Put on your dancin’ shoes: Jazz, blues and swing at Dance Party

Dance the night away at the Key Collective’s first annual Dance Party, featuring Ben Baldwin and the Big Note Band playing jazz, blues and swing music, plus appetizers and a cash bar.

The fundraiser is happening Saturday, March 7, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Abenaqui Country Club in Rye Beach.

“One of our board members is a huge fan of Ben Baldwin and the Big Note Band. She has been following them for a long time and they were willing to discount their fee to benefit our organization,” said Kristyn LaFleur, founder and executive director of the Key Collective.

The band’s Facebook page touts it as a “dance band with style and substance with a repertoire that can be as elegant as Johnny Mercer, as smooth as Sam Cooke & as raucous as the Kinks.” For a taste of their music, check out hlfhlt.wixsite.com/benbaldwindanceparty.

One hundred percent of ticket sales from the event will directly benefit the KEY Collective and its #areuin? card program.

“The financial contributions that we receive from this event directly impact the growth and sustainability of the program and the positive impact it has on our region’s youth,” LaFleur said.

The nonprofit was founded in 2017 as a result of a grant awarded by Exeter Hospital.
“The KEY Collective envisions every child without the financial means having the same out-of-school opportunities that are available to their peers, available to them, without any social stigma attached,” LaFleur said.

The grant from Exeter Hospital was part of its Suicide Prevention Grant Initiative, which also established the #areuin? card program that gives Seacoast-area youth the opportunity to engage in quality out-of-school programming.

“This program offers qualified students, via free and reduced lunch eligibility or through a school validator referral, an opportunity to register for free or discounted memberships and programs by simply showing their membership card to partner organizations rather than having to ask for financial assistance or fill out additional income/financial paperwork each and every time they are interested in a program,” said LaFleur.

During the first year of the program, which began in the Exeter school district, 30 percent of eligible students signed up for a membership card. Of that percentage, 40 percent of the students were enrolled in one or more programs. Fifty-two percent were enrolled in one or more programs in the second year, where the same amount of students signed up. In total, just over 500 students were reached in Exeter. The program is in its third year in Exeter and its first year in the Hampton school district. It will launch in the Portsmouth school district at the beginning of the next school year.

“The objective is to grow the number of out-of-school opportunities within existing partner school districts, as well as expand the list of partner school districts statewide,” LaFleur said. In October 2017 the program was nationally recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of seven emerging grassroots programs in youth sports at the Let’s Play Summit in Washington, D.C.

The dance party will be at the Abenaqui Country Club at 731 Central Road in Rye Beach, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. Light appetizers will be served, and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com. For more information on the KEY Collective and the #areuin? card program, visit areuincard.org.

— Danielle Roberts

Courtesy photo.

Have a ball: Night out supports Annie’s Angels

Step out for a glamorous evening and help local families at Annie’s Angels 13th annual Heavenly Ball, happening on Saturday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. at the Ashworth by the Sea in Hampton.

The evening begins with a cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by a few speeches and an all-you-can eat dinner buffet, featuring vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. After dinner is a dance party with music by Johnny B & Laurie the Party Time DJ’s. The attire is “dress to impress,” not formal.
“Heavenly Ball is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Bill DaGiau, co-founder of Annie’s Angels. “This year our goal is to raise $110,000 to help local families.”

Annie’s Angels was founded by DaGiau and his wife in memory of his late mother, who died in 2002 after a long battle with breast cancer. Since 2007 the charity has raised over $3 million for families around the area facing financial concerns due to life-threatening disease, illness or disability.

Dinner and the silent auction are included in the price of admission for $75. DaGiau explained that the ball seemed like a fun way to raise money when they first thought of the idea 13 years ago.

“The thing that got the ball off the ground is the fact that we needed to raise money to help these families pay for groceries, health bills, stuff along those lines,” he said. “The best thing about [Annie’s] is that corporate headquarters is a room over the garage at our house, keeping expenses low. That way all the money we raise through our programs is given to families.”

Families can apply for grants from Annie’s to cover expenses ranging from medical bills for groceries and household bills. Annie’s also has a program called “Got Wood” that provides wood for families in the winter, and “Chris’ Pets for Vets” that connect veterans with service animals. In the five years of doing such, they have connected over 500 animals with veterans across the area.

“My favorite thing about it is that we are able to help our neighbors,” DaGiau said. “We’ve been doing it for 13 years and in those years we have never once had to turn anyone away who needed our help. We always have found a way to help.”

DaGiau also said he believes that his mother is still watching over them and everything they do, hopefully with a big smile on her face.

“She was always volunteering, always that mom at any event. I hope she’s proud that we are able to help so many different people,” he said.

