LONDONDERRY — The town of Londonderry usually pulls out all the stops in its annual Old Home Day celebration, but this year’s event from Wednesday through Sunday promises to be the biggest ever as neighboring towns are also participating in observance of the 300th anniversary of Nutfield.
Founded in 1719 by Scots-Irish Presbyterians fleeing religious persecution in Northern Ireland, Nutfield was the precursor community to Londonderry, Derry, Windham and the Derryfield neighborhood of Manchester.
The communities have been hosting events to mark the tricentennial all summer long, but the Londonderry Old Home Day celebration will be the main event, kicking off Wednesday with a senior barbecue at the Lions Pavilion from 5 to 6 p.m. followed by a senior concert on the town common from 7 to 8 p.m.
Thursday features the 18th annual Kidz Night with festivities at the town common starting at 5:30 p.m. Weather permitting, there will be hot air balloon rides at the Matthew Thornton Elementary School this year. And the police department is providing ice cream at 7:30 p.m. before showing a family movie at 8:45 p.m.
On Friday, at 6 p.m. — in an example of how other towns are taking part in the celebrations — the police and fire softball game will be comprised of a Londonderry team with members from both the police and fire departments squaring off against a Derry team of the same makeup.
“In recognition of the 300th anniversary, we thought it appropriate to expand the scope of our police fire rivalry,” Londonderry Police Capt. Patrick Cheetham said. “And we look forward to putting Derry in their place.”
The game will be followed by a bigger fireworks display than usual, budgeted at $25,000. Organizer Kathy Wagner said much of that is from money carried over from the last two years because the previous two fireworks shows were canceled due to weather.
“They had saved up the money for the fire budget to put on a really big show,” Wagner said.
The fireworks show will be at the lacrosse field behind the high school this year, instead of the front lawn, Wagner said. And this year, the fireworks will have a rain date, Sunday.
Also Friday is a concert by the band Manchuka, Wagner said.
On Saturday, the main event will be the parade, which runs from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. “The parade’s got more bands in it this year,” Wagner said.
New this year will be Derry’s Pinkerton Academy band joining the Londonderry, Bedford and Hudson bands. And, in a nod to the Scots-Irish legacy of the towns, an additional bagpipe group: The Pipes and Drums of NHSCOT (the organizers of the Highland Games) will be joining the parade along with the New Hampshire Police Association Pipes and Drums. The Northeast Italian Band will also be performing.
The parade will also feature descendants of early Nutfield families and other significant Londonderry family members.
Representatives for about 10 presidential campaigns are planning to walk in the parade, along with a few candidates such as John Delaney, Tim Ryan and Bill de Blasio, Wagner said.
“Most of them, I guess, are out at the Iowa Fair,” she said of the other candidates.
Revolutionary War re-enactors will be marching, along with some mainstay appearances by the Red Star Twirlers, the Shriners, some Londonderry youth sports teams and other groups.
Following the parade will be events on the common, with booths, a carnival and a Battle of the Chiefs between Londonderry Police Chief William Hart and Londonderry Fire Chief Darren O’Brien to see who can win a friendly game of striker at noon.
There will be booths manned by Londonderry and Derry historians, and the towns of Windham and Londonderry will be selling commemorative Nutfield 300 coins for $5 each, Wagner said.
At 2 p.m. at the town common bandstand, Londonderry Rotary Club member Reed Clark will be opening a time capsule that was sealed 50 years ago at the 250th celebration. Clark, a longtime Londonderry resident who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, was present when the time capsule was sealed.
There are a number of historical events going on over the weekend. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Londonderry Historical Society will be hosting re-enactors posing as a colonial militia, blacksmiths and other traditional craftsmen for public demonstrations at the Morrison House Museum.
Saturday evening’s festivities will close with the Boot Scootin Boogie 5K and Brewfest from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Sargent Field.
Wagner said the events are funded by sponsorships, an annual town stipend of about $10,000 and a special Nutfield 300 fund approved by town voters in March. Additional information about the weekend’s events can be found online at oldhomedays.com.
On Sunday starting at 9 a.m., one of the main events will be the classic-car show at Londonderry Square, 55 Nashua Road, hosted by the Londonderry Rotary Club in partnership with the Northeastern chapter of the Pontiac car club.
Organizer Bill Basler said it will be the 24th year of the show, returning after a hiatus of about three years.
Anyone interested in registering for the car show can contact Basler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Public viewing is free for children younger than 12, $3 for adults and $7 for a family.