Merrimack set to rock with two-weekend celebration

MERRIMACK – The third annual Merrimack Rocks celebration, which is expected to attract thousands of people, is set for Saturday, Sept. 26, at Watson Park as a finale to the Merrimack Fall Festival.

The event celebrates the town and its residents with free attractions, music and a fireworks show, and recognition of notable residents.

"We’re big believers in times are tough, and it’s nice to bring the family to an event and not have to spend a penny," said Dave McCray, Merrimack Rocks organizer and chairman of the Merrimack Business Association.

"We don’t charge anyone; admission is free. It all falls under the umbrella of the Merrimack Fall Festival," he said, adding that the festival has been split into two weekends this year.

The Merrimack Business Expo is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Merrimack High School, and the Sgt. Ed Pane Wiffle Ball Tournament for ALS is at the American Legion Field from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The following Saturday kicks off with Erica’s 5K Walk/Run, a charity raising funds for families dealing with cancer, organized by the Merrimack-based Erica Pombrio Foundation. Next, the Art in the Park event at Abbie Griffin Park runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Merrimack Rocks at nearby Watson Park finishes the night from 4-8 p.m.

"It’s so much fun, we need two weekends," McCray said.

Merrimack Rocks is free, but proceeds from a 50/50 raffle will go to Erica’s Run. McCray said the raffle benefits a different cause every year, such as the Fraser Square Veterans Memorial to be located just south of Watson Park.

Residents who will be recognized are former Police Chief Joseph Devine, who will be given the Public Safety Lifetime Achievement Award, and state Rep. Phil Straight, a community volunteer who will receive the second annual Dave Yakuboff Helping Hand Award.

McCray said Merrimack Rocks has returning favorites such as McDonny’s Petting Farm and an afternoon of live music featuring The Shotz Band – Classic Rock Masters.

The event will also feature a large climbing wall, bungee trampolines, barbecue vendors, and town police and fire department exhibits.

Then there’s the fun after dusk.

"We’re really pleased," McCray said. "We’ve got the largest fireworks show in New Hampshire. It’s just unbelievable."

Although other towns, such as Jaffrey, boast the same honor, the fireworks show at Merrimack Rocks promises to be a big one, attracting more and more people each year.

"Last year, we had about 4,000 people, and this year we’re expecting more," McCray said.

With so many people expected to attend, organizers have put together a shuttle service to transport patrons among the Merrimack High School parking lot, Abbie Griffin Park and Watson Park.

Merrimack Rocks is put on by the Merrimack Business Association and supported by a long list of local sponsors, such as ESPN New Hampshire and the Thomas Monahan family.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph. com or @Telegraph_TinaF.