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March tee time – Simulators busy with golf tournaments this winter

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Dr. Paul Racicot, president of medical staff at LRGHealthcare; The Golf Club at Patrick's Place Manager Dan Wilkins, and Maureen Wilkins, manager of donor relations at LRGHealthcare, are offering a tournament through the month of March to benefit a planned renovation of the LRGH Emergency Department. It will be the third charity tournament hosted by the indoor, simulated golf facility this winter. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links, bathed in California sunshine and lapped by the Pacific Ocean, seems like another world when compared to New Hampshire's February landscape. But, thanks to the three sophisticated simulators at The Golf Club at Patrick's Place, teams of four will be able to experience the closest thing to Pebble Beach without buying a plane ticket. The simulated, indoor golf tournament is now the third fund raising tournament this winter to be held at The Golf Club at Patrick's Place.

Dan Wilkins, club manager at The Golf Club, said the facility opened four years ago, occupying a second-floor space above Patrick's Pub and Eatery. The club held its first fund raising tournament last winter, for the Laconia Rotary Club. It went well enough that the Rotary Club held the event again this year, as well as a fund raiser for a Pub Mania team, which in turn donated its proceeds to the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction in December. The Pebble Beach tournament, held during the month of March, will benefit a planned renovation of the Emergency Department at Lakes Region General Hospital.

Why an indoor golf tournament? There are several reasons beyond the obvious, that it allows players to golf when there's a foot of snow covering local courses. The indoor tournaments are convenient, because they allow a foursome to play any time they choose within a given time frame, while conventional tournaments are played on a single day. Simulated tournaments make it possible for players to try out some of the world's most prestigious courses, such as Pebble Beach, for a fraction of the cost of the real thing. And then there's the social angle – because of the more laid-back atmosphere, and with only the other members of one's team watching, beginner or casual golfers feel more comfortable in a simulator than they would teeing off in front of a large crowd.

The trio of simulators at The Golf Club at Patrick's Place are made by aboutGOLF, a brand endorsed by the PGA Tour. Players stand inside of a three-sided booth, looking at a 15-foot screen showing the hole they're playing. They strike the ball into the screen, while a high-speed camera above and slightly behind them records the velocity, trajectory and spin of the ball, then shows the ball traveling down the course and, the player hopes, toward the fairway or green.

"It knows everything about that ball," said Wilkins. "This can be just as frustrating indoors as outdoors, the good thing is that you don't lose any balls."

Wilkins said that The Golf Club, over the course of a month, can accommodate as many golfers as could a conventional tournament held on one day. Four-person teams will pay $160 to participate in the Pebble Beach.

Maureen Wilkins, Dan's wife and manager of donor relations at LRGHealthcare, said proceeds from the event will further the campaign to give Lakes Region General Hospital's Emergency Department a much-needed overhaul. "The hospital has gotten on sound financial footing, they're looking at the services they need to improve."

The plans for the renovation are still being finalized, but Dr. Paul Racicot, president of medical staff, said medical practices have changed since the last time there was a renovation to the Emergency Department, which, during the summer season, is the second-busiest department of its kind in the state.

"In my eyes, it's the front door of the hospital. It's a new era for infectious disease," Racicot said. The old way of managing patients, by keeping them all in a large room, separated by curtains, has been left by the wayside. In its place is a philosophy that every patient should have a private room, and that different services should be segregated into different pods, so that a child with a cut on her finger doesn't have to be treated in the same space as someone suffering from a psychotic crisis.

"For all hospitals, profitability is razor-thin, if at all, so projects like these are going to have to come through philanthropy," said Racicot.

Maureen Wilkins said that teams will be playing for prizes such as dinner for eight at The Local Eatery, the prize for the Open Division, while teams in the Senior Division will be competing for a foursome of golf at the Laconia Country Club. There will also be Closest to the Pin prizes for each of the holes, and raffle prizes.

To sign up for the tournament, contact Dan Wilkins at 603-387-2597.

