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A parade 150 years in the making caps off Ashland's anniversary celebration

Last Saturday afternoon, several organizations representing colonial militia groups or performing with bugles, drums and fife helped Ashland celebrate it 150th anniversary. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 02, 2018
ASHLAND – A week of great activities culminated in a parade and a night filled with family fun last Saturday, when the Town of Ashland celebrated 150 years as a community of its own, no longer a part of nearby Holderness.

Tink Taylor, aptly dressed with suspenders and an old time hat, served as emcee for the parade, and as the first of the entries approached his station on the front porch of the newly restored Quince and Quail antique shop, he had a special announcement for the town.

"Happy Birthday, Ashland! We would like to extend our congratulations and wishes for another 150 years to come."

That greeting, he said, came from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Gilmore of Ashland, Kentucky, for which New Hampshire's town of Ashland was named.

Grand Marshal for the special celebration was Ernie Paquette, a longtime resident and community leader who had, among other roles, once served as the Chief of Police. Also honored in the parade were Steve & Kathy Jacquith, this year's Mary Ruell Award Recipients.

Behind them came legions of Fife and Drum groups and militia men, each dressed in colonial military garb as they played patriotic music from the early days of the nation. Among those groups who participated were the Mattatuck Drum band (the oldest drum and fife group in the country), Sons of the American Revolution, the 1st N.H. Volunteer Infantry, Company A of the 4th N.H. Volunteer Infantry, the Piscataqua Rangers Junior Fife and Drum, the N.H. Police Pipes and Drum and the Muchachos Drum and Bugle Corps.

Joining them were floats filled with residents in period clothing, horse drawn wagons, and representatives of several of the former Ashland High School graduating classes along with current selectmen, members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, area scout groups and local businesses. There was also a large float dedicated to the former Barney's Store, "A Piece of Ashland's History" as their banner declared.

Adding their own special touch to the parade was the Baker River Valley Band and several members of the Bektash Shriners, including their Minichoppers Unit, their Mini Car Patrol and the Bektash High Rollers Mini Monster Patrol.

Among the hundreds of people who lined Main Street to taken in the historic event was Catherine Shaw. She and a group of her fellow graduates from Ashland High's Class of 1953 watched from the shady lawn outside the town library and Shaw said she was excited to be there.

"I came up from Pennsylvania (where she now lives) just to be here for this celebration," Shaw said. "I used to live on the corner of Main and Winter Street, and my friends and family all gathered there to watch the 100th anniversary parade 50 years ago so I didn't want to miss this today."

While the parade ended at the L.W. Packard Ballfield the fun didn't stop there. The Baker Valley Band, and the Tirrell-Wysocki Irish musical group entertained the crowds from the bandstand until 6 p.m. There was also a beard contest, a 150th ceremony with music provided by Just Because, and a performance by the Granite State Cloggers. Around the field there were children's games and activities, face painting by Stacey Lucas of Fig Tree Gallery and more entertainment from both Mo the Clown and local juggler/comedian Jim Gleich.

For memorabilia collectors, Andrea of the Ashland Post Office was also on hand to postmark stamped envelopes with a special 150th anniversary postmark and sell commemorative First Class stamps that marked the occasion.

Plenty of food was available for all who attended and finally at dusk, the community joined together to watch the celebration come to a close with a great fireworks display over the field.

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