Arts & Entertainment

Lancaster Fair opens Wednesday

The best fun-filled family event in northern New Hampshire -- The Lancaster Fair -- starts next Wednesday, August 27. Now in its 144th year, the Fair takes place on Route 3 in Lancaster through Labor Day, Monday, September 1. The fair combines all of the activities of an old-fashioned country fair with plenty of variety to keep everyone in the family entertained.
Children will love the colorful midway with exciting rides and train rides. There is a special Kids' Korner tent, with crafts, magic shows, scavenger hunts, and contests.
The Lancaster Fair is all about agriculture: working cattle demonstrations; livestock competitions, including horse pulls, sheepdog trials, and an oxen log obstacle course; 4-H exhibits; and exhibitions of homemade crafts and fresh vegetables and flowers.
If you like to make (and eat) pies, don't miss the King Arthur Flour Co.-sponsored apple pie contest, and the Shaw's and Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank pie baking contests.
Just added: New England Championship Wrestling wraps up a BLAZING SUMMER on Friday night, August 29 at the Lancaster Fair with a 7 p.m. bell time. Admission to this event is free with your admission to the fair.
Enjoy the daily grandstand shows – Cruise Night, 5th Annual Fireman's Muster, New England Championship Wrestling, and a concert by Confederate Railroad on Aug. 30 – all free with paid admission.
It's all about the horsepower and high-octane fair at the fair's paid ($8 admission) grandstand shows: a Big Rig Truck Pull and a 4 x 4 Truck Pull on Aug, 31, and a Demolition Derby on Sept. 1.
Bring the family and celebrate New Hampshire's Great North Woods lifestyle and work at the Lancaster Fair.
Parking is free and general admission is $15, which includes rides. Admission is free for seniors 70 and older and for children under 42 inches (when accompanied by a paying adult).
On Wed., August 27, admission is $30 per carload with rides starting at 4 p.m.
Thursday, August 28 is Senior Citizen Day at the fair, when admission is $12 for those 62 and older.
For more information and for a complete schedule of events, visit www.lancasterfair.com,
The Lancaster Fair would not be possible without its sponsors; Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank, Allied Insurance, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Bank of New Hampshire, Beattie Enterprises, Carroll Concrete, Chappy's Concessions, Cloutier Sand & Gravel, Fitch Fuel, North Country Ford, The Forbes Farm, White Mountain Dental and Pete & Gerry's.

Weathervane ready to wrap up season 49 gala performances

MemphisBest3885InternsShowcaseC3846Whitefield will ring for several more days with the sound of professional theatre as the Weathervane gets ready to wrap up their 49th consecutive summer by offering audiences the ‘Best of 2014.’  
With their unique alternating schedule of seven major productions by a resident professional company of performers, the Weathervane Theatre is the only place in the country that can wind up their summer with gala performances of highlights from all shows on their closing day.  

This week’s nightly full performances of Mary Poppins, Cotton Club, and Memphis will be followed on August 30 by reprises from all three, plus Annie, The 39 Steps, God of Carnage, and Next to Normal in two show celebrations of the entire summer at 2 and 8 p.m.  
Information and calendar at www.weathervanetheatre.org>; tickets at 837-9322.

RMC tradition carries on

RMC tradition carries on
by Gail Scott
RANDOLPH—The Randolph Mountain Club grand old tradition of picnic and charades was continued with great drama at Mossy Glen last Saturday.
Four communities of Randolph—the trail crew, the hill, the midlands, and the valley—acted out the traditional confusing charades to illustrate the word each group had picked and the audience, everyone else, had to guess what in the world they were acting out—traditionally with all kinds of misleading suggestions in the dramas that broke the words down into syllables and then, sometimes, represented the whole word.
First up was the RMC trail crew. The crew works on the RMC trails all summer to keep them in hiking shape. They chose "crepuscular," acting "crepes" (food) to the whole word—a moose appears as the crew is digging up a rock. Moose typically are active at dawn or dusk, i.e. crepuscular.
Midlands—involving people who live neither in the valley nor on the hill but in the middle of Randolph Hill—acted out "panopticon," an architectural term that refers to a type of building, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point. Despite the obscurity of the word and the obscuring dramas presented to illustrate its syllables, a member of the audience managed to guess it.
The Hill carried on with "anthropomorphous," which means attributing human qualities to nonhuman things. Once again the audience guessed the word, an amazing feat as the dramas illustrating the syllables ranged from auditions for a talent show to a transformation of the Gourmet Hike, which, theoretically, is not an RMC hike because it attracts more than 10 participants.
At last The Valley presented its usual peerless performances, this year illustrating "tracheotomy" with actors Ted May and Ted Horton, respectively taking on the characters of "Donald Trump" and a Zen Master and much dramatic activity by the more-or-less chorus members—the choruses of all the charades being a succession of notable acting performances.
All dramas having been performed, the crowd joined in singing some favorite rounds, led by Bill Minifie (of The Hill) and, finally, Auld Lang Syne, the way the RMC picnic and charades have ended for some 100 summers.

