Display of antique gowns & dresses to add to attraction of Sunday's fashion show to benefit Beklnap Mill Society

LACONIA — On Sunday afternoon, at the "Fashion & Flair" show at the Belknap Mill, ticket holders are already looking forward to seeing the latest styles available at the Tanger Outlet stores. What they don't know is that they will also be treated to the very rare opportunity to see some of the the extensive collection of antique gowns and dresses in the collection of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society.

The dresses were given to the Historical and Museum Society by the Lakeport Women's Club. Pam Clark, of the society, said that the collection features wedding dresses and evening gowns from as far back as the mid-19th Century, many of which have notes saying who the dress belonged to.

Tara Shore, operations manager at The Belknap Mill, was working with Clark on Friday to select a half-dozen dresses to display for a Sunday-only pop-up exhibit to coincide with the fashion show. Clark, who has a quarter-century of experience with the Historical and Museum Society, said she can only recall one other instance when the dresses were displayed.

"We're giving a sense of fashions of the past for our current fashion show," said Shore, who was grateful that the Historical and Museum Society was willing to lend the dresses for the brief exhibition. Looking at one of the dresses, she said, "Someone wore this at one point, they were more than likely local people... There's a story here somewhere."

The Belknap Mill will be open for the Fashion & Flair show from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to fashions, both old and new, the event will feature live music performed by Jonathan Lorentz, hors d' oeuvres by Annie's Café and Catering, cash bar operated by Contigiani's Catering, and Pat Kelly will be the master of ceremonies.

General admission tickets for the event cost $35 and are available at or at the door.


CAPTION for 05 20 Antique Dress in MAY folder

Pam Clark, of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, prepares to display a wedding dress from 1851. The Belknap Mill will be hosting a pop-up exhibit featuring six of the Historical and Museum Society's collection of antique dresses during its "Fashion & Flair" show on Sunday afternoon. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

WOW Trail advocates have lawyers, too

Both sides lawyer up in WOW Trail debate


LACONIA — Both sides in the debate over whether a public recreation trail should be built adjacent to two private, gated communities said Friday they have retained legal counsel in case the issue ends up in court.

At issue is a proposed 5-mile extension of the Winnisquam-Opechee-Winnipesaukee (WOW) Trail in a state-owned railroad right-of-way that skirts Paugus Bay and the communities of South Down Shores and Long Bay.

Some residents fear the trail would cause them to lose privacy. They also worry that some trail users might trespass or engage in crime.

Gretchen Gandini, executive director of the nonprofit organization supporting the extension, released a statement Friday saying attorneys William Philpot Jr. and Samantha M. Jewett have been retained.

"While we regret having to take this step, we understand the reality before us," she said. "We look forward to the trail's continued expansion with a spirit of cooperation, but recognize that we must be prepared for the alternative."

She said she hopes a court fight isn't necessary.

"There's still lots of room for conversation," Gandini said. "I'm hopeful. We have lots of good friends in South Down and Long Bay."

Bruce D. Miller, president of the South Down Shores homeowners association, said his group also has obtained the services of attorneys. He said litigation would be necessary if an alternate route for the trail is not found.

"We would be delighted to talk to them about an alternate route," he said.

Backers of the extension expect to propose their plans to the city within a few months. The City Council could ultimately ask the state for permission to use the rail corridor to extend the trail.

Trail backers say the railroad right of way, which offers unobstructed views of the bay, is the best route.

A scenic railways uses the tracks in the tourist season through a lease with the state Bureau of Rails. Unused or little-used rail corridors have been used for biking, walking and running paths across the country.

Proponents say crime is not a problem on the existing section of the trail, and wouldn't be a problem on the extension.

The 10-foot-wide trail now runs from the Belmont town line to Elm Street in the Lakeport area of Laconia. In addition to the proposed extension to Weirs Beach, proponents hope to ultimately build a section that would take it all the way in to Meredith.

Pre-prom activities emphasize making good choices

Pre-prom activities emphasize making good choices



BELMONT — “We care about you” was the overall message of the day as Belmont High School played host to a series of presentations emphasizing the need to make good choices.

