Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 07/05/06

A number of suitably weird events are happening this weekend!

This weekend, July 6-9, check out the Hillsboro Balloon Festival, in Hillsboro, NH. It’s over 90 minutes from Boston, but it’s probably the closest balloon festival around. They can’t have a balloon festival too close to Boston because there are too many residences (makes a bad landing) and you get caught up in the airplane traffic patterns. Note! The weather looks good this weekend, but these things are very weather dependent. Nobody flew at all at the recent Big Y Balloon Festival, which I visited. Also it’s good to book your flight in advance. This is also your chance to see a “tractor pull” and a “draft horse pull”. Basically, it’s like a road race, except instead of cars they use tractors, and you have to pull something. Oh, also — no roads. 🙂

Glover’s Regiment is doing a Revolutionary War re-enactment, July 8-9, at Fort Sewall in Marblehead, MA. It’s a re-enacted military camp from the 1700s, with tents, cooking, craft areas, costumed militia and camp followers. 781-631-5967

It’s sad to say but the Newport International Kite Festival is officially dead, and I don’t know why. How much organization can it possibly take to reserve a big green field and get some judges together? Anyway, I am told that for old times’ sake a number of kite professionals will gather anyway, but unofficially. July 8-9 at Brenton Point State Park, Ocean Drive, in Newport, RI. A good excuse to visit Newport if ever there were one. If you want to speak with the guy who told me it’s dead, call 401-846-3262.

Speaking of Newport, it’s also the Newport Music Festival, July 7-23. I don’t normally list events like this, because it’s not really a “festival”. To me, a festival is when there’s a large open area where people mingle, usually with vendors and performances. But this is basically about 70 concerts over a 2-week period, in the various mansions. Another good reason to go exploring the mansions and do the Newport Cliff Walk. See

Perhaps not the strangest, but definitely the most fun event of the weekend will be the Life is Good Watermelon Festival, July 8th. At Boston Common in Boston. Apparently the event works like this: you show up, you eat watermelon, and they have face painting and the usual silly festival activities. Live music, classic backyard food, and games. The event will also feature a competition for the coveted title of World’s Greatest Backyard Athlete, pledge-driven competition to benefit Project Joy. 12-6pm, Pledges needed for competition. It’s a fundraiser, about 40,000 attend.

I’ve just learned that there’s a place to go for drumming! You can take classes or just ‘drop in’ and jam. See They have a drop-in drumming circle Fridays 6:30-8pm, $20, you may need to pay a little more to rent a drum. This happens at the Publick Theatre, at 1175A Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, MA. See their website for scattered times.

Here’s the scoop on Drive-In theatres. The best (and unfortunately there is none closer) is a 56 minute drive from Boston, the Mendon Drive-In at 35 Milford Street, 508 473-4958. They have a 1950’s style diner there so go for dinner, too. Rt 90W to 495S to exit 20, Rt 85 S to Rt 16 W to Mendon, MA. The second closest (and I haven’t been there) is in Lunenburg (Rt 2). 3 Youngs Road, Lunenburg, MA. 978-345-5062. The Lunenburg website is bad but I called & they really do exist. 66 minutes from Boston. Mendon is closer.

Also, did you know that the Jordan’s Furniture stores in Natick and Reading have a big IMAX theatre including 3D effects? Superman: Returns, the new movie, was shot partially in 3D so go check that out.

Speaking of the Mendon Drive-In, the biggest zoo in New England is in Mendon, The Southwick Zoo,, 2 Southwick St. 508-883-9182. Rt 90W to Rt 495S to exit 19 (Rt 109W). Rt 16W thru Milford into Mendon, left at top of hill at Shell Station. Largest in NE. AAA discount.

Here are all the other zoos close to Boston. You can get all this stuff directly from my big spreadsheet at

Zoo Region Town Website
Franklin Park Zoo Boston Metro Boston, MA
Lupazoo Boston Metro Ludlow, MA
New England Aquarium Boston Metro Boston, MA
Stone Zoo Boston Metro Stoneham, MA
Woods Hole Science Aquarium Cape Cod Woods Hole, MA
Mystic Aquarium Connecticut Mystic, CT
York’s Wild Kingdom, Zoo & Amusement Park Maine York Beach, ME
Drumlin Farm Sanctuary Metro West Lincoln, MA
Wolf Hollow Preserve North Shore Ipswich, MA
The Butterfly Place Northern Mass Westford, MA
Buttonwood Park Zoo Rhode Island New Bedford, MA
Roger Williams Park Zoo Rhode Island Providence, RI
Capron Park Zoo Southern Mass Attleboro, MA
Southwick’s Zoo Southern Mass Mendon, MA
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory Western Mass South Deerfield, MA
The Zoo at Forest Park Western Mass Springfield, MA
Davis Farmland Worcester Sterling, MA
EcoTarium (science museum) Worcester Worcester, MA

Finally, the big region in New England for antiques is in Brimfield, MA, and they have three festivals annually to bring people from all over. The summer festival is July 11-16, Rt 20 at Rt 19 in Brimfield. (413) 245 3209.

Summers are so brief in New England. If you spend a single weekend day indoors in July or August, you should be spanked. Save those movies and museums for February.