2021 highlights from the Souhegan Valley

Courtesy photoMilford chef and restaurant owner Chris Viaud is one of fifteen chefs from across the country competing on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Jan. 7, 2021 – The staff at the Birth Cottage, located at 4 Prospect St., brought little Carlie Marie Cavagnaro into the world at 7:29 a.m. on January 1, 2021.

Elated parents Brittney and Kyle Cavagnaro of Nashua, said their new daughter, their first child, was perfectly healthy, weighing 7 pounds, 9 ½ ounces and measured 22 ¼ inches.

Brittney Cavagnaro said she and her husband thought the Birth Cottage in Milford best suited their needs.

“I really wanted to make sure that with COVID-19, that we chose the right place to have the baby,” she said. “I really wanted my husband to be there with me.”

April 1, 2021 – Greenleaf and Culture restaurants owner Chris Viaud is appearing on Bravo television’s popular program Top Chef, airing now on that network.

Viaud, who is from Randolph, Massachusetts, calls Milford his home and keeps busy between his two restaurants: Greenleaf, a busy farm-to-table upscale restaurant and Culture, a gourmet sandwich shop featuring homemade breads.

With his parents who migrated from Haiti, Viaud grew up in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and upon graduating from high school, he attended Johnson & Wales University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts & Food Service Management. He spent his formative years as a chef working at the famed modern French restaurant Deuxave in Boston.

VIaud said participating on Top Chef, now in its 18th season, was a lifelong dream.

“It’s definitely something that you aspire to,” he said. “I grew up watching the show and having the opportunity to be selected for the competition is a phenomenal experience that I will cherish forever.”

May 20, 2021 – Nestled away from any real stream of traffic or distracting hubbub, the High Mowing School, 222 Isaac Frye Highway, more than endured the pandemic; it has continued to offer children from early childhood through high school the opportunity to continue to grow intellectually and artistically.

Founded in 1942, the High Mowing School is an accredited Waldorf co-educational school, serving day, boarding and homestay students in Wilton. But its limits aren’t set to just New Hampshire; the educational institution reaches beyond the United States into many countries where students travel to America to study abroad to learn about and share in different cultures.

High Mowing School director of creative content and social media marketing Kendal Bush said the international boarding school has students from over 20 countries. One campus serves students K-8 and a second serves high school students.

“The thing that really sets Waldorf apart is that so much of the curriculum is hands-on,” she said. “Even with science, not giving a student a textbook but giving them information or an experiment to do is how it’s done here. This happens with every class where the information is presented and the student is able to absorb it.”

The student is then given a task so that their learning is based on that project.

June 24, 2021 – As society breathes a collective sigh of relief, re-emerging post-pandemic to live music and its culture, the band Bitter Pill will play an intimate outdoor “house” concert in Wilton on July 10, at the home and Hippy Hollow’s Kate Schimke. The seating is capped at 50 persons and donations of $10 are being accepted.

Schimke described the band’s sound as “folksy and bluegrass, with a theatrical presence and a little dark.”

The group hails from Portsmouth and frontman Billy Butler agreed with that description, saying that he calls what Bitter Pill plays as “rhythm and bluegrass.”

“It’s really a combination of folk and bluegrass and blues,” he continued. “There’s some country and jazz in there, too. We cover the gambit. And there is a theatrical element in there as well.”

Butler himself has been an actor for 30 years in New England, New York City and Boston.

“Not for the last year and a half,” he clarified. “Acting was my bread and butter, paying my mortgage. Now I’m kind of back to manual labor, which is fine.”

July 29, 2021 – Hundreds of kids from all over the Granite State turned out for the 56th annual Milford Rotary Club Swim Meet last weekend at Keyes Memorial Park.

The two-day event saw 15 teams and 378 youth participant in more than 80 events.

Meet Director Jim Rezzarday said the Milford Rotary meet likely is the last swim event nationwide – and possibly in the world – run by a Rotary club.

“It was their largest youth program,” Rezzarday said. “It started 56 years ago all over the nation. Rotary was having swim meets all over the place. I swam in (Rotary) meets in Florida.”

Rezzarday also noted the meet went off without a hitch, despite some rain on Sunday.

“Everything went very smooth,” he said. “Lots of parents helped out.

Aug. 5, 2021 – In honor of the late Brandon “Memo” Kluz, will host a music, artisan crafts and food festival on Aug. 28 at Keyes Memorial Field, 127 Elm St., from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person or $40 per family.

A skatepark bearing his name has been built at Keyes, after the Memo Foundation raised funds to build it. To date, the foundation has raised more than $106K and the skate “bowl” was featured on “New Hampshire Chronicle.”

Brandon’s mother, Monica Kluz, said putting the pieces together to create the one-day event was no small undertaking.

“There’s a lot going on,” she remarked. “I approached some folks earlier in the year about doing something like this, probably in February or March. I enlisted the help of Rachel Barnard. She initially came to me with this idea.”

Sept. 30, 2021 – Putting on the annual Milford Pumpkin Festival hasn’t always been easy. One year organizers had to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane. In 2020 it was a virtual event as the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic made a live Festival problematic.

And, of course, there remain continued hurdles presented by Covid-19.

But the 32nd Festival is on for Oct. 8-10, the Columbus Day weekend, and nearly all the traditional activities will be ready to roll says Wade Campbell, founder and lead coordinator for the Granite Town Festivities Committee.

“This year means a lot because of not being able to do it last year,” Campbell said. “We were really disappointed.”

“When we started working on it this year it was a complete unknown as to how people would react, the vendors and the people who normally help and participate, would they be willing to do so.”

The response from the Festival’s long-time supporters has justified the the organizing committees faith. Vendors were anxious to remain involved. The Festival has a primary sponsor for the first time, Consolidated Communications.”

Nov. 4, 2021 – Milford’s 275-foot-long suspension pedestrian bridge, which has spanned the Souhegan River since the late 1800s, and the multi-story, brick mill building that housed the Columbian Manufacturing Company in present-day Greenville, are among the six historic properties most recently placed on the State Register of Historic Places, according to the state Division of Historical Resources.

The Milford bridge, the officials said, was also recently honored by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places.