Annie’s Angels has more events in the coming months, like the 24th annual Ride by the Sea 5k on May 30, a July 25 Beach Party and a Sept. 12 motorcycle rally.

— Chad Ripley

13th Annual Heavenly Ball by Annie’s Angels
When: Saturday, March 14, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Ashworth by the Sea in Hampton
Cost: $75
Contact: Bill DaGiau, bill@anniesangels.org or call 603-686-4224

Courtesy photo.

Run for fun: Hampton races offer flat courses, beer and more

Since it started, the annual Hampton Half Marathon and 5K have been a hit, and this year, the 13th, is no exception. The event, happening Sunday, March 8, and the 5K is already sold out (don’t worry, there’s another 5K the following weekend in Hampton; see box below).

This year, Arlon A. Chaffee, co-founder of Loco Sports, estimates over 1,100 runners will line up at the starting line.

“Turnout has never been an issue. Since we’ve introduced it, it has grown, and for the most part has sold out,” he said.

The Hampton Half Marathon and 5K begin at 10 a.m. with packet pickup beginning at 8 a.m. at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel. Chaffee advises runners to get there early to ensure that they have enough time to park, get their packet and prepare for the race. Parking is free and will be available at any of the state park beach lots near the hotel.

While the two races are completely separate from one another, they both begin and end at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel. The 5K course is made up out of part of the half marathon course, stretching along the scenic Ocean Boulevard, a section inland and a finish along the ocean, rounding back to the start.

“We find it’s a really good early-season test,” Chaffee said. “It’s a relatively flat course and if someone signs up for the half with all the best intentions and realizes halfway into the race that they can’t do it, they can always just run the 5K course.”

With the growing popularity of the event and concerns about runner safety, the decision a few years back to move it from February to March has proved to be instrumental in creating an overall better environment for runners.
“After one year with true winter weather, we decided it was in our best interest to push it back one month,” he said. “In general, we have had good weather since and the move has increased our chances of having better weather for it.”

As runners cross the finish line at Ashworth, they are invited to enjoy complimentary cups of minestrone and chicken noodle soup, craft beer from Smuttynose, yogurt from Stonyfield and granola bars from CLIF Bar.

There is also a charity component that goes along with the race, where racers can choose a charity of their choice or Loco Sports’ current cause, Girls on the Run NH, as well as a canned food drive where racers and spectators alike can bring goods.

“We direct people to Girls on the Run and other civic and civil groups,” he said. “They have supported us since our first race in 2007, with water stops and things along those lines. If you’re looking to run for a charity, that’s the one we recommend.”

The Hampton Rotary club manages the canned food drive and disperses the items to five local pantries. Loco Sports also provides some financial support following the race to further give back to pantries.

As spring nears closer, Loco Sports has plenty more races for all levels of runners: the Great Bay Half and 5K in Newmarket in April, the Margarita Half and 5K in Portsmouth in May and both the Smuttynose Will Run for Beer 5K in Hampton and the What Moves You 5K in Exeter in June.

— Chad Ripley

Hampton Half Marathon & 5k
Where: Ashworth by the Sea Hotel, 295 Ocean Blvd., Hampton
When: Sunday, March 8, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: $79 (only half still available)
More info: hamptonhalf.com, or locorunning.com for more upcoming races

Clover Run 5K
Saint Patrick Academy, in partnership with Smuttynose Brewery, will be hosting the seventh annual Clover Run 5K on Saturday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m., at Smuttynose in Hampton. This will be a family-friendly and canine-friendly event with lots to offer participants of all ages. The event will include a 5K road race, a kids fun run, beer, food and lots more! Run in your best St. Patrick’s day attire and win a prize! The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for kids under 18. Register at lightboxreg.com.

Photo by Joseph Lee Photography.

Dragons and Earth: New children’s book explores helping the environment

Children’s author and poet Nancy Donovan will be at the Lane Memorial Public Library in Hampton on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m. to talk about her most recent book, In the Valley of the Dragons.

Inspired by both the natural world and her grandchildren, Donovan uses her books as an outlet to shine a light on the environmental issues that we as a society face.

Her fourth book, In the Valley of the Dragons, is about a little girl named Lauren who visits the Valley of the Dragons.

Here, she learns to take care of the Earth, including things like soil conservation and water conservation.

Donovan said that in In the Valley of the Dragons, Lauren tells her mother that she can help keep the Earth clean.

“It’s an affirmation that you can go on from here and that you can do something,” Donovan said.

A caretaker by nature, Donovan was raised outside of Boston and went to Boston College’s school of nursing.

Working as a nurse practitioner up until her retirement in 2004, Donovan settled down in Hampton, the place she spent her summers since 1965.

