A Busy Saturday in the Hilltop City

Saturday 17th September 2016 was a busy one for many in Somersworth. Those who were involved in the third annual Hilltop Bluegrass festival could be found on the field at Memorial Drive at 6am. They were busy pitching vendors tents, adding signage and generally turning Memorial Drive from a sporting field to a festival venue. I would eventually make my way there, but first I could be found:

Walking For A Cause

Volunteers From Lydia's House Of HopeMeanwhile at Noble Pines volunteers from Seeds Of Faith and Lydia’s House of Hope were busy laying out a course for their 5k fun race/walk. Tables were arranged, sign up sheets displayed and ribbons and signs placed along the route. This was were my day started at about 8.30am when myself and a friend arrived at the top of the city, more formally known as the Noble Pines. We signed in and waited for the appointed time of 9am.

The race, which was not really a race but more of a fun run/walk, began at the corner of Grand and Noble street and wove it’s way down past Maple onto Rocky Hill road. It’s been a long time since I’ve been down Rocky Hill Road and even longer since I’ve walked it. It made a change to explore another area of the city and better still to do it for a great cause: Lydia’s House of Hope.

We walked about a mile and a half up Rocky Hill road and then went back the way we came. Some brave soul’s were running the course, but for me part of the fun was walking and simply enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning in the city. Of course the downside was we had to walk up the hill to get back to where the race began, and my legs are telling me as write this, I need to do more hill walking LOL

Happy Feet 5k Walkers and RunnersThis was a relatively easy course though and a very pretty one. I’ll look forward to returning and taking part again next year. After the course was finished and some more water drunk, it was time to travel down to my favorite Saturday haunt. Forty Five Market Street Bakery and Cafe. A couple of lemon and poppy seed scones later and I was ready to hit the road again after a quick stop off at home.

Time For Some Bluegrass

Hilltop Bluegrass Festival 2016When I arrived at the 3rd Annual Bluegrass Festival, the event was well underway. The audience tent was packed with people listening to some mighty fine live music. Many had chosen to sit nearer the stage to listen and there was a sea of lawn chairs and the odd blanket to be found on the field.

Vendors tents had been pitched as well as the food tents. Most of the vendors were local stores such as Poppy Seed Studio, The Gathering Place and one of Somersworth’s newest businesses Elements Massage.

The same was true of the food vendors, which included Old Rail Pizza, Somersworth Athletic Association and Profile Bank who pleased the crowd with a myriad of food from freshly popped popcorn to chowder and pizza. The bottom line is no one went hungry and the fact that the vendors were local made me happy.

The Lonely Heartstrings Band takes to the stageThere was plenty of great music on tap for attendees and everyone I spoke to was having a great time. I was surprised when talking to some attendees just how far they had traveled for the festival. One couple was from Vermont, another from Connecticut and yet another from New York state.

I had no idea that Bluegrass bands had groupies until Saturday! I have to say though it was easy to understand why when you listened to the music they played. No lip syncing or dubbing could be found anywhere near Memorial Drive that day, I’m glad to say. Just pure music played the way it should be.

It's not a festival till the Sound Man says soThe four bands that made up this years festival line up are well renowned in the Bluegrass world and it really wasn’t hard to see why. I arrived just as Blistered Fingers took to the stage and it was almost impossible to not tap your feet as the sounds drifted across the field. I also got to listen to Lonely Heartstrings Band and Zink and Company while I was talking to friends, vendors and volunteers. I was sorry I missed the Zolla Boys who consisted of two young brothers aged 15 and 16 and Banjo player Richard Underwood. They have gathered quite a following in the Bluegrass community since they first took the stage in 2012. I spoke to quite a few people who told me they were the main reason they had traveled to Somersworth and our Bluegrass festival as they loved their sounds. Maybe I will catch them next year!

Sarah Potter Somersworth Chamber of CommerceOne thing that everyone agreed on was the weather was perfect for a Bluegrass Festival. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right and I have to say I concur. A perfect New England day one might say and that’s always a gamble when you decide on a date for any outside event in New England.

I caught up with Sarah Potter who is the Director of the Greater Somersworth Chamber of Commerce and she had nothing but praise for the volunteers, vendors, bands and festival attendees. This was her first Bluegrass festival but I have a feeling it won’t be her last.

Looking Ahead

I know I’m already looking forward to next year’s Hilltop Bluegrass Festival as well but in the meantime my thoughts are turning to Somersworth’s next Festival which takes place on Saturday September 24th 2016. Next Saturday it is the turn of Somersworth’s newest populations: The Indonesian’s. They will be showcasing their culture through, food, dance and costumes between 11am and 5pm next Saturday and having attended last years event I know it’s going to be a colorful event and lot’s of fun. The Indonesian Festival will take place at Memorial Drive this year, which is a change of venue from last year. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

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