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Weare kicks off 250th anniversary year

Helene Kurk didn’t want Weare to celebrate its 250th anniversary with “just one bash.”

So she formed the 250th Anniversary Committee more than four years ago and led the group as it planned nine months of events to celebrate the town’s historic birthday.

“Every 50 years is kind of a milestone just generally in everyone’s life, right?” Kurk said. “Fiftieth anniversaries are for weddings or birthdays. . . . It seemed like there was a good occasion to celebrate (the town’s) existence and to celebrate our home.”

The town, which was incorporated in 1764, has been Kurk’s home for the last 40 years. As 2014 begins, she said she hopes the anniversary year will bring the expansive town together.

“We’re the largest community in Hillsborough County. . . . This is a way to pull us all together,” she said. “We are one community.”

The committee of more than 20 members has come together from all ends of town, Kurk said.

“Some of them have lived here the better part of their lives, some of them have lived here for five years,” Kurk said. “They’re interested in history, and they’re interested in community. Something like this speaks community, being a large neighborhood.”

Saturday marks the first event on the committee’s schedule. The kickoff is a winter field day at Bolton Field, an all-day event with a game of “Tug of Weare” and a snow sculpting competition.

The events continue through September. There will be a chowder and chili festival in February; in March, a history program about Rachel Revere, wife of Paul Revere. Weare schools will collaborate to make videos and artwork on the town’s history in April.

In May, the town will host a Victorian tea party at the beginning of the month – an event Kurk said has been sold out in the past – and a new sports clinic called “Skills & Drills” two weeks later.

At an old-fashioned lawn party in June, residents can tour the Clinton Grove Academy, which was an educational center for the area’s Quaker community.

“The Quaker community used to be so vibrant here. . . . To me, to try to bring that back today, so that people with an interest and with needs today can connect back with its original purpose, which was originally education, just seems to be a good healthy community objective,” she said.

In July, the town will unveil a giant birthday cake made out of wood during its annual patriotic celebration. On Old Home Day in August, a vintage parade will travel through the town. “That’s going to be really a big, big celebration,” Kurk said.

The year ends with a commemorative luncheon Sept. 21, the same day Weare’s charter was originally signed.

To publicize the events, the town sent each household a booklet on the anniversary year – a full 68 pages of ads for local businesses, a schedule of events and a history primer with pictures and stories from Weare’s past.

On one page, the town charts its population growth over 250 years. On another, an ad for this year’s beard-growing competition includes a black-and-white photo from the town’s 200th anniversary: a picture of the 1964 contestants and their facial hair. That tradition continues and will culminate in a judging April 27.

“We’ve had people calling and saying, please, we want more booklets to send to our relatives in far-away places,” Kurk said.

In the booklet’s introduction, Kurk and her fellow committee members left a gift for future town birthdays as well.

“A note to Weare residents in 2039 and 2064: Twenty-five or 50 years from now, we hope that you will learn from and enjoy the information in this booklet. . . . We hope the 250th anniversary celebration has something for all of Weare’s residents today and is a reminder to future generations of jut how special and rich in history Weare is.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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