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Peterborough

Festival draws visitors downtown

Thing in the Spring now an annual tradition for music, art lovers alike

PETERBOROUGH — Sarah Aborn and her son, Desmond, pulled back the slingshots’ rubber straps and took aim. The slingshots were not functional devices, but artistic creations, crafted from downed beech, birch and oak trees found near artist Jarrod McCabe’s home in Massachusetts.

Aborn and Desmond, 4, of West Peterborough were visiting McCabe’s booth Saturday at Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair — an arts and crafts exposition at the Town Hall, where every piece was under $50.

Fifty artists showcased their work, with a wide array of creations on offering, from ceramic vases to handstitched stuffed animals.

“We look forward to Broke every year. It’s the most magical place,” Aborn said, noting she had already bought five pairs of earrings, a bracelet and the shirt she was wearing.

She wasn’t the only one enjoying herself.

“I come to Broke every year. It’s great to support young artists,” said Felice Fullam of Wilton. “I look for unusual, innovative work.”

Fullam bought an abstract painting of Mount Monadnock and a rock, painted to resemble an owl, by artist McKenzie West, 16, of Francestown.

Saturday’s arts fair was part of the four-day 6th Annual Thing in the Spring, a music and arts festival that hit downtown this weekend. Thing in the Spring included concerts featuring both local and out-of-town bands, as well as jazz legends Peter Brotzmann and Joe McPhee, whose concert Friday in the Town House attracted an estimated 150 attendees.

The Thing in the Spring drew hundreds of visitors from near and far to downtown Peterborough.

“Every year more people come to the Thing in the Spring,” said Eric Gagne of Peterborough, founder of the festival. “There were people from a lot of different places. I noticed a lot of Vermonters and Mainers.”

Mark Witham, a Peterborough native, drove 12 hours from his current residence in Virginia to attend the concert at the Mariposa Museum on Saturday. Witham said he came to support his girlfriend’s sister, a member of the band The Suicide Magnets, but was also drawn by the nature of the concert.

“I love venues like this. Anything that supports artisans and is not corporate,” Witham said.

John Singer and Dar Tavernier-Singer of Brattleboro, Vt., bought a Weekend Pass to the Thing in the Spring for $50, which granted them access to all of the concerts.

“We’ve liked everything we’ve seen so far. We knew Sam Moss and liked him already,” Tavernier-Singer said.

Sam Moss, a songwriter and string player from Brattleboro, performed folk tunes on guitar and mandolin at the Mariposa Museum on Saturday. Moss was in residence at the MacDowell Colony as a MacDowell fellow last fall.

“It was a really attentive audience…I think everyone had an open mind and wanted to discover new artists,” Moss said. “It was great to be back here to play. Peterborough is a very special place to me.”

The Thing in the Spring may be a way of attracting more young people to the community, according to two area residents who attended the event.

The festival “broadens people’s awareness of what a great community we have. It brings vibrancy and life, and younger people,” said Jennifer Diemand of Peterborough.

Francie Von Mertens of Peterborough said the concert at the Toadstool Bookshop on Thursday catered to a younger crowd, including her granddaughter, Imogen, 11, of Hancock. “The music was more Imogen’s generation,” Von Mertens said. “New Hampshire gets a rap for being more gray-haired. But looking around [Broke], I don’t see a lot of gray hair. I see a lot of young people.”

The Thing in the Spring is a “great way to bring people to Peterborough,” Gagne said. “Supporting music and arts and culturally vibrant events is the way to get people to move here and stay here.”

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