Tag Archives: Belknap Mill

‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ 2014: The “Black Thunder Singers & Drummers”.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 2014 Multicultural Day Program
>>Aug. 15, 2014.

>> 2013 Multicultural Day: Impressions — Aug. 4, 2013.
>> Shame on Belknap Mill … — Aug. 3, 2013.

For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


blackthunder11a

I THINK this is them. I could be wrong. Click to access YouTube video.


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This is definitely them. Click to access Facebook account.


They appear to be the ‘featured’ band for the 2014 Multicultural Day. They have two prime-time performances: 11:00 – 11:30 & 11:45 – 12:15.

For reasons I can’t quite fathom I had assumed, obviously incorrectly, that they were an African ensemble. Well it appears, instead, that they are ‘Native American‘ enactors. Seems good.


‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ 2014, September 6 — The Program Schedule.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 2013 Multicultural Day: Impressions — Aug. 4, 2013.
>> Shame on Belknap Mill … — Aug. 3, 2013.
For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


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Click to access the official Website — which, alas, is a tad short on information even though we but 3 weeks away from the event.



So, today, Friday, August 15, 2014 this is what I got when I clicked on the ‘Program’ HOPING to see a Schedule of the Performances!
C’est la vie.

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Don’t bother going here for the Schedule. Try the Facebook account below.


Luckily I did find a Facebook account with the supposed program. So that was good. Why they can’t also have this on their Website is mystery. Must be a cultural thing in Laconia. 

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Click to access Facebook account. I assume it is semi-official.


Well unlike last year it is back in September. That is good — I think.

Tad early in my opinion, but what do I know.

It used to be the 2nd Saturday of September. I know — because the Highland Games used to be the 3rd Saturday.

But this year it is the first Saturday, albeit with September starting on a Monday.


Our 2nd Favorite Booth At ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ 2013 & Favorite Image.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.P1040379

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> I bought a painting & my favorite booth,
>> 2013 — Aug. 4, 2013.

>> 2013 Multicultural Day: Impressions — Aug. 4, 2013.
>> Shame on Belknap Mill … — Aug. 3, 2013.
For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


Favorite booth in 2013 was:

Saad & Hassam Hindal

Art from Memory

Iraqi Artists now living in Concord, NH.


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Wiggly, very clever, very sensual wooden stuff from Erin Clapp, NH Woodcraft.


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Erin Clapp’s Etsy page. Click to access.


Fibonacci Letterpress, last year’s favorite was also there
with an even bigger press.
We got to chat for a few minutes. He had a steady stream of visitors.
That was good.
He appeared to be a big hit. I am glad.

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Favorite Image: Drummer with ‘Edwin Pabon y Su Orchestra‘.
His face was so expressive and he was so into it. This picture really doesn’t do him enough justice.

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I Bought A Painting At ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ + My Favorite Booth In 2013.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 2013 Multicultural Day: Impressions — Aug. 4, 2013.
>> Shame on Belknap Mill … — Aug. 3, 2013.
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013 … — July 12, 2013.
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013: Program — July 30, 2013.
For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


Saad & Hassan Hindal

Art from Memory

Iraqi Artists now living in Concord, NH.


Click to ENLARGE.


Father and son, Saad and Al (17) at their tent. The painting on the easel, with the school bus, painted by Al. I like that one TOO.

Father and son, Saad and Al (17) at their tent. The painting on the easel, with the school bus, painted by Hassan. I like that one TOO.


The painting I bought, or at least got. Haven't paid for it yet, though it now hangs right by our front door.

The painting I bought, or at least got. Haven’t paid for it yet, though it now hangs right by our front door.


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THE picture, to the left, as it was hanging in the booth.


They were there last year too. I had seen their paintings and had liked them.

I, of course, stopped again this year, as soon as we got to the Mill. I spoke to the son, Hassan, and told him how much I liked the paintings.

Later on in the day, around noon, I went back to take a picture of the father and son. That was the picture at the top. The father was seated.

I told Hassan to tell his father how much I liked all the paintings, but the nude in particular and how I would buy it if I had the money.

Hassan translated. The dad told him something back, and both their faces lit up in smiles.

He tells me that his Dad has said: ‘Take it. Pay when you have the money‘!

