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Christa Peoples

Music on Main Street, a Unique Littleton NH Experience

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Be honest now: have you ever put your headphones in, set your I-Pod to some uplifting, adrenaline-pumping song, and power-walked down the road like a hero in an action flick? (Complete with cars exploding behind you, not that you deign to look back.)

Or perhaps you found yourself in a melancholy mood, and chose instead a bluesy ballad to turn the trees gray and mute the blue sky to better reflect your internal despondency (pro-tip: check out The Cranberries for endless hours of that).

Music has a unique and unparalleled ability to influence our attitudes and internal reflections, often near-instantaneously. Some active citizens of Littleton, NH have recognized this and chosen to use it to enhance the experience of walking down their hometown’s Main Street.

Two musical installations have been creating memories in downtown Littleton in the past few years: the Piano Project on Main Street and Harmony Park on Mill Street along the Ammonoosuc Riverwalk.

Tickle the Ol’ Ivories for Passersby on a Piano on Main Street, Littleton

The street piano project was started by an artist in London named Luke Jerram who painted and installed a used piano in front of a laundromat and pub. Due to its intense popularity, Jerram was asked by the city to coordinate a piano park in London. Within two years, 26 cities around the world had pianos installed on their streets. Jerram titled this project, “Play Me, I’m Yours.”

Multiple pianos were donated by area citizens and redecorated by local artists for Littleton’s Main Street Piano Project. The very first street piano was painted by artists from the Littleton Studio School. Today, these pianos can be found stationed downtown in front of The Nest, Little Village Toy & Book Shop, and (yours truly) Chutters Candy Counter. And the motto of Littleton’s Piano Project?

“Be Glad… Play Music.”

The pianos are often incorporated into Main Street events, such as the annual Glad Fest in June, when buskers bring their guitars and ukuleles and gather around the pianos to perform downtown, the free mid-summer music festival “Music on the ‘Noosuc” on Saturday, July 8th,  and the upcoming “Art in the Mountains” 48th Annual Art Fest on Saturday, September 23rd, when musicians are scheduled to play throughout the day.

Music on Main Street creates a unique experience for the Littleton visitor – a welcoming and harmonious atmosphere that sticks in the mind and will be remembered fondly for years to come.

The Piano Project was recently emulated in the downtown of Nashua, NH, all because a Nashua resident stopped in Littleton with a friend for lunch one day. They were eating outside, when a handful of passersby on the opposite side of the street stopped at one of the pianos. One member of the group happened to play, and the rest were jovial enough to sing along. What could be more delightful on a beautiful summer day than enjoying the sun while people play music and sing along with friends and strangers alike?

Music brings people together. Perhaps one person doesn’t play piano, but sings, or raps, or has great rhythm. Those who find themselves with the opportunity to sing or make music with other people usually find the temptation too great to pass up. Music on Main Street provides not just a soundtrack to the downtown – but a meeting place for community to flourish.

“If visitors come to town and they have a talent (or otherwise), they stop and play at the piano,” says Dave Ernsberger, owner of The Nest and an active member of the Littleton River District Redevelopment Commission. “This gets other people to stop and listen and adds a positive energy to the downtown of Littleton.”

Tinkle the Chimes and Play the Drums at Harmony Park along the Ammonoosuc River

A harmony park is a nationwide trend where durable musical instruments are installed on a main street or in a park for residents and visitors passing by to play and enjoy. The structures are attractive and weather-resistant, and intended to last 25-30 years while stationed outside year-round with minimal upkeep.

Freenotes Harmony Park in Durango, CO is the industry leader of outdoor musical sculptures, with installations now in five continents and all fifty states! “Designed with acoustic precision and perfect tone by a Grammy Award winning musician,” their website proudly proclaims, “Freenotes Harmony Park instruments are built to maintain pure and soothing tones through years of rigorous play and exposure to the elements of nature.”

Dave Ernsberger was instrumental (pun quite definitely intended) in coordinating with Freenotes Harmony Park and raising the funds from local businesses to bring these musical instruments to downtown Littleton. After a vacation to Sedona, AZ, where he witnessed tourists playing at their own harmony park, Dave made the suggestion to the Redevelopment Commission, and, incredibly, the park was up within 2 weeks!

