HOW’S YOUR FAIR WEEK going?

Today is always the busiest day of the eight-day fair, so traffic ought to be a doozie for anyone trying to make their way to the fairgrounds on Route 5.

As always, for those of us living in the Conways, the best way to avoid the heaviest traffic is by taking East Conway Road east from Route 302 in Redstone, out past Sherman Farm, out to Corn Shop Road and then back in via Route 5 to the fairgrounds.

I recall taking that route during Fair Week Saturday last year, and even then I got stuck on Route 5 inbound to the fair and ended up turning around and going to Attitash’s Oktoberfest instead. So, be forewarned.

As for Oktoberfest, it isn’t slated until next weekend, Oct. 12-13, which is Columbus Day Weekend, when the foliage ought to be reaching its peak. So that's promising to be a big weekend — just without the Fryeburg Fair traffic as the FFF (Fabulous Fryeburg Fair) ends tomorrow, Oct. 6.

Looking ahead, the Sandwich Fair will be taking place Columbus Day Weekend in the picturesque village of Center Sandwich, Oct. 12-14.

CORRECTION: In last Saturday’s cover story on fall foliage, in the sidebar on fall events, I mistakenly wrote that King Pine was once again hosting its Brew-Ha Ha fest the Saturday of Columbus Day, but marketing director Thomas Prindle tells me they are not hosting the event this year. Sorry about that, Thomas!

IN OTHER UPCOMING HIGHLIGHTS, we’ve got the Sherman Farm Corn Maize weekends through Oct. 27; the 13th and final year of the Ghoullog at Cranmore, Fridays through Sundays, through Nov. 2 (including a Locals’ Night Halloween Bash Oct. 31); the Return of the Pumpkin People to Jackson and beyond, now through Oct. 31 (aren’t they magnificent this year?); a Busker Fest at Settlers Green with street musicians Oct. 12-13; and the Pumpkin Patch Express on the Conway Scenic Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. The railroad also has a Murder Mystery Train Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 1-2, featuring ““Rock, Roll and Rigor Mortis.”

Finally, there’s Haunted Happenings at Settlers Green, Oct. 27, and the Red Parka Pub’s annual Halloween Bash Oct. 31, featuring entertainment by Rek-lis.

SPEAKING OF THE PUMPKIN PEOPLE: Maps and People’s Choice ballots are now available at the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. Request them by calling (603) 383-9356, emailing info@jacksonnh.com or pick one up at participating businesses in the area.

The event also features an “All Things Pumpkin” Festival,” Oct. 18-31. The communities of Intervale, Glen, Bartlett, Hart’s Location and Jackson offer sleigh rides with pumpkin-flavored goodies, a pumpkin-carving competition, pumpkin-carving lessons, pumpkin tastings, contests, shopping and lodging specials.

For more information, go to jacksonnh.com or call (603) 383-9356.

IT’S ANOTHER Blues Sunday at the Red Parka Pub in beautiful downtown Glen on Oct. 6, with the always excellent Bruce Marshall Group performing from 5:30-9 p.m.

ALSO SUNDAY, the Feel the Barn Concert Series at the Farmstand in Chocorua will feature Slaid Cleaves performing at 7 p.m., with Kimball and Neysa Packard and staff serving Kimball’s New Orleans’ BBQ beginning at 6 p.m. Go to thefarmstand.net/thebarn for information.

IN LAST WEEKEND’S musical highlights, two major events took place the same night and both were well-attended. That says a lot about the valley, a fact pointed out tot me by George Wiese, executive director of Mountain Top Music Center, which brought back the MacKenzie, Lewis and White Memorial Music Scholarship Concert to the new deck at the Shannon Door Pub last Sunday, the same night Jonathan Sarty’s Cold River Radio Show presented a well-attended “Spencer and the Walrus” Beatles tribute show by Portland’s Spencer Albee and company.

“I think it really shows how the valley has matured to be able to host both of these events the same night and that they both drew good audiences,” George said as I was leaving the packed MacKenzie, Lewis and White Show, which featured a set by former Devonsquare bandmates Tom Dean and Alana MacDonald; the supremely talented Heather Pierson Trio; Shark Martin's spirited performance; and a great one by Acoustic Nuisance’s Simon Crawford, Davey Armstrong and Kevin Dolan, who were joined by Irish balladeer Marty Quirk, Tom Dean and harmonica virtuoso/percussionist Jono Deveneau.

