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Wood Days in Canterbury looks to past for family fun today

  • The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.

    The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.

  • The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.

    The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.

  • Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.

    Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.

  • Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.

    Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.

  • The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.
  • The “crab,” a portable ship-moving device, will be on display at Wood Days in Canterbury.
  • Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.
  • Demonstrations for kids and adults are a mainstay of the Wood Days event.

Grab your hiking shoes, your kids, a crock of baked beans and a harmonica. It’s time for the 22nd annual Wood Days at Old Ways Traditions in Canterbury. The unique event, centered on – what else? – wood, is a celebration of all things handmade and homegrown, old-fashioned and unplugged.

“It really gets people back into the way things were done, and the way things still can be done, and the way they may have to be done again,” said Dave Emerson, who has hosted the event for the past six years at his 25-acre family farm (prior to that it was held at Shaker Village).

Billed as a “community gathering for the satisfaction of sharing skills,” Wood Days will feature all sorts of old-time tools and opportunities to try

activities such as drilling, plane-ing, sawing, blacksmithing and stonecutting.

Vintage steam engines will run some of the antique machinery, and a 200-year-old “crab,” (that’s a portable ship-moving device, not the town curmudgeon) will pull a pre-Civil War freight wagon up the large hill on Emerson’s property.

Emerson recently acquired the freight wagon from a friend who had it in his barn in Loudon. He got the crab from a man in Tilton who says it came from the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. He expects the demonstration to be quite a spectacle, particularly for kids, who are invariably drawn to the tools and implements he brings to fairs and farmers’ markets.

In fact, the event may just get your kids to pocket their iPods for a few hours. “We have a lot of emphasis on what kids can do and a lot of stuff for kids to try,” said Emerson, who runs a Tools for Kids demonstration every year at the annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. “Kids pick up these tools, and they just seem to know how to use them.”

New for the young folks this year is a menagerie of farm animals including chickens, rabbits, sheep and goats – all raised by kids themselves. There are also hiking trails for families to explore, and, of course, lots of food. Emerson is putting on a spread that includes chili and “whatever he comes up with,” and guests are invited – but not required – to bring a dish to share.

Emerson is also hoping guests will share something a little trickier to put together than a potluck: music. Ryan Thompson and Son and Friends will provide some tunes on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday afternoon it’s anything goes. Bring an instrument and some good stomping shoes and get ready to join in the fun.

If your tastes run more toward the practical than the musical, you can chat with members of Transition Canterbury about getting more output from your garden. The group, part of a national movement to tackle global challenges through community initiatives, is a natural fit for Wood Days, where all things old are new again.

“It’s just a way of people preparing as much as they can for changes that may occur, so we’re a little more ready when we have to do things a little differently,” Emerson said.

(Wood Days will take place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Old Ways Traditions, 418 Shaker Road, Canterbury. Admission is by donation – $5 to $10 suggested. For information, call 783-4403 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

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