“An American at the Fair”
“Best to go low key in these situations, but I was getting quirky, and for the rest of the trip I always threw in Center Sandwich.”
Founded in 1763, the scenic New Hampshire town of Sand-wich, which incorporates the villages of Center Sandwich and North Sandwich, sits on the northeast shore of Squam Lake, just south of the White Mountain National Forest, in a classic New England setting of wooded hillsides, winding roads, and piled stone walls.
For more than a hundred years the town has been home
to The Sandwich Fair, with its rich tradition of showcasing live-
stock, agriculture, New Hampshire crafts, and 4H participation.
The fair is held in October over the Columbus Day weekend,
against a glorious background of fall foliage. Visitors are
treated to an impressive array of exhibits, competitions, mid-
way rides, local food, carnival eats, parades and entertain-
ments. Attendance is high, parking is free; “gates open at
8:00, and close when all the animals have finished competing
and there are not enough people on the grounds for the rides
Not to be missed: The Ladies’ Skillet Toss, The Gentlemen’s
Category: Poultry, Fancy and Rare Birds
A short ride up the road from the Sandwich fairgrounds, on New Hampshire farmland worked since the 1700s, sits Owl Brook Farm, Harry Batchelder’s childhood home, and site of “the most spectacularly unsuccessful dairy farm in the history of the world.”
Notwithstanding the drudgery and disappointment of dairy
farming, Harry’s years on the farm had a saving grace—the
development of his lifelong appreciation for “God’s noblest
animal.” He staunchly defends the controversial sport of
cockfighting, now illegal throughout most of the United States,
as “the greatest social leveler in sports.”
A Family Tradition
“My father was one of the all-time great genetic breeders of roosters. From the time I was a small boy, I fed and watered my father’s birds, and from the age of twelve I handled all my own birds in the pit.”
Harry gave up raising gamecocks when he left for college, but took it up again when he returned to New Hampshire in the mid-1970s. He went into partnership with a breeder in Exeter, showed their birds at the Sandwich Fair, and took prizes several years running.
Category: Cake Baking
Ribbons: Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake
German Chocolate Cake
In the fiercely competitive cake baking category, Harry’s cakes have won prizes in two sub-categories: 1st and 2nd place awards for his Coconut Cream Cheese Pound Cake, and most recently, in 2016, a Second Place Ribbon in the Frosted Cake Division for his German Chocolate Cake.
The baking entries are among the most popular exhibits. After the judging, the baked goods are auctioned off, and
the proceeds are donated to a local food pantry.
Interviewer: When did you first become interested in cake baking?
Harry: “I have always been particularly interested in cake eating, and from an early age I paid close attention to what was going on in the kitchen when my mother was baking.”
Interviewer: Do you have any advice for the aspiring cake baker?
Harry: “If you can get your hands on one, use a Sunbeam Mixmaster to combine the ingredients. And, if you are going to splurge, splurge on the best natural extracts you can find.”
Interviewer: How many times do you test a recipe?
Harry: “Usually once, twice if the people around me are clamoring for samples. Never more than twice. If you haven’t nailed it by then, try something else.”