By Tom Eastman
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND — welcome to the traditional start of summer here in this tourism-dependent, beautiful (but somewhat soggy) part of the Granite State.
The state Office of Tourism and Travel is predicting the state will see 625,000 visitors this travel weekend, and that they are expected to pump $100 million into the state's economy — up 4 percent in visitors and a 5 percent increase in visitor spending compared to a year ago.
Likewise, Marti Mayne, public relations director for the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, says an informal survey of local lodging properties indicates that Memorial Day weekend 2017 will be strong here in Happy Valley. The Memorial Day holiday will be filled with golf, attractions openings and outdoor adventure in the valley this weekend.
And, most important, it will also be a time for reflection about the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for serving our country. Most observances are planned for Monday, May 29 — be sure to consult the overview of local listings found on page 12.
On a personal note, I'd like to salute the service of my late father Capt. Robert S. Eastman (USN), a Class of 1942 graduate of the US Naval Academy and 25-year veteran; and that of my oldest brother, Silver Star recipient/UNH ROTC Hall of Famer, Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot Lt. David L. Eastman of Tamworth, who writes the wonderfully illuminating Country Ecology column for both this paper and WMWV 93.5 F.M.
We wouldn't be able to enjoy our freedoms without the sacrifice of all who have served.
KUDOS TO Col. Karen and Lt. Col. Jim Umberger (both USAF-Ret.) of Kearsarge, who will once again be sponsoring the annual Memorial Weekend Concert, a tribute to military personnel at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center located on Bradley Street at Fryeburg Academy on May 28 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. The show features the 50-piece Seacoast Wind Ensemble.
IN OTHER MUSICAL NOTES, on the music scene this Memorial Day Weekend, highlights include Girls, Guns and Glory in the Tuckerman Brewing Co. Music Series Saturday, May 27, from 4 to 7 p.m.
It's always a great time at Tuckerman's, located on Hobbs Street in Conway, featuring great brews and conversation with friends from near and far.
BARN SERIES: Innkeepers/music fans Kimball and Neysa Packard invite all to come down to their Farmstand Bed and Breakfast at 118 Page Hill Road in Chocorua Sunday, May 28, as they'll be hosting a show by Jamie McLean (doors to the barn open at 6 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m.).
McLean is a New Orleans guitarist and band leader whose band plays an energetic mix of original roots, downtown rock and roll, country and swampy soul. Food is available to purchase before the show, BYOB; $15 tickets available via www.thefarmstand.net and at the show.
RED PARKA BLUES: The place was packed last Sunday, May 21, at the Red Parka Pub in beautiful downtown Glen for the latest performance in the Sunday evening blues series, with Sugar Ray and the Bluetones performing an incredible and lively blend of blues.
Roy "the Skiing DJ" Prescott of WMWV 93.5 F.M.'s "Blues Summit" was given the honor of introducing the band and welcoming them to the vaulted RPP stage. Gifted local swing dancer/farmer Glen Mitchell was quick to the dance floor with many dance partners as the night went on. Definitely a night of fantastic world class blues.
Looking ahead, hosts Terry and George O'Brien note that the next in the series will be Matt and the Barnburners during Bike Week Thursday, June 15, and the return of James Montgomery and Bruce Marshall June 18. Visit www.redparkapub.com or call (603) 383-4344 for more information.
BOOTS & BLING featured the Jon Sarty Band May 20 at the White Mountain Hotel and Resort as a fundraiser for Starting Point. We're told by board chair Greg Frizzell that it was the most successful ever, raising something like $60,000m which is a wonderful take.
FRIENDS OF JEN'S FRIENDS, meanwhile, held their fourth annual Scavenger Hunt in North Conway Village May 24, with 19 costumed teams participating, according to Carol-Ann Dahlmeyer, co-owner with husband Frank of Bagels Plus of North Conway, which once again served as headquarters for the hunt.
They worked with the Jen's Friends board, with board member Stephanie Pavau heading the effort. Rastas, hippies, chefs, the Shining; funky bandmates and railroad workers — those were just some of the costumes. It all brought back memories of the ol' Spring Shampagne Stampede scavenger hunt days of old, which also was held on the streets of North Conway in the 1980s and early 1990s.
"The winning team was the Risky Business squad," said Carol-Ann, who said the event raised nearly $6,000 for Jen's Friends.
Now in its 20th year, Jen's Friends is currently serving 72 clients in North Conway, according to past president/board member Wendy Holmes.
IN OTHER LOCAL EVENTS, hope you made it over to the Fryeburg Fairgrounds last weekend for the 17th annual Home, Garden Flower Show. Perfect weather greeted the show all three days and we're told attendance was strong.
Meanwhile, in other highlights of the week, the North Conway Community Center was a beehive of activity Tuesday as the new location for Expo 17, presented by the MWV Chamber. It was nice to see so many friends representing local businesses at the event, which in the past has been held at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. Those whom we spoke with said that while they always loved the grand setting of the Mount Washington at Bretton Woods, they appreciated the convenience of the in-town, central location of the community center.
THAT EVENING, the North Conway Country Club hosted the Conway Daily Sun's second annual Best of the Valley awards. Kudos to the Ledgeview Grill's Mike "Peach" Luciano, Cheryl Emerson and staff for hosting us.
Among the attendees were Tom and Tess Mulkern of the Shannon Door pub — great to see them back in the valley from Naples, Fla.
We'll have a complete overview of the winners in a cover story in our June 3 edition of the Sun. Congratulations to all who won, and thanks to the 4,500 voters who participated. Among the winners? Jen's Friends for best charitable organization and best charitable event (Climb Against Cancer every September)
IN BIRTHDAY GREETINGS, we salute one and all, including belatedly Jeannine Levesque (May 16), and Priscilla Ellis of the CDS Graphics Department (May 24); and happy happies to all other Geminis out there, including Mountain Mama Ingrid Carlson-DeWitt, attorney Charles Monaghan and skier Hannes Schneider (May 27); valiant health warrior Brad Arnold, Judy Kennedy, two-time local Olympian Leanne Smith and Nancy Stewart (May 28); hockey player Sharon Chase Hill and Deb Samia (May 29), who share a birthday with and JFK (he would have been 100 on May 29); Eileen Copeland, Bobbi Broemme and Ski NH's Jessyca Harris Keeler (all May 31); and Mark Smith and Sue Luksza (June 1).
FIRE UP THE back yard barbecue, put on the bug dope after all this rain, and have a great Memorial Day!