“Hampton is home to me,” she said. “The changes in the environment and ocean that I’ve seen in the time that I’ve lived here makes me very concerned. Ocean acidification, lobster migration, changes in shellfish, increased risks of flooding are all things that have become problems. These are all things we need to pay attention to.”

These concerns and Donovan’s desire to sort out her thoughts through poetry led her to begin writing more regularly.

Shortly after her retirement, she met a woman named Pat Parnell who became her writing mentor and introduced her to many writers and groups along the Seacoast.

In 2006 she began volunteering at Seacoast Science Center in Rye. Advising her to sign up for a Marine Docent Program at UNH, Donovan’s environmental knowledge expanded as a result and has since inspired many of her books.

Donovan said that her books are an attempt to reach kids at a young age to inform them of the severity of the problems that she touches on in her books and ways they can start to make a positive change.

She published her first book, Oscar the Herringgull, in 2011. The story developed from her time at the docent program, and it touches on the human impact on ecology and ways that people can better care for the habitats of these animals.

Her 2015 book The Wild Dolphin Rider is loosely based on her grandson Sean and his interest in marine biology; it’s about a boy who wishes to swim with magical dolphins. In his journey, he encounters the many issues that the ocean faces to this day, such as coral bleaching and plastic pollution.

“When I was writing this book, I was much more alarmed by what is going on,” Donovan said.“It is research-heavy and vetted by two marine biologists through UNH. Although it is information-dense, I try to put it at a level where kids can understand and for them to say, ‘I can do something and I can change this,’” she said.

Donovan’s books take a couple of years to bring to life as she puts a lot of effort and diligence in presenting factual information about the issues she brings up, in a visually appealing way, with the help of Susan Spellman’s art. But most importantly she aims at making environmental issues understandable for children.

“If I’m going to do this, I want to hold up something I am proud of. Storytelling is the best way to present ideas. Stories stick with people and it’s an important art,” she said. “I have the chance to bring ideas about the importance of taking care and recognizing threats to the environment to both children and adults.”

— Chad Ripley

Nancy Donovan at Lane Memorial Library
Where: 2 Academy Ave., Hampton
When: Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
More info: lanememoriallibrary.org, 603-926-3368


Write on: Budding authors share work in new group

The Rye Public Library recently added a new event to its calendar every other Thursday night: The Writer’s Group, for local and inspiring writers to get together and work on their latest ideas.

“I wanted to insert a program that connected adults and teenagers because I feel really strongly about welcoming teens and getting a space for them,” said Jessica Ryan, head of Youth Services for Rye Public Library. “I used to be an English teacher and I firmly believe reading and writing goes hand in hand, and being around books is a great environment.”

With the idea of the Writer’s Group in mind, Ryan and Assistant Library Director Lisa Houde piloted it as a small program for anyone interested. They limited the group to six people, and the spots were quickly filled with two teenagers and four adults.

“They come up with great stuff and put my writing to shame. The goal [of this group] is to polish your writing and better your craft, but it’s also a support system,” said Ryan.
Two writers submit pieces at a meeting, and the other writers have the two weeks in between meetings to read and critique the pieces.

“There’s a lot of fear of putting your writing out there, but this group helps you get past some of that anxiety. You can write this piece and think it’s absolutely awful, but you sit in the room with these people and they will explain what’s so strong about the piece,” said Ryan. “I feel like the stereotypical writer is locked away in the office by themselves, so it’s really nice to be in this group and acknowledge that we all want [to be a part of] this for different reasons.”

The writers in the group have submitted a wide variety of pieces, ranging from academic work to children’s books to magical realism.

Age hasn’t mattered either with the works submitted, as teenagers have written fantasy and experimented with world-building and adults have created children’s stories with illustrations depicting the scenes.

Of the many genres written, Ryan said that Young Adult fiction is the most popular.

“We’re all writing outside of our genres,” said Ryan. “Sometimes we have pieces coming in [to critique] that are a few chapters, and then the next chapters are submitted. We’ve also had short stories and other pieces that the writers hope will go somewhere.”

While the Writer’s Group is currently full, Ryan and Houde are still discussing whether or not to open more sessions up to the public.

If more sessions are created, expect groups to still be small to prevent writers from feeling anxious over the number of people critiquing their work.

“We don’t have plans to expand currently, but if we have interest we’ll do another session. If people really want to be a part of the group, it’d be so cool to provide that avenue for them,” said Ryan.

With the program being successful in its first run, Ryan said she is glad to have something to build for teenagers and adults to enjoy together.

“When I submitted my own piece, I was overwhelmed in a good way about how much feedback I got back and how there were things I never considered. It’s been a great experience for me and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” she said.

The Rye Public Library Writer’s Group meets every other Thursday night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the New Hampshire Room.

The group is full at the time, but if you are interested in writing and working with other local writers, you can contact Jessica Ryan at jryan@ryepubliclibrary.org for more information and possible future sessions.