 

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Dr. Paul Racicot attempts to find the green on a simulated version of Pebble Beach's famed seventh hole at The Golf Club at Patrick's Place. The indoor golf simulators use high-speed cameras to read the speed, trajectory and spin of each shot, then project how the ball would travel down the course. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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Get your nerd on at White Mountain Comicon

PLYMOUTH — Remember what it was like to hold a brand-new comic book in your hands, see a familiar character on the cover, and turn the pages to see what adventure was held within? If so, you're not alone. Now that that children of the comic book era have children, or grandchildren, of their own, a new golden age of comic books has dawned. Celebrating the comic renaissance, the inaugural White Mountain Comicon, a convention of sorts for fans of comic books and related movies and televisions shows, will be held on Feb. 25 and 26 at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth.

A comicon is a gathering of people who create comic books, people who market comic books and related collectibles, and fans of the books, movies and TV shows from the genre. While they have become hugely popular in other parts of the country, including southern New England, the White Mountain Comicon is only the second such event in New Hampshire, and it is the brainchild of Tom Lord.

Lord has been a long-time fan of comic books, though it was only recently that he turned his past-time into an occupation. About a year ago, he opened White Mountain Comics, at 607 Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth, after leaving a career as a heavy equipment operator and four-by-four event organizer. A father of five, he shared his love of comic books and their culture with his children. He noticed the number of people interested in comic book culture increase several years ago, propelled by big-budget action movies based on comic book characters.

"I've always been a collector of comic books, my kids started getting in comicons five, six years ago. Once the movies started hitting, it started getting more popular. So, we decided to try it." Lord said the idea to start a comicon was suggested by his daughter, and he opened his comic book store about a year ago to gauge the local interest in comics. Business has been "very good," he said, and so he felt the time was right to organize his firs 'con. 

White Mountain Comicon will include vendors offering comics, collectibles and games, a magician who performs a pop culture-themed show, celebrity guests such as actors from a Star Wars movie and Walking Dead shows, artists of well-known comic book titles as well as creators of indepedently-produced and published titles.

And then there will be people engaging in Cosplay – fans of comic book or movie characters who assemble their own, sometimes remarkably identical, costumes of the character, and even behave as that character at the convention. Cosplay blurs the line between performer and audience, as particularly convincing cosplayers will often be stopped by strangers and asked to be part of a photo.

"You become part of pop culture itself, just by dressing as a character and having fun," said Lord. 

Lord has no idea how many people will show up for the first-ever White Mountain Comicon, although he has already sold tickets to people throughout New England and into New York. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Feb. 25 and 26, and daily admission costs $10 per adult and $5 for those under 16. Lord said he was careful to keep prices low enough for a family to be able to attend together. Advance tickets can be purchased at White Mountain Comics, or online at squareup.com/store/whitemtcomics.

Tilton resident Michael Mitchell, who, along with his wife Michelle, creates the comic book Zombie Sub 920, said he was signing copies of his books at White Mountain Comics when Lord mentioned to him his plans to create the comicon.

"We thought that was a great idea. We offered to do a poster for him," said Mitchell. Like his other works, Mitchell hand-drew the poster in a style reminiscent of comic artists many decades ago. "All my comic books look like they were printed in 1962," he said, chuckling. Comicons have become an important opportunity for artists such as Mitchell.

"It gives us a chance to meet comic fans face-to-face, introduce our brand, tell them about our product – plus it's a great chance for us as artists to meet up and exchange ideas." The sudden popularity of characters from the DC and Marvel brands, introduced to broad markets through blockbuster movies, has brought a lot of attention back to those characters' origins in paper books, said Mitchell. However, it also has created an opportunity for smaller-scale artists. Mitchell Comics, Michael and Michelle's company, produces a series titled "Zombie Sub 920," in which a submarine of zombies cooperates with humans to fight off an alien invasion. They have also produced non-fiction comics, which tell the history of New Hampshire astronaut Alan Shepard, UFO sightings in Exeter, and the innovative USS Albacore, which was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

"A lot of the independent artists are doing off-the-wall things," said Mitchell, such as comic books about New Hampshire history. "You're never going to see that from a Marvel or DC."

Lord plans to made the White Mountain Comicon an annual, late-February event, and is considering adding another comicon in late fall. For more, visit www.facebook.com/whitemtcomicon/.

 

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The poster for White Mountain Comicon was drawn by Michael Mitchell, a comic book artist from Tilton.

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Tom Lord, who operates White Mt. Comics in Plymouth, decided to organize his own comicon after attending many others with his family. The White Mountain Comicon will include artists from well-known titles, as well as local, independent atists, such as the creator of "Harold the Happy Human Eater," who painted his character on Lord's wall. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

 

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Whiskey Barrel brings country vibe to large downtown night club

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Stephen Colby goes a couple of rounds with the Mechanical Bull with the Jodie Cunningham Band on stage Saturday night for opening weekend at the Whiskey Barrel in downtown Laconia.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Concert promoter Bernie Goulet is really more of a rock guy, but even he couldn't ignore the growing popularity of country music. So, in November of 2015, he opened the Whiskey Barrel, a 3,000-square-foot club in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His only mistake was not opening a bigger one.

"That has had tremendous success," Goulet said. The first few weekends had lines around the building waiting to get into the 150-person capacity club. "After a year, demand didn't stop, I said, 'All right, we've got to expand this.'" And that's how he came to open, with business partner Matt Menengas, the Whiskey Barrel in Laconia, which opened on Main Street last weekend to similar excitement. He booked well-known local favorites, Eric Grant Band and Jodie Cunningham, and there were again more people waiting at the door than they had room for inside.

"This area has been really receptive to country music, especially what RJ (Harding) has done," said Goulet, referring to Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford. His vision for the Whiskey Barrel is to exist as a complement to the chart-topping country acts that visit the open-air venue in Gilford.

Through his promotion business, New England Concerts, Goulet has experience with the live music market in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. When he decided to open a second Whiskey Barrel, he zeroed in on central New Hampshire for a couple of reasons. The first was that, despite the apparent abundance of country music fans in the area, there wasn't a club that catered to that interest. The second has to do with technicalities of the concert promotion business. Goulet said that it's common for contracts with touring artists to include an exclusionary zone, typically of 75 miles, which prevents a performer from playing consecutive nights in neighboring towns. By opening his club in Laconia, Goulet can book an act in between gigs in Boston and Portland, Maine, without violating other contractual obligations.

But it was the size of the space at 546 Main St. that sealed the deal for Goulet and Menengas. The space, which was once home to the Stone Coast Brewing Company, then Goodfella's, and most recently the Funky Monkey, has 6,000 square feet upstairs, where the music club is currently operating, and an even larger space downstairs that they are still deciding how to utilize.

Since taking over the space in early December, Menengas and contractors have been working furiously to transform the space into an indoor concert venue. They built a huge, 20-by-30-foot stage, with a $250,000 sound and lighting system. They raised the ceiling to provide excellent sight lines even from the back of the room, and the bar was moved from the center of the space to the side, where they also installed a curving wall of 13 televisions to play sporting events and country music videos. During most of its operation, the Whiskey Barrel will feature a mechanical bull and pool tables in the space, which limits its capacity to about 250 people. However, with those items removed, for a well-known act, they can seat 562 guests.

The Whiskey Barrel, due to its size, was able to get a ballroom license from the state liquor commission, exempting the club from usual requirements that a business that sells alcohol also sells a certain percentage of food. However, Menengas and Goulet are in the process of overhauling the large kitchen with the hopes that they will soon be able to offer their guests a menu of "casual American" fare. But, they don't see their kitchen as competing with the city's other eateries, only as a means to offer hungry patrons something while they take in a show.

"There's so many good restaurants here, we want to give people another reason to come downtown," said Goulet. To help support the revitalization of downtown Laconia, $1 for every door fee paid at the Whiskey Barrel in 2017 will be donated to the Colonial Theatre renovation effort.

The club will be open this winter Thursdays through Saturdays, with live bands on Fridays and Saturdays and a live DJ performing on Thursdays. Goulet said the space could be opened on other days for private functions or special events, and they will expand their hours of operation when warmer weather arrives.

Goulet said he will mix some rock acts, perhaps even comedy, into the show schedule but plans to keep the Whiskey Barrel a country venue.

"Rock has been in decline, country has been rising. A lot of people are saying, this new country is the new rock," he said. He speculated that the themes of country music – family, romance, partying – are the light-hearted antidote to otherwise stressful existence. "It's the times, too. Rock is a little more aggressive. (Country) is more carefree."

"They're a lot happier. Country people just seem happier," said Menengas, who added that he was excited to join a resurgent Main Street. "It seems like downtown is coming back, we want to be part of it."