I was shocked. They didn’t know me from Adam. That was an amazing gesture. There was no time period mentioned. Just unconditional goodwill.

With close to 38 years of marriage experience under my belt, I am savvy enough to know that you don’t buy a painting, especially a nude, without at least mentioning it to the wife. So, I explained that and we left. Devanee was with me and she was amazed.

When we told Deanna, we discovered that she too had seen the pictures and had liked that nude. Bingo. She too was amazed at this amazingly generous and brave gesture. She wanted me to get it.

So I went back and told them that I would come back at 4 pm, when the activities concluded. I wanted them to have it on display as long as they could. I think they were kind of surprised.

Just after 4 we all went to pick it up. Saad, in conjunction with Hassan, explained to us what the symbols meant. Some of them, like the cats and the 2nd from top symbol on the thigh denote good luck. Her lips are sealed about her prior life — but she is not a ‘virgin’. She is dreaming of another man. The fish skeleton and the whole fish indicate before-and-after.

It is vividly bright, very evocative, strangely compelling picture. We all love it.

I plan to pay for it at the end of this month. To be fair, it is not much — and many would find it amusing that I actually don’t even have that much in liquid cash. It is the first ‘original’ I have bought in decades!

We are truly honored that Saad trusted us and of course, we will not let him down.

Moreover, he now has a AVID supporter for life. Of course I am going to promote their work.

Not only do we like their art, we think they are remarkable people.

They have been living in Concord for 3 years. Hassan goes to highschool there. Saad has three other children, another son and two daughters.

We plan to visit their inhome gallery and do a longer interview. Also take some more pictures.

So stay tuned.

IF you are interested in their work, in particular their paintings, contact me (see sidebar) and I will put you in touch with them.

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Their trust and generosity reminded me of an incident from 44 years ago, i.e., 1969, which also involved a person from the Middle East. I had just started at ‘Mill Hill’, the private school in London I was consigned to when I turned 16. There was a fair number of foreigners at ‘Mill Hill’. Most of us, who were new at the school and were foreigners had a fairly torrid time from the locals. But we weathered it. We were allowed to walk down to Mill Hill village three or four times a week. I was at the village and was buying an ice cream when I saw one of the other foreigners. He was older than me and bigger. He didn’t speak very good English at the time and I knew that he wasn’t too happy. On a whim I asked him if he would like an ice cream. He, of course, wanted one. So I got him one and handed it to him. It was just a cone. When he took it from me, I could see tears in his eyes. I asked him what was bothering him. He replies: ‘I have been in this country four months now, and this is the first thing somebody bought for me‘.  Wow. I really didn’t know how to react. But, I can still remember that incident. Well yesterday, the shoe was on the other foot. I felt like the young man receiving the ice cream.

‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ (a.k.a. ‘Festival’): Saturday, August 3, 2013 — Impressions.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Shame on Belknap Mill … — Aug. 3, 2013.
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013 … — July 12, 2013.
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013: Program — July 30, 2013.
For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


Click to ENLARGE.


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The ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’, per my definition, is ALWAYS good, always uplifting and always rewarding. PERIOD.

So, per that definition, the 12th celebration, yesterday, Saturday, August 3, 2013, was GOOD. Period.

It is a joyful, bustling event for Laconia – a town desperately in need of cheers. As ever I applaud the organizers and sponsors of this event for their commitment, vision and lets face it audacity. You do good. Thank you. Kudos.

That this year’s event had to be held a month ahead of normal was unfortunate and it now transpires that this was all due to the crassness and greed of the Belknap Mill and those that run it — and I dealt with that separately. A pox on them.

Though there were lots of tents and plenty of ‘carnival’ atmosphere and aromas wafting around, you couldn’t help but notice that the crowds were noticeably down from the last few years — and I have attended every single one of these exemplary ‘DAYS‘. I had hoped that the Summer (as opposed to Fall) date would attract some of the tourists and out-of-towners. That did not appear to be so. One of the organizers complained that she didn’t think that the event was advertised enough. I can’t comment on that, really. I did see it in the ‘Sun‘, I think — but we went looking for it since it is one of our ‘must attend‘ events of the year.

