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NH at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Themes - Farm, Forest, Mountain & Sea

New Hampshire has an abundance of natural resources and a very deep heritage of taking responsibility for them so they will be available for future generations. One way to explore our natural resources and the way people care for them-provide stewardship-is by looking at New Hampshire's farms, forests, mountains and seacoast.

Overview | A Day at the Festival | Program Book | Image Gallery | Themes | Participants, Presenters & Staff

apples on the tree

Apples form one of the
largest crops in New Hampshire.
Many orchards are
growing heirloom varieties.

Farms in New Hampshire preserve much of the open landscape of the state. The farms are small with over 3,000 commercial operations managing over 150,000 acres of cropland. Pasture, maple and Christmas trees, conservation and other agricultural uses occupy another 250,000 acres. Running an orchard or tree farm, raising bees or dairy cows, making maple syrup or jams and jellies requires a wide range of skills and abilities. Farmers have been working the land of New Hampshire since the mid-1600s and every generation passes on their knowledge to the next.

The forests have helped shape New Hampshire's history. Today, over 80 percent of the state is covered with forests. The "working forests" of New Hampshire are considered renewable resources. While portions of it are in long-term conservation, other parts are used for both recreation and for raw materials. New Hampshire's forests are managed and conserved primarily by private landowners, tree farmers, state forestry workers, sawmill operators, and many others. A wide variety of traditional skills are needed to harvest, mill, and build with wood.

slabs of granite at Swensons

The mountains of
New Hampshire
are composed of
granite, some of which
is commercially
quarried such as
Swenson's granite
quarry in Concord.

The bedrock of New Hampshire is granite. Over the aeons some of the granite was pushed up into mountains. Mount Washington is the highest elevation in the northeast at 6,288 feet. It is part of the White Mountains range, which is the northern extension of the Appalachian mountain chain that extends 1600 miles from Quebec to Georgia. Much of New Hampshire's granite was exposed or broken off into boulders and stones after the last ice age when glaciers moved across the region. Later, the clearing of these fieldstones strewn throughout the thin topsoil was a major challenge for farmers who used them to build the stone walls that lace the New England countryside.

Granite is one of the hardest and most durable stones in nature. In the 1800s, quarried granite was favored as a building material for constructing large public buildings as well as barn foundations. Today, the main product of the quarries is road curbing. A variety of complex traditional skills are needed to quarry, cut, and build with stone.

New Hampshire's 18 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline is along its southeastern border, During the summer, tourists flock to the beaches of Hampton and Rye and to the historic city of Portsmouth. But it is also a working coastline. Portsmouth, Hampton, and Rye all have commercial fishing harbors. To make a living on the sea requires tenacity, skill, and a love for the ocean. The knowledge required is so varied, that it is takes years to master and is often handed down within families.

This theme explored the traditional skills, knowledge, and occupations that have emerged from the state's diverse and abundant natural resources.

tugboat in harbor

New Hampshire's 18 miles
of coastline supports an important
fishing and lobstering community.

1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Traditions represented in this area of the festival were:

  • The family-run farm – maple sugaring, beekeeping, orchard management, dairy farming.
  • Working with animals on farms & in the forest – oxen, draft horses, sheep and border collies.
  • Forestry management & working with wood – saw milling, timber framing, and historic restoration of New Hampshire's treasured covered bridges and buildings.
  • Working with stone – stone monument carving, stone wall building, and granite splitting.
  • Maritime traditions – lobstering and fish net making.

Festival Site Description:

The entryway for this theme area was a 36-foot covered bridge built by the Graton family of Ashland and underwritten by Stoney Morel of Heritage New Hampshire. Lumber was donated by. [list]. Donations were coordinated by Sarah Smith of UNH Extension Services.

This area has several large structures and materials:

  • A 40' x 60' timber framed barn.
  • A 30' x 40' timber framed sugar house.
  • Over 26 tons of granite.
  • Two tanks of live lobsters.
  • Bees.
  • A portable sawmill.
  • Oxen.
  • Border collies & sheep (first week only).
  • Four Percheron horses that demonstrated logging and farming techniques (second week only).

Loggers sell their logs to saw mills
that store them according to
species and size in wood lots
such as this one at
White Mountain Lumber in Berlin.

2000 Celebrate New Hampshire Festival

Traditions represented in this area were the same as those presented at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival with the addition of:

  • The Nielsons & Old Man in the Mountain Maintenance

Festival Site Description:

The theme gateway was the same as that presented at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

A scheduled performance area was added called "The Grange Stage."

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301