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Municipal Spotlight: Old Home Days Scheduled for July 19-21 in Bellingham

Jun 28, 2019 06:00AM ● By Kenneth Hamwey
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Staff Writer

Old Home Days may not be a well-known or familiar event for Bellingham residents, but they’ll get their chance to see what an old-style town fair is like from July 19 to 21.

The three-day event, which will be a prime part of Bellingham’s 300th Anniversary celebration, was proposed to the anniversary committee by Adam Thorell (pictured above), who experienced Old Home Days up close and personal during his pre-teen years in Auburn, NH. The 45-year-old Thorell has lived in Bellingham with his wife and two children for the last 11 years.

“My memories of Old Home Days are fond and very positive,” said Thorell. “It’s just a wholesome way to have fun with family and friends. The fair promoted community pride and togetherness, and I always looked forward to it. My father was a volunteer firefighter, and he was involved in assisting with the event.”

The fair, to be held at the Blackstone Street school complex on land between and adjacent to the Middle School and High School, will provide something for everyone; and, as Thorell says, “It’s by Bellingham for Bellingham.” Local businesses and vendors will be in the mix along with local organizations, like the Lions Club, youth sports groups, Scouts, the Bellingham Women of Today and the Bellingham Business Association. “Money collected at the fair will be shared with participating Bellingham organizations,” Thorell said.

Friday, July 19, will be the kickoff, a day Thorell calls “a soft opening.” Residents can check out a smaller-scale fireworks presentation and listen to local bands performing. There’ll also be games, activities, vendors’ booths and food.

On Saturday, opening ceremonies will get the festivities rolling. The schedule includes a pancake breakfast, a 5K adult road race, a kids’ fun-run, a championship Frisbee dog chase and a major fireworks presentation.

Some of Sunday’s activities will include field-day games (sack race, wheelbarrow race, and a three-legged race); touch-a-truck events for children (police cruiser, fire-truck and DPW equipment); an Elvis impersonator and a chicken barbeque.

Other activities throughout the three days include a henna artist, a decorated bicycle parade, a trackless train, a bouncy village, a bubble performer, a huge raffle, about 50 craft and business vendors, carnival-style games, a corn-hole tournament, a reptile demonstration, clinics for youth sports, face-painting and a dunking booth. A schedule of all the activities can be found on pg. 19 and also obtained at the fair as well as online at  (click on the “300th Anniversary” link). 

Because Old Home Days will be a July event, Thorell stressed that the July 4 fireworks have not been canceled. “They have merely been moved to July 19 and July 20,” he said. He also pointed out, as Chairman of the Old Home Days Committee, that parking for the three days will be challenging.

“Since some of the parking lot space will be used for games and activities and also by vendors, there’ll be parking at two High School lots and behind the Middle School,” he noted. “Handicap parking will be available at the Middle School. Because parking is limited, residents should consider car-pooling with friends or neighbors. To have so many activities does create a strain on parking.”

When the town’s 300th Anniversary Committee was formed last year, Thorell attended a meeting and offered details and thoughts on what Old Home Days were like in New Hampshire. “I talked with Jen Altomonte, the committee chairman, and expressed how special the event was and that the memories remain,” Thorell said. “The concept was accepted quickly.”

Altomonte (right), who grew up experiencing old-time fairs, views the proposal favorably. “It’s so wonderful to have a town-wide celebration to commemorate the achievements of Bellingham during its 300-year period,” she noted. “Our main objective is to promote a town-wide event.”
Thorell’s planning group consists of sub-committee chairmen that include Cheryl and Steve Houle, Amy Robey, Sue Garten, Shelly Bernardini, Bev Pierce, Melissa Magill, Amanda Wuoti, Chris Remillard and Judi Simpson.

Thorell noted that the cost and expenses associated with Old Home Days have been lightened by a “generous” grant from the Bellingham Cultural Council. Town Administrator Denis Fraine stressed that money to help defray the cost will also come from donations that typically support the July 4 celebration.

“Contributions will be made by Charles River Bank, E.L. Harvey, SR Wiener (shopping plazas in north Bellingham), Florida Power & Light and American National Power,” Fraine noted.

“Additionally, there are other contributions expected. Many of the events, such as the 5K run, will be self-supported through fees. The overall goal will be to keep costs to residents at an absolute minimum in order to make this an extremely fun and inexpensive weekend for our community.”

Thorell, who works for Wellington Management Company, an investment firm, has attended well over 100 meetings to ensure that Old Home Days, which will be held rain or shine, will be a success. It’s an arduous task that includes lots of work.

If residents have any questions about the event, they’re encouraged to submit them to [email protected]






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