But, it was fun. Everybody, as ever, appeared to be having fun and that, in the end, is all that counts and what this ‘Day’ is all about. Bravo.

I do not know the details, but it is possible that the earlier date interfered in signing up some of the entertainment.

The two headline acts, as far as I could tell, were the African balafon ‘Balla Kouyate‘ and the Puerto Rican ‘Edwin Pabon y Su Orchestra‘. There was, of course, also the ever impressive ‘Odaiko Japanese Drummers‘, but to be fair, they are now becoming somewhat of a staple at Laconia also having performed, magnificently, in 2011 — and as I recall other years. They were good. There were also three Asian girls that danced, fleetingly. Maybe that was the ‘Bhutanese Dancers‘. They were alluring. But, it was a brief act and did not get a proper build-up or even introduction.

‘Balla Kouyate’ and ‘Edwin Pabon y Su Orchestra’ were both class acts and acquitted themselves with credit. They did not have the crowd stomping or totally captivated, but they made sure we all realized why we were there. So that was all good.

Now as for the ‘Crystal Singing Balls‘, all I can really say that it was totally the wrong venue. It was like listening to pain dry and given the lack of auditory stimulation as exciting as watching somebody stir paint — which, alas, is what it does look like. I am sure that in a cozy, intimate room, this would have been quite a show — with the balls buzzing. But, in an open venue, with no reflective sound, the single mike really could not do this justice. Whoever booked this act should have thought about it. They had some performances inside the Mill. This should have been indoors — possibly with the sound broadcast outside. Kind of funny. Yesterday, at the event, I was reading a magazine article about Bose — who invented the eponymous sound systems and speakers. His fundamental breakthrough was recognizing that at most auditorium-based concerts 80% of the sound heard by the audience was reflective sound! That was the problem here. No reflection. No sound. I felt bad for the lady. I walked up to the table. You could hear the glass ring. Never mind.

It was not the greatest of these ‘Days’. It was, overall, low key. Even sombre — though there was no need for that.

I gather that in 2014 it will be back on the 2nd Saturday of September. That is good. So here is the good news. It should not be too difficult next year to better this year’s out-of-cycle event.

P.S., Since I am on this no-carb diet, I did not, per usual, check out all the food tents — since all of them tend to be carb-heavy. So I really can’t comment on the food. I did have some lamb at the very end. They were selling lamb sandwiches for $7. I asked them to give me $5 of just meat without the bread. They did. It was OK.

Shame On The Belknap Mill For Shortchanging The Exemplary ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’ (a.k.a. of late ‘Festival’).

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013 … — July 12, 2013.
>> Laconia Multicultural Day, 2013: Program — July 30, 2013.
For all the posts related to 2012 ‘Laconia Multicultural Day’:
++++ Search on ‘multicultural‘ using sidebar search (at top) >>>>


belknap-mill.peter


From its inception 12 years ago, Laconia’s very gallant and ever so exemplary Multicultural Day has been on the 2nd Saturday of September. Those of us who have attended it, without fail, yearly, knew that date. The 3rd weekend of September would be the Highland Games.

So we were very surprised when we saw that this year ‘The Day’ was to be on August 3rd!

So today we went — and we would have gone even if it was raining (as we have done on a previous year).

As it turned out the weather was perfect. Goldilocks weather. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. But there wasn’t that many people. For us regulars the drop in attendance was noticeable.

I had assumed that the organizers had brought the event forward, by over a month, to attract Summer tourist. If so, the ploy had failed.

So I asked three members involved in the organization, as well as my buddy who runs the sound system, individually, as to why the date had been changed.

I got the same answer from all four. The Belknap Mill had sold that sacrosanct 2nd Saturday of September for a wedding event!

I could not believe it.

So this change in date was not something that had been done by choice. It had been forced on them.

I could not believe it.

The Multicultural Day is now Laconia’s signature event. The one that puts it on the map.

For the Belknap Mill to have given that date to a wedding is despicable. Shame on them.

I gather that ‘they’ claimed that they forgot. I can believe that. Incompetence probably does rule the roost at the Mill. That does not surprise me.

I see that there is at least one person on the Belknap Mill committee that is involved in ‘The Day’. I am surprised that he didn’t speak up and get this sad issue resolved.

