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Ty Dammling, 6, left, and his brother, Brady, 5, of Hamden, Conn., play in the corn pile at the 13th annual Highnote Balloon, Music and Fireworks Festival at the McPhee Farm in Epping. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

Benefit in Epping

Highnote festival offers a fun family event for a good cause

EPPING - Hundreds turned out to support a good cause Saturday at the 13th annual Highnote Balloon, Music and Fireworks Festival.

The festival, held at the McPhee Farm, traditionally draws a crowd of about 500 people and has raised some $80,000 to benefit the Adam McPhee Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to high school students and helps other community projects and programs benefiting people with disabilities.

The McPhee family of Epping started the festival after the death of Adam McPhee, who was disabled. He died, at age 21, in 1999.

The festival is filled with something for everyone, from tethered balloon rides and 10-minute helicopter rides to snowmobiles racing across water and a horseshoe tournament.

The helicopter rides, a professional log-rolling demonstration, and a 5K road race that began at Adam's home were among the new features added this year.

"Each year we try to do something a little different," said Adam's cousin Amy McPhee, who helps organize the festival.A play area was added where kids could bury their feet and hands under piles of corn.

Dennis Dammling's two sons, Brady, 5, and Ty, 6, enjoyed running around in the corn play area. The Dammlings, who live in Connecticut but have family in Epping and know the McPhees, suggested the corn idea, and it seemed to be a hit.

"It's a great family event. There's a lot going on," Dammling said.

The festival has become a tradition for Epping residents Ronnie and Courtney Dion and their son, Tyson, 10.

"It's family-oriented and it's for a good cause," Courtney Dion said.

Tyson was looking forward to dunking Epping Elementary School Principal Mark Vallone in the dunk tank for the second year in a row. He also wanted to snowmobiles race across a pond at the farm.

"I really like the water cross," he said.

Sundae Rosato and her daughter, Emerson, 6, attended the festival for the second time. Rosato lives in Hampton, but used to live in Epping and enjoyedlast year's festival.

"You see your neighbors, and you see friends you know," she said.

Emerson also painted her first pumpkin this year at the festival. "We're kicking off our Halloween season," her mother said.


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