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Music, basket making and more

The North Hampton Public Library is holding the following events:

The Mike Rogers Trio will perform a free concert on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m.

Mike, a blind songwriter, guitarist and poet is a master of storytelling through music about his life of traveling.

Learn to weave a small basket Thursday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. Ages 12 and older may sign up for this free basket making workshop with Carol Sanborn.

Seasoned aquarium owner Jeff Cote presents Aquariums for Beginners Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. for all ages.

Call 964-6326 or visit nhplib.org.

Holly Days Fair

The annual Parish Holly Days Fair at the Sacred Heart School Gym in Hampton will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Shop among craft vendors, visit the Mrs. Claus Bakery and the Kafe Kringle for goodies, coffee or lunch, and get your gifts wrapped at the Elf Stop Wrapping Station.

Kids can write a letter to Santa and sing along to Christmas songs, and at 10:15 a.m., a folk tale will come to life.

Visit shshampton.org.

Book talk

Join the Hampton Historical Society History Book Group on Sunday, Nov. 3, to delve into the 19th Amendment by discussing The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss. In it, Weiss
details the great fight to win the vote for American women. The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Tuck Museum of Hampton History in Hampton. Barbara Tosiano will lead the discussion and is making banana pudding, a quintessential southern dessert, to serve at the meeting. All are welcome to attend.

WWII songs and stories

The Hampton Falls Free Library hosts singers and storytellers Curt Bessette and Jenn Kurtz for a program honoring WWII veterans and their generation on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6:30
p.m. Curt and Jenn pay tribute to veterans of all wars through stories and Curt’s original songs.

The program is free and open to the public.

Visit hamptonfallslibrary.org or call the library at 926-3682.

Fall for family fun: Applecrest celebrates season with weekend festivals

From now until the end of October, Applecrest Farm in Hampton is celebrating all things fall with festivals each weekend that feature apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, barnyard animals, a beer garden and more.

The festival, now in its 45th year, is meant to be more than just a few fun weekends to draw crowds to the orchards. For the farm’s owners, the Wagners, it’s a chance to let families reconnect with the land, the community and each other.

“It’s where people’s memories are made,” said farmer Todd Wagner, whose grandfather, William Wagner, purchased the farm in 1954. “These days, there aren’t too many farms left as places become more crowded and built up and industrialized, commercialized. It’s hard to find something that’s sort of a blast from the past, something that brings you back and lets you connect with the place that your food is grown.”

Other events at each weekend festival include live music, pie-eating contests, food trucks, face painting, a farm-style barbecue, cornhole, a traditional New England corn roast and more.

Wagner said apple picking is one of the festival’s most popular activities. He said parents and grandparents often have fond memories of going to the orchard as children and are always excited to share the tradition with their own kids.

“Apple picking is a very unique New England tradition,” he said. “It’s a tradition that families live and die by. I can’t tell you the number of times [I hear], ‘I brought my kids here and now I bring my grandkids here.’ We have to have a multigenerational thing. As long as we’ve been throwing these festivals, the local community has been coming out and joining us. It’s a pretty unique, undeniably kind of awesome New England tradition.”

In addition to typical festival activities, Applecrest has several other fall-themed events planned. On Saturday, Oct. 5, and Sunday, Oct. 13, farm-goers can watch as a master carver transforms an 800-pound pumpkin into a surprise Halloween-themed shape.

For those looking for something more interactive, Storybook Hayrides will take place the weekends of Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 and Oct. 26 and Oct. 27, with classic storybook characters coming to life in the orchards as they perform lively vignettes from eight beloved children’s stories. Kids will have the opportunity to partake in the fun as they warn Little Red of an approaching wolf and help Dorothy along the yellow brick road. The performances are popular with the younger crowds, Wagner says, and also raise funds for Sanborn Regional High School’s drama club.

“It’s a really special thing we do,” Wagner said. “It’s a really neat thing that all the youngsters seem to really connect with.”

Finally, on Sunday, Oct. 27, Applecrest will close out the festivities by hosting NorEast Cycling for their 11th Annual Orchard Cross bike race. It will be accompanied by a mini version for the kids, as well as an all-ages costume rally.

“It’s a really neat way to get out there and really see what the farm is all about. It’s just … fun with a very family-friendly atmosphere,” Wagner said.

For him, it’s all about making sure families have a good time and create some memories together.

“[People will] come up to me and be like, ‘Hey, thanks. That was a really great day to pick. The staff was super friendly. what a great day on the farm,’ and that right there, you know, that’s pretty rewarding,” he said.

For a full list of events and activities, or for up-to-date event details, weather and picking conditions, call 926-3721 or visit applecrest.com. Applecrest’s weekend festivals continue every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the end of October. Parking and admission are free.

— Elyse Carmosino

Courtesy photo.

