August 04. 2013 9:09PM

Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Monsters bearing chocolate

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

I am headed downtown today in search of monsters bearing chocolate.

Throughout the week, Studio 550 Community Art Center will be placing 100 red clay monsters in public places visible to the average pedestrian. Programs Director Monica Leap said the purpose of the activity, "is just to have fun while encouraging residents to slow down, play like a kid, and walk their city streets in search of the out-of-the-ordinary."

I love a good hunt, and this one has a sweet reward. Found monsters can be redeemed for a chocolate coin at Dancing Lion Chocolates at 917 Elm St.

The chocolates at Dancing Lion are pieces of art themselves. Leap said there is only one chocolate per monster, and only one monster per person, so that as many people as possible can experience the joy of finding one.

If you find a monster, share your discovery on the Studio 550 Facebook page. Each is numbered with a little yellow dot to differentiate them from the first series of Monsters released in June.

This will be the last monster release for 2013, but they may reappear next summer. If you have an idea to make the next monster release even more fun, contact Leap at 232-5597.

Queen City stampede

If you have ever thought participating in a reality show like "Amazing Race" would be fun, I have another option for you that won't require you to quit your job and fly around the world to participate. You won't even have to leave the city.

Registration is now open for the inaugural Queen City Stampede, coming to Veterans Park on Sept. 21. Teams of two will canvass our city to solve clues and complete challenges at various businesses, community jewels and historical highlights.

It's billed as a fun way to get exercise, test problem-solving skills, spend time with family and friends and create lasting memories. And it's all to benefit Holy Cross Family Learning Center, a West Side organization where members of the city's growing immigrant and refugee population come together for education and other community-building activities and programs. The Stampede is certainly a long way from the spaghetti supper that has been the organization's biggest annual fundraiser until now.

An early bird Queen City Stampede registration fee of $60 per team is available until Aug. 15, when the cost rises to $90.

The course will be about the distance of a 5K. There is no driving involved, and don't expect a map. Stampeders will have to complete challenges to get clues that tell them where to head next. A maximum 200 teams will be allowed to participate, and everyone receives a T-shirt and medal after completion.

Family participation is strongly encouraged. Children as young as 8 years old will be allowed to participate with an adult. Family members not participating will find food vendors, entertainment and other activities at Veterans Park to keep them busy while they wait.

To find out more or register for this Amazing Race, visit

All that jazz

When Matt Lomanno opened a photography studio in the Waumbec Mill in the fall of 2012, he had visions of it becoming an arts venue for music, visual arts, film, drama, readings lectures and more.

I know Lomanno as a talented professional photographer, but was pleased to find out he's a lover of all kinds of art. He recently hosted jazz musician Johannes Wallman and painter Will Suglia for his first public event at his Amoskeag Studio. He has plans to hold similar events featuring different performing and visual artists once a month to give live, original music a home in Manchester.

He admits that it will take time to overcome the stereotypes some people have about jazz and folk music.

"Folk music shouldn't be relegated only to coffee shops and bars, and jazz shouldn't be limited to background music at Sunday brunch or in a hotel lobby," Lomanno wrote in an email to The Scene. "Those are all fine for what they are, but those aren't audiences — they're customers who happen to be where a musician is playing. Remove the musician, and the customers will still come. Altering those stereotypes will be a challenge, as will the larger problem of engaging an audience that barely exists."

Given the challenges he is expecting, Lomanno's reported 30-person turnout for his first public event is impressive. He was pleased with the turnout and excited to hear world-class jazz in his Manchester studio.

Lomanno, who also teaches photography at Saint Anselm College, has four young children with Jessica Lomanno, his wife and partner in the Amoskeag Studio's venture. I am impressed with the couple's passion and drive to bring affordable cultural experiences to our city. Tickets for the first show were just $10.

If you are a fellow lover of the arts, I suggest you start following Amoskeag Studio's Facebook page to find out more about Lomanno's next planned events. Aug. 23 will feature Ian Ethan's Open Land Trio and September's event will feature Joe Deleault and the Reel Tuckermans for a halfway to Saint Patrick's Day celebration. Deleault is well-known around here as a musician as well as being the production manager and technical director at Saint Anselm's Dana Center. Other acts on tap for the fall schedule include folk, classical and other genres.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

If you are a young person who appreciates old things, you can get free admission to the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association's 56th annual NH Antiques Show. Be sure to bring your ID to prove you are under 30, which sadly, I am not.

The show runs Thursday through Saturday at the Radisson Hotel featuring 67 exhibitors. Word is that the exhibitors save their most prized wares for this event, which attracts thousands of buyers and enthusiasts from around the country. I'm sure our tax-free shopping helps attract people too.

If you are like me and have no idea what qualifies as an antique, this show may be for you. The dealers are not just there to sell, they also want to educate visitors. Admission for those over 30 is $15 on Thursday and $10 on Friday and Saturday. Free return visits to the show are allowed after initial admission.

For more information on this and other events for all ages, visit

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