The Best of NH Party is back the way it was originally intended.
On Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Flag Hill Distillery and Winery in Lee, the annual celebration of the Granite State’s best and the brightest returns to its glory days of sampling great food, drink, live music and fun. Built around New Hampshire Magazine’s Best of New Hampshire July issue — where we poll and publish the picks of our readers and editors in categories ranging from best cupcakes to best martini to best antiques shop and everything in between — this 22nd annual event features local superstars (like Steven Tyler, Jimmy Dunn and Charlie Moore, who’ve popped by over the years), over 30 food and drink vendors and a veritable array of live, homegrown entertainment. This year, guests can look forward to listening to the Scott Spradling Band, a 12-piece big band playing hits from the 1950’s-90’s, PBS’s Ciao Italia host, author and chef Mary Ann Esposito, roaming magician Andrew Pinard and more.
As Jenna Pelech, the event director for Best of NH, says, the last few years of the event shifted to plated, seated meals and less live entertainment due to COVID restrictions. She’s ecstatic to bring back the sampling model the event’s become known for. “We had a couple holdover years where we had abandoned our original sampling model and kind of our original intent of the event, which was to sample from all the various winners across the state,” Pelech says. “In reflecting back to our roots and our true intention, it’s really to throw a party, celebrate the winners and get a chance to experience some of the food that we’re celebrating.”
Along with returning to the sampling model, this year’s Best of NH Party also presents some exciting new changes, including, most prominently, a new venue at Lee’s Flag Hill Distillery and Winery. “It seemed like the most appropriate new venue,” Pelech says, “because, for the first time, with a location in Lee, New Hampshire, our hope is to better attract and service some of our Seacