Blue Jeans Ball is Humane Society's newest fundraiser


Blue Jeans Ball Logo


Large fundraising events tend to follow an arc, starting out with modest gains and building year after year, until finally hitting a plateau and then starting to drop off, leaving the organization disappointed with the amount gained. Such was the case with the New Hampshire Humane Society’s “Paws for a Cause” auction, which was put on hiatus this year.
In its place, the nonprofit animal shelter has launched two new events: a wine and food tasting and silent auction that was held in the spring, and, on Friday, a music, dancing and barbecue party at Pitman’s Freight Room.
Lissa Mascio, development director at NH Humane Society, credited one of the shelter’s volunteers with sparking the concept for the casual-attire, family-friendly affair, during a brainstorming session. She said, “We should do a ‘Blue Jeans Ball.’”
The words sent Mascio’s mind into motion. Pitman’s Freight Room would provide the perfect backdrop. Chris Bell, and his Traveling Texas Smoke Shop could provide the perfect food. She had recently seen Lexi James, a Maine native and rising pop-country musician, perform at a festival in Hampton Beach, and was excited to bring her to Laconia. Amelia from Frates Creative Dance Center has agreed to offer a lesson to get people on the dance floor. And, a highlight of the night, the winning ticket will be drawn for the “Backyard BBQ Haven” package, which features a gas grill, patio furniture, a fire pit and $100 worth of meat.
“It just came together,” Mascio said of the event planning. “It will be a boot-kicking good time.”
Tickets for the Blue Jeans Ball cost $35, only 150 will be sold, and they can be purchased online at until noon on Friday; any remaining unsold tickets will be available at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. Those who wish to eat barbecue should buy an additional food ticket, which will cost $15 in advance or $17 at the door.
“There’s kind of burnout with the big fundraisers,” Mascio said about the decline of the Paws for a Cause auction. The new events, though, have already started to build momentum. She is already planning to repeat that event for next year. The Blue Jean Ball has seen its tickets start to sell rapidly, after a “sluggish” start, said Mascio.
“Hopefully this Friday will go well, and we can make it also an annual event ... It’s going to be super fun. I’m really excited for it.”
All proceeds from the Blue Jeans Ball will benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society, which adopted out 1,023 animals in 2016. The organization provides emergency shelter services in cases of natural disasters or large-scale abuse and neglect cases, and serves 17 local towns with low-cost spay and neuter services, rabies vaccination and educational outreach.

PR Transport 3 Sept

One lucky person will win the Backyard BBQ Haven raffle prize.

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Lake Style
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Lakes Region Foodie – The signature apple salad

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By Barbara Lauterbach

Apples, apples all around us! Every day we take a bite of history, back to biblical times. Apples and Apple Pie for breakfast, while regarded as strange in other parts of the country, seems natural to me, I grew up with it. When asked why he ate apple pie for breakfast, Ralph Waldo Emerson replied “What is Pie for?” It’s often served with a slice of tangy cheese, preferably cheddar, evoking the old adage “Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” The first local settlers planted apple trees almost immediately. Their versatility was recognized by the Colonists; their popularity enormous to this day, as more and more varieties were developed. The last word on apples is defined in Amy Traverso’s book, ”The Apple Lover’s Cookbook” (W.W. Norton, 2011). Extremely well researched, it’s over 300 pages of everything you ever wanted to know about the apple.
I recently visited the Richter family’s Smith Orchard, which offers pick-your-own apples in Belmont, and saw tree after tree, bending over with the weight of the luscious looking apples, ripe for the picking. Richter told me he has some four generations of families who come to pick. In our conversation I found out he was a fan of Waldorf Salad, which originally was developed by “Oscar of the Waldorf” (Chef Oscar Tschirky) in 1893, and contained simply apples, celery, nuts and mayonnaise. The name “Waldorf” always conjures up elegance and the glamour of New York for me; this salad became a signature dish of the grand old hotel. Over the years, people have taken the liberty of adding a variety of ingredients: here’s my version that makes a lovely Fall luncheon or supper dish. I’ve chosen Cortland for my apple, but use your favorite for flavor and taste. Cortlands have a nice tender/tart texture and flavor, don’t brown quite as quickly as some other varieties.

