LACONIA — New Hampshire's first ever coffee festival held downtown on Saturday afternoon proved a big hit with the hundreds of people who turned out, as well as the coffee roastery vendors, who passed out thousands of samples of their special brands.
''We've been crazy busy. We're brewing non-stop to keep up with the lines,'' said Jessica Littlefield of Woodshed Roasting Company of Laconia, whose owner Brad Fitzgerald, said that he was more than pleased with the large turnout and the opportunity for coffee roasters from all over the state to introduce their coffee to the public.
''This is great for downtown Laconia. It's a wonderful atmosphere with all the stores open and the excitement in the street. They should do something like this once a month,'' said Debbie Welch of Meredith, who was sampling as many coffees as she could along with her friend, Carol Reale, also of Meredith.
Kevin Halligan, chef/owner of the Local Eatery restaurant, who was serving up sandwiches with thick slices coffee roasted steamship round of beef, which he had said took him 13 hours to roast, said it looked like he was going to use up the entire roast before the day was over.
''It's been a good day and a good experience for the people who have shown up. I'm sure this is going to be back again next year.''
John Morin of My Coffee House, had Jim Clark from Black Bear Roastery of Tuftonboro standing alongside him as he served up coffee and hand-made pastries.
Clark, who has been roasting coffee beans for about 15 years, is well-know nationally for his long-standing copyright battle with the coffee house giant Starbucks over his use of the name "Charbucks" for one of his roasts. Clark has won the copyright fight several times in U.S. District Court in New York City.
''This is a picture perfect day. We couldn't have asked for anything better and it's great to see Main Street so alive,'' said Morin.
Sam Delay and Kiley Sullivan of A&E Roastery of Amherst, which has been in business for 10 years and has won polls as the state's best roastery, were doing single cup pour-overs and were kept busy answering questions about their coffees and the best way to prepare them.
''It's an exciting day, lots of people and lots of fun things to do. A lot of the people here have never seen coffee prepared this way and it's been interesting to explain to them what we're doing and teach them new ways of enjoying coffee and bringing out the unique characteristics of different roasts,'' said Delay.
Brooke Sheeran Demers of D Squared Coffee of Exeter said that there was a state of panic at the start of the festival as the electrical power which had been extended up and down the street for the vendors blew out.
''We found our right away that it was a problem with an outlet and solved it real quick,'' said Randy Bullerwell of the Main Street Initiative, which organized the festival.
Main Street, between Hanover Street and Church Street was blocked off to vehicular traffic, during the festival.
Kevin Halligan of the Local Eatery slices a coffee roasted steamship round of beef at the New Hampshire Coffee Festival in Downtown Laconia Saturday. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)