But, in a way I am not that surprised. I said this last year, and I will say it again, much louder now. Over the years I have noticed that a segment of the Laconia ‘elite’ snub this event out of sheer snobbishness. I know a fair number of people in Laconia and Gilford. What amazes me, each year, is how few of these people attend this FREE event. Lets not beat around the bush. Many of these folks, the supposed ‘elite’, do not want to attend because they don’t want to be seen with what they must consider the ‘newcomers‘ — and I use that as an euphemism. NOW the Belknap Mill has done the same thing. Screw the multiculturals. We get money if we host a wedding. Shame on them.

C’est la vie. At least two of the organizers I spoke with were not happy with the Mill. That was good. I am, obviously, not happy with them either.

I am not sure who runs the Mill these days. Long Time ago we were quite friendly with Mary Boswell the then director. But she has been gone for at least 8 years.

Never mind. We will still prevail. But, now the Mill has shown its true mercenary colors. 

Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: They Pulled It Off Again. Thank You. THE REPORT CARD.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
1/ Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: Finally Found The ProgramSept. 7, 2012.
2/ Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.

3/ Laconia Multicultural Day, NH, September 8, 2012August 18, 2012.

They never did put the program on their Web site.
That is a cardinal, inexcusable sin.



Click on ANY of the pictures to enlarge them. For those that don’t know … the building in the back is the historic Belknap Mill.

Check out the boy doing an Indian ‘Namaste’. That is priceless and epitomizes all that is GREAT about the Laconia Multicultural Day. Bravo.

This was around 12:30. It started off ‘light’ but the crowds grew as the afternoon progressed … but it was dead by 3:45 even though RasMoon & Monsoon were still playing their hearts out.

To watch kids mesmerized is what this day is all about. Yes, the one in yellow is ours. She thought it was great. This is the future. The kids loved it. Well done, Laconia.



Well done Laconia. Well done organizing committee — you pulled it off again. Thank YOU. Bravo. It is so good to have this in Laconia. It makes me so happy.

In 1999, I had, on business, to meet with a high-flying networking Sales Lady in Meredith, at the ‘Inn on the Bay’. She lived in Center Harbor. She worked for one of the top tier networking companies of the time, flying around the country from Manchester or Logan. She brought her two daughters, 6 & 4 (with a nanny). Afterwards she told me that I was the first non-white person her kids had ever seen! That was 1999.

People don’t believe me but I can go for a week in Alton without ever seeing a non-white person. So having this celebration of diversity once a year, in the very diverse Laconia, is indeed a treat, a treasure and joy. Thank you again, Laconia.


My REPORT CARD for 2012
(as somebody who has attended each and everyone of the Laconia Multicultural Days).

For just doing it: A+

Effort: A+

Overall Experience today: A

‘Energy’/Ambiance: A-

Organization: C, and that only because in my opinion publicity and the Web site let the side down badly (and I am not sure whether they even did any social media marketing).

Event Programming: B-. I understand that they have to cut their suit according to their cloth and that the budget has to be tight. Having the event fizzle out at 4pm (most having left earlier) is anticlimactic. In the early days we had an evening concert and they used to be a blast. I remember a Reggae group. We have their CD downstairs. We rocked into the night. A 4pm finish is way too early. Plus, this years selection of performers was OK but not great. I think we had at least a 50% repetition from the last few years; we having seen that same Indian Dance troupe and the Burundi Drummers before. [My initial claim that we might have seen these last year might be erroneous though the wife and the kids think that the Burundi Drummers were there last year. Might have been the year before. If I was wrong, I am sorry; old age.] While writing this I also realized that the customary martial arts segment was missing. Overall it felt a tad flaccid and tired. It sure wasn’t HopFest 2012 — BUT as I said with HopFest, that was Dartmouth and they rarely put a foot wrong.

Weather: B+. No rain! Blustery and more than one tent looked like it would blow away. But, the sun shone.