Waldorf Chicken Salad
Serves 6
2 whole chicken breasts, poached, skinned and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 5 cups of cubed, cooked chicken)
2 medium Cortland (or similar type) apple, unpeeled and diced
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/3 cup golden raisins
¾ cup diced celery
5 Tb. chopped walnuts, toasted
Lettuce leaves for serving ( I like to use red lettuce for this dish)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese for garnish (optional, or try cheddar)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ tsp. honey
Squeeze of lime juice
Preparation: In a large bowl, combine the chicken, apple dice, grapes, raisins, celery and 3 Tb. walnuts.
Refrigerate while you make the dressing. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, honey and lime juice. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Turn the salad out on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with the remaining nuts and the cheese, if using, and serve, or refrigerate up to 1 hour.
Bon Appetit!
(Smith Orchard is located in Belmont at 184 Leavitt Road. Open 9-5 daily, 603-524-9000, they also feature apple products such as cider and mixes.

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Lake Style
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Tiki hut boats turning heads on Winnipesaukee


Tiki hut boats are surprisingly stable, and water just washes right through the decking. (Ginger Kozlowski/Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — A local man has brought a touch of the tropics to Weirs Beach this year, and it is definitely catching people’s attention.
“Hulk” Gagnon is offering two versions of Greg Darby’s Cruisin’ Tiki for sale, giving people a chance to cruise the lake while enjoying a cocktail in a bamboo hut, or simply sitting dockside.
“It’s a great social event on the dock or on the water,” Gagnon said. “On a Sunday afternoon, hanging out on the boat or sitting at the dock with a drink is a lot of fun. That’s what lake life is all about.”
Darby’s trademarked motto puts it succinctly: “Why go barhopping when you can hop on the bar?”
The boat that looks like a tiki hut meets all Coast Guard specifications. It is hand-crafted, with a bamboo superstructure and manufactured thatching. The floating hut is available with an optional motor that can propel it at 5 mph, along with fuel tank, chairs, life jackets for eight people (although it can accommodate as many as 12), wet bar/sink, horn and fire extinguisher. Buyers can even include a Bose Bluetooth sound system.
Measuring 15 feet, 6 inches, the tiki hut boat is easy to maintain, Gagnon said. “I hose it off once a week, and that’s all there is to it.”
It also is very stable, he said.
“On a Sunday afternoon at The Weirs, it always gets rough,” he said, “and you’ll get your feet wet. The floor has half-inch gaps. But we were cruising alongside another boat, and the water came over their windshield and they really got soaked.”
He said that, once in a while, a big cruiser will come by and swamp the boat, but it remains stable. “No one ever tripped or fell off,” he said.
Because the tiki hut boat is so buoyant, it sits atop the waves, and Gagnon said he could place a drink on the table and it wouldn’t move during a cruise across the water.
“It’s just a nice social event,” Gagnon said, noting that he often takes 90-minute trips from his home to circle Governors Island and return. He also has taken the tiki hut boat to The Broads, Moultonborough, and Pistol Island. “It’s just 5 mph, so you’re never in a hurry. You just cruise, have a couple of cocktails, and just socialize.”
Yet it also is “fantastic as a dock extension,” he said. “You’ve got a floating bar at the end of your dock.”
Gagnon, who also owns a home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he saw the original tiki hut boat on the Intercoastal Waterway, with several people on board, having a great time. He thought it had great potential for Lake Winnipesaukee, so he contacted Darby about becoming a distributor.
Darby, also a Fort Lauderdale resident, said that designing the Cruisin’ Tiki, which he describes as a cross between a dinghy and a tiki bar, came about by accident.
“I wanted to put a tiki hut in my backyard, but didn’t want to give up the backyard, so I designed it to float. Then I thought I’d add a motor, so I redesigned it.”
He decided to copyright the design, then built it and put it on the water.
“Someone took a video of us going down the river, and it went viral on Facebook,” Darby said. “We then got calls from everyone.”
Darby put the Cruisin’ Tiki into production in March 2016 and he said there are 27 of them in the water now, with five at Lake George. Besides Lake Winnipesaukee, he said there are tiki hut boats in North Carolina, California, and “all over Florida” from the Keys to Jacksonville, on both the east and west coasts.
“The demand is definitely there,” Darby said. “We’re selling all over the country, with orders out to the panhandle of Alabama, North and South Carolina, Texas, and California. ... We’re working right now with a client in Delaware. The lakes are going to be the big thing next year, in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. There are two up in Buffalo.
“It’s definitely got that cool factor, and we say it puts smiles on people’s faces, one boat at a time.”
Darby said it take three to four weeks to build a boat. “A lot of work goes into the top and the bar, because everything’s customized,” he said. “We’re using bamboo poles, and they’re never straight, so it takes time to weave it together.”
He has three full-time people building the boats, which use polyethylene barrels for ballast.
“They’re extremely stable,” Darby said, “and we can now say they’re hurricane-tested. We had one in the Florida Keys and one on the west coast when Irma came through, and they came through flawlessly. Buildings were blown down on both sides, and the tikis withstood everything.”
The said the Cruisin’ Tiki is stable enough that he and his wife were able to do a 90-mile cruise down through Biscayne Bay when there was a 2- to 3-foot chop, and they had no problem.
“They’re the most photographed boat around,” he observed.
He said one his partners did an analysis that found that videos of the tiki hut boat have more than 50 million views and they generated 259,000 unique posts on Facebook and Instagram.
“Tourism boats come by and they’re always taking pictures,” he said. “The Weather Channel just did a little video of the tikis, and we have a link to it on We did a photoshoot for a Hooters calendar, and that was a tough job, but I had to do it.”
Gagnon admits to being a little disappointed at the number of sales in Laconia. “Everybody wants to rent or charter them, and I get phone calls every weekend,” he said. “The price keeps them from selling. Thirty-four thousand dollars is a lot of money, but a pontoon boat is $40,000 to $50,000, and some will pay $110,000 for a party boat. Putting it into perspective, this is the same thing as a party boat, but for a lot less. This is all custom labor, rather than a prefab pontoon boat that’s slapped together.”
He said he tried to answer the demand for rentals but was unable to find an insurance company willing to provide the coverage until now, so next year he hopes to offer both rentals and charters, and he is looking to team up with some local restaurants for the charter service.
“I’d like to have one in The Weirs, one in Meredith, and one in Wolfeboro,” Gagnon said. “I’m talking with two different restaurants now.”
Capt. Timothy Dunleavy of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol said the Department of Safety has no issues with the tiki hut boats as long as people use them responsibly.
“There is a time and a place for all boats, and we just encourage users to use common sense and safe boating practices, and to be familiar with the weather forecast,” he said.
Dunleavy noted that the Coast Guard has certified them as being safe, and they have to go through the federal standards to gain that approval, so it is a question of whether they are “appropriate for all the conditions that Lake Winnipesaukee throws toward them.”
“They look like a lot of fun,” he said, “but certain water conditions would concern me with the tiki hut boats, but that’s also the case with canoes and kayaks.”
If nothing else, Gagnon said, the boats prove to be great conversation pieces.
As for Darby, “It’s been a fun project, and it still is.”
For more information about the boats, see

