Amherst puts on inaugural event

AMHERST – Lured by the opening of Western settlement and factory jobs in big cities, young people in the late 1800s were leaving New Hampshire small towns in droves.

So in 1899, Gov. Frank Rollins developed the concept of Old Home Days to invite home former residents. The celebrations probably didn’t succeed in convincing many people to move back to their hometowns, but they did contributed to a sense of community and they were fun.

Now dozens of towns around New Hampshire carry on the tradition, offering walking tours, crafts, music, food and games for a big “welcome home party.”

And this year, Amherst has joined them. On Saturday, the Historical Society of Amherst put on its first Old Home Day.

“Something has been missing in Amherst for a long time,” said the Society’s John Bement. “Everyone who’s grown up in New Hampshire has experienced Old Home Days.”

Several nonprofit organizations participated, giving people an opportunity to learn about the Amherst Lions Club, Amherst Area Newcomers and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

There was also live music, food trucks. a bocce tournament at the new court at Buchanan Park, cornhole on the village green and a disc golf tournament at Birch Park.

Adding to the historic atmosphere was a company of Redcoats from Massachusetts – a 50-year old British regiment re-enactment group, with drums, fifes and rifles and dressed in authentic uniforms.

His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot set up camp on Middle Street and marched through the common. Bement called them “the best of the best” re-enactors.

The day ended with a community supper on the common.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.