Town Pitches in  To Help Cornish Celebrate 250th

Cornish — Though Colleen O’Neill has been on the front lines with Karen Gillock organizing Cornish’s 250th anniversary celebration, from her perspective it has been a townwide effort.

“It one of the characteristics of Cornish,” O’Neill said last week. “There is tremendous spirit of community in town.”

As an example, O’Neill said they were looking for people to bake cookies for the townwide picnic on June 23 and a dozen people offered.

“Anything we have needed, people just volunteer,” she said. Police, fire and rescue squads, the elementary school and others have willingly pitched in. “Everyone has really come together on this,” O’Neill said.

The three-day celebration begins Friday with a historic lecture by retired Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Jere Daniell, who has written and lectured extensively on Colonial America and New England history. The evening begins at 7 in the Trinity Church on Route 12A with a presentation by Cornish students re-enacting the signing of the charter in 1763, followed by Daniell.

A number of events are planned for Saturday at Cornish Flat, including a pictorial commemorative stamp cancellation (see below) at the post office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a pancake breakfast 7 to 10 a.m.

There will be horse-drawn carriage rides complete with historical commentary, self-guided walking tours of the cemetery and the farmers market on the green.

O’Neill said they have created a 250th logo that appears on a license plate, which will be available at the market and can be placed on the front of vehicles this year. Also available will be a new book on Cornish that was a collaborative effort by more than two dozen people and a 250th anniversary celebration passport. The passport can be stamped at each event for a keepsake. Inside there are Cornish Quests, with clues to help find seven historic locations in town.

“It is something you can do on your own to discover special places in Cornish,” O’Neill said.

The library, Cornish Historic Center and Masonic Lodge will be open Saturday with information on those historic structures and special maps highlighting the town’s past and present. At 9:30, a commemorative tree planting will take place on the Meeting House Green with the help of the Boy Scouts.

Saturday concludes with a free concert at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site featuring The Virginia Eskin Trio with “Summertime Sounds” of jazz, Dixieland, and ragtime.

The weekend is not only about remembering the past but also preserving the present.

At Sunday’s community picnic at the fairgrounds from noon to 3 — for Cornish residents only — a photograph will be taken of all those present and a time capsule filled and sealed. O’Neill said they are inviting residents to write whatever they want on an 8-by-11 inch sheet of paper and include pictures if they want for the capsule. It will be presented to the Selectboard at Town Meeting next year and placed in the town vault with instructions to open it in 50 years.

The Newmont Military Band will perform at the picnic, and there will be games as well.

Mariet Jaarsma was the winner of the poster contest for the 250th celebration, which had the Cornish Fair as its theme. The painting, a watercolor, will be on display at the Cornish Fair Art Show in Town Hall during the fair on Aug. 16, 17 and 18. Nancy Wightman, a member of the committee that chose the winner, said Jaarsma’s entry was selected because it was “more artistic” and included a covered bridge.

With the planning complete, the hope now is for some fair weather after the past few weeks of rain. But rain or shine, O’Neill said Cornish is ready to celebrate.

“I think the whole town is very excited about this.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at