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Valley Parents: 10 Cool Things To Do This Summer

At 10 a.m. on May 18, a flotilla of homemade rafts will set sail on the Sugar River in Newport. The annual event is just one example of the variety of family-friendly activities sponsored by recreation departments throughout the Upper Valley.

Photograph courtesy of Newport Recreation Department

At 10 a.m. on May 18, a flotilla of homemade rafts will set sail on the Sugar River in Newport. The annual event is just one example of the variety of family-friendly activities sponsored by recreation departments throughout the Upper Valley. Photograph courtesy of Newport Recreation Department

There are numerous reasons we all feel fortunate to call the Upper Valley home. Among those are the abundance and variety of recreational programs available in our communities throughout the year, but especially during the beautiful summer months. It would be impossible to list them all in one place, but here are 10 of the best.

1. The Hartland Recreation Department kicks off the next several months of fun with their Spring Fling, starting Friday, May 10. The Spring Fling begins that night with Give a Hoot, an owl presentation by Vermont Institute of Natural Science at 4 p.m. The following day, Saturday, May 11, the wildly popular Touch a Truck event begins at 11 a.m. Children will have the opportunity to climb aboard a concrete mixer, fire truck and rescue vehicles, a Sabil & Sons wrecker and some of the town’s heavy equipment.

After the Touch a Truck is the Bike Rodeo, which includes free safety inspections of bicycles and helmets. Children will be taught about safety and appropriate hand signals and then will ride their bikes on both a racing course and a specially designed “pump track,” which requires no pedaling.

For more information about Hartland’s Spring Fling on May 10 and 11, including Give a Hoot, Touch a Truck and the Bike Rodeo, call recreation director Ray Sapp at 802-436-2790.

2. Ships ahoy! Set sail for Newport on Saturday, May 18, for the annual Sugar River Craft Race. Entrants design and build their own homemade rafts and race them down the river, beginning at Newport’s Meadow Park and finishing at Corbin covered bridge.

Sure, it’s a race, but most of the fun is the spectacle. Diverse imaginations create a motley fleet and some are more sea-worthy than others. Newport recreation director P.J. Lovely calls this a great event for families. “It’s a blast,” he says, “and a big tradition in Newport.” The fastest craft and the most creative craft are both awarded “the coveted, hand-painted, Sugar River Craft Race paddle.”

The race begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, in Meadow Park. There are no race day sign-ups, so entrants must register in advance. To find out how, visit www.newportrec.com or the event’s Facebook page, where you can also find photos from past years’ races.

3. Dads and daughters cut a rug at the annual Father Daughter Dance in Grantham on Saturday, June 8. Featuring the pop-rock rhythms of Jim Hollis, the dance takes place at the Grantham Town Hall. Organizer Laurie Field calls this adorable event “a night out with the ladies.”

Each daughter will be presented with a flower at the door and professional photographers will be on hand, so that every father is presented a complimentary photo to help remember the night. The evening also includes hot and cold refreshments and an ice cream social. Field says that this is not an event for wallflowers. “The guys do not sit. They’re up for every song. The girls make sure of it.”

Grantham’s Father Daughter Dance happens Saturday, June 8, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.. To RSVP by the June 1 deadline (or for more information), visit www.granthamnh.net or call Laurie Field at 603-863-9143.

4. Beginning June 26, head to Hanover for the town’s Family Summer Series. Every Wednesday, the event begins at 10:30 a.m. with stories and songs at Howe Library. When that concludes, the action relocates to the Ray School for an 11:30 a.m. interactive performance. Booked performances include puppeteers, live animals, drumming, dancing and other live music. Assistant recreation director Liz Burdette calls this the “picnic series” and says families are encouraged to bring a packed lunch to the Ray performances.

The Family Summer Series is hosted on six consecutive Wednesdays from June 26 through July 31. Email Liz Burdette with any questions at Liz.Burdette@HanoverNH.org.

