Foliage season an expected boon for area businesses

  • Foliage scenes at Noone Falls in Peterborough Monday morning Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Foliage scenes at Noone Falls in Peterborough Monday morning Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • An aerial photo shows foliage creeping in around the edges of this marshy Peterborough land Sunday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • An aerial photo shows foliage creeping in around the edges of this marshy Peterborough land Sunday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • An aerial photo shows foliage creeping in around the edges of this marshy Peterborough land Sunday morning. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Foliage along the Gridley River in Sharon last week. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Foliage along the Gridley River in Sharon last week. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Foliage along the Gridley River in Sharon last week. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/4/2021 2:53:25 PM

The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development is forecasting strong growth in tourism numbers for the fall compared to last year. According to a press release on Sept. 22, an estimated 3.2 million visitors are expected to visit the Granite State during the autumn travel season with spending anticipated to reach $1.4 billion.

And that is welcome news for the Monadnock region economy that is still finding its way out of the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the Monadnock region, we keep seeing an uptick in the amount of people coming to the area,” said Luca Paris, president and CEO of the Greater Keene & Peterborough Chamber.

And Paris can see why people flock from around New England and beyond to this corner of the Granite State.

“Everything’s here that you’d want to do when it comes to fall,” Paris said. There’s the natural beauty, quaint shops, family-owned restaurants, and of course, the explosion of foliage that is breathtaking for even those who live surrounded by it year after year.

“Economically, it’s one of the top points of the year for tourism,” Paris said. “And to have a big fall is really important going into the rest of the year. If that drops off for whatever reason, it’s not a good thing.”

Paris said that due to lack of workers, some businesses have been forced to adjust hours and days of operation, but he is confident it is being done in the interest of best serving consumers.

“We’re all developing plans on how to work around it,” he said. “They know they need to be open the days that the majority of people will be around. Everybody’s ready for the fall and to be busy.”

He said it’s vital for those coming to the area to enjoy every moment.

“Everything about this region is about the experience and the memories you’ve created,” Paris said. “So you need to take care of every person like they’re the most important person in the world.”

Kari Lindstrom, owner of the Melamine Cup in Jaffrey, said in recent times there have been a lot of new faces coming into the shop that sells mid-century modern and vintage items from the 1950s through the early 1990s.

“I’d say five out of 10 people have never been here before,” Lindstrom said.

Some of that has to do with new families moving into the area, who then bring in more visitors, but it also has to do with the onset of fall.

“Fall is important, but the biggest holiday for me is Christmas,” Lindstrom said. “My fall is always busy, but if fall was dead for me that would not be any good.”

So far, business has been booming. Lindstrom said the key is for businesses to steer visitors to other local spots.

“I’m always trying to establish that there’s a lot to do around here,” she said. “So we all have to work together because I know a lot of other places are struggling.”

In some ways she tries to act as a welcome wagon to the area.

“The name of the game in this region is for all of us to share business,” Lindstrom said.

For Benjamin Prescott Inn owner Ruth Graff, the foliage tourism season represents the busiest time of the year, with October by far the best.

“We’re booked every weekend and most of the days during the week,” Graff said.

She said it depends on what the leaves do, but regardless of what Mother Nature has planned for the autumn season, it’s already exceeded what happened in 2020.

“I was surprised we did as well as we did last year, but we weren’t at normal levels,” Graff said.

She calls the fall vital to the overall success of the year, which is also aided by it being a popular wedding season.

Since they only serve breakfast for guests, Graff said she provides guests with lots of information about retail establishments and restaurants to encourage more support for other area businesses.

Louise York, owner of Twin Elm Farm in Peterborough, said she’s already seen an influx of people stopping in from out of state due to the fall tourism season. She said her location on Route 101 is perfect for travelers.

“It’s huge because since we’re right on 101, everyone stops,” York said.

While November is the biggest time of the year as people gear up for Christmas, a slow fall would not be good for the bottom line.

“When the tourists start coming around, it definitely helps,” York said. So far 2021 numbers have already surpassed 2019 and 2020.

“I really wasn’t sure (how this fall would go), but people need to get out,” she said. “And the way the year’s been going, I figured we’d do well this fall.”

It helps having a mixture of antiques, vintage goods and accessories for the home and garden.

“They might come in as a group of four to six people, but they spread out in the different rooms to shop,” York said.

Like Lindstrom, York also tries to highlight the other businesses in town – like a travel guide in a way.

Tanya Roberts, one of the directors of operations at Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, said October and March are the busiest months of the year. March due to the maple syrup production and October because of the fall foliage.

“We’re always busy the month of October,” Roberts said.

Since Parker’s location is well off the beaten path, Roberts said it seems to be a destination of those out for a leisurely drive to look at the fall colors.

“We have a lot of people who are traveling around who put Parker’s on their list,” she said.

Columbus Day specifically is one of the busiest weekends of the year, partly because of the holiday but also because it’s well known as a peak time to see the trees in their colorful glory.

“There’s always trees that are going to be turning,” Roberts said. “As long as the leaves are still on the trees and they’re turning, we’ll be busy.”




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