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Free tennis lessons offered to Lakes Region children

LACONIA — For three years in Laconia and two in Franklin, the Lakes Region Tennis Association has been bringing free tennis lessons to children with an interest in learning.

This year, assisted by some key local sponsors like MB Tractor and Grappone Auto Group, and a $10,000 grant from the United States Tennis Association, the program is expanding to Gilford, Tilton and Meredith.

"I wanted to start giving back," said founder Robert Ronstadt, who not only coaches but coordinates all of the other volunteer coaches. "Tennis has given me so much in my life. It's such a wonderful game that can be played one's whole life."

The LRTA program employs a reasonably new way of teaching tennis by providing smaller children with smaller racquets and, in some cases, larger and lower-compression tennis balls. Ronstadt said that with some of the smaller children they use pop-up nets and smaller courts to help perfect their strokes.

He said the new way of teaching tennis to very young people began in Europe and was quickly adopted in the United States.

One of its key benefits, said Ronstadt, is that by working with the Laconia Boys and Girls Club, tennis can be taught year-round to younger people by setting up the pop-up nets inside the gymnasium.

"This program has grown far faster than we thought it would," said Ronstadt, thanking Tim James, a Laconia resident and president of the LRTA who personally donated $10,000 to the program and who is one of the volunteer coaches.

Ronstadt said that the program has grown so fast that its needs volunteers to help with the coaching. He encouraged any high school or college tennis players who happen to be in the Lakes Region for the summer to contact any of the parks and recreation departments for more information on how they could assist the program.

He said individual parks and recreation departments have tennis programs but they charge for them. Because of the LRTA grants and area fundraising, all parents need to provide for their children is a pair of sneakers.

Although there are only five sets of tennis courts in the area, children from Belmont, Alton and Gilmanton can play in either Laconia, Gilford or Tilton, while children from Center Harbor, New Hampton and Sanbornton can play in either Laconia or Tilton.

In Laconia, the courts are at Memorial Field, the Tilton School is letting the program use their courts for Tilton's program, the Meredith tennis courts are at Prescott Park, the Gilford tennis courts are in Gilford Village, and Franklin's tennis courts are in Odell Park.

Parents of interested children are asked to call the parks and recreation department where their child wants to play.


The Lakes Region Tennis Association is underwriting free tennis lessons this summer in Franklin, Gilford, Laconia, Meredith, and Tilton for a limited number of children and adults. Participants from adjoining towns can also enroll if space permits. Call your local Parks & Rec Department to sign up today. Numbers and locations are listed below.
Each program meets twice a week, beginning the week of June 27 and runs through Aug. 8.

• Franklin Parks & Rec, Krystal Alpers    934-2118    Odell Park at 5 and 6 p.m.
• Sanbornton – call Franklin Recreation    934-2118    Odell Park
• Gilford Parks & Rec, Herb Greene    527-4722    Town Courts at 5 and 6 p.m.
• Alton – call Gilford Parks & Rec    527-4722    Town Courts
• Laconia Parks & Rec, Amy Lovisek    524-5046    Memorial Park at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
• Belmont, Gilmanton – call Laconia    520-0447    Memorial Park
• Meredith Parks & Rec, Vince Choiniere    279-8197    Town Courts at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
• New Hampton, call Meredith    279-8197    Town Courts
• Tilton Northfield Recreation    286-8653    Tilton School  at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

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Children warm up for a lesson last year. (Courtesy photo)

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Pop-up nets make it easy to set up games for children. (Courtesy Photo)


See what's new – and old – to go boating this summer


Boats, water toys, music and food await visitors at the Naswa Resort’s Naz Aqua Mania this weekend.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)



LACONIA — With summer boating season officially underway, aficionados of the afloat might be wondering what's new in the boating world this year. For them, the place to be this weekend is the 2nd Annual Aquamania in-water boat show to be held this weekend at the Naswa Resort.

Looking for something a little more time-tested? Then head to Wolfeboro, which will be hosting an antique boat show on Saturday, and where the New Hampshire Boat Museum will open its doors to its collection and three exhibits on both Saturday and Sunday.

Cynthia Makris, the third generation of her family to operate the Naswa, said the idea for the boat show started last winter with an idea that she shared with Jeffrey Levitan of Mix 94.1, and Kevin Keenan of Paugus Bay Marina. The idea was to jump-start summer with an event in early June that combined fresh air, new boats and beach-side service at the resort's NazBar.

"We just wanted to get people excited about boating on Lake Winnipesaukee," she said. Four marinas agreed to participate, as well as a few other related businesses, who each brought a selection of their newest products. Meanwhile, people were able to walk along the docks to see the boats in the water, then retire to the bar for a drink and a bite to eat while they talked about things that interest them.

"It was such an easy way for people to come and look at boats," Makris said. Marina partners said they were able to meet customers that wouldn't otherwise have come into their showroom, while prospective boat shoppers were happy to survey the latest offerings without any sales pressure.

The Aquamania boat show will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on each day. Mix 94.1 will be broadcasting live on both days, and giving away a five-night trip to Las Vegas.

Kory Keenan, sales manager at Paugus Bay Marina, said that the boat show offers the ability to display new product to local customers, while surrounded by beautiful scenery.

He'll be bringing boats made by Avalon Pontoon and Bryant, but the one he's most excited about is the Formula 330 CBR, a 33-foot boat that he said is a perfect fit for the local lakes.