 

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Jodie Cunningham band takes the stage on Saturday night at the Whiskey Barrel for their opening weekend in downtown Laconia.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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Ice time

Remick Museum hosting ice harvest and winter carnival

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

TAMWORTH — The Remick Museum will host its 14th annual Ice Harvest and Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The day will feature activities for all ages, including traditional ice block cutting, piking and hoisting, with the harvested ice transported to the farm's ice house by teams of oxen for storage.
Visitors can also listen to live music by Brier Hill Band in the Hearth Room, try their hand on a winter-themed craft or go on a scavenger hunt. Self-guided tours of the museum are available, including a walk through the modest apartment Doc Remick shared with his wife Marion Miles Remick; take in the "Our Medicine Through Time" and "From Fields to Fiber" exhibits and warm up with Farmhouse Kitchen favorites for purchase at the Sugarhouse, including cook-your-own hot dogs and s'more kits for enjoying at an outdoor campfire.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to meet Chinook dogs, the New Hampshire state dog, a breed which was developed by Arthur Walden of Wonalancet in 1917 and were named for Chinook, who became the most famous dog in the world after leading his team to victory in the first international sled dog race in Berlin in 1922.
The museum is also hosting the 18th annual meet of the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club, which opens on Friday, Feb. 3, and continues through Sunday, Feb. 5. Rides will be available on the antique machines, snow conditions permitting, which were modified for winter use with a kit developed by Virgil D. White, a Ford dealer from Ossipee. White received a patent for an attachment designed to convert a Model T into a "Snowmobile," a name coined and copyrighted by White in 1917.
He put it on the market during the winter of 1922 after "perfecting it in every detail," selling the attachments exclusively through Ford dealers. The Snowmobile attachment consisted of the complete package necessary to convert a Ford into a reliable snow machine. Skis made of metal and wood and rear-mounted tracks were the most noticeable differences.
The standard passenger car rear axle and driveshaft, rear spring and radius rods were removed and replaced with a 7-to-1 Ford truck worm gear drive line attached to the frame by a pair of cantilevered semi-elliptical springs. Special heavy-duty wheels to fit the TT rear axle were provided along with anti-skip chains.
Farm Specialty Manufacturing Company later bought the patents of the Snowmobile Company and sent its managers to run the factory in West Ossipee. From 1924 to 1929, the company manufactured about 3,300 units per year in its plant at West Ossipee and had a branch warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota. The company closed in 1929, and the factory mysteriously burned down shortly thereafter.
The Remick family settled in Tamworth more than 200 years ago. Six generations of the same family worked the farm, prospered, and were active in the town's history. The last two generations of the Remick family produced country doctors: Dr. Edwin Remick and Dr. Edwin "Doc" Crafts Remick, each of whom served the rural community where they were born and raised. Together they provided 99 years of continual medical care for the residents of Tamworth and surrounding towns.
Before his death in 1993, Dr. Edwin Crafts Remick created a foundation to preserve the family homestead, farm and history of the country doctors in a way that the public could learn from and enjoy.
Doc Remick had an ice house at his Hillside Dairy business in the 1930s and was the first dairy north of Rochester to have a pasteurization plant. In addition to the cattle barn, there is also an English barn, a sugar house, an ice house and the Captain Enoch Remick house, which is on the national register of historic places, on the 100-acre homestead property.
Harvesting natural ice was a big business in New England during the 19th century and at one time ice trains with 50 cars made daily runs from nearby Milton to Boston, where as many as 600,000 tons were used each year. To this day, the historic Rockywold-Deephaven camp, located on Squam Lake in Holderness, still harvests ice for use in ice boxes in their cabins.

• The Remick Country Doctor Farm and Museum is located at 58 Cleveland Hill Road, Tamworth. For details, call 603-323-7591 or see www.remickmuseum.org.


Hoisting Ice Block Remick Museum  Farm Ice Harvest and Winter Carnival

The Remick Museum in Tamworth will hots its 14th annual ice harvest and winter carnival on Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

Model T Snowmobile Remick Museum  Farm Ice Harvest and Winter Carnival

The Ford Model T Snowmobile Club will hold its 18th annual meet at the Remick Museum this weekend. (Courtesy photo)

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