Friday, August 13, 2010

Londonderry's Old Home Day

Ever since we arrived in Londonderry more than 25 years ago, we look forward to Old Home Day. This year the five days of Old Home Day start on Wednesday, August 18 and run through Sunday August 22. The most popular day, of course, is Saturday August 21, 2010. The day starts early with the 5K road race, followed by the parade, the baby contest, the colonial encampment by the Morrison House Museum, and of course the common will be crowded with local organizations selling homemade food, games for the kids, and neighbors greeting old friends. The whole day is topped off with a concert and fireworks!

Londonderry Old Home Day circa 1920s

According to the Londonderry Hometown Online News at, over 15,000 people attend Londonderry’s Old Home Day each year. This is a testament to good old fashioned fun. Not to be competitive, but our Old Home Day is usually held the same weekend as Hudson’s celebration (this year Hudson is celebrating one week early). Hudson is located just next door. In fact, their fairgrounds at Alvirne are closer to our own house than Londonderry’s fiesta on the town common. But, we like the old fashioned flavor of Londonderry’s Old Home Days over Hudson’s. No traveling carnival rides, no commercial food vendors (except for the ice cream truck), no questionable games of chance. At our Old Home Days all the games have to be free to all kids- and the few for adults are fundraisers for local organizations. The food, snacks and beverages are all homemade and sponsored by the Boy Scouts, churches, sports teams and civil groups. Don’t miss the Lion’s BBQ!

2009 Old Home Day Parade in Londonderry, NH

Historically, Old Home Day is an important part of New Hampshire culture. In 1899 New Hampshire Governor Frank Rollins proclaimed the first Old Home Day on the third Saturday in August to bring people back home who had moved to the big cities and out of state for employment or for easier farming out West. There are only about ten communities in New Hampshire that have faithfully carried on the Old Home Day tradition of the third Saturday in August.

Why was this so important? Look at the population schedules below. You can see that with the opening of the West to farming, the Civil War, and employment in the big cities of Boston and other states, people left New Hampshire in droves for a long time period. New Hampshire was one of six states to also show a percentage population decrease in 2008 due to the economy. They seem to be following Horace Greely’s advice to “Go West, young man!” (Greeley had Londonderry roots, too!)

New Hampshire v. total US Population
1860 326,073- NH 31,443,321- USA
1870 318,300 39,818,499 NH decreased 2.5%, US increased 22.6%
1880 346,991 50,155,783 NH increased 9%, US increased 30.2%
1890 376,530 62,947,714 NH increased 8.5%,
1900 411,588 76,212,168 NH increased 9.3%, US increased 21%

2010 New Hampshire Old Home Days on the third Saturday in August

All other NH Old Home Days can be found at

For more information: the website for Londonderry’s Old Home Day for my population statistics


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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