AUBURN — This close-knit southern New Hampshire community’s wry sense of tradition will be on full display Saturday with contests for the area’s prettiest chicken, weirdest garden-grown produce, and the fastest (of 3,000 rubber) ducks.
The 27th annual Duck Race and Auburn Day will take over the village between the Auburn Village School and four corners between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
One of the most recent additions to the late-summer celebration is the Auburn Agriculture Anomalies contest, in which local garden enthusiasts and farmers show off their “crooked carrots, peculiar potatoes and abnormal apples. Basically, the weirder the garden wonder, the better,” according to the contest guidelines.
“We kind of started it as a ‘let’s see what happens’ component for the 2018 Auburn Day event, and to everyone’s surprise, it was very popular,” said Dan Carpenter, president of the Auburn Historical Society. “It’s funny, quirky and almost every gardener can relate to funky growths and is invited to participate.”
Another highlight is the duck race, which has been the historical society’s main fundraiser for more than 25 years. People purchase tickets that correspond to rubber ducks, which are dropped into the water for a race down to Griffin Falls and under the foot bridge. Tickets are $5, or $20 for a Quack Pack of five tickets.
First place finisher will net its owner $1,000, with second place valued at $500 and third place at $250. Fourth through 10th-place finishes get $24-$100 prizes.
A different kind of race, the 5K Duckling Dash, kicks off the day at 10 a.m. on trails around Little Massabesic in Auburn. Proceeds will go to the Pinkerton Academy Homeless Fund.
The day also will feature animals from Wildlife Encounters, a Civil War encampment, artisan demonstrations, Roaming Railroad train rides and children’s activities.
Back by popular demand, the Pretty Chicken Contest welcomes community members to bring their favorite “girls” to Auburn Day. Event visitors will vote on their favorite chickens. Top prize is $30, with $20 for second place and $10 for third place.
In addition, there will be dozens of local artisans and vendors lining Hooksett Road by the village waterfall. Cheese, maple syrup, quilts, wool items, honey, dips and rubs, jams and jellies, jewelry, soap, socks, mustards, chocolate and homemade desserts will be available for purchase.
Peabody’s Coal Train, an acoustic six-piece Americana band, will take the stage, and the Pinkerton Academy Marching Band, Cracker Jacks the Clown and Heel & Toe Square Dance Club also will perform.
Attendees can also look forward to food and treats, from Italian sausage at the Auburn Fire Association booth and a slice of pizza at Cindy’s Comfort Kitchen to hand-cut French fries at the Auburn Police Association booth or hamburgers and hot dogs at the Historical Association tent.
For those with a sweet tooth, the Girls Scouts will have cotton candy and Long Meadow Church will be selling fried dough. There will also be vendor booths selling chocolate, breads, jellies and other baked goods.
In another signature contest, the top three bakers in the annual apple pie contest will get a pie plate created by Salmon Falls Stoneware of Dover.
Once the judges have picked the winners the remaining pie slices will be offered at $3 per slice; the money raised also will benefit the Auburn Historical Association.
For more information, go to auburnday.com.