Town gives thanks to Land Trust

Celebration of outdoors with arts festival

FRANCESTOWN — Residents Marcy Tripp and Ethel MacStubbs wanted to do something nice to show their appreciation for the Francestown Land Trust and the hard work the organization has done over the past decade. Stemming from their appreciation, the Francestown Arts Fest was born to commemorate the nearly 2,000 acres of protected land the nonprofit Land Trust has accumulated.

The Arts Fest will be held Saturday at the Masonic Lodge on Main Street, located across from the town office building, and will feature as many forms of art the building can hold. Visitors will have the opportunity to see work by a number of professional, as well as up-and-coming, artists.

The event is not a fundraiser, Tripp said in a phone interview Tuesday. Instead, it’s a way to show the volunteers of the Land Trust that the town appreciates their work, which has protected just under 2,000 acres of town property and surrounding land — either owned by the Land Trust or that has been placed in conservation easements.

The Land Trust owns 636 acres in two contiguous properties — 592 acres at Rand Brook Forest and 44 acres near Russell Station Road. The rest of the land, spread throughout town, is held as conservation easements.

Tripp and MacStubbs are planning to set up the Masonic Lodge with exhibits of a variety of art styles and mediums. Tripp said there will be paintings, photography, jewelry, woodworking, and even song and dance performances. “All forms of art are welcome,” Tripp said. “It’s for any art that someone has and they want to share. This is a celebration.”

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., artists will be dropping off their work, while the performing dance and music groups do sounds checks and staging. The public will be welcomed in at 4 p.m., and the Arts Fest will go until people get tired out.

Those presenting their art range from professionals to little children, Tripp said. Peterborough resident Jessie Pollock will display some of her artwork, though won’t be in attendance Saturday. Other artists include Jaffrey resident Chris Reid and Sharon resident Erick Ingraham . Tripp said that 3-year-old Liam Cook, a Francestown resident, will have some of his drawings on display as well.

It’s a one-day event that Tripp hopes will become a yearly celebration. But that determination will depend on the showing from the public this Saturday. All Francestown residents and members of surrounding communities are invited to attend, she said.

Francestown Land Trust Treasurer and Select Board member Abigail Arnold said in a phone interview Tuesday that a lot of local artists derive their styles from nature and the beauty of New Hampshire. The goal of the Land Trust, along with preserving land in the area, is getting people outside to experience the land, she said. “We’re trying to create a community interested in the land and sharing and enjoying the land,” Arnold said. “We try and bring up topics that will get children and their families outside.”

The Land Trust was founded in 1986, but Arnold said nothing significant was done with the strictly volunteer-based organization until 1999. The Land Trust contributes money to the Harris Center for Conservation Education’s school programs, which link school science programs to the local landscape.

Tripp said the Francestown Land Trust and the town’s Conservation Commission have together managed to protect about 25 percent of the town-owned land. “That’s pretty darn good,” she said.

Professionals may sell their work Saturday, or put it up for display only. No proceeds of art sales will go to Tripp or the Land Trust. The Arts Fest is merely a way to express appreciation for the organization. “They’ve done herculean efforts,” Tripp said. “I think they deserve to be noticed.”

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