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Domed Glass Ceiling in RiRa

We recently attended the Prescott Park Folk Festival in Portsmouth NH. The events at Prescott Park are some of the things I love about summer in New England.

Any excuse to spend a day in Portsmouth is a wonderful bonus and this opportunity was no exception. The weather could not have been more perfect; warm with a nice ocean breeze and not a cloud in sight.

We arrived in Portsmouth in early afternoon. A new discovery for us; a lucky parking find being the the nearby Harborplace Parking Garage parking facility, very near to Prescott Park. All day parking was $5 and it was cool and clean inside. We walked to RiRa, an Irish pub where we met Pat’s sister and had a nice lunch. The pub was a former landmark bank and insurance company, an architectural beauty with a domed stained glass ceiling in the center of the main dining room.

Houses on 'The Hill'

Next we walked the streets of Portsmouth, reveling in the well-preserved wonder of it all. We visited a couple of our favorite shops; Celtic Crossing and River Run Books, both on Market Street. We wandered over to The Hill, an antique gem of a neighborhood, nestled behind the Blue Mermaid Tavern on High St.

Carriageway in The Blue Mermaid enters into the courtyard at 'The Hill'

The concert in Prescott Park, the second event held there that day, after a performance of The Wizard of Oz, was scheduled to begin at five. We decided to retrieve our chairs from the car and set them up by four o’clock, to stake out a good spot. The Park is very clean and has several glorious gardens, planted and maintained by the UNH agricultural program, and some historic warehouse buildings within it’s confines. One of those, the Sheaf Warehouse, is a seasonal art gallery and open to the public.

Prescott Park, has a lot of large shade trees and fountains and borders the waterfront. A wonderful view of the Piscataqua River and Portsmouth Harbor traffic can be enjoyed from numerous strategically placed benches. Located in a very historic section of Portsmouth, directly across from the entrance to Strawbery Banke and contingent to the ancient Point of Graves cemetery, the park is well lit and has clean public restrooms. Several concessions stands catered to a variety of tastes before and during the performance.

Fountain at Prescott Park

The show was awesome and varied, expanding my concept of ‘folk music.’. First we saw the expressive band, Gypsy Tailwind, from Portland Maine, performing some ballads and livelier numbers. Next, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band.played, and were dynamic. They were well named and a large group of folks danced through their entire energetic performance. Following that act, Eilen Jewell and her band played for over an hour. Their songs ran the gamut from slow, waltz type numbers to faster, hipper scores. The final act was Natalie MacMasters and her husband Donnell Leahy, master fiddle players from Cape Breton, with a surprise guest; their 5 year old daughter Mary Frances who performed a stunning Celtic dance that would make any seasoned performer proud. So much talent all in one evening! Things wrapped up about 10:30 and we ended the perfect evening, driving home in the still great summer weather.

Natalie MacMasters and Donnell Leahy

There are still many great performances scheduled this season at Prescott Park. Check out their schedule for a fantastic way to spend an afternoon or evening.