was topped off with SnoCones, popcorn, cotton candy and other goodies, all as a prelude of the fun yet to come.

      Then, after taking one last deep breath on Thursday, the town then revved into high gear for three full days of celebration, starting on Friday evening with an art exhibit opening at the PSU Drerup Gallery, a reunion at the Common Man and an old fashioned barn dance at the Plymouth Senior Center.

      Greeting residents on Friday were some familiar faces in most unfamiliar garb. Former State Sen.Deb Reynolds, Selectman Mike Conklin and many other residents stood outside the Senior Center, donned in both wigs and attire that would have typically been worn in the early days of Plymouth as the 250th birthday party for the town officially got underway.

      “We’re here to reflect on not only the present, but the history of our great town as well. We’re ‘Marking the Moment,’” said Reynolds.

      Inside, Dudley Laufman and his group of musicians called out the moves for a barn dance as young and old, experienced and inexperienced, moved lightheartedly around the room in a good old fashioned sense of fun.

      As Laufman prepared the crowd with instructions for the “Paul Jones” contra dance, he also threw in a bit of history on (John) Paul Jones, an American Naval Hero of the 1700’s, and his legendary tie to Plymouth.

      “It’s been said that Paul Jones had a flag made of petticoats from the women of Plymouth,” said Laufman, “but I’ve never had the chance to actually tell that story before tonight.”

      With that in mind, the dance got underway, adding more reasons to “mark the moment.”

      Dapperly dressed in his old-time gray top hat and suit, Selectman Conklin thoroughly enjoyed the first night of the celebration.

      “I think it’s wonderful. We began thinking about this about a year or two ago. The committee has been working feverishly to put it all together over the past six to eight months, and here we are now,” said Conklin.

      Leading that committee were Steve Rand, select board Chairman Val Scarborough, Patrice Scott,

      Lisa Lundari and “countless others” who volunteered their time and talents, he said.

      Rand said on Friday that he was already pleased with the “unbelievable blast off ” on Wednesday evening, coordinated by Sodexo Food Services, the Plymouth Rotary and the town’s 250th celebration committee.

      “This whole (celebration) is a terrific thing for the community. It’s a chance to renew old acquaintances, make new ones, and gather together to be all we can be here in Plymouth,” said Rand.

      To underline those sentiments, residents and students, past and present were also gathered at The Common Man in Plymouth Friday evening where the Plymouth Rotary facilitated a reunion for all.

      Besides drinks and hors d’oeuvres, tables were covered with decades of yearbooks from Plymouth State University and Plymouth Regional High School. Both old and young flipped through familiar pages and talked about days gone by and the memories they all held of their school years in Plymouth.

      “It’s been a great reunion for all. A bit of nostalgia for all the groups connected to Plymouth over the years,” said Rotary President Kathy Kearns.

      Community spirit abounds as Plymouth turns 250

      July 25th, 2013 by Lynn

        By Donna Rhodes

        Staff Writer

        Photos by Donna Rhodes and Marcia Morris

        PLYMOUTH — Music played and people cheered as Plymouth took to the streets last Saturday morning in celebration of their 250 years as a scenic, vibrant and cultural community nestled beneath the mountains, on the banks of the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers.

        After a morning that began with a community worship service and pancake breakfast, Main Street was lined with people who were eager to watch the “Marking the Moment” anniversary parade.

        MC’ed by Tim Keefe and coordinated by Armand Girouard, 80 entries made their way through downtown in one of the largest parades the town has seen in recent times.

        Leading the way were descendants of the Abenaki Indians, Plymouth’s first inhabitants. “The Old Man is Gone but We’re Still Here,” their sign proclaimed as they marched proudly along the parade route.

        They were followed by the descendants of Colonel David Webster, whose family ties to the town date back to 1763.

        Other early entries, each parading in chronological order, were the Plymouth Congregational Church, chartered in 1764, Olive Branch Mount Prospect Lodge from 1803, and the Young Ladies Library Association of Pease Public Library, which dates back to their establishment in 1873.

        Antique cars were scattered throughout the entries according to the year they were manufactured and 91-year-young Irene Wilke was all smiles as she wavedfrom the 1928 roadster pick-up that was restored by the Mardin family of Holderness.

        Watching all the excitement from the sidewalks were many residents who also wore fashions from earlier times in Plymouth.

        At the conclusion of the parade, everyone gathered on the lawn of Town Hall, where the Revolutionary War cannon was fired and dignitaries assembled for the reading of official proclamations and commendations that marked Plymouth’s 250 years as a town.