Meet Queen Victoria

Join the Hampton Historical Society on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m., when Queen Victoria will pay a visit. The Queen will speak following a short annual meeting, to be held at the Masonic Lodge, 77 Tide Mill Road, Hampton. Sally Mummey, using storytelling and a good dash of humor, will portray Queen Victoria, who ascended to the throne in 1837 and ruled for 63 years. Mummey’s program reveals personal details of a powerful yet humane woman, who took seriously her role as an English monarch. This is appropriate for all ages and free to the public.

Courtesy photo.

A Hampton Halloween: Town celebrates the spooky season

The search is over for families looking for a new way to get in the Halloween spirit. This year’s second annual Halloween Fest will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Tuck Field in Hampton.

After a wildly successful first year, the two organizations that host the event — the Hampton PTA and Hampton’s Parks and Recreation Department — decided Round 2 was a must.

“It kind of blew our minds, not knowing what to expect, it being our first year. We were beyond impressed with the turnout and the support and the outcome that we had,” said Hampton PTA coordinator Jessica Svirsky.

Using last year’s fest as reference, the PTA has got the fun and games portion of the event down to a science. Svirsky said they’ve whittled down the number of activities to around 20, taking into account what was popular last year. The lineup includes face painting, pumpkin painting, spooky — and silly — storytelling, a photo booth, a haunted house and prizes. Guests who complete all 20 games and activities will take home a bag of trinkets filled with donated goodies from various sponsors and local businesses.

“[Local businesses] do an amazing job in sponsoring this event,” Svirsky said. “We do this event with 100 percent sponsorships. We [Hampton PTA and Hampton Parks and Recreation] just do the work of actually putting it on.”

Attendees can also enter the costume contest, which will be judged by this year’s Miss Seabrook and Little Miss Seabrook, or partake in an instructional lesson on how to do the “Thriller” dance, taught by local eighth-graders.

If last year’s numbers are any indication, partygoers can expect a full turnout. In 2018, the bash pulled a crowd of nearly 2,000, Svirsky said. She credits its popularity to the fact that the event is both free and family-friendly, and a great way to get the community together in a way that she says might not be so common anymore.

“Back in the day we used to have these types of events where your community came together and you were outside and the kids were running around and it’s just a simple fun,” she said. “[Now] it’s amazing to see how much they come and support us. … I like the excitement. Everybody’s having a great time. Like last year, I don’t think we got one complaint. That’s awesome.”

The party is open to all ages. Admission is free.

— Elyse Carmosino

Courtesy photo.

James House fun

The James House in Hampton will host open houses on Sunday, Sept. 29, Sunday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tour the James Farmstead and House with Skip Webb (pictured). Ongoing weaving and spinning demonstrations are provided by James House Master Weaver Dianne Howes. Attendance is free. For some spookier fun, James House will host Spirit Chasers Paranormal Events for people 18 and older. On Saturday, Sept. 28, there will be a séance with psychic Val Lafaso, 7 to 9 p.m. Attendance limited to 7, $20 per person. On Saturday, Oct. 19, there will be a ghost hunt at the James House, 7 p.m. to midnight. Attendance limited to 10 people, $25 per person. Paranormal events require advance registration. To register contact willy Hassell at drifter3@comcast.net. For information concerning Special Programs and Open House Days contact Skip Webb at 603-926-3851. Visit jameshousemuseum.org.

Play on: Parents get time off, kids stay and play

Finding a sitter on a weekend night can be a challenge, but Luv 2 Play has created a chance for parents to get a little time off while the kids have plenty of fun.

Every Friday night since January, Luv 2 Play’s Hampton location has hosted what they call Parent Night Out, where parents who sign up ahead of time can drop their children off between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. While the parents are out doing whatever they want to do with their free time, the kids can play in a safe environment.

“They have the facility to themselves during those hours to run, go through and play on whatever they want to play,” said Luv 2 Play Hampton owner Patrick St. John. “There isn’t a lot of structure to it in a sense. We don’t have a reading time or anything like that. What we find is the kids are much more interested in just burning some energy.”

Luv 2 Play is designed for kids 2 to 12, with a variety of play areas that suit children of different ages. From a massive playset with four slides, to arcade games, to an infant area, parents can be assured that there’s always something age-appropriate.

For parents who might want to stay, rather than leave entirely, Luv 2 Play offers a cafe with Wi-Fi and a clear view of the play area.

“It’s very easy for the parents to come and relax while the kids play, because they can keep an eye on them, but they don’t necessarily have to be right with them,” St. John said.

Something that sets Parent Night Out apart from other sitting services is the price, St. John said: The cost of $8 per hour for the first child, plus an additional $4 per hour for every other child, means that parents can rest assured their children are in good hands without breaking the bank or frantically searching for a sitter at the last minute.

“[The price is] pretty reasonable, particularly if you have more than one kid. It’s an option that’s reliable. I know from my own experience that trying to get a teenager or someone to commit can be difficult. But here, every Friday we’re available from 5 to 9 no matter what,” St. John said.

