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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Stark Park is a hub of summer activities in the city

By KATIE McQUAID
July 13. 2018 9:11PM
On Friday, Dorothy Bourbeau of Pembroke was practicing her flute in Stark Park as she likes to do almost daily on her lunch break. The Friends of Stark Park recently installed new benches at the park and there will be a garden tour there today. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

This summer at Stark Park really shouldn’t be missed. The exceptionally committed and creative nonprofit Friends of Stark Park group has organized events and free Sunday afternoon concerts for years, but it seems to be kicking it up a notch with this year’s lineup that includes new bands and even some bandstand yoga.

The Friends rely on fundraising to bring Manchester a park that is more of a community center than just a pretty place to walk or sit in the sun. There are a variety of options to support the group’s work, and I recommend today’s Garden Tour.

This annual event lets ticket holders spend a delightful day on a self-guided, self-paced tour of several private gardens near the Stark Park neighborhood and includes a rare opportunity to get an inside look at the Stark House on Elm Street.

The tour is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $20 beginning at 9 a.m. The locations of the gardens will be revealed to ticket holders at Stark Park, where they can pick up the tour program book and map.

Volunteers will be at each garden to check tickets and direct visitors to the gardens. Some gardens have been created and cared for by the homeowners themselves, others have been designed by professional landscapers. Both experienced gardeners and newbies will come away with great ideas for their own yards.

Sunday concerts

Sunday, July 15, is the next concert in the popular and free Sunday afternoon series sponsored by Friends of Stark Park. The Spirit of Johnny Cash, a tribute band focused on bringing the music and style of this rock and country star to New England and beyond, will play from 2 to 4 p.m.

Sunday, July 22, see Dan Gabel and The Abletones, an authentic 18-piece Big Band, specializing in the music of the 1930s and 40s.

On July 29, a five-piece band called Tradition will play all styles of Irish music, as well as classic rock, country and folk.

On Aug. 5, Damn Tall Buildings will perform an all-acoustic show of bluegrass and more.

On Aug. 12, the Wolverine Jazz Band will entertain lovers of traditional jazz.

On Aug. 19, Annie & The Orphans will entertain with their unique blend of musical talents and showmanship. They’ll also hand out United States flags to the audience during their rendition of God Bless America.

The concert series’ grand finale will feature the Compaq Big Band on Aug. 26.

Bandstand yoga

The beauty and serenity of Stark Park can really be enjoyed this summer with a series of yoga classes taught in the bandstand by YogaBalance Yoga Studio. These gentle to moderate level classes will include stretching, strengthening, movement, stillness, challenge and ease. New and experienced yogis should bring a mat and a suggested donation of $10, which will help support the Manchester Animal Shelter.

Classes are scheduled for Wednesdays, July 25, Aug. 22, and Sept. 12 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

In addition to all this entertainment and exercise, the Friends of Stark Park continues to work hard to maintain the improvements that have been done and tackle new ones. On your next visit, be sure to notice and enjoy the recently installed benches and new labels identifying the 20 different kinds of trees around the park.

What would you like to see in Scene in Manchester? Send it to Katie at Scene@UnionLeader.com.

On Friday, Dorothy Bourbeau of Pembroke was practicing her flute in Stark Park as she likes to do almost daily on her lunch break. The Friends of Stark Park recently installed new benches at the park and there will be a garden tour there today. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)


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