"It works well for Winnipesaukee," he said, noting that it's a manageable size, yet can comfortably seat 15 passengers. "It's a big open bowrider. It takes a lot of people," he said, useful for when guests arrive for their first Winni experience.

At HK Powersports, manager Lisa Meeken said she had to jump on the opportunity to bring some of her new watercraft to the boat show. Most of her watercraft customers also own a boat, and a watercraft is a smaller purchase for them. She's planning to bring their most powerful personal watercraft, the new Sea Doo GTX Limited, which costs $15,999 and packs a punch with 300 horsepower.

At the other end of the spectrum, she will also be bringing Sea Doo's Spark, an entry-level craft that sells for less than half of the GTX Limited.

"A lot of our customers frequent the Naswa, anyway. You could make an afternoon out of it," said Meeken.

In addition to powercraft, a vendor will also be on hand to display water toys and human-powered vessels, such as Stand Up Paddleboards.

Now in its second year, Makris was glad to see the event growing.

"I'm glad that it really took off," she said. "People love the lake, whether you have a boat or not, you are enjoying the lake."


Some new old boats

While the season's newest offerings are on display at the Naswa, boats from years past will be available for viewing in Wolfeboro. Antique boats will be on display at the town docks beginning at 9 a.m., as part of the New England Lyman Group boat show.

And on the other side of Back Bay, on Center Street, the New Hampshire Boat Museum has begun its season, and has three exhibits this year. Those exhibits include a 1920s stern-steer ice boat – "It's handmade, it's wood, and it's huge," said executive director Lisa Lutts – a small exhibit on McDuff engines, which were manufactured in Lakeport, and an exhibit of covers for MotorBoating Magazine.

The exhibited magazine covers stretch from 1915 to 1935, a time period well before digital graphic design. Lutts said, "Back then, you would pay someone to paint your covers." The covers feature what were the new boats of the time, portrayed in the manner that boats were used in that era.

Also available for viewing are the museum's collection of antique and classic boats. Lutts said one of the most popular boats in the collection is a 1959 Century Coronado. It's a boat that many visitors remember plying the lake of their youth, and even those who don't have such memories are struck by its presence.

"It's huge. It's a monster boat," she said. Like many other boats of its era, it was designed to appear like a car, especially its cabin. "It's a very fine boat," she said.

If looking at old boats isn't enough, the Boat Museum also offers 45-minute narrated tours of Lake Winnipesaukee aboard the "Millie B," a restored Hackercraft. Lutts recommended reserving a spot on the boat ahead of time, as space is limited. For more information, visit or call 603-569-4554.

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The New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro will have an exhibit of old boats and a series of historic covers from Motor Boating magazine on display this weekend. (Courtesy graphic/New Hampshire Boat Museum)

LaconiaFest 'on target' to join Motorcycle Week



LACONIA — The head promoter of LaconiaFest said that the nine-day music festival is on pace to open on June 11 and become the newest addition to the list of annual events associated with Laconia Motorcycle Week.
“Everything’s running right on target, right on schedule, very smoothly,” said Laurie DiGiovanni, who added that tickets are still available for each of the dates, which will feature several acts performing each day, in addition to other forms of entertainment.
Festival preparations are currently in the “build-out” phase, according to DiGiovanni, which includes the construction of the stage on the grounds of the Weirs Drive-In Theater, as well as the building of the “VIP Tower,” available to festival goers who purchase premium tickets.
“Ticket sales have been solid,” DiGiovanni said, especially VIP ticket sales. She added that, since Memorial Day, the festival has offered on-site ticket sales for those who prefer to buy their concert pass in person.
“We underestimated the fact that not everyone has internet,” she said. To encourage sales over the internet, the LaconiaFest website is currently offering a 20 percent discount for online sales.
Ticket buyers have been “from all over the place,” said DiGiovanni. Most are bought by Laconia residents, though they have also been sold to patrons from Boston, Maine, Vermont and Montreal.
The most popular dates so far are for June 15 and June 17, when Steven Tyler and Ted Nugent are scheduled to headline.
She said the festival has secured “ample parking” in a field near the festival site, available for an additional fee.
Those who purchase tickets for individual dates for Laconia-Fest will be given a wristband that will allow day-long access to the festival village, which will be open from noon each day and will close at 1 a.m. In addition to music, the festival is bringing in paintball, freestyle motocross by Keith Sayers and Friends, and burnout demonstrations.
“People are really going to be blown away by Keith Sayer,” she said, adding that his performances are “really over the top.”
Laconia Police Capt. Matt Canfield said he has been working with LaconiaFest organizers to provide additional police presence to assure the safety of the event, which has a daily capacity of 30,000.
“We’ve been working with the promoter right from the beginning on this thing – as far as security concerns, the promoter and venue owner have bent over backwards to work with us,” Canfield said. The cost of the added police details will be covered by the promoter, he said.
“They’ve done their due diligence by working with us to make it as safe as can be,” he said.
Canfield added that he hoped the event would become an annual boost to Laconia Motorcycle Week. “I’m kind of excited about the whole event, I think it’s going to bring some new people to the event,” he said.
“There’s a lot of anticipation” for LaconiaFest, said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week, adding that he expects many people already in The Weirs for the annual motorcycle rally will buy a pass.
“LaconiaFest is looking forward to being part of Laconia Motorcycle Week,” said DiGiovanni.
For ticket information, go to