Somersworth Chamber swaps golf for Bluegrass

By John Quinn
Union Leader Correspondent
September 03. 2014 7:41PM
Tricky Britches, which began in Maine in 2009, is one of the bands planning to appear at the Hilltop City Bluegrass Festival, scheduled for Sept. 13 at Somersworth High School's Pavilion. For more information, go to (Courtesy)

SOMERSWORTH — As construction continues downtown, community leaders decided to replace one of the Seacoast’s many annual golf tournaments with an event with a broader appeal.

The Hilltop City Bluegrass Festival is scheduled to kick off Sept. 13 at the Pavilion on the grounds of Somersworth High School, 11 Memorial Drive. Gates will open at 9 a.m. The festival is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Due to stiff competition and “diminishing returns,” the board of directors from the Greater Somersworth Chamber of Commerce decided to hold a bluegrass festival in place of the annual golf tournament, which had been a tradition in the area for a quarter-century, according to Executive Director Jennifer Soldati.

“There are so many golf tournaments in the summer,” Soldati said, adding a festival has a “broader appeal” for area residents.

“We really wanted to do something to help us fulfill our mission,” Soldati said, adding the event is open to the public and will attract music lovers of all ages.

Soldati said she was surprised to find out how many young and older people are drawn to the “upbeat, happy kind of music” with origins from Scot-Irish immigrants in the Appalachian Mountains.

New England performers

Four bands from around New England — Tricky Britches and Blistered Fingers are from Maine, Zink and Company of Massachusetts and the Descendants of Bluegrass of New Hampshire — are scheduled to perform at the one-day festival.

“We’re the only bluegrass festival on the Seacoast,” Soldati said, adding many people took advantage of reduced price tickets earlier this summer.

“We’re close to 300 tickets sold,” Soldati said. “There’s been a major spike in the sales.”Nonetheless, Soldati said there is plenty of room and parking for additional participants, who are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Tickets are $20 a person. Children under 12 will be free when with an adult.

Residents will be able to enjoy homemade ice cream and gelato from Bloomin’ Cow, Ellie May’s homemade toffee and spiced nuts, steak tips from the Governor’s Inn in Rochester, sourdough pretzels from Leaven Beer & Bread House, organic and vegan items from Goodt’go, all-beef and veggie hot dogs from Downtown Dogs in Berwick, Maine, and a variety of beers from Smuttynose Brewery.

Soldati said organizers hope to add more events — such as banjo competitions — in the future as the city undergoes a long-deserved upgrade.

“Right now our downtown is going through a total rehab,” Soldati said, adding the chamber wanted to follow the example of the city and many businesses that have reinvigorated their appearances.

As $2.4 million in repairs continue on the bridge to Berwick, Maine, workers plan to pour sidewalks and make improvements to drainage, water and sewer infrastructure along sections of High and Market streets this week as part of a $4.7 million effort, according to the city’s website.

Just before the festival, residents are reminded to seek alternate routes as the Somersworth/Berwick Bridge is scheduled to be closed from Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. to Sept. 12 at 6 a.m for the removal of girders, according to the website.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


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