        Heading up the program was Val Scarborough, Chair of the board of selectmen. She was joined at the podium by Selectman Mike Conklin. Conklin, who donned a top hat and spoke out in the manner of a colonial town crier, read the many “Whereas” and “Wherefore’s” on a scrolled proclamation from the board. In it, they officially recognized the town’s “glorious past” and said that as history continues to be made in Plymouth, “the future looks equally bright.”

        Among those who also took part in congratulating the town on its longevity was Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster.

        Kuster spoke of her presentation on Plymouth that she read into the record on the floor of the U.S.House of Representatives recently, and concluded by saying, “I urge all Granite Staters to join us in honoring this special town.”

        Grafton County Commissioner Martha Richards, who wore a vintage floral hat for the occasion, also presented a commendation from the commission and told the gathering, “I’m just so honored to be here with this great group of people on this special day.”

        Other commendations were read by representatives of senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, who were unable to attend the ceremony.

        PSU President Sara Jayne Steen spoke about the enduring ties between the university and the town. She said is very grateful for the longstanding partnership the two communities have shared since 1871, when the university, originally called Plymouth Normal School, was founded.

        Finally, State Senator Jeanie Forrester, a former executive director for the Main Street program in Plymouth, reflected on the town’s rich history. She paid tribute to its past industries that helped establish the community, its beautiful location and the many famous people who have been welcomed to Plymouth over the years, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, President Franklin Pierce, Daniel Webster and Babe Ruth.

        “Whether you were born here or got here as quickly as you could, Plymouth is a beautiful place you can call home, and always feel at home,” Forrester said.

        She also presented Scarborough with an official New Hampshire flag that was flown over the State Capital in honor of Plymouth’s 250th anniversary.

        Main Street itself was soon turned into a fun playground for the remainder of the afternoon where children enjoyed a bouncy house, a water balloon catapult and even a miniature golf course on the common.

        For added fun, the Plymouth Fire Department filled a portion of the street with foamy suds for them to romp through on the hot summer day.

        The Senior Center took everyone on a nostalgic trip back in time when it resumed its original role as a train station for the day. Besides their “Whistle Stop” food shop, passengers lined up for a short train ride aboard the Pemigewasset Valley Local that took them to Frosty Scoops at the Common Man where they could get ice cream.

        Across Green Street, bands also performed on the riverfront at the Rotary Ampitheater throughout the day.

        At Miss Kenniston’s Field, a brief shuttle ride away, there were colonial games like marbles, hoop rolling and some gunny sack races for all to enjoy. Antique cars, horses, and rides aboard Plymouth’s and Sandwich’s antique fire trucks were other popular attractions.

        Those who visited the field were also able to tour a reproduction of a colonial herb and flower garden. The Heirloom Garden was filled with hops, flax, barley and other plants that were typically found in backyards during Plymouth’s early days.

        As stated earlier on Saturday, Scarborough’s gratitude for the celebration certainly held true all weekend long.

        “Thank you all for turning out for our 250th birthday,” she told the crowd.

        Plymouth’s “Marking the Moment” party begins soon

        July 11th, 2013 by Lynn

          By Marcia Morris


          PLYMOUTH—Plymouth’s 250th anniversary celebration begins with a kickoff event on Wednesday evening, July 17, starting at 5 p.m. Everyone is invited to Summerfest – a lawn party on the campus of Plymouth State University’s Mary Lyon Hall — with a traditional summer barbecue, dessert, kid’s games, and a concert by “Annie” and the Orphans starting at 7 p.m.

           A performance by “Annie” and the Orphans is always a “rock” down memory lane. One of New Hampshire’s most popular classic rock bands, “Annie” always inspires kids and the young at heart to dance to the “oldies” repertoire including “Rock Around the Clock,” “The Wanderer,” “Oh Diana” and “Only Make Believe.” It will be a blast!

          The event is free and open to the public, rain or shine. So, bring your lawn chair and a blanket and enjoy one of summer’s great pleasures.

          The celebration moves into overdrive on Friday, July 19, beginning with a reception for the “Views of

          The Plymouth 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee and Plymouth State University invite everyone to a special reception and Gallery Opening on Friday, July 19 from 4 - 6 p.m. at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery. “Views of Plymouth” is a collection of work from local artists that contains images of the Town of Plymouth. COURTESY

          Plymouth” Art Exhibit Opening, from 4 – 6 p.m. in Plymouth State University’s Karl Drerup Art Gallery in the Draper and Maynard Building, located just off the traffic circle on Main Street, downtown Plymouth. This special exhibit, will run from Friday, July 19 – Friday, July 26, 2013.

