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Towns mourn gap year for late summer celebrations

  • A previous incarnations of the Hancock Old Home Day Parade. FILE PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/26/2020 4:09:10 PM

Late summer typically marks the largest celebration of the year for Hancock, Francestown, and Antrim, which dedicate a long weekend to Old Home Day, Labor Day, and Home and Harvest celebrations respectively. This year, each weekend will pass with scarcely a trace of the usual festivities as the towns forgo their celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Two or three weeks ago, we all sat down and just looked at each other, and said, ‘There’s no way we can do this,’” Francestown Labor Day organizer Charlie Pyle said.

Hancock would have celebrated its 139th consecutive Old Home Day on Aug. 14-16. The weekend passed unmarked after only a couple residents contacted Town Administrator Jonathan Coyne with input for a proposed virtual event and plans for an unsanctioned parade fizzled, Coyne said. “It was a quiet weekend,” he said.

Francestown is going ahead with a raffle and a town tennis tournament in lieu of the typically extensive list of activities that mark Labor Day weekend, Pyle said. “It’s going to be odd, to put it mildly,” he said, after 102 years of celebrations run by the Francestown Improvement and Historical Society since 1917. Organizers started discussing the event in late June, Pyle said. There was no way to modify certain mainstay events to make them compliant with CDC guidelines, he said, and plans for modified events seemed pointless given the number of community members who indicated they didn’t want to come out for any kind of event. “It’s not going to help anybody, including us, if we have a celebration and only a small percentage of the town feels comfortable celebrating.” he said. One solace is that so many other events are also being canceled, Pyle said, some with even longer histories than Francestown’s. The Labor Day tradition started as a Red Cross fundraiser during World War I and morphed into a town celebration day in the following years, he said. Francestown residents can still register for the tennis tournament by contacting Sarah Sordillo at 831-6453, and raffle ticket booklets were mailed to all Francestown residents, and can be returned by mail or at the Village Store for a remote drawing on Labor Day.

2020 would have marked the 17th consecutive Home and Harvest festival in Antrim, organizer Rick Davis said, but he feels confident the growing event can pick up where it left off next year. “We felt it wouldn’t be the same with all the restrictions that were going to happen,” he said. Town officials appeared relieved to avoid the potential liability the event would bring, Davis said, and the Antrim community seemed disappointed but understanding. Home and Harvest has grown larger every year and serves as a good fundraiser for a number of local organizations, he said, and he trusts that the town will support resuming the event when the danger of the pandemic eases.


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