Crowds: C. Wasn’t bad, especially given the ‘iffy’ weather forecast. About the same as last year, though the bulk of the crowds were there between 2 and 3. Around noon it was still quiet. By 4 most of the audience was gone. Always amazes me as to who is not there! There is some palpable snobbishness, but that is OK. Also, understandably, more Democrat politicians running for office pressing the flesh, as opposed to their rivals from the other party who probably don’t feel that this is their demography. Got a chance to talk with Andrew Hosmer who is running for NH Senate. First time I have met him. Very nice guy. Nice family. I was impressed. I hope he wins. Though this was not a Granite State Ambassador (GSA) event, I went in uniform and even wore my badge. Two people who have known me for years exclaimed that they had not realized I was a GSA; this being the first time I had worn my insignia to the event.

Web site: F-. That it was last updated on July 29 is a crime. Get with it Laconia, this is 2012.

Sound: C, and for the first time in my experience sound quality was variable and in some instances, especially for poor ‘Cinder Conk’ downright poor. Yes, we had swirling, near gale force winds which didn’t help. I know the 2 guys who do the sound. Nicest people in the world. Yes, I went and spoke to them 3 times. I have always, prior to today, said that they do a better job than those at the Highland Games who always stumble about as if they have never done it before. A rare miss and I am sure we will be back to ‘A+’ next year.

Food Selection: A. I think there were even more vendors, and other than ‘China Bistro’ that had jacked up their prices, the other prices were compelling. Thank you.

Bible Tents: D. Way too many. Somebody told me that they shouldn’t be there. I don’t agree. It is multicultural and religion is a part of that though more diversity would have been more in tune. Maybe they should strive to get more eclectically in these ‘in your face‘ tents — though of course, we had a Jewish, Turkish and Nepali food tents.

Printed Program: C. Par for the course. Nothing special. When we got there at noon I couldn’t find anybody handing them out. I went looking for some and came back with a handful that I gave to people. Why couldn’t this be online as a PDF?



The Performances We Saw

Cinder Conk (Baltic Sea): B. They performed out of sequence at noon because the Burundi Drummers were having car trouble and were late. That was very good of them to step in. Bravo. Just three of them; could have been father and two daughters. Talented musicians and they played some Romani music to which I am very partial. They were, however, low key, low tempo, low energy. They did not have me or the crowd up and hopping. It was very pleasant, soothing chamber music; elevator music with lyrics. That they had the prime noon spot, by accident, did not help them. The sound system did them a grave injustice. I spoke to my two buddies in the sound tent. It all had to do with Cinder Conk being all acoustic. Cranking up the sound resulted in unacceptable feedback on the speakers. They tried. The performers complained — albeit not realizing that they were not being heard towards the back. I would love to have them play at a restaurant. They said they specialize in ‘life events’: weddings, christenings, birthdays etc. They will be excellent for that.

NH Burundi Drummers and Dancers: A-. They certainly energized and entertained the crowd. The kids were enthralled, especially since they had a few very cute, very young dancers. Their high tempo percussion forces you to tap your feet. They were, as ever, fun. I think they felt and looked distracted; car troubles trying to get to a gig can easily do that. I am glad they made it. I am glad we got to hear and see them.

Classical Indian Dance: A+. They have been doing this for a few years now and it gets better each year. Though not Indian, I was very proud and delighted to see the dancing. I have, having spent a lot of time in India, seen a lot of Indian dancing in India. This was good. The crowd appreciated it. A couple of men, thinking that I am Indian, complimented ME on the dancing. Bravo. It would be great if we could have some live Indian musicians to accompany these dancers next year.

RasMoon & Monsoon: B-. I love Reggae and so do the kids. They were good BUT they were no monsoon; more like a Spring shower. Yes, they had some on the floor dancing, but it lacked punch and a compelling beat. Yes, the sound system let them down too. As with all the performances, I walked right up to listen to them close and get some pictures. They sounded better at the back of the bandstand than at the front. That they failed to keep their audience till the end says its own story. A friend who was with us said that people left because it was too loud for them — and that made me feel guilty because I was urging the sound folks to crank it up. But, Reggae isn’t parlor music. It is supposed to be loud, boisterous and exuberant.

As far as we could tell, and we didn’t leave till about 4:20 (because I was chatting with ‘Dem Pols’), there was no Closing Ceremony though there was supposed to be one. That kind of summed up the day, but I am not complaining. It was a good day.

Captivating the next generation is what today was all about.