In addition to Parent Night Out, Luv 2 Play also offers a Drop and Shop program on weekdays, a similar sitting service to Parent Night Out that gives parents some time to get errands done after work and school is out for the day.

St. John said that as a retired veteran, he and his wife, Melissa, place a particularly strong emphasis on cleanliness — something that many feel similar child play places often lack, they said. St. John said one consistent compliment online reviewers give of his franchise location is how clean it is.

“It’s something we take pride in,” he said.

Something else St. John takes pride in is the food Luv 2 Play serves its customers. Despite the otherwise typical menu of pizza, mac and cheese, and hot dogs, over the years, he says he’s spent time reworking the meals they offer so that what they provide to customers is higher-quality than what one might typically find on the kids’ menu. At the end of the day, though, he says what’s important is that customers enjoy themselves and parents want to bring their kids back. And parents do bring their kids back.

“As people continue to learn more and more about [Parent Night Out], it continues to get more popular. Compared to the first month that we did it, we’re definitely seeing consistently eight to 10 kids every Friday night,” he said. “We definitely have repeat customers, and every week we get one or two new new folks who have heard about us from one of the other parents, so it continues to expand in that fashion.”

Making sure kids have a fun but safe environment to play in is one of Luv 2 Play’s highest priorities. All employees have been adult and pediatric CPR-certified and have passed background checks and drug screenings.

To sign your child up for Parent Night Out, go to luv2play.com. For questions, call Melissa St. John at 203-430-3964, or email her at info@luv2play-nh.com.

— Elyse Carmosino

Courtesy photo.

Laughs for everyone: Comedian Brian Regan coming to Casino Ballroom

When Steve Jobs ran Apple he always found a way to give people what they didn’t know they wanted. Brian Regan is a lot like Jobs — rather than read a room and calibrate his set to it, he goes with what he finds funny and lets the crowd come to him. It’s a strategy that’s elevated him into the top echelon of comics.

“I have always tried to be careful not to try to figure out what the audience wants; I don’t think that is what performers are supposed to do,” Regan said in a recent phone interview. “It’s a dangerous line to cross. It means you are no longer being interesting, you’re just placating.”

Regan also walks a comedic tightrope in his act; he manages to keep everyone believing he’s on their side. In a joke about guns, one of the most polarizing topics of all, he’s the only attendee at a convention for people in the middle on the issue, a lonely man in an empty ballroom.

“There’s a visual of me just standing there really awkwardly drinking ginger ale looking around … you can be on either side of that and still enjoy it,” he said, noting that some hardliners won’t give in. “I can’t please everybody, so I have to just please myself comedically and hope people will want to come along for the ride.”

One of the labels that’s stuck to Regan for years is that he works clean, which is a bit unfair. For example, his bit about theme parks from a 2008 special culminates with a joke about an attraction called “JFK: The Ride” — dark stuff, even if there aren’t any four-letter words.

Asked for an elevator-pitch description of his act, Regan said, “If I had to put it in a handful of words: I try to find the peculiar in the mundane.”

It’s tough to describe, he continued.

“Somebody once said talking about comedy is like dancing about architecture. I used to have a joke answer when every once in a blue moon somebody asked me that question. I’d say, just to be absurd, ‘My comedy is Kierkegaardian with Machiavellian undertones.’ And a writer one time said, ‘Oh, I can kind of see that.’ I was like, ‘Oh no! Now what do I do?’ How do I explain that I was being ridiculous?”

His role on the Peter Farrelly-directed series Loudermilk, now shooting its third season, provides him with the rare chance to work blue.

“It’s interesting for me on two fronts: I get to act, which I never really got to do in my career, and it’s not clean,” he said.

The latter is OK because it’s not his act.

“I’m serving their creative vision. … I make a clear line between the comedy I create and the comedy that somebody else created,” he said.

Stand Up and Away, his most recent Netflix project, was a four-episode series that blended standup, sketches and audience Q&A. With an eye toward newer fans, Regan revived some older material for it, something he normally eschews.

“Once I’m done with a bit, I kind of move on,” he said. “But then I thought, people still like these and there are probably a lot of people out there who have never heard them before. I thought it would be a way to showcase them, but in a new way.”

Echoing his sold-out 2013 Red Rocks concert, Regan will film his next special at Tuacahn Center for the Arts, a Utah amphitheater built into a rocky box canyon.

“A lot of comedians don’t like to perform outdoors. … I’ve always liked it,” he said. “I think my comedy is theatrical enough; I can get away with it. Maybe some other comedians are more heavy on the spoken word without acting things out [and] for them, it’s more challenging. I just found it to be an amazing experience.”

— Michael Witthaus

Courtesy photo.

 

Brian Regan

When: Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m.

Where: Casino Ballroom, 169 Ocean Blvd., Hampton Beach

Tickets: $27-@57 at casinoballroom.com