Joining the latter for a Celtic drinking sailing song were British entertainer Neil Morgan of Bermuda and Shannon Door co-owner Tommy Mulkern himself, which brought down the house. Mountaintop's Dave Mason also got up to join Marty Quirk and the gang.

The evening ended with a tribute to the late Rod MacKenzie, with everyone singing his trademark Hoot Night-ending “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

What made it especially poignant was to hear George Wiese accompany the singers on trombone, a first for this music-loving reporter’s ears.

My friend Larry Huemmler joined me at the show just after he enjoyed the Spencer Albee concert at Theater in the Wood.

“It was excellent!” said Larry of the show, noting that Spencer and his fellow musicians were joined by a brass section for the spirited Beatles tunes.

If you missed it, having gone with Beatles-loving friend Mark Guerringue last year, I highly recommend checking out Spencer’s 30-plus musician tribute every Thanksgiving weekend at the State Theater in Portland. This year’s shows are Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Go to ticketmaster.com/Spencer-Albee-tickets for more information.

A HIGHLIGHT OF THIS week's Fryeburg Fair lineup was the "Church of Cash" Johnny Cash tribute Tuesday night. After the excellent Ken Burns "Country Music" PBS series, it must have been great to listen to, knowing all the background to "I Walk the Line." Up tonight is Clark Hill.

LOOKING AHEAD, Duke Levine and Carol Noonan will present a (recently added) concert at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine, Oct. 26. Go to stonemountainartscenter.com for ticket information.

ARTIST HIGHLIGHT: In an unabashed but heartfelt plug for a beloved family member of our talented Eastman clan, don’t miss the photography show opening reception at the Met at Settlers Green Sunday, Oct. 6, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. by my sister Mary Leone Eastman Borowski of Nashua and Sunapee.

Thanks to my sister-in-law and fellow artist Sarah W. Eastman, she is the MWV Arts Association’s featured “artist for the month" for October at the Met at Settlers Green, 2 Common Court. Refreshments will be served, so we hope you will join us. For more, go to mwvaa.org.

REI CO-OP’S GRAND OPENING last weekend was well-attended, with lots of booths representing outdoor organizations joining the outdoor gear outfits in the parking lot outside the store’s home at Settlers Crossing.

Among the groups I saw were the MWV Rec Path and the White Mountain Trail Collective. Jill Reynolds of the Rec Path said the goal is 2020 for the path, which will be paved and will run from Cranmore to Walmart. Meanwhile, the WM Trail Collective — which recently completed work on the Crawford Path in time for its 200th anniversary, as we profiled last month — is looking to do work in the valley over the next two years on such projects as the Maple Villa Ski Trail, rthe Cathedral Climbing Trail, Kearsarge Rock on the Kearsarge North Trail and the Cranmore Connector mountain biking trail, to name a few.

ON A POIGNANT note, Deacon Jack Carey gave a moving tribute to his friend, the late Father Don Gauthier Jr., 71, at the latter’s Mass of Christian Burial at a packed Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Monday morning, which featured attendance by three bishops and which was followed by a feast for 400, with food donated by local dining establishments.

A Berlin native, the outdoors-loving Father Don served as pastor of OLM for 10 years, leading to his retirement in June 2016 after having suffered a massive heart attack the year before.

Many of those present talked of Father Don’s common touch and of his being “Almighty God’s Fisher of Men.” Amen to that.

IN HAPPY BIRTHDAYS, we salute one and all, including: Attitash/Wildcat events coordinator Corey Madden, musician Andrew Gravel of the Gravel Project, winner of WMWV’s “Song of the Year” contest, and Lori Cashman Irwin (10-5); Wicked Yankee Productions’ producer and onstage funnyman entertainer/musician Bucky Lewis, Pickles-N-Things co-owner Richard Cavallo (10-6); outdoor medicine teacher Bill Kane and accountant Rhonda MacKinnon Rosand (10-7); Vespar Duffy (10-8); British funnyman Jimmy Keys, World Fellowship Center’s Andy Davis, Cranmore ski enthusiast Michael Rogers, Northeast Snowmobile’s Terry MacGillivray, the Gibson Center’s Jill Reynolds and Dr. Angus Badger (10-10), and Nanci “Crashe” Mahoney, the Shannon Door’s beloved Tess Mulkern and Joanne Sutton (all 10-11). Joanne was feted at a surprise 80th birthday party last weekend, with friends and family from near and far in attendance to help her celebrate her 80th milestone.

THAT’S ALL that fits for this week. See you on the roadways, and honk if you like traffic!

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