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Lake Style
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Beatlemania strikes Laconia

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“The Cast of Beatlemania” performs the first half of the show as the Fab Four from 1964-66, and the second half covers the remaining years. They play live, with no pre-recorded elements. (Courtesy photos)

From 'Love me Do' to 'Abbey Road,' music of The Beatles coming to city on Friday


LACONIA — While most popular music acts come and go as quickly as the seasons, some have managed to hold the public's attention for much longer. No group's music has proven more persistently popular than The Beatles, whose songs continue to attract new fans more than 40 years after the group's break-up. Those who were unable to see the Fab Four perform live together before 1970 have another opportunity, as a group known as "The Cast of Beatlemania," which has been performing the Beatles' hits for longer than the original band was together, will be stopping at Laconia High School on Friday night.

Because the concert is being brought to the city by the Putnam Fund, there is no charge to atttend. The performance will begin at 7 p.m., and audience members will be seated as they arrive.

Lenie Colacino, a founding member of The Cast of Beatlemania, said that the group is more than just a tribute band. Their performances are organized into two acts, with the first act covering the music from 1964 to 1966, and the second act picks up from 1966 and continues through the final Beatles recording. Each performance includes at least 30 Beatles songs, each played live without any pre-recorded elements.

Over the course of the evening, the performers not only play the songs as die-hard Beatles fans remember them, they also act as either John, Paul, George or Ringo, including mimicing their voices and mannerisms.

"There is a theatrical element in that we're creating the characters we play," said Colacino. "The acting aspect of it is something we're proud of."

As the years tick on, The Cast of Beatlemania has realized the opportunity to introduce The Beatles to young audience members who might know one or two songs but aren't familiar with the band.

"A lot of younger people can be set in their ways or not be open to other music. We do get people who never really paid much attention to Beatles music before, we feel that's a great achievement on our part. We open this music to them, it's the greatest pop music ever made."

Other audience members, of course, are well familiar with The Beatles, whose music can carry as much resonance in 2017 as it might have a half-century ago.

"This has been my life's work, this music," said Colacino, "and I can still be struck the same way as when I first heard it – it's that good."


Where: Laconia High School

When: Friday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

Cost: Free


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  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Lake Style
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