The Nutfield region is inching closer and closer to its three hundredth birthday, taking place on April 12, 2019. And with towns like Londonderry and Windham already preparing their own celebrations for the event, members of the Derry Heritage Commission recently met with the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) to discuss the opening stages of getting Derry ready for this monumental event.
During the EDAC’s November 20 meeting, commission members Paul Lindermann and Karen Anderson, the commission’s chair, presented a slideshow for the EDAC in order to establish what they hope to accomplish for this event.
Lindermann started by giving the EDAC a quick refresher on the history of the region, as he noted that not many residents are aware of Nutfield’s long history. Led by Reverend James MacGregor, around seventy to ninety Scottish/Irish Presbyterians immigrated to New York and eventually New Hampshire due to religious persecution from the mainly Catholic population. Eventually reaching an area rich with nut trees, the group settled in this region that they aptly named Nutfield, with April 12, 1719 being the founding date due to MacGregor giving his first sermon on that day.
From that point, the name was eventually changed to Londonderry two years later. The region soon fractured after this, with Windham forming in 1742 and Derry forming much later in 1827.
But regardless of these separations, all three towns share the same heritage, which is why the celebration will be expanded across the entire summer between the three towns, kicking off with Derry, blending into Windham’s July Strawberry Festival and capping off with Londonderry’s August Old Home Day.
Derry’s involvement will primarily revolve around Founder’s Weekend. Taking place from April 12 until April 14, the three days will see relatives of the original founders visit from Scotland to give history talks and participate in a special church service, on top of a major musical performance. The commission is also hoping to use the Fourth of July and Derryfest for some of these festivities as well, including the opening of and creation of a new time capsule.
Amongst the other activities scattered throughout the summer will be use of the town’s living treasure program, which helps to recognize Derry’s most valuable senior citizens, a civil war encampment and reenactment and the Derry Public Library will be working to put together booklets and a smart phone app that give site tours throughout the various historical landmarks in town.
Naturally, this is all going to take a lot of work and funding in order to be a success, and while the commission wants to keep relatively loose control over the event in order to allow for some creative freedom, they firmly believe Derry needs to put together a committee to focus on preparing for the birthday as soon as possible.
EDAC member James Morgan was quick to point out that they should be speaking with the Town Council over how much everything is going to cost, as funding will ultimately make or break the event
“Everything that is successful about this is gonna be driven by money and investment”, Morgan noted.
Although a committee has not yet been formed to get the ball rolling, the town will be holding an opening meeting on January 22 to start recruiting members and begin some of the long-term projects.