The capstone event of a celebration five years in the planning happens Saturday, Aug. 27, as Goffstown celebrates its 250th anniversary with an all-day block party, including music played on four stages with some of the state’s top talent.
It’s a genre-spanning lineup, from Tom Dixon’s homegrown country to AC/DC tribute band Problem Child, with classic rock (Mama Kicks, Mugsy, Notable Decades), roots Americana (Aldous Collins) and alt-Christian (Borderline 11) also in the mix.
That’s just the main stage, located at the intersection of Depot, Kendall and Hadley. The Village Trestle hosts an indoor stage with electric bands leaning toward blues, boogie and rock playing from noon until past midnight. Behind the restaurant, an outdoor stage presents mostly acoustic music. There’s also a children’s stage featuring magic, comedy and a performance by local high school musicians.
When darkness falls, fireworks will light up the sky above Lions Field.
Two well-known performers from the town couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts: “junk rock” band Recycled Percussion is launching a new casino show in Las Vegas, while family entertainer Judy Pancoast is on tour in North Carolina.
“We reached out to them,” said Goffstown 250th co-chair and town Selectman Scott Gross. “They told us they would be here if they could.”
But the talent that is coming is highly regarded — two of three Best of Hippo readers’ poll winners will grace the main stage, noted co-chair Elizabeth Dubrulle.
“We feel very fortunate for that,” Dubrulle said. “We tried to pick the most popular bands in New Hampshire that were accessible to everyone.” Town resident and music promoter Ken Laurentz volunteered to recruit for the main stage music, while Village Trestle owner Steve Pascucci booked the talent at his venue.
“Ken contacted all these bands and got them all to play for very little money,” Dubrulle says. “So it’s really great — the bands were wonderful about this.”
Dubrulle is a historian and author of Goffstown Reborn, Transformations of a New England Town. She moved to the state from California when her husband took a teaching job at Saint Anselm College.
“It’s a microcosm of New England history,” Dubrulle says. “When I saw it was the 250th five years ago, I wrote the selectmen and said, ‘Hey, let’s form a committee, let’s make this really special.’ I think we’re doing more than any other town in the state … it was a great opportunity to do something fun, take advantage of the history and do something in the present.”
Gross expects crowds in the thousands for the block party. “We want to get more than just Goffstown folks,” he says. “I think a lot of communities did a one-off event, but we’ve done six and this is our biggest by far. We’ve done music nights, an ice cream social and a gala ball, whereas most towns are doing one day or a weekend — but we’ve stretched it out over a year.” The final event is a parade set for Oct. 15.
In addition to the music, there is a separate Kids Zone with inflatable slides, obstacle courses, sumo wrestling and other attractions. Booths around the village will offer face-painting and glitter painting, temporary tattoos, caricature drawings and balloon art. There will also be carnival games and plenty of food.
The Goffstown Lions Club is the event’s official sponsor. “They ran two fundraisers for us earlier this year and last year that contributed almost $9,000,” Dubrulle says. “That has made a huge difference.”
As always, Mother Nature could prove to be a wild card, but Dubrulle feels well prepared. “All the stages are covered, and there are a couple of big tents,” she says. “So unless we’re in the middle of a tropical storm, it’s rain or shine. There’s a kids’ tent too.”
As the big day approaches, “it’s exciting, and there’s great anxiety too,” Gross says, “because we’ve been planning like crazy for this and it’s dependent on good weather.” If it gets too intense, some activities will move to the Goffstown High School gym. “It can hold around 1,200 people, but we’ll only use it if there’s a downpour,” Gross says cautiously. “That’s always a fear when you do these outside events.”