Road trip idea: Finding apples and festivals in Contoocook and Warner
Apples are only the beginning of what this historic village has to offer
Labor Day weekend may mark the unofficial end of summer, but in Contoocook, a tiny village not far from Concord in the town of Hopkinton, the still-warm weather fun is just getting started. Because it is home to the Hopkinton State Fair, Gould Hill Apple Orchard, and only a short drive from a kid-friendly hike to the top of Mount Kearsarge, this blink-and-you-miss-it locale suddenly becomes a can’t-miss destination for families every September.
The month kicks off with the Hopkinton State Fair, an old-time agricultural fair that has been around for more than 100 years. From Friday, August 30 to Monday, September 2, the fairgrounds in Contoocook come to life with livestock exhibits, tractor pulls, a demolition derby, maple sugar house, sheepdog herding demonstrations, farm museum, petting zoo and a bustling midway with games and rides.
Elsewhere in Contoocook, the apples are ripening. Due east of the village center is Gould Hill Orchard, one of the state’s oldest continuously run farms and also one its most scenic spots for pick-your-own fun. Pick local favorites McIntosh, Cortland and Gala, or take home a few Kearsarge apples, a variety grown exclusively by Gould Hill, and named after the nearby mountain featured so prominently in the farm’s hilltop view.
If munching a Kearsarge apple while looking at Mt. Kearsarge makes you want to climb the mountain, it’s easily done with a short trip to Winslow State Park near Warner. With help, even young hikers (age 8 and older) can scramble to the top of the Kearsarge’s rocky summit.
Another Contoocook favorite for families is the Little Nature Museum located in the barn at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner. Here, an eclectic assortment of exhibits features everything from fossils and Native American artifacts to interpretive nature trails to explore. On Sunday, September 22, 2018, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, will host the 26th annual Harvest Moon and Nature Fest, a weekend filled with hands-on children’s nature activities and a visit from the Wildlife Encounters Zoo live animal program.