Muskrats sold, new GM named

LACONIA — The father and son partnership of Jonathan and Noah Crane that brought the Laconia Muskrats to Robbie Mills Field have sold their franchise in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) to a trio of businessmen from Portsmouth — Ira Blumenthal, Todd Hewett and Andy Minckler. However, the Muskrats will remain in Laconia and Kristian Svindland, a longtime resident and business owner, will succeed Noah Crane as its general manager with responsibility for day-to-day operations.

Svinland joined Jeff Morin to form HRO Plus, a successful human resources outsourcing firm in 2004, played baseball at the Laconia High School and is a Red Sox season ticket holder. He said yesterday that he joined the board of directors of the Muskrats in 2014 and has hosted players for the past two seasons. He stressed that the new owners are committed to building a successful franchise in Laconia and chose a local resident as general manager to ensure that the team strengthens and sustains its relationship with the city and Lakes Region community.

Svindland said that his top priority will be to increase attendance, which has lagged behind that of most other teams in the NECB. He intends to seek more sponsors from among the relationships he has formed in the local business community. He also plans to engage the players in the life of the community, particularly the schools, by engaging in community service. And he has worked with the Tilton Sports Center to field a team of young players known as the "Junior Muskrats."

Svindland said that one of the first goals of the new owners will be to complete construction of the deck atop the wall in left field before winter. He noted that the NECBL this year voted Robbie Mills Field the best playing surface in the league, confirming what players around the league have known for years. "It is a tribute to Kevin Dunleavy and his staff at Parks and Recreation," he said.

In a prepared statement, Svindland said "this is a dream come true me. I love baseball and the city of Laconia." He confessed that is embarking on :"a big learning curve," but added that he has made a quick start. With Noah Crane lending a hand, the roster for the 2016 team is nearly complete. Likewise, with crane's help he has begun building on the relationships with the colleges and coaches whose players have stocked the rosters during the first six seasons.

"It has been a wonderful six years," said Crane. "We did some good things." He said that a number of players graduated to play professional baseball and several interns with the team find themselves working in professional baseball.

Acknowledging that attendance never met his expectations, Crane said he is confident the new ownership and management "will push the franchise to heights I couldn't get it to." He said players returned to their schools "with only positive things to say about the team, the league and the city," which will enable the franchise to draw the talent required to succeed.

Svindland is equally confident. "Laconia can do this," he insisted.

Sandwich Fair Marks 105th Year

SANDWICH — The Sandwich Fair, which celebrates its 105th season this year, has become a Columbus Day weekend tradition which annually attracts close to 40,000 people.
Held during the peak of the fall foliage season, the event is a classic New England fair, with a midway, carnival concessions and rides. And there's always lots of food, ranging from fried dough and giant donuts to buffalo burgers and sausage grinders with peppers and onions,
But the heart of the fair is still agricultural with two-thirds of the space at the fairgrounds taken up by agricultural exhibits. And a lot of attention is paid to young exhibitors who are showing their farm animals and having them judged. Every day there is a hand milking demonstration and a children's pedal tractor competition.
The fair gets underway at 8 a.m. Saturday with a variety of events, including an antique auto show, demonstrations and exhibits and an antique auto parade at 1 p.m.
Sunday will see the Grand Street Parade at 1 p.m. as well as horse competitions and a woodsmen's field day.
It cost $10 for adults, and $3 for youth ages 8 to 12. Monday is Senior Day with admission $4 for those 60 and older.
There are also two new events at the fair, both of which take place on Monday, a gentleman's keg toss and a pickup truck pull. Monday is also the day the popular women's skillet toss event will be held and there will be 4-H beef, horse, sheep, working steer and swine competitions.
Art Harriman returns to the stage all three days and the Don Campbell Band plays on Saturday and Annie and the Orphans on Sunday. There will also be performances by Alex the Jester, Jo Howard, magician and sword swallower and mentalist Roderick Russell.
The Sandwich Fair started out as an agricultural event that local farmers hoped would turn into an annual market day where they could trade and sell their cattle. Records show that in 1886, area farmers exhibited 184 yoke of oxen at the fair.
In August of 1887 it was decided that the fair would be held on October 11th and that a band would be hired and a baby contest considered. Judges were appointed for the various categories and a prize list was announced. The fair was held as planned, with 3,000-4,000 in attendance.
During the summer of 1888 a plan for a fair in October was formulated. A committee to nominate a slate of permanent officers was appointed and J. Edwin Beede was elected president. Fancy work, curiosities and antiques, flowers and plants were again shown in the G.A.R. hall. A baby contest for the prettiest, heaviest and best dressed (under the age of two) was planned. For the first time there was a printed program of events. That year the weather was miserable with snow and only a small number of people attended.
A 1893 report from the "Sandwich Reporter" states regretfully that all the prizes in the baby show which was held in Mrs. A.E.R. Beede's hall were won by Moultonborough babies. It was also reported that the traffic was heavy and that Wilfred Plummer was run over by a horse driven by Eugene Wright and suffered a fractured arm. It was estimated that 3,000 people attended the fair and very little drunkenness was reported and all of those drunk were from out of town.
At the 1894 fair, one of the unusual exhibits recorded for display was a large American Eagle and the fox; shown by Dr. J. Alonzo Greene of Roxmount Poultry Farm on Long Island, Moultonborough.
For many years the fair was held in a grove with exhibits scattered around town and that changed in 1937 when it moved to Quimby Field, its present location. By 1980 the fair was running one and a half days with a parade on Sunday and the fairgrounds open Sunday afternoon and Monday.
According to records kept by fair organizers, Sunday, October 12, 1986 was a delightful sunny day, and as always the parade was much enjoyed. Monday was cloudy, but the rain held off until late afternoon. This year there was an all new midway, and the stage shows featured bluegrass and popular music from the 1950s and 60s. Poultry from local breeders were shown, but out of state poultry was still banned. Due to a poor growing season and early frosts there was a scarcity of fresh flowers at the flower show.
It was a nasty, cold Sunday in 1987, but the parade went on despite snow, sleet and mist. A new horse pulling ring and horse logging area were constructed and the old ring was used for judging dairy and beef cattle. There were less canned foods than in previous years; freezing has become more popular. David Dodson, a singer, songwriter from Maine performed on the stage.
The first three-day Fair was held on October 8, 9, and 10 1988. Good weather held for all three days. Stuart Heard led the parade on horseback, and a group of riders on antique bicycles were part of the parade.