Lancaster: Images From the Past Aug. 28

Bob Hunt and Anne Morgan will present a slide program entitled "Lancaster: Images From the Past" at Weeks State Park at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 28. This free program helps to celebrate Lancaster's 250th anniversary. Bob and Anne will show historical photographs from Lancaster's past. Their slide show is based upon the new book entitled "Lancaster" by the Lancaster Historical Society. Lancaster was settled in 1764 when David Page of Petersham, Mass., obtained a grant and sent his sons to the wilderness of Upper Cohoss. Lancaster was the first settlement north of Haverhill and has upheld its old New England atmosphere. This program highlights the men and women who farmed the land and contributed to the industrial and cultural growth of the town. Historical images are from the archives of the Lancaster Historical Society. Both Bob and Anne are elementary school teachers and active members of the historical society and were instrumental in the compilation of the book.

The program will be in the Great Room of the Summit Lodge of Weeks State Park and will begin at 7 p.m. Come early and bring a picnic supper, or climb the fire tower for one of the best views north of the notches.

Weeks State Park is located on the east side of Route 3, approximately 2 miles south of Lancaster. The Evening Program Series is sponsored by the Weeks State Park Association, NH Division of Parks, UNH Cooperative Extension and the many business supporters who make these programs possible.

 

A Visit to a Shitake Mushroom Producer

Thirty-four people braved last Thursday night's rain to attend a twilight meeting at New Earth Organic Farm in Colebrook, and it was well worth the effort. New Earth grows two acres of certified organic vegetables, raises chickens, and three years ago, started a new enterprise, woods-grown shitake mushrooms. During the course of the meeting, we got to hear from Pierre, Vanessa, Luc and Gloria, the creative minds behind the farm and see all the crops, but for this article, I'll focus on the shitake mushrooms.

Luc Lamirande and Pierre Miron gave us a thorough explanation of how they went about inoculating their logs and setting up their log yard. They started the project with 100 logs but like other parts of the farm, it quickly grew to its current size with 500 logs. The first step is to cut the trees in the spring about two to three weeks before they will bud out. In Colebrook, that usually works out to the end of maple season or mid-April. Oak is considered the best logs for shitakes, but of course it is much cheaper if you can cut the trees yourself from your own property. New Earth uses maple trees because they are the second most common species used, and it is what they have available. Luc and Pierre warned us that larger logs will keep producing longer, but are harder to move around. The best balance for them is four-foot logs with diameters between four and eight inches.

The logs don't need to be seasoned first, in fact logs that were cut just a couple weeks before inoculation are good because they haven't had a chance to dry out or become colonized by other types of mushrooms. Pierre and Luc drill holes about six inches apart along the length of the log, in rows that are about three inches apart and offset from each other so that the holes create a diamond pattern in the log. Then they put a one-inch long mycelium plug in each hole and cover it with wax. It takes about 18 months for the mycelium to grow throughout the log before mushroom production can start. Meanwhile the logs need to be put somewhere where they get plenty of shade and the logs stay above 25 percent moisture. To accomplish that, New Earth established a log yard in a wooded area of the farm with overhead sprinklers that they can use to wet the logs down when rain alone isn't sufficient.

If you allow the logs to produce on their own schedule, you will get two crops a year. Alternatively you can "force" them by soaking them so they will start producing in a week or two. New Earth forces their logs in batches starting in July in the hopes of getting a predictable harvest throughout the summer and fall, which makes the mushrooms easier to market. A batch of 100 logs should produce about 15-20 pounds of shitakes. The photo shows a batch about to be harvested. The hoops and sheets of plastic are there so the mushrooms can be covered during a rain storm to prevent them from getting too soft. This batch of mushrooms will produce for about four days, with the majority of the production in the first two days.

Thus far the only pests the farm has had trouble with are slugs and squirrels. Keeping the logs on pallets and propped up on a wire when they are being forced, helps with the slugs, and the squirrels will probably get a pass as long as they don't get too greedy.

If you would like more information on growing shitakes, including information on where to find supplies, the University of Vermont and Cornell recently teamed up and put out an excellent publication "Log Based and Forest Shitake Mushroom Cultivation in New England." http://www.uvm.edu/~susagctr/resources/ShiitakeGuide.pdf