Littleton’s Harmony Park officially opened in June 2015 with the annual Pollyanna Glad Day celebration. Six working percussion sculptures – the Piper, Swirl Chimes, Imbarimba, Tuned Drums, Pegasus Chimes, and Contrabass Chimes – were installed along the Mill Street walkway, overlooking the Ammonoosuc River. The instruments are located across from Tree Harp Park that abuts the river, so passersby can sit, watch the water flow by, and listen to the notes and rhythms floating down from Harmony Park.

 

 

Harmony Park is open every day from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and is free to the public. Attached rubber mallets are used to play the xylophone-type structures, while the big, colorful drums are played by hand. The instruments at Harmony Park are intended for all ages and abilities, so people from all walks of life can enjoy them. No matter your musical skill and talent (or lack thereof), these working sculptures are designed to sound pleasant, so even if you consider yourself tone-deaf, you may as well stop by and give it a chance!

The Piano Project and Harmony Park are reflections of the diverse musical and artistic talents of the residents of Littleton, NH. Perhaps on your next trip to Chutters, you may come across an aspiring young Beethoven or Chopin playing at our door – or perhaps you may wander down the road and join an impromptu jam session with no-longer-strangers at Harmony Park.

“If music be the food of love, play on.” –William Shakespeare

Plan a Fat Biking Adventure in Littleton

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Mountain biking doesn’t get much better than in and around Littleton, NH. There are serious mountain biking trail networks just ten minutes south in Franconia, NH as well as a bit north at Bretton Woods. But the town of Littleton itself is home to the PRKR MTN trail network, comprising 24 miles of single- and double-track bike trails on Parker Mountain.

Mountain biking enthusiasts – experts and beginners alike – can turbo-charge the experience by demo-ing so-called “FAT BIKES” in place of bikes with standard 1- to 1.5” tires. Littleton Bike and Fitness, a HUGE bike and education shop just off Main Street in Littleton, rents fat bikes at $50 per day.

What are Fat Bikes?

Picture a Monster Truck Rally… for bikes!

Fat bikes have enormous tires to go over snow, slop, dirt, rocks and sand – and still deliver a smooth ride. These tires are between 4-5” wide and provide unbeatable biking stability on snow and loose surfaces. Full suspension is the new trend in fat bikes, so even steep trails are possible!

Where can I rent a Fat Bike?

Littleton Bike & Fitness is located in a renovated Ford garage on 28 Cottage Street in Littleton, NH. The store sells and rents bikes for all ages, experience levels and conditions. Littleton Bike & Fitness also coordinates the Littleton Landsharks, a biking group that rides every Tuesday at 6 pm. Special classes and events are scheduled throughout the year, so if you are interested, definitely check out their calendar!

Where can I ride?

PRKR MTN

The PRKR MTN trail network is a privately-owned network of maintained single- and double-track bike paths on 2,000-foot Parker Mountain, the highest point in Littleton, NH. More than 24 miles are professionally maintained, with a design that points all trails back to Littleton’s downtown region.

Bikers can park at Remick Park. Littleton Bike & Fitness also opens their parking lot to mountain bikers. Trails start at the top of School Street. A great loop to really get your blood flowing is Rock and Roll to Gardner’s Trail to Linda’s Lookout. The lookout provides awesome views of the northern Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Beginners can get back to town on I95 (in this case, the name of a bike path, not an interstate!).

After a great trip, bikers should check out the establishments along Littleton Main Street for food, drinks, entertainment and lodging!

Moore Dam Trail

This 3.5-mile trail follows the Moore Dam reservoir. This path is mostly flat, with bridges and flats requiring some technical biking. Day-trippers should consider packing a lunch to enjoy at a clearing alongside the water.

To reach the Moore Dam trail, take I-93 Exit 43 and then take a left off the exit ramp onto RT-135 North. Take a left onto Old Waterford Road. Continue to the end of road for parking. You will see signs for the trail on the left side of the lot.