Coming just a day before prom night, safe driving was a major emphasis yesterday, with Virginia Fuller of Exeter relating the story of daughter Chelsea’s death in September 2010, which she said might have been prevented if Chelsea had been wearing a seat belt.

Many school districts in recent years have taken measures to make sure students remain safe before and after proms, ranging from simulated crash scenes to after-prom parties where the focus is on movies or games as an alternative to parties where drinking or drugs might be present. Parents of Inter-Lakes students, for example, hold an after-prom party at the Meredith Community Center.

In Gilford, the high school uses its live broadcasts to issue messages about making positive choices while enjoying prom, graduation, and other year-end activities.

“We also send a personal message to the students through email,” said Principal Anthony Sperazzo. “A joint message from Gilford Together (a community group seeking to prevent substance misuse) and the Police Department also went home to all parents.”

This year, Belmont High School teamed up with the injury prevention team at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and developed a full-day series of presentations that included Fuller’s talk, as well as a discussion of safe driving by 24-year-old Nascar driver Melissa Fifield of Wakefield. There also were hands-on activities, such as virtual goggles and simulated driving, a mobile command unit, and golf cart driving.

During lunch, students had an opportunity to visit the After the Crash Career Fair with tables providing information on employment challenges and counseling, as well as a chance to speak with paramedics, police, sporting groups, and more.

Fuller, in a live talk and a video safety message, spoke of how Chelsea’s death had changed her family’s life and told the Belmont students, “Had she been buckled in, this wouldn’t have happened. Parents worry about these things for a good reason.”

She cited statistics showing that 74 percent of the fatalities from automobile crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

In Chelsea’s case, the 17-year-old was going out with two friends when the car she was driving hit a sign near the Amesbury exit on Interstate 496 in Massachusetts and flipped over, becoming airborne and sending Chelsea over the steering wheel. Another passenger, Chantay O’Brien, 20, of Fremont, sustained injuries that included impaired sight.

“I was working and got the phone call,” Virginia Fuller said. She was so shaken, she asked for a police escort to the hospital, but was unable to get one.  It was a long drive, and devastating.

“Life is so different for me and the family,” she said. They had to refocus on those who remained.

“I can only hope you make good choices when you get (behind the wheel) and buckle up,” she said.

Later in the afternoon, students heard from Fifield, who has been a Nascar driver for four years and has been named Most Popular Driver three times. Having been racing for half of her 24 years, her message was “dreams can become reality” with the additional caveat that, to do so, one has to make good choices.

“The race track is safer than being on the road,” she said during an interview prior to the start of activities. “The safety equipment in a race car differs from a regular car’s safety features. When I get behind the wheel of a regular car, I make sure to buckle up.”

Fifield had early lessons in the dangers of driving from her father, Wakefield Police Chief Ken Fifield.

“I’ve been a cop for 28 years,” the chief said. “Melissa grew up in a cop’s family.” As a result, he said, she would hear stories of the terrible fatalities and injuries he had to deal with. “Some of that stuff you bring home,” he said.

“Melissa wanted to pursue safety in her way. She didn’t want to be a cop, and I didn’t want her to be one,” he said.

Melissa said she has wanted to race since she was 5, and started with go-cart races. Her racing career began when she was 12, and she went on to a national tour in the Allison Legacy Series before going on Modified regional tours and getting on the Nascar circuit.

While racing, she has been an advocate of making good choices and avoiding distractions and impairment. She recently signed a contract with the state to act as a spokesperson for the Click It Or Ticket campaign.

Chief Fifield said he is pleased with the Belmont program using the term “crash” rather than “accident” because “Most crashes are preventable. They’re not accidents; they’re crashes you cause.”

“Life’s too important to throw it away on a stupid decision,” he said.

Participating in the pre-prom career fair yesterday were LRGHealthcare; the state Department of Corrections; Riverbend Choices; Young Living Essential Oils and Whole Health of Concord; Grace Wellness Center; Align Physical Therapy; Pike Industries (safety equipment); Highland Mountain Bike Park; Apache Camping (rock climbing); and the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department.