the Beginning - A simple idea becomes a tradition
The History of Pelham Old Home Day
Pelham's Old Home Day is a gracious response to the request
of the Governor of the state of New Hampshire in 1906 who
asked for a statewide celebration of Old Home Days. The first
Old Home Day was celebrated in Pelham on August 18, 1906.
August was the best time because the farming communities were
between harvests. Farmers were not known for having summer
vacations. Pelham was championing its place on the new Electric
Railroad System between the points of Lowell, Massachusetts
and Canobie Lake/Salem, New Hampshire. Wednesday was an excellent
day for this event! Businesses closed in Lowell for the afternoon
and their day in the country benefited the people of Pelham.
The first celebration in 1906 reunited the Greeley Singers.
A souvenir book with ads and pictures was available. It was
a time of speeches and a dinner at the Pilgrim Hall sponsored
by the ladies of the Congregational Church. Several years
later a parade and sporting events were added to the venue.
The Lowell Symphonic Orchestra would come to play in the evening
at 6 p.m. Mrs. Bigelow, choir director at First Congregational,
was instrumental in bringing the Lowell Symphony to Pelham.
Some people still fondly recall those summer celebrations.
People had a good time just visiting. By 1931, Old Home Day
was sponsored by the Pelham First Congregational Church. This
fundraiser helped to meet church expenses. The Ladies Aid
Society would make aprons and pot holders which would sell
for a few pennies each. May Smith was known for buying enough
aprons to keep herself for a year. A doll carriage parade,
baby shows, fashion shows, plus talent and dance became a
part of the program. A bake table provided cuisine fresh from
the oven. Tug of wars and baseball games would not only provide
entertainment but also be wonderful means of endearment and
The Girl Scouts at Camp Runnels would come to town to use
their teamwork and developing leadership skills to take on
a baseball team of married men from the community. These baseball
games were an integral part of the day. Check out the book,
"Reflections: A Pictorial History of Pelham, New Hampshire
1746-1996" for references to the different baseball teams.
There is a fun picture from the mid-1930s featuring the young
men's baseball team in women's dresses (page 151). Herb Currier,
Sr. sports an attractive hair band as part of his outfit.
An antique auction was added in 1932 and provided some evening
excitement. A young child during the 1940�s may spend $2 (two
dollars) on soda, grab bags and knocking down milk bottles.
Ice cream was intentionally not sold so that the store business
may not be interrupted. For a while there was a Horribles
Parade. Was your costume ugly enough to scare someone? A big
change came in 1972 to accommodate the lifestyles of the changing
community. Families were taking summer vacations. A decision
was made to change Old Home Day from a Wednesday in August
to the first Saturday after Labor Day in the month of September.
In 2010, the Old Home Day date changed again, this time to
the second Saturday after Labor Day to avoid conflicts with
other wonderful events in surrounding towns.
Today, Pelham is a town of over 12,000 residents. Its school
system is a leader in the state and is one of the hottest
real estate markets in the state. Pelham makes intentional
strides to accommodate the diversity of its citizens. The
current Pelham Old Home Day attempts to mirror the dreams
of its ancestors while embracing the practical daily lives
of its residents. New residents find Old Home Day an important
place to meet and discover what their new adopted community
is all about. The youth of the community find an outlet of
gaining community service. The schools require the youth to
be involved in community service. Some of the young people
volunteer their time, effort and skills to make Old Home Day
a success. The 5k Run is available for those wanting to support
the Nashua-based organization of the New Hampshire Special
The community turnout in 2006 made our 100th anniversary
of Pelham Old Home Day a spectacular event. The town continues
to mature and find new meanings in the lives of its citizens.
We hope you will continue to make Old Home Day a memorable
part of your life.
Well, former Governor Rollins' idea was indeed a vision
that lives on in this small but growing town. This event has
been sponsored and coordinated by the proud and dedicated
members of the First Congregational Church for 108 years.
In 2016 we host the 110th Anniversary Pelham Old Home Day
on Saturday, September 17th. Please feel free to explore the
old-fashioned New England traditional town fair atmosphere
we try to re-create each year by browsing this web site. Better
yet, come join us in person on Old Home Day in Pelham this