life in the Kearsarge area

what's happening in the Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee area of NH

Archive for July, 2015

Cheese made at Billings Farm

Billings Farm Cheese. 20150505. Photo by Bob Eddy & Tim Calabro / First Light Studios

Billings Farm Cheese. 20150505. Photo by Bob Eddy & Tim Calabro / First Light Studios

Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vt., is one of the oldest continuously-operating Jersey dairy farms in the country. Now, for the first time in more than 70 years, Billings Farm is making cheese exclusively from the milk of its prize-winning Jersey cows.

Two varieties of high-quality, handmade cheddar cheese – sweet cheddar and butter cheddar – are being made from 100% raw milk from the Billings herd of purebred, registered Jersey cows. Billings Farm Cheddar, made at Grafton Village Cheese in Grafton, Vt., is carefully aged for at least 60 days, with no additives, preservatives or artificial coloring.
Billings Farm Sweet Cheddar boasts a sweet, full-cream flavor. Sweet cheddar is especially popular in the United Kingdom for its firm, yet creamy texture, with a pleasant savory taste.

Billings Farm Cheese. 20150505. Photo by Bob Eddy & Tim Calabro / First Light Studios

Billings Farm Cheese. 20150505. Photo by Bob Eddy & Tim Calabro / First Light Studios

Billings Farm Butter Cheddar, also known as Butterkäse, is mild and creamy with a slightly salty or acidic flavor reminiscent of Muenster or Gouda cheeses. Known for its delicate flavor, it literally melts in your mouth at room temperature and is equally good on the cheese tray and for cooking.

Billings Farm Cheddar bears the coveted “Queen of Quality” label, which certifies that it is a highly nutritional, premium product made from 100% Jersey milk. Billings Farm is one of only 32 dairy farms nation-wide (nine in New England) that qualify for the “Queen of Quality” distinction issued by the American Jersey Cattle Association.

Interested? Billings Farm cheese is available at the Billings Farm & Museum, the Woodstock Inn, and other select points of sale.

Art amidst Nature

AG15 Cover HIGH RES jls copyThe 2015-2015 Art & Gallery Guide will be distributed all summer, and mailed with Kearsarge Magazine fall. Here’s a profile of one local artist, Deborah Bacon, who captures on canvas the breathtaking beauty of the local landscape.


Light. It is one of the reasons Deborah Bacon loves to paint outdoors. The light illuminates her landscapes, adds expression to her portraits, and challenges her skills as an artist.

Painting at The Fells 2014  “Time does not stand still when I want to catch that brief moment when the rising or setting sun touches the edge of a mountain, lake or tree and causes a glow that takes my breath away,” the Sunapee, N.H., resident says. “It is the play of light, or lack thereof, that causes our breath to pause.”

Bacon’s love of the outdoors is apparent in her work; her painting style is quiet, calming, atmospheric realism. Her art — created using the rich color of oils — makes the viewer pause, linger, and remember. “The Lake Sunapee area affords much of the landscape beauty that some painters travel hundreds of miles to find, and it is right here in my own backyard,” she says. “I get a great deal of pleasure and joy when residents and visitors recognize a location I have painted and admire the area beauty that I strive to convey.”

evening-on-herrick-cove-lighthouseBacon has been interested in art since childhood, and her career path has always involved art in some way. “In my early 20s I worked in advertising and graphic design, creating business logos and creating ads for newspapers and magazines. When I was in my mid-20s, I started my own art services and sign painting business, which I ran for approximately 20 years. I specialized in decorating and embellishing fine antiques and painting elaborate picturesque signs as well as murals,” Bacon says. But when computers began to take over and “replace the finely tuned techniques of the hand and brush, I decided to change directions because, as an artist, the computer did not satisfy my desire and need to create.”

She came upon an article about Fran Weston Hoyt, an artist in New London, N.H., who trained under Frank Vincent Dumond, one of the most influential teacher-painters in 20th century America. She became one of Hoyt’s students, and that was the start of Bacon’s PleinAir (painting in the open air) painting journey.

“PleinAir includes the best of two worlds — my respect and love for nature along with the satisfaction of pursuing my destiny as a fine artist,” she says. “In an advanced and electronic world that keeps us spinning and moving daily, I find that painting outside brings back an inner peace and balance.”

