LONDONDERRY — For generations, people have been invited to come home to Londonderry.
That includes those who moved away, or even the stalwart resident born and raised in the area who still call the rustic, historic community home.
This year is no exception as Londonderry honors its rich history and traditions and hosts its 120th annual Old Home Day celebration, running August 14-18.
The five-day event features all things that make the town special, according to those who have been involved over the years to make the celebration shine.
"It's the 120th consecutive Old Home Day," said longtime organizer Kathy Wagner.
This year's theme, thanks to fourth-graders in Kelly Murphy's class at South Elementary School, is "300 Years of Family and Friends," a nod to this year's 300th celebration of the original Nutfield settlement.
Old Home Day is always held the third Saturday of August and many towns still honor the tradition with a one-day event. Londonderry kicks off its multi-day schedule this year on Wednesday, Aug. 14, with the annual senior citizen barbecue event and concert.
The summer date is thanks to Gov. Frank Rollins who, in 1899, delivered his idea to hold an annual event he dubbed "Old Home Week."
The idea was to spur on those who may have moved out of town, inviting them to "come home" to the Granite State's cities and towns while forging family ties and community spirit.
Wagner said Londonderry's first Old Home Day was only a one-day celebration, a simple gathering after church when people would spread blankets on the ground and enjoy afternoon picnics.
Through the years, the event grew and eventually more days and events were added. Wagner said the original third Saturday in August presented first by Gov. Rollins was kept in place in Londonderry.
Wagner first volunteered as an Old Home Day parade assistant back in 1999. Now 20 years later, she said the celebration has taken on a life of its own and almost runs itself through its volunteers.
"It's a living and breathing machine," she said.
For 2019, the favorites return and new activities have been added to also pay tribute to this year's 300th anniversary of the original Nutfield settlement.
The celebration schedule includes the senior night picnic, band concerts, Kidz Night and movies, fireworks, a parade, a 5K road race, baby contest, Londonderry Sings, and children's games.
Another twist on a popular Old Home Day offering is the Friday night softball game on Aug. 16 featuring teams made up of police and fire officials from both Londonderry and Derry taking the baseball field for a friendly Nutfield town rivalry. The game starts at 6 p.m. with music and fireworks to follow on the upper lacrosse field at the high school.
Saturday is a big day as the Old Home Day schedule includes a parade down Mammoth Road, booths and community fun and games on the Town Common, and historical offerings at the nearby Morrison House museum on Pillsbury Road.
The Town Common bandstand will feature music throughout the day and children can enjoy carnival games. One new Old Home Day event this year is a contest between police Chief William Hart and fire Chief Darren O'Brien, who will both go at it in a carnival-style show of strength. People will be able to vote for their choice to win with money going to support veterans and first responders in the community.
Wagner said she is proud of this year's Old Home Day lineup and said there will be something for everyone.
"It's so gratifying that for one five-day period a whole community is so in tune with each other and having a good time," Wagner said.
For a complete schedule of events and times, visit oldhomedays.com.