Labor Day. Two little words that herald such a transition in the year - the end of summer, the beginning of a new school year and the bridge to fall.
In the White Mountains, however, summer lingers for several more weeks, making it a favorite time of year to visit. While the mornings may be cool enough for a sweater, the temperature warms up comfortably. Roads and trails are not as busy and the pace is as slow or as fast as you want it to be.
It’s also a favorite time of year for those of us who live here because Labor Day means there are a couple of time-tested events that we have to attend, because it just would not feel right to miss them: The Lancaster Fair and the New Hampshire Highland Games.
The 145th Lancaster Fair begins Sept. 1 and runs through Labor Day, at the fairgrounds on Route 3 just north of downtown Lancaster. With its livestock competitions, agricultural exhibits, a midway and games, the fair is a tribute to the agrarian heritage of Coos County, which endures to this day.
So plan to head to the fair. Admire the 4-H kids’ exhibits, pet a cow, enjoy some fried dough (fair calories don’t count!), ride the ferris wheel and just enjoy an event families like yours have enjoyed for over a century.
Two weeks later, a little corner of the White Mountains turns into Scotland, as it has for the past 40 years. The New Hampshire Highland Games, which began in 1975 as a little picnic for Scots-minded people, comes to Loon Mountain in Lincoln this year over the weekend of Sept. 16-18. It has grown into one of the largest Scottish cultural festivals in the Northeast, drawing thousands who have a heart in the Highlands.
You don’t need to be Scottish to enjoy the music of the isles, the dancing, the food, the Highland Fling, the athletic competitions, the fiddlers and, of course, the bagpipes.
The highlight of the entire weekend, the event that has people lining the parade grounds hours before it happens, is the massed band parade, when dozens of pipes and drums bands from across the U.S. and often, Canada, march down a hill playing in unison, their flags and kilts a colorful backdrop.