BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, summer has finally arrived just in time for Memorial Day, so get out the bug dope and fire up the barbecue — and be sure to get your duck ticket for the 30th annual Wildquack Duck Race and Music Festival, set for Jackson’s Memorial Park Sunday.
As our feature story showcases in this issue, there will be a ton of ways to enjoy the best of summer in Mount Washington Valley.
Prospects are bright for a good season — provided we have good weather (and gas prices stay low and the economy doesn’t tank, due to a Chinese trade war or a real war in the Mideast, right?).
“The good weather has finally arrived, and we look forward to it carrying through the summer. We have seen a considerable number of visitors to the area this spring and we anticipate from the early interest we have had so far, that we should have an outstanding summer season,” said Charyl Reardon, new president of the White Mountains Attractions Association of North Woodstock, which represents several local attractions, such as the Mount Washington Auto Road, the Conway scenic Railroad, Attitash, Wildcat and Cranmore.
Howie Wemyss of the Auto Road was hoping the weather would be good for opening day today for the start of the “World’s Oldest Manmade Attraction.”
“The weather is looking better for Saturday, so we’ll see, but yes, we’re opening this weekend, weather permitting,” said Howie, general manager of the 1861-built “Road to the Sky,” which is scheduled to open for its 158th season today for guided tours and private vehicles.
Wemyss said he’s looking forward to seeing the impact on business of the new Glen House Hotel for the Auto Road’s sister establishment, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, as this is the first summer for the geothermal-heated and -cooled hotel that opened last September.
Opening day at the Auto Road today will feature the annual Alton Weagle Day unusual ascent event, with participants paying homage to the spirit of the late intrepid Mount Washington adventurer who made untold unusual ascents of the eight-mile-long road, including going up barefoot, blindfolded and backwards to pushing a 100-pound bag of sugar up the mountain in a wheelbarrow.
My friend Hans Bauer of Outside TV 16 always makes a fun day of it, including several years on stilts while wearing lederhosen and an Austrian cap.
He is now also a driver on the Auto Road, where his love for the mountains shines through in his tales to van passengers who take the guided tours to the “Top of New England.”
Come this morning, he and 12 others will be making their way up the 7.6-mile long Mount Washington Auto Road, following in the footsteps of Weagle, who made his unusual ascents in the 1950s.
According to Howie, Hans will be attempting to finish what he started last year, when he ascended the Auto Road to the 3-mile mark on a penny-farthing (those old-fashioned big-wheeled bikes) while dressed as Abe Lincoln.
“He and Nate Harvey (of Great Glen Trails) will be going up together to the 3-mile mark, riding backwards in an Great Glen kayak truck trailer as Nate is attempting that feat to be the first to drive the trailer backwards to the summit. Hans will get out at the 3-mile mark and will then ride the penny-farthing to the summit,” Howie noted.
Are spectators welcome?
“Yes,” said Howie, but you’re going to have to get up early if you want to see them. “They’ll start at the base at 6 a.m., so if anybody wants to walk with them they can. And we’re shooting for the awards ceremony to be held at the base at the Red Barn Museum at 11 a.m.”
For further information, call (603) 466-3988 — and long live the spirit of Alton Weagle, who hailed from Massachusetts and who just loved doing crazy things on Ol’ Agiochook, aka the Rockpile, what we call Mount Washington.
IN OTHER NEWS, there was a great turnout at the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Expo 19, held at a new location this year, the Red Jacket Mountain View.
Among the many people I interviewed at the event was the Cheese Louise food truck trio of Bryce Harrison, who just finished his junior year at the University of British Columbia; James Gaudreault, who just completed his junior year at the University of Vermont;and Ian Lubkin, heading into his senior year at the University of New Mexico.
The young entrepreneurs proudly noted that Cheese Louise in its second summer of operations here will feature two new trucks, as they sold their first one and have reinvested in the two new food trucks that are currently being retrofitted.
The first truck will be staffed by James’ younger brother Sully and his Kennett High friends while the other will be used to service festivals throughout northern New England.
Look for Cheese Louise to open at its first rotating location of the summer at the Army Barracks.
THE CHEESE LOUISE entrepreneurs hung out with fellow Kennett High alum Jasmine Schmidt, now entering her junior year at Boston College. Jasmine is the co-founder of a new nonprofit organization, “1 % for the valley.” The goal is “establishing an ecosystem of environmentalism in the Mount Washington Valley.”
For further information, email her at email@example.com.
Between the Stay & Thrive MWV attendees such as Jessica Wright, Patrick Lord and Ace Tarberry, and the Cheese Louise and Jasmine, it makes you proud to know these young citizens of the valley.
As The Who would sing, “The kids are all right.”
LAST WEEKEND’s Home Garden Flower Show with Cannabis was also a hit at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds, with attendance up by 20 percent, according to Joyce Brothers, the show’s producer and associate publisher of the Conway Daily Sun.
A first this year was the multi-day ticket that allowed entry all three days. Another highlight was the addition of music, with Jonathan Sarty and his band and the Carolyn Ramsay Trio wowing attendees. Another highlight was a “meet and greet” Saturday with the cast members of the reality TV show, “Maine Cabin Masters,” with Chase Morrill, his sister Ashley Morrill-Eldridge and her husband Ryan Eldridge holding court with fans.
My personal highlight was getting a great massage right there in one of the expos from local therapist Julie Sargent and also buying a custom-made ukele from Dave’s Custom Woodworking of Clinton, Maine. I also enjoyed touring the cannabis exhibits and hearing about medicinal CBD (cannibidiol) lotions, trying a jar of “fire rub” on a sore index finger joint from proprietor Drew Robbins of Nectar Plant Based Wellness of Bridgton, Maine.
ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT OF last weekend was being part of the first filming for the NH PBS show, “Our Hometown Conway” at the Conway Public Library. For the scoop, see the story found elsewhere in this edition.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY turned out to salute the spirit of the late Arthur Hill at services held Saturday morning at the First Church of Christ Congregational. Arthur was remembered by friend Ritchie Hansen of the Kennett High Alumni Association for his love of critters, and regaled one and all with a story about a harrowing drive en route to Doc Hussey’s with a rambunctious squirrel that had been hiding behind the glove compartment of Arthur’s truck but then let loose.
Arthur and his late wife Leona were the parents of four sons and a daughter, Jen Hill, after whom Jen’s Friends is named. The Jen’s Friends’ board of directors attended, and original JF founders Dave Veale and Scott Aronson also were there.
As I told Doug Hill, Arthur and Leona showed us all how to deal with adversity and always set an example of doing good for others.
IN HAPPY BIRTHDAYS this week, we salute one and all, including: Jackson’s Susan May and FOTR Inferno Race Director Ted Sutton (both today); Hannes Schneider, Karen DeMonico and Elise Edgerton (5-26); Mountain Mama Ingrid Carlson-DeWitt, Hannah Schneider and Fiatt enthusiast Charles R Monaghan (5-27); Cold River Radio lighting director Brad Arnold, music supporter Judy Kennedy, Nancy Stewart and two-time valley Olympic skier Leanne Smith (all 5-28); Deb Samia and ace hockey player Sharon Chase Hill (5-29); and Bobbi Broemme, Ski NH’s Jessyca Keeler and Eileen Copeland (5-31) and all others.
HAVE A GREAT Memorial Day Weekend, and be sure to attend the observances being held throughout the valley on the actual holiday on Monday to show your respect for our service people who paid the ultimate sacrifice.