CHARLESTOWN, N.H. – “Slow and steady.” At Charlestown Old Home Days, the weekend of Aug. 19, Aug. 20, and Aug. 21, 2022, Troy, of Monster’s Tacos and Let’s Get Loaded food trucks, described business for the day. “Slow and steady,” he said, as he loaded up two corn tortillas with chicken and lettuce.
Slow and steady is a good way to describe Charlestown, N.H.’s Old Home Days. The event, while not being the most bustling of festivals, has always attracted a steady influx of visitors from around New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and the surrounding states. This has been true since 1910, when Charlestown first began Old Home Days as a way to bring people and revenue back to the town after the wave of emigration towards the more industrialized cities of the day, said Sue Reed of the Charlestown Historical Society. “Once you had the railroad,” said Reed, a lifelong Charlestown resident, “people would start coming back for the festival.”
According to Reed, Old Home Days tend to be a small town event, “Like a town festival crossed with a reunion.” People would come back to their hometowns to reunite with their fellows. And there was certainly a hometown atmosphere in Charlestown this past weekend, where Class Reunions took place, food trucks parked in a ring beside Main Street, and families strolled down the street to admire the horse-drawn carriages passing by.
Several events took place over the weekend, including fireworks on Friday night, a parade Saturday morning, and, on Sunday, an open house of Fort No. 4, built in the 1700s, the fort Charlestown was settled around. Kids could be seen running from the ice cream stand to the “Hocus Pocus” magic show across the street, and in the midst of it all, the Historical Society, which was open throughout the morning and afternoon, answering questions and showcasing historical collections from the town’s past. Here, proud citizens of Charlestown keep the traditions and pastimes of the town alive. “We’re working with the Board of Directors to rebuild the fort [Fort No. 4],” said Reed as she presented an original blueprint of the stronghold. “We’re starting to do fundraising.”
Old Home Days like these are important to the towns of Vermont and New Hampshire, where they rely on the revenue and publicity of the festivals to bring attention to projects such as the rebuilding of Fort No. 4. The event, which takes place in Charlestown once every five years, has been delayed by the Covid pandemic since 2020. However, while such festivals are important to these local economies, at its core, Old Home Days is an opportunity for residents of towns
such as Charlestown, N.H. to take pride in their home and to share a bit of their town’s character with the world. Along the side of Main Street, the pastors of the Church of Life handed out Italian sausages, grilled with onions and peppers. They distributed the food freely, and when asked about their generosity, one of the pastors shrugged and said, “We finally get to celebrate Old Home Days.”