Franconia Village X-C Ski and Outdoor Rec Trails

The Franconia Village X-C Ski Center has some trails open to fat bikes in the winter. This is a professionally maintained network of trails totaling over 40 miles. Most of the trails are intimate single tracks through the woods, over brooks and across meadows. Check out the White Mountain Bike Shop next door to the Franconia Inn for information and tips about where to go.

Kingdom Trails

This nationally recognized mountain biking trail network is located on Burke Mountain in Vermont, only 40 minutes northwest of Littleton. Over 110 miles of professionally maintained trails offer a variety of terrain, adventure and difficulty levels for all experience levels. More information online at http://kingdomtrails.org.

 

Whether you are an experienced mountain biker or just an outdoors enthusiast, consider planning a day of fat biking around Littleton, NH. Cheers to your adrenaline adventure!

LittletonFarmersMarket

Littleton Farmers’ Market Opens for the 2017 Season!

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Summer is fast approaching and with sunshine and warmer weather comes the reopening of the Littleton Farmers’ Market this Sunday, June 4 from 10 am to 1 pm.

Farmers and interested parties from Littleton came together just a few years ago to breathe new life into a weekly farmers’ market. Now farmers, bakers, craftspeople and other local vendors come together every Sunday from June through mid-October to display and sell their products to residents and visitors of Littleton.

Nearly 40 vendors have signed up for the 2017 season.

Local fruits and vegetables, pork, eggs, chicken, cheese, lamb, and other meats and produce will be offered by Meadowstone Farm in Bethlehem, Pinestead Farm in Franconia, and Cross Farm in Barnet, VT, as well as others.

Tipsy Treats in Thornton will be back with their unique alcohol-infused dessert party toppings. This family-owned business blends just the right amount of premium liqueurs and spirits into fruit and chocolate dessert toppings to go on ice cream, cheesecake and other desserts!

The newly opened Crum Bum Bakery in Littleton will be providing unique confections and tasty treats inspired by the big city. Try a Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Cookie! Not to your taste? Perhaps a Roasted Broccolini and Asiago Croissant will suit!

Yeeyee’s Vermont Specialty Products include Horseradish Mustard, Pickles, Pumpkin Butter, Salsa and a variety of dessert toppings. Many years of canning experience and a love for healthy living has inspired this family-owned business to provide specialty small-batch products inspired by grandmother’s kitchen.

Lance and Ginny Roberts from Lunenburg, VT will be back again this year with woodcrafts including cutting boards, spoons, bowls and necklaces as well as veggies and baked goods.

Farm Girl Flowers and Finds from Sanbornton will be joining the market for the first time this year. They produce fresh and dried flower bouquets and wreaths as well as a collection of beautifully refurbished antiques.

DriedFlowerBasket

Other crafts to be found include custom birdhouses, leather belts, wooden boxes and picture frames, jewelry, scarves and books by local mystery author Marilinne Cooper.

Enjoy music in the sunshine while you shop.

Local musicians plug in and play next to the river every Sunday during the Farmers’ Market!

Music is primarily acoustic folk and classic New England country. First up this Sunday is Bobbie and Me, an acoustic folk duo, with performances planned throughout the summer and fall by:

  • The Old Gold Band
  • Joe Keenan
  • Wendy and the Lost Boys
  • Alan Greenleaf
  • Paul Aiken
  • Katie Rose
  • Pipe and Slippers
  • Brookside
  • Kate Davis “Fifth Business”
  • Comfort Country
  • David Van Houten

Enjoy your Sunday morning in Littleton as a visitor or well-trod local at the Farmers’ Market!

The Littleton Farmers’ Market is set up and ready to go each Sunday morning by 10 am on Riverglen Lane in the Littleton Senior Center parking lot next to the Covered Bridge on the Ammonoosuc River.

“This vendor-owned event is a fantastic addition to life in Littleton. It’s owned and arranged by the farmers themselves in a beautiful location with easy access to downtown from the covered bridge,” says Littleton local Tony J. Ilacqua.

With fresh local fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised meats and cheeses, gluten-free goodies, NH and VT maple products, and more, we guarantee you’ll find something for your home or kitchen!

And once your shopping is done, head across the Covered Bridge to Main Street, where you will find Chutters, Home of the World’s Longest Candy Counter!