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At Shooter’s, Christie tells crowd ‘I know in my heart I can do this’

BELMONT — Chris Christie, the burly, plain spoken governor of New Jersey seeking the Republican presidential nomination, easily made himself at home before a full house at Shooter's Tavern last evening.

"Two things off the top," Christie began, "then I'll take your questions." He proceeded to a harsh critique of the Obama Administration's foreign policy, charging that the turmoil in the Middle East is "on the hands of the President of the United States." Insisting that America is "not just another country," he said that it must provide leadership. "He's been timid," he said of Obama, stressing that "true strength and resolve brings peace to the world."

Then Christie turned his scorn on Congress. He likened the chaos among Republicans over choosing a Speaker of the House to the "Game of Thrones" and chastised the Republican majority for failing to send bills to the president's desk reforming the tax code, repealing Obamacare and defending Planned Parenthood. Conceding they would be vetoed, he said that the vetoes would show voters the difference between a Republican and Democratic presidency. "I worked for some of these guys," he said, recalling his role in congressional campaigns, "and I'm disappointed. We're angry. We've had enough."

Christie said that only the executive, a governor or the president, — not the legislature — can make things happen and touted his record in New Jersey, where as a Republican governor he squared off against a Democratic legislature for six years. His 52 vetoes, he said, were the most of any governor, and all were sustained. "We compromised," he said. "It isn't capitulation. It's compromise. It's time, " he continued, "to send a president to Washington who's done this before."

Inviting questions, Christie asked only that people raise their hands, explaining that he would not reply to questions shouted at him, since as the father of four children " I have a finely honed sense of not responding to being yelled at."

Asked what distinguished him in the field of GOP candidates, Christie pointed to his record in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 750,000. "I'm more tested than the others," he claimed. He said he was urged to run for president four years ago, but "I looked in the mirror and knew I wasn't ready. I know I'm ready now. I know in my heart I can do this."

During his first days in office, Christie said he would rescind all executive orders issued by Obama and fire every employee he appointed. He would also invite the leaders of Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Israel to Washington "to restore our friendships."

Next he would propose a tax reform that would have three brackets — 28-percent , 15-percent and 8-percent — and eliminate all deductions other than those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. "The tax system is rigged for the rich," he said, claiming his plan would enable people to keep more of their money and enable him to shrink the IRS. At the same time, he would freeze all regulation for 90 days while eliminating the most onerous and least necessary.

Finally Christie said he would tackle Social Security by raising the retirement age by two years over 25 years and denying benefits to those with retirement income of more than $200,000. He said when Mark Zuckerburg asked him "what does that mean for me," he told him bluntly "you get nothing. The government lied and stole from you for years to pay for insurance you don't need."

Christie said flatly that the only way to reduce the national debt, which has grown to $19 trillion, is to cut government spending and expand the economy. He quipped that Mike Huckabee, one his rivals in the primary field, suggested taxing "pimps and prostitutes" then remarked ""I don't have a problem with pimps and prostitutes paying their fair share, but unless I'm missing something I don't think there are enough of them to retire the debt."

Perhaps more than any other candidate in the field Christie shines in town hall settings, readily fielding questions and lacing his responses with a mix of candor and wit. Whether as his campaign claims "he tells it like it is" is a matter of political persuasion, but this guy who looks like a home plate umpire in a blue suit definitely calls 'em as he sees 'em.