— Danielle Roberts

Photo (courtesy photo) – Left to right, top: Jessica Ryan, Isaac Roberts, Sylvia von Aulock. Left to right, bottom: Lisa Houde, Josie Sedam, Marcia Beckett.

All about ospreys

The Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne State Park in Rye is hosting a program about ospreys along the Yellowstone River in Montana, presented by a wildlife biologist from Montana.

The program is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served starting at 7 p.m., and the program begins at 7:30 p.m.

Visit seacoastchapter.org.

Cold snap, crackle & hops: Winter Festival returns at Smuttynose




With eight beers to choose from and the Seacoast’s biggest bonfire of the season, Smuttynose Brewery’s second annual Crackle & Hops Winter Festival on Saturday, Jan. 25, is back and, according to the brewery, bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event.

“We have hundreds of Christmas trees in our field waiting to be ignited. We have eight beers available for your enjoyment [and] two will be new releases,” said Andy Hart, director of hospitality for Smuttynose. “The Town of Hampton drops off every Christmas tree to the brewery and we have the largest bonfire the New Hampshire Seacoast has ever seen.”

The event will also feature a food truck serving grilled cheese and soups, Winterfest competitions — including a snowman-making competition and cornhole — a DJ and sledding for all ages. There will be sleds available or you can bring your own.

A portion of the proceeds go directly to Hampton Fire Fighters Charitable Organization.

“We had the first annual last year in 2019,” Hart said. “We wanted to gather the community during the winter for a charitable cause. Bringing our community together is something we thoroughly enjoy doing here at Smuttynose Brewing Co.”

And after the success of last year’s event with over 700 attendees, over $1,000 raised for Hampton Fire Fighters and its being the No. 1 requested event to bring back for 2020, Smuttynose had little choice but to do it again and do it bigger.

The brewery has doubled the number of fire pits from 10 to 20, where attendees can hang out and stay warm between sledding runs (weather permitting) to make s’mores and enjoy all the beer, hot chocolate (spiked and virgin) and food there is to offer.

There will also be a tent set up where HFFCO members will answer any questions and take donations.

“[This event] means a lot. We feel we have an obligation to give back to the community that has been so supportive of us over the past 25 years. We feel a large part of the craft beer industry is to stay connected with your community and give back when you can,” Hart said.

The tickets are on pre-sale now at $10 a person; there’s free admission for those under 21. Tickets the day of the event are $15 a person.

The brewery and the Smuttynose Restaurant will be open as well during the event.

“Let’s get outside and have some fun,” Hart said

— Chad Ripley


Crackle & Hops Winter Festival
Where: Smuttynose Brewery, 105 Towle Farm Road, Hampton
When: Saturday, Jan. 25, 3 to 8 p.m.f Saturday, Feb. 8, 3 to 8 p.m.
Cost: $10 pre-sale, $15 at door; under 21 free admission
More info: smuttynose.com, 436-4026, andrew.hart@finestkindbrewing.com

“Due to impending rain and wind, we have postponed Winterfest to Feb. 8th. We hope everyone is able to attend on Feb. 8th.
Here are your options:
1. We will honor all tickets purchased! Come party with us!!
2. Email Info@finestkindbrewing.com for a refund.
3. Donate your $10 ticket to the Hampton Fire Fighters Charitable Organization.
Sorry for any inconvenience and fingers crossed Feb. 8th is bluebird sky’s”

Beetles, borers and woolly adelgids

Speaking for Wildlife: NH Bugs,The Big Three will be held at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m.

NHBugs: The Big Three informs New Hampshire citizens and visitors about three invasive insects of greatest concern to our trees and forests: emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid and Asian longhorned beetle.

This presentation includes information about the life cycles, identifying signs and symptoms of infestations, and management techniques for each pest.

Visit lanememoriallibrary.org.

Take the plunge

The Penguin Plunge is back at Hampton Beach on Saturday, Feb. 1, for the high school plunge, which starts at noon, and Sunday, Feb. 2, the main event for all “plungers,” which also starts at noon.

Whether you plunge as an individual or gather a team together with co-workers, friends or family, this is a fun way to raise money for Special Olympics of New Hampshire.

Find more information and to register visit SONH.org.

All about Egypt

The Hampton Falls Free Library hosts a cultural enrichment program on the country of Egypt on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m.

Hampton Falls resident Scott Faiia spent three years living and working in Cairo, Egypt.

Now retired, he has offered to share his experiences in Egypt through photographs and a presentation.

The program is designed for anyone interested in expanding their horizons and learning about a different part of the world from the perspective of an individual who has bridged cultures.

The program is free and open to the public.

Visit hamptonfallslibrary.org or call 926-3682.