          Then the revelry really moves into overdrive with an Old Time Barn Dance, featuring Two Fiddles, Dudley and Jacqueline Laufman, to be held from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center on Green Street, rain or shine.

          If you appreciate New England’s musical roots, or just want to have a lot of fun, you won’t want to miss this one. Dudley Laufman, a musician and barn dance caller from Canterbury, has received the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts: the National Heritage Fellowship, presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. He literally “wrote the book” on traditional country barn dances! There is no one better to help us celebrate this most joyous part of our cultural heritage.

          Meanwhile, there will be ample time to relax and reminisce. Reunite with old friends and acquaintances at a reception to be held at the Plymouth Common Man Inn on North Main Street, from 7 p.m. until… whenever! The event, hosted by the Plymouth Rotary Club, will provide an informal opportunity for social time with former classmates, neighbors and friends. To jog the memories, a slide show and old yearbooks will be on hand as well. Make a date with someone you haven’t seen in ages remember the good old days, and catch up on all the news.

          Saturday, July 20 is the day of the big parade! The day’s events start at the crack of dawn, with a Community Sunrise Service beginning at 6 a.m. We will gather in silence, beginning at 5:30 a.m. with the service to follow on the Douglas DiCenzo Bridge in downtown Plymouth. People of all faiths and religious affiliations, are invited to attend.

          There will be a Pancake Breakfast on the lawn of the Congregational Church in Plymouth, followed by the “Marking the Moment” Anniversary Parade, kicking off at 10 a.m. The official Proclamations and Presentation Ceremony will be held in front of Town Hall at approximately 11:30 a.m., followed by an afternoon of activities for the whole family.

          Following the big “Marking the Moment” Anniversary Parade in Downtown Plymouth on Saturday morning, July 20, enjoy the Family Fun Fair with activities for kids, performances at the Plymouth Rotary amphitheater, and displays and exhibits of our colonial heritage at “Miss Keniston's Field” to be held all afternoon. Pictured: Bridge House Family Fun Fair, 2010. COURTESY

          From noon – 5 p.m., the Bridge House is hosting the Fun Fair activities and games for all ages, with food by theThe Common Man. On Green Street and the Rotary Amphitheater at Riverfront Park there will be Train Rides, and continuous performances from the Baker Valley Band, the Dave Lockwood Trio, Uncle Steve’s Band the Young People’s Players.

          At “Miss Keniston’s Field” on the corner of Thurlow Street and Texas Hill Road, there will be Colonial Field Games for Kids, Yankee Fiddlers on the Porch, Vintage Cars, Trucks and Tractors, Traditional crafts demonstrations, agricultural displays and a Food Tent hosted by the Plymouth Lion’s Club.

          There will be an evening of Cultural Performances beginning at 7 p.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church, including a reprise of the Nathaniel Peabody Rogers and Northstar scence from the Educational Theater Collaborative’s “Marking the Moment” commemorative production that so many enjoyed this past winter. A Youth Quartet will perform an original composition by Jonathan Santore, to commemorate the Town’s anniversary. A Reading of Verse by Women of Words will followed by a reception, hosted by the Plymouth Congregational Church.

          On Sunday, July 21, Paul Minickiello will lead a Guided Historical Walk of Downtown Plymouth. Meet at the Historical Museum, behind the Plymouth Town Hall, at 10 a.m. Alternatively, from noon until 3 p.m, enjoy a self-guided Museum Walk downtown or Take the free Historic House Tour. Enjoy free Ice skating from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Plymouth State University Ice Arena and Welcome Center.

          The Grand Finale of the week’s observance will take place on Sunday evening, July 21 at the Plymouth Rotary Riverfront Amphitheater, starting at 7 p.m. with a concert by the Pemi Choral Society. At 8 p.m. there will be a “Plymouth for Peace” ceremony with community prayer, hymn and the launching of floating Peace Prayer Lanterns on the river. Then the 250th Birthday Cake Bake appreciation (and eating) will be held, followed by a Fireworks Show, accompanied by the New Hampshire Music Festival Brass Band!

          There are literally dozens of special events and activities planned for the anniversary week celebration. For complete and up to date information on all the activities, visit the event website at There is something for everyone. See you there!

          Celebrating Plymouth As A Stop On The Underground

          May 14th, 2009 by cataloger

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