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Scene in Manchester: Talking, not eating, is best part of Meat Night

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

September 30. 2012 11:46PM
Stanley Kolodnicki of Manchester, left, and Bob Blaisdell, host of Meat Night, keep guests' stomachs full on Saturday night in Manchester. (Michael Cousineau/Sunday News)

Here are the rules. No vegetables, no silverware, no side dishes, no salads, no plates, no girlfriends, no wives, no women. And if you have to ask permission to attend, you can't come.

Saturday was Meat Night, a celebration of meat, beer and cigars founded by Bob Blaisdell, his father-in-law, Jim Craig; and brother-in-law William Craig. It all started when Blaisdell's wife and her mother decided to head out of town for a girls weekend 10 years ago.

'We sat around and asked ourselves, 'If they can do what they want to do, then shouldn't we be able to do what we want to do?'' Blaisdell explained in an email. There were only 11 men at the first Meat Night. The next year they had about 50. In the last seven years they've averaged around 80 guys, and on Saturday, Blaisdell was expecting 100.

There are already urban legends about Meat Night. I heard that one year a guy brought a head of lettuce, and everybody stomped on it. Blaisdell said it was actually a large head of cabbage, but couldn't confirm what happened to it.

There used to be two Meat Nights a year, but even though everybody contributed, expenses have reduced the celebration to once a year at Jim Craig's house in Manchester. Under a rented tent Blaisdell spends almost five hours cooking around 200 pounds of meat, mostly steak tips and sausages, on a six-foot grill.

'The meat comes right off the grill and goes into a big bin where guys just grab the meat with their hands,' Blaisdell said.

Meat Night is clearly a celebration of what it means to be a man and I think it's fantastic. Women have taken charge in so many areas of business and the community that we often feel the need to take charge of every aspect of our home life too. I don't know many women who would allow a big bin of man-handled meat to be served in their home, and that's probably only one reason why we're not allowed at Meat Night.

Meat Night is a private party, but new friends invite new friends, and so on. I first heard about the elusive Meat Night from my friend Adam Schmidt, who has been attending for about eight years. His father, John Schmidt, used to drive all the way from Presque Isle, Maine, to attend. The elder Schmidt has since moved to Manchester and now brings some of his own friends to the party.

'It's definitely a multi-generational event,' said Adam, who really enjoys Meat Night for its relaxed atmosphere and good conversation.

The conversation is Blaisdell's favorite part about Meat Night too. He is a lobbyist in Concord and Jim and William Craig are well-known in political circles. But at Meat Night, men normally divided by political affiliation, income or career, are united by meat.

'I believe conversations that take place at Meat Might would never happen if it weren't for Meat Night. We have such a diverse group of people who attend. We have doctors, lawyers, teachers, firefighters, policemen, security guards, lobbyists, senators, representatives, commissioners, salesmen, campaign workers, of-age college guys, State House staffers, Republicans, independents, Democrats, small business owners, real estate agents, just to name a few. Everybody gets along and everybody has a great time,' Blaisdell wrote.

What are the conversations? As a woman, I'll never know. And that's just as well. I think that what happens at Meat Night should stay at Meat Night. I was thinking of creating my own female version called Sweet Night involving chocolate, pastries and wine. But then I realized that's just a regular Saturday night for most of the women I know.

Comedy with Camp Allen

Another season is over at Camp Allen, but the hard work never ends for Mary Constance and her board of directors at the nonprofit Bedford camp for disabled individuals.

On Oct. 11 they'll be hosting the 2nd annual Camp Allen Night of Comedy at The Yard in Manchester. Comedians Jimmy Dunn and Kelly MacFarland will be featured, along with live and silent auctions.

If you like comedy shows, this event is a great deal at only $35. You get a night of fun while also helping the Camp Allen crew provide a summer camp experience for people who wouldn't have one without them. Call 622-8471 for tickets.

Don't miss the Enchanted Fall Festival

Last year my family and I were looking for something to do one Saturday evening in October. Naturally, I searched The Enchanted Fall Festival at Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn, with tours featuring storytellers, a bonfire, live music and wildlife presentations, was right up our alley. The listing said registration was required, but I was sure they hadn't sold out. I was wrong.

We were able to check out some of the games and crafts, and enjoy the magical candlelit walkway to the bonfire, but the enchanted tours, which were reportedly a lot of fun, were all full.

If you're looking for fun, fall, family entertainment I suggest you sign up early for the 5th annual Enchanted Fall Festival scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. with 90-minute tours starting at 4 p.m. and leaving every 45 minutes through 7:15 p.m.

Larger families will appreciate the flat family fee of $15 for Audubon members and $25 for non-members. Call 668-2045 for tour reservations.

Filled with food

Judith Jolton, chairman of the Religious Response to Hunger Food Drive, reports that 4,000 pounds of food were collected and delivered to New Horizons last Thursday. I want to give a personal thank you to Temple Adath Yeshurun, Temple Israel, New Hampshire Korean Christian Church, Bethany Chapel (UCC), Longmeadow Congregational Church (UCC), Brookside Congregational Church and Gethsemane Lutheran Church for participating.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

Women of Faith, a local organization with a mission to bring together women of different faiths to learn from one another, is partnering with the Manchester Historic Association's Aurore Eaton on a special talk this Thursday. Eaton, who shares her special Manchester historical insight in this newspaper every Wednesday, will speak about 'Faith Communities and the Planned City: Amoskeag Mills and Its Influence on Religion' at 7 p.m. at the Millyard Museum. The evening starts with self-guided tours of the museum at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited for this free event, so be sure to reserve your spot by contacting Karen Donoghue at or 641-6834.

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