History & Mission


J-River2-06The Newmarket Mills
from the Lamprey River
21st century

MillsSmall-P7280165The Newmarket Mills
19th century

guyHISTORY: The Newmarket Heritage Festival, which marked its 16th and final year in 2014, was a celebration of the arts, culture, history, and community spirit—rooted in a small New England mill town. Produced by the Newmarket Main Street Corporation, the event began in 1997 and grew into a popular annual event packed with multicultural music and dance, artisan demonstrations, historic walking tours, narrated boat tours, kayak excursions, a model railway, hands-on children’s activities, fine arts and crafts, strolling performers, vendor booths, and more. Organized by a small group of dedicated volunteers, the festival was known as the Seacoast’s favorite international block party and gained a reputation for its eclectic mix of entertainment and activities, as well as its friendly atmosphere. Through the years, countless festival goers enjoyed this lively celebration, which took place in the shadow of Newmarket’s historic mills, where laborers once worked so hard–and where a sense of community continues to thrive.

For 16 years, from 1997-2014 (with a one year hiatus in 2013), the festival enhanced the Newmarket’s cultural, historic, and business climate, complimenting the efforts of the Newmarket Main Street Corporation, festival producers, to highlight the town’s heritage. With every change of venue (primarily due to construction and development), the festival remained committed to hosting the event in the historic downtown, in the shadow of the mills, a location that represents the community’s immigrant roots—and also supports local business.

In 2015, the Newmarket  Heritage Festival begins a new chapter, producing its first Heritage at the Mills event–plus Music on Main Street. Heritage at the Mills 2015 features the Akwaaba Dance and Drum Ensemble, bringing the rhythms and sounds of Africa to the Newmarket Millspace on Saturday, May 30. Strolling performers, popular in previous festival, also provide “Music on Main Street,” bringing multicultural entertainment to downtown eateries and merchants.

Heritage at the Mills events continue the “celebration of the arts, culture, history, and community spirit” that has always defined the Heritage Festival, according to fesitval organizers. This spirit remains a vital part of what makes this town special.

Keeper of the Heritage: Each year, the festival planning committee selects a recipient of this special award, introduced with these words: “As a community grows, it is especially important that it not lose sight of its historical, cultural, and natural resources.” The “Keeper of the Heritage” award honors those who, “without thought of thanks, praise, or worldly reward, render outstanding service that benefits all residents of the community”–and so preserves the richness of our heritage.

Past recipients:
1998: Sylvia Getchell & Forbes Getchell*
1999: Handtub Association
2000: Richard Schanda* & Priscilla Schanda
2001: Judy Ryan
2002: Isabel Donovan
2003: Nick Popov*
2004: Michael Provost
2005: Jennie & George Griswold
2006: Karl Gilbert*
2007: David LeGault & Ethel MacIntosh
2008: Wilfred “Tidoe” Beaulieu*
2009: Suki Casanave
2010: Phil LePage
2011: Arlon Chaffee
* Deceased

MISSION: The mission of the Newmarket Heritage Festival is to bring people together for a celebration of the arts, culture, history, and community spirit. Rooted in the diversity of Newmarket’s past and present, the festival is produced by the Newmarket Main Street Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening and revitalizing the historic and cultural characteristics of the community and to preserving the legacy of Newmarket for future generations.

The festival mission includes three goals:

*to educate residents of the region and visitors about the cultural, historical, and natural heritage of Newmarket through performances and demonstrations of traditional arts, educational talks and tours, and hands-on learning opportunities;

* to inspire young people to learn more about Newmarket’s heritage and the riches of our diverse cultural heritage through hands-on exposure to the arts, learning experiences, and performance opportunities;

* to foster cooperation and collaboration among town committees, organization, businesses, and residents in an effort to educate and strengthen our community and its commitment to the value of culture and the arts.

The NMSC is a 501 (c) (3) organization and all contributions are tax deductible (Tax ID #02-0497634).