From free to fee for Bike Week vendors


MEREDITH — Following a brief public hearing, the Board of Selectmen yesterday formally adopted the ordinance imposing a fee on itinerant vendors operating during Motorcycle Week.
Despite misgivings expressed by the owners of both Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, who together host vendors during the rally, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended introducing a licensing fee to Town Meeting in March. Town Meeting endorsed the recommendation and authorized the select board to adopt the ordinance.
Mirroring the precedent of Laconia, the ordinance would require all itinerant vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450, and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation. The licensing fee will first be charged in 2017.
The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that in 2015 expenses were $18,017, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
When selectmen proposed imposing a licensing fee last winter Anne Deli, the owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson, repeatedly warned against it, believing a fee will deter vendors from operating at the rally. When the licensing fee was first proposed, she asked "Does Meredith rally want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"
Likewise, Russ Hart of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant told the board the proposal was "not welcoming" and said "we don't need anything to diminish Motorcycle Week."

At the 4-H Fair - Kids and animals hold spotlight at annual Belknap County 4-H Fair (672 w/cuts)


BELMONT — Animals and the children showing them held the spotlight at the 73rd annual Belknap County 4-H Fair, held over the weekend at the former Royal Smith Farm on Mile Hill Road, which was once a dairy farm with 240 head of milking cows.
The fair continues to focus on the things that it does well by maintaining its agricultural roots, said Fran Wendelboe, fair chairman, who took over leadership of the fair five years ago after a period of declining attendance amidst an effort to turn it into a three-day affair, which included carnival rides.
"We've always been a small fair focused on kids and agriculture, and that's what we continue to be. We had pony rides and lots of entertainment, but the focus has always be on a things like the steer-pulling competitions, goat and sheep and dog shows, as well other animals raised by the children,'' said Wendelboe.
She said threatening skies on Saturday and high heat and humidity on Sunday cut down on this year's attendance, but that those who did show up had a good time and enjoyed themselves.
Among those taking part in the steer-handling competition Sunday was Mason Farmer, 10, of Alexandria, who was showing his 5-month-old Brown Swiss team, Wes and Lou. It was his fourth time showing in 4-H competitions and he said he's learned a lot from them.
Also putting in time in the show ring was 16-year-old Emily Emmalee of Barnstead, who had her miniature horse Ultra in the horse show ring.
She said her horse stays with her grandfather, John Cotton, in Barnstead, along with with four other miniatures that her family owns.
"We're only 10 minutes away from the miniature horse farm in town, which is where we got them,'' she said. "They're lots of fun and people really like them because they're so gentle."
The fair got its start in 1943 as a dairy fitting and showmanship competition at Lombardy Farm on Parade Road in Laconia during World War II. Interest in the fair, sparked by Lillian Walker, owner of the farm, grew rapidly and it was later moved to Opechee Park in Laconia, where it was billed as the 4-H Food for Victory Fair.
At the first fair, War Bonds were sold to buy bombs for the war effort and the drive was so successful that the following year the goal of raising bonds to buy an Army training aircraft was established.
The War Bond fund drive went statewide and by the time the fair was held in 1944 enough money had been raised to buy nine training aircraft.
Following the war, the fair moved to the Belknap County Recreation Area, returning to Opechee Park in 1950, where it was held until it moved to the former Royal Smith Farm on Mile Hill Road in 1977.


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Emily Emmalee, 16, of Barnstead, shows Ultra, a mini-horse, in the horse show ring at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Studio Two, A Beatles Tribute Band, performs at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Ella Poire and Hannah Baker of Belmont show their Hampshire sheep at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Jeff Keyser of Ramblin' Vewe Farm in Gilford gave a demonstration of sheep shearing at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)


Gunstock Mountain Coaster heralded as big boost for Lakes Region tourism


GILFORD — The $2.6 million Gunstock Mountain Coaster was hailed as a major boost for Lakes Region tourism at an opening ceremony for the resort's newest attraction Saturday morning,
John Morgenstern, chairman of the five-member Gunstock Area Commission, which oversees the operation of the county-owned recreation area, said "We are celebrating taking another step in the growth of Gunstock into an outstanding multi-season recreation area. We are not only helping the economy with jobs, we are also enhancing the tourist economy on which the county depends. Gunstock is both a recreation area for its citizens, but also an economic engine for the area. We intend to keep it that way and to continue enhancing it."
Morgenstern said it was evident 10 years ago that Gunstock needed to add attractions which are not dependent on snow in order to remain viable, and that since that time it has added attractions "that make it a true summer tourist attraction as well as a summer recreation area for the citizens of the county."
He said that the process started with the Zip Line and Adventure Park as well as smaller attractions added several years ago. "Two years ago, we embarked on planning for the Mountain Coaster. And now it is here and I can tell you, having ridden it twice, it is spectacular ....and a lot of fun."
"This is fantastic. What a thrilling ride. It will really put us on the map when it comes to attracting more visitors," said Rep. Peter Spanos (R-Laconia), who was one of the first to take a ride on the mountain coaster following the brief opening ceremony.
Morgenstern thanked the Belknap County Delegation for its support of the project and said that Gunstock management and the contractor for the project, Wiegand Sports LLC, had done outstanding work.
Goddard said that it was ''all-hands-on-deck effort, seven days a week, 12 hours a day" to get the ride installed, and that more than 30 contractors and 70 Gunstock employees were involved in the effort. He gave an emotional thanks to all of the Gunstock staff for their work on the project.
Riders board the coaster carts at the terminal building at the foot of the hill next to Gunstock's Adventure Park. They then take a 1,800-foot ride up the mountain along a path through the woods in which they ride 20 to 30 feet off the ground in some areas before heading onto the 2,660-foot downhill track, which makes two complete circles, known as helixes, and has several sharp turns and crosses five bridges.
The downhill ride has a vertical drop of 221 feet and speeds will reach 25 mph. Riders use a brake to control their speed and there is also an automatic anti-collision system built in which slows the carts automatically. There are 40 cars, and rides last six to eight minutes.

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Gunstock Mountain Resort General Manager Gregg Goddard speaks at the opening ceremony for the resort's mountain coaster Saturday. Next to him is John Morgenstern, chairman of the Gunstock Area Commission. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gunstock Mountain Resort General Manager Gregg Goddard takes a ride on the resort's mountain coaster with Gunny, the Gunstock Mountain Resort mascot. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)