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Recalling the magic of Wilton Old Home Days

  • Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.

    Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.

  • Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.

    Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.

  • Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.
  • Wilton residents celebrate Old Home Days in 1964.

As a kid, it just seemed to me that Old Home Days was always there, magically appearing every five years just for my enjoyment. As an adult I have had the privilege of discovering how the magic happens.

My first memory of Old Home Days was in 1959. The image of that celebration was captured forever for me on the cover of that year’s town report in Wilton. There, in a covered wagon pulled by Jason Holt’s oxen, were myself, my brothers, my cousins and my mother. Mom certainly fit the image of the overburdened pioneer matriarch as the rest of us in the picture seemed to be focused on mischief in several different directions.

But it was just those type of memories that kept that special homegrown New Hampshire holiday in my mind as I grew older. Those memories were also what led me to lend a hand with future celebrations, starting in 1979. I have been able to relive those times, see them recreated for my children, and now watch my grandchildren experience them.

If you are able to stop by in Wilton for any part of our nine-day celebration, themed “275 Years of Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” you should be able to stockpile plenty of memories of your own.

If it’s parades you like, there will be a Fireman’s Parade preceding the Fireman’s Muster, a Children’s Parade on opening day, Aug. 16, and even a dog parade later that same day, all capped on Saturday, Aug. 23 with the grand parade ending at Whiting Park.

If sports are your thing, the WJAA will be organizing games for the kids all week. The Battle of the Badges between the Police and Firemen will also be a part of the opening day festivities. The Horseshoe Tournament, accommodating A, B, C and Women’s Divisions promises to be as big a draw as ever. Toss in a two mile fun run/walk, Disc Golf Tournament, the annual Wilton Old Home Day Golf Tournament and there seems to be something for everyone.

If you are someone who sees food as important to any party —and who doesn’t — there are nine days of temptation ahead. Food vendors offerings will include hamburgers, hot dogs, lobster rolls, stuffed clams, corn on the cob and ice cream treats, to name just a few. Be sure to sign up for the fun run to counteract the week’s overeating opportunities.

You say music is essential to building your memories? We have you covered. Music is part of every one of the nine days. Just some of the bands who will join us include opening night and local favorites The Bat Magoon Band, The Nines, The Miners, Brickyard Blues “Doc Dougherty, Will Kindler and the Sunset Riders, Sweet Tooth and an open mic night will all be part of the fare. Need more? How about The Temple Band, Studio Two, Beatles Tribute, “Mad Bavarians, The Nines, SheepDip, Murphy’s Blues and Project Mess will also be in concert through out the Wilton Old Home Days.

A glimpse at the schedule will reveal that there is lots of other “magic” to take part in during the week but it is also a time of remembering as well as creating memories. If you can make it to Wilton Old Home Days, give a nod to Charlie McGettigan, Allen Jowders and Stanley Young. They are the three Wilton stalwarts chosen as Grand Marshalls for the Parade. Their lives have all exemplified the theme of this year’s celebration.

Another nod should go to the folks on the WOHD Committee who have spent the past five years putting this all together. They will be manning the information booth, patrolling the Whiting Park area offering aid and will probably be wearing “Staff” badges. Applaud their efforts. They are the magicians who create the party.

Gary Crooker is a resident of Wilton and the owner of Crook’s Books.

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