You can see her work at the Sunapee Landing Trading Co. Art Gallery in Sunapee, N.H., or online at

— By Laura Jean Whitcomb

Arts in the Garden on July 11

A tour of Newport’s gardens will appeal to your love of landscapes, your admiration of architecture, or your appreciation of art.

DSCN0118You don’t have to like digging in the dirt to enjoy a garden tour. In fact, you may not be inspired by the plants or flowers at all. The Arts in the Garden Tour, sponsored every two years by the Library Arts Center (LAC) in Newport, N.H., may appeal to your love of landscapes, your admiration of architecture, or your appreciation of art.

As you tour some of Newport’s most creative gardens, there’s the opportunity to watch artists at work. In 2013, more than 120 locals watched artists paint in plein air. Later, all the small unframed pieces are displayed in LAC’s West Gallery for a month and auctioned by silent, sealed bid to raise money for the LAC, a nonprofit regional cultural and arts center.

DSCN0138“Community arts programming is our mission, and the garden tour is a perfect example of that,” says Kate Luppold, executive director. “Viewing these gardens in our own community, and seeing local artists at work in them is truly inspiring and uplifting to all that see it. That inspiration causes all who take part in the tour to see this community in a whole new way — with added community pride and creativity — which can only lead to good things!”

This year’s tour will be helDSCN0065d on Saturday, July 11. Tickets, $12 in advance and $15 on tour day, are available at the Library Arts Center or Kathan Gardens.

The Dog House


“Two specials and a super, please!”

Say this phrase to anyone who has longtime ties to Wright’s Beach on Blaisdell Lake in South Sutton and they will know exactly what you are talking about. This would have been a typical order placed at the window of The Dog House, the beloved little hot dog stand that plied its trade for almost 40 years along the lake’s western shore.

In the years between the two World Wars, South Sutton attracted quite a little colony of show biz people. The town’s rural charm, beckoning woods and clear cool lakes provided a welcome respite from the bustle of the city and life on the road.

Pat Rooney (1909-1979) was a dancer who had followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather onto the stages of Broadway. He was just one of the many well-known entertainers to make the trip north to visit fellow vaudevillian Buster West at his farm in South Sutton for a bit of rest and relaxation. The visit would change Pat’s life forever when he met a local girl, Estelle Wright. They married in 1942 and he would call South Sutton his home for the rest of his life.

In 1947, Pat — with the Lowe brothers, Don and Tom — opened The Dog House for its first summer of business. It adjoined the Wright family compound of businesses owned and operated by Estelle’s father, Sutton native Chet Wright. In its heyday, the compound included a thriving general store, privately owned Wright’s Beach and bath houses, their home, and a tiny museum housing Chet’s collection of vaudeville memorabilia. In 1948, Pat and Estelle took full ownership of The Dog House.

Blaisdell Lake was a happening place back then, and The Dog House was at the hub of it all. The little hot dog stand — with the big red dachshund painted on its front — opened the first of May for trout season and closed on Columbus Day (although it was only open on weekends before Memorial Day and after Labor Day). The order window, flanked on either side with hand painted menus, opened at 11 a.m. and would try to close by 9 p.m. – or when they could clear everyone out ! The two most popular items on the menu were Specials and Supers; the Special was a hot dog with cheese, bacon and sauce, while the Super was a hamburger with cheese, bacon, onion and sauce. The “sauce” was Pat and Estelle’s own delicious (but closely guarded) secret recipe. Absolutely everything was made fresh.       DSCN9918

You could enjoy your food at one of the umbrella covered tables outside or in the tiny dining room where the windowsills were lined with porcelain dog statues and the walls were covered with signed photos of movie stars that Pat had known and worked with during his career, including Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Mickey Rooney. Pat also honored his regulars with their own coffee mugs on which he would paint their name in bright red letters and these hung proudly in the kitchen and dining room.

Pat and Estelle ran The Dog House every summer until Pat’s passing in 1979. Estelle ran it with the help of her devoted employees for a few more summers, closing the order window for good in 1984. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 90.

Today The Dog House returns every other summer for one weekend. Huge tents are set up on Wright’s Beach and the original grill once again sizzles with hot dogs. Sponsored by the Blaisdell Lake Protective Association (BLPA), the “kitchen” is staffed by former employees and their families who still prepare the food to Pat’s exacting standards. BLPA members help out with everything else. And what about that secret sauce? Estelle left the recipe to only a select few … you might say it’s still a “super special” secret, even after all these years!