Meredith taking initial steps toward 250th birthday celebration in 2018

MEREDITH — When the Board of Selectmen met yesterday in a workshop to consider preparations for celebrating the 250th anniversary of the town in 2018, about a dozen residents attended, most of whom offered their ideas or volunteered their services.
Town Manager Phil Warren reminded the board that at Town Meeting in March voters adopted a warrant article to form a committee to plan for the occasion and adopt a "Voluntary Celebration Fee of $2.50 from all residents and visitors to fund the event. He said that Gilford, which marked its bicentennial last year, convened a planning committee of seven two years before the celebration and financed the event with the proceeds from sales of T-shirts and private donations without resort to town funds.
Jim Hughes told the board that three years were spent planning the Meredith bicentennial celebrations in 1968. He said that care must be taken planning parade routes in order not to interfere with with the flow of traffic on Route 3 and suggested that events be planned for each of the four seasons. In particular, Hughes stressed that the Historical Society should be represented on any committee.
Chris Kelly, president of the Greater Meredith Program, said that the organization would fully participate in the planning process. He also suggested that the celebration should run throughout the year with a major event each quarter. Others proposed a winter carnival and boat parade as well as theatrical and musical offerings. Bryan Halperin of the Winnipesaukee Playhouse said that the resources and campus of the theater company would be available. Jeanie Forrester even proposed scheduling 250 events and activities to mark the anniversary.
Selectman Herb Vadney noted that the tab for the bicentennial celebration was $30,000, which today amounts to some $250,000. His colleague Lou Kahn said that the taxpayers should contribute as small a share of the funding as possible. Both selectmen agree that the board should oversee and, if necessary facilitate, the planning process, but otherwise keep its distance.
The board considered a committee of seven too small and of 15 to 20 too large, but deferred a decision on the precise number of members. Instead, the selectmen agreed to solicit applications from those wishing to volunteer, setting a deadline for applications of May 15. At its workshop on May 20 the board will review the applicants prior to appointing the committee at its meeting on June 3.