Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
The kids might be back in school, but weekends in September are free to fill with apple picking, early autumn leaf peeping, trips to the farmers’ market and the fair! This month, fair season in New Hampshire is full swing and we’re heading out to three of our Merrimack Valley favorites.
By Jacqueline Tourville
For a sweet beginning to a fun day away, we’re starting this road trip in Concord and driving west along scenic Route 9 into Contoocook -- and straight into the heart of New Hampshire’s apple country.
As you pass the stately tree lined homes of Hopkinton, bearing north on Route 103 brings you to the turnoff for Gould Hill Farm, a PYO orchard laden with 80 different varieties of the Granite State’s favorite fruit. Views of the surrounding countryside from this hilltop orchard are stunning and kids will love the learning exhibits housed in the farm’s aptly named Little Nature Museum. Let the picking begin! Apple season at Gould starts on Labor Day this year.
Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1 to 5) also marks the 96th Hopkinton State Fair. Loaded up on apples? Backtrack to Route 103 and continue north, passing through the village of Contoocook and onward to the bustling midway and sprawling agricultural exhibits of this farewell-to-summer tradition. The fair is home to one of the largest livestock displays in New England, with barn after barn full of cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, horses, oxen, llamas and other four-footed favorites. Charmingfare Farm will be on hand with their traveling petting zoo and for those who missed out in March, a working sugar shack will showcase one of the state’s oldest agricultural traditions.
The next ferris wheel and bag of cotton candy can be found the following weekend in New Boston, home to the Hillsborough County Fair (Sept. 9 to 11). Leaving again from Concord, we’re first stopping for some healthy sustenance at the Concord Farmers’ Market on Capitol Street (Saturdays through mid-October) before heading south out of town on rural Route 13. Who can spot the first blazes of autumn color? Continuing south through Goffstown, the fair grounds are located just off Route 13 on Hinsdale Lane. Animal exhibits await, including 4-H kids competing with their pigs, rabbits and goats for that elusive blue ribbon, plus oxen and horse pulling competitions, giant pumpkin weigh off and even an apple pie contest.
Can’t resist one more time on the Tilt-A-Whirl? Neither can we so we’re letting our stomachs settle for a few weekends before making our way to the Deerfield Fair, Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 1 and 2. Leaving from Concord, follow Route 9 east to Route 43 south. Or just follow the scent of fried dough! Family-friendly highlights of this year’s fair include a pig scramble, a performance by kids’ performer Wayne from Maine, and the Flying Wallendas Family Circus- Show. Sounds like a fair deal to us.
Trip 1: 30 miles roundtrip from Concord
Trip 2: 48 milesTrip 3: 44 miles
Last updated by Parenting NH Administrator Sep 1, 2011.