Lebanon, New Hampshire was recently named America's Best Small Town. A single evening there last week helped to answer why.
The AVA Gallery was hosting a pre-opera soiree for Opera North's opening production of The Tender Land at the Lebanon Opera House. Diners crowded the outside terraces of the Salt Hill Pub and Three Tomatoes. The regular Thursday (4 to 7 p.m) farmer's market in Colburn Park (the town green) was just winding down, though the lines for kettle corn and Afghan takeaway remained long.
At 7 P.M., the Shana Stack Band climbed onto the bandstand and delivered irresistible toe-tapping, hip-swaying country music to an audience of a few hundred people. They are, as one might say, no slouches, having opened for Toby Keith and Reba McIntyre; they are all proud New Hampshire residents, and have won numerous awards, including the 2015 Band of the Year in the Annual New England Music Awards. Families brought chairs and picnics, dogs waited for any dropped food, and people line danced. The elder residents of Rogers House, adjacent to the green, enjoyed the concert from their own front porch.
The Farmers' Market continues through September 24. The Front Porch Concert Series , free, courtesy of the Lebanon Recreation Department, will feature Chad Hollister on August 13 and Kaleo, a folk-blues band from Iceland (!) on August 20. Opera North is still deep in its season with productions of West Side Story on August 13, The Abduction from the Seraglio on August 14 and August 16, and The Tender Land on August 15. Terrace seating at Salt Hill and Three Tomatoes can be yours as long as the weather cooperates in America's Best Small Town.