5. Music fans should flock to Windsor, starting July 3. Every Wednesday night from then through Aug. 21, free concerts will take place on the State Street town common. The concerts are from 6-8 p.m. and the series boasts an assortment of popular local musical acts, such as East Bay Jazz Ensemble, Larry Dougher and Adam McMahon, About Gladys and Jason Caan.

Windsor Recreation director Harry Ladue encourages families to “bring your chairs and a snack and enjoy the night.” For more information about the free Wednesday night concert series, call Ladue at 802-674-6783.

6. Starting July 9, Lebanon will be offering free “kid specific events” on the city green at noon every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays, join your neighbors for Dancing in the Park. On Wednesdays, bring your children and grandchildren to a story time on the green. On Thursdays, the whole family can enjoy an interactive performance. Scheduled acts include a magic show, a marionette performance, and several musical groups with shows geared towards young audiences. Stick around after the Thursday shows and you can stroll around the farmers market.

These family-friendly events take place on the Lebanon green at noon on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from July 9 through Aug. 22. For more information and to view the complete list of performers, visit www.recreation.lebnh.net/home/recreation-docs/summer-entertainment.

7. Also beginning July 9 is South Royalton’s Brown Bag Series. Come to the park at noon as performers such as Island Time Steel Drums and Marko the Magician take over the gazebo on four consecutive Tuesdays. The series is so named because spectators are encouraged to bring a packed lunch.

These shows are fun for all ages, free and open to the public. They’re scheduled for July 9, 16, 23 and 30 and in case of rain will be held at the high school. For more information on the Brown Bag Series, email recreation director Kerri Rogers at klrogers1475@yahoo.com.

8. Head to Claremont on July 27 for the town’s 5K Color Walk or Run. Participants will be provided a commemorative white T-shirt and, at various locations throughout the course, will be blasted with different colored powders. Recreation director Scott Hausler says color walks and color runs are becoming more popular throughout the country, but “this is one of the first in this part of New England.” Laughter typically ensues as participants begin to resemble a rainbow and family and friends enjoy some terrific photo opportunities.

Proceeds from the run/walk will benefit the Claremont Soup Kitchen, as well as the new Claremont Savings Bank Community Center. Funds raised for the Center will be used towards free and discounted memberships, as well as for funding its programs and general upkeep.

Claremont’s 5K Color Walk or Run takes place on Saturday, July 27. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the event itself kicks off at 9:30 a.m.. For more information or to preregister, visit www.claremontparks.com.

9. Also on July 27 is the Grandma & Me Story Walk in Hartford. The program started at the Kellogg Library in Montpelier and this year’s Hartford version will feature the book Sheep, Take a Hike by Nancy Shaw. Participants venture on trails through the Hurricane Forest and stop at stations to read along to the story as they go. Each station will bring the group to the next part of the story. After the story and stroll, everybody will settle in at the picnic tables at Wright’s Reservoir for a picnic lunch and a story-related craft project, which Program Director Jay McDonough says is designed to “tie right into the book.”

The walk starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 27. Bring your own lunch, but cookies and drinks will be provided. For more information, call the Hartford Recreation Department at 802-295-5036.

10. Many towns celebrate Old Home Days, but nobody does it like Canaan. This year’s festivities take place Aug. 2-4 and include the annual parade, a craft fair, children’s tractor pull, soap box derby races, live music, scrumptious food and crafts.

Part of what makes Canaan’s Old Home Days weekend so special is the Run from the Law, a road race sponsored by the town’s police department. Taking place on Sunday, Aug. 4, this year’s race begins at the Canaan Street Lake beach and continues through historic Canaan Street and the Cardigan Mountain School campus.

More information about the Run from the Law, as well as the rest of Canaan’s Old Home Days festivities, can be found at www.canaannh.org/oldhomedays/index.html.

Hopefully your family will be able to attend some of these wonderful events. As mentioned, there are many terrific programs in numerous towns throughout the Upper Valley, particularly May through August. Contact your local recreation department to learn more about their upcoming programs and, above all, have fun this summer!

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