LACONIA — For those who think that history is just about dates and dry facts, a group of local residents is organizing an event for next month that's meant to show how tangible items, such as mementos, help to make history come alive.
The Belknap Mill and Laconia Historical and Museum Society are organizing a Share Fair for local individuals and businesses to come and display artifacts and documents related to their history.
The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Belknap Mill in Laconia, with a snow date of Feb. 22.
Judith Buswell and Alida Millham, two of the organizers of the half-day event, hope the fair will spur people to become more active in making their family or business history known as well as encouraging people to treasure the tangible things that form part of their heritage.
Others involved in planning for the fair include Barbara Zeckhausen, Warren Clement, Mary Rivers and Historical and Museum Society Executive Director Brenda Kean.
People associated with several current and former businesses and institutions have indicated they plan to participate, including O'Shea's department store, Laconia Shoe Co., Taylor Community, Guild Mills, and Wilkinson-Beane, Buswell said.
Buswell said the idea of the Share Fair was an outgrowth of another type of history project last year in which the she and her daughter, Tamara McGonagle, performed a staged reading based on the journals of the great-grandmother of Buswell's husband, David Stamps.
Buswell and Millham are hoping more people will register for the Share Fair between now and Feb. 15. Those interested in having individual or family exhibits are asked to call Buswell at 524-6580, while potential business exhibitors are asked to call Clement at 520-7650.
Clement will serve as moderator and facilitator of the fair which will get under way at 8 a.m. From 9 to 10 a.m. people will have a chance to browse through the various displays and talk one-on-one with the exhibitors. Then each participant will be given the opportunity to speak for five minutes to explain the significance of the items they brought. After a short break there will time from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for discussion, questions, and propose ideas for possible future related events.
Also, there will be a display on ways to safely preserve papers and photographs and other historically significant items, as well as an exhibit on genealogy. However, Buswell pointed out that no items will be sold at the fair, nor will any items be appraised.
"We hope this event helps people to see that genealogy is not just getting dates, but about telling stories," said Buswell, who plans to exhibit a number of items, including a gold-top walking stick that belonged to David N. Camp, her husband's great-great-grandfather.
Among the items that Millham plans to exhibit are a dress that belonged to her great-grandmother and a photo showing her father, Fred Isham, as a child standing in a cornfield in upstate New York with his sister Edna, and their father, Fred.
Some of the family mementos and other historical items at the Share Fair planned for Feb. 15 in Laconia include the family tree Judith Buswell, one of the event organizers, a told tip walking stick that once belonged to the great-great grandfather of Buswell's husband, David Stamps, a glass slipper which someone in mother's family received as a souvenir of a Boston performance of "Cinderella" in 1888, and a photograph of Alida Millham's father, aunt and grandfather. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)