Festivals, football and Ferris wheels: August's Upper Valley guide

By Erin Landau, The Dartmouth Staff | 8/1/13 8:00am

We’ve hit August and you still haven’t ventured outside of Hanover? Don’t fret — there are still plenty of fun New England summertime activities in the Upper Valley left to distract you from ever-approaching finals and the unfortunate reality of fall term.

The Upper Valley is known for its “Old Home Days,” events during which visitors celebrate New England with old car cruises and horseshoe tournaments. During the Canaan event, on August 2, 3 and 4, you can sample lobster and chicken barbeques, buy knickknacks at old-time craft fairs and watch soapbox derbies.

If the torrential summer rain comes back, rewind to the 1950s and head over to the Fairlee Drive-in for cheap, fun double features. Make sure to bring a big car with seats that lay down in the back, plenty of pillows and blankets and even a picnic basket filled with farmer’s market goodies. On August 2, 3 and 4, head over to watch "The Smurfs 2" (2013) and "The Wolverine" (2013), and check out what's playing for features later this month.

Craving a sporting event more exciting than intramural soccer? Hanover is providing just the remedy with the Maple Sugar Bowl, a football game with the best graduating seniors of area high schools that will take place August 3. Walk down to Memorial Field for kings, queens, parades and enough hard-hitting tackles to make your dad proud.

For those of us with artistic streaks, the 80th annual League of New Hampshire Craftsman’s fair in Newbury allows you to shop until you drop for hand-woven blankets, artisan blown glass and other useful odds and ends to embellish your off-campus home. Make sure you take an experienced shopper along with you to bargain prices for that cute ceramic mug some guy made in his basement. Mark your calendars — the fair takes place from August 3-11.

On August 8-11, the international youth Circus Smirkus is coming to Fullington Farm Field in Hanover. If you’ve never been to a circus, stop by for clown shows, flipping and flying acrobats and twisting, twirling ballerinas. Welcome to the big top, and make sure you don’t feed the elephants any peanuts! (Disclaimer: there are no elephants)

The Upper Valley is ripe with traditional New England fairs and festivals. If you’ve never experienced one of these bad boys, make sure to stop by the 64th annual Cornish fair August 16, 17 and 18 for lumberjack competitions, fried dough and bouncy castles to remind you of childhood. Pro tip: bring a formal date prospect, show off your strength and win a prize that serves as a cute gift. Another perk: Ferris wheels provide great places to get some alone time with your significant other.

On August 17-18, kick off your charitable streak with Paddlepower, a two-day, 25-mile paddling and camping trip out on the Connecticut River to raise money for suicide prevention in the Upper Valley. Supporting West Central Behavioral Health’s emergency services, the event is sure to be a blast, providing a great way to spend a weekend in the outdoors. Grab a couple of friends, make a team and join the Upper Valley’s finest for a good cause.

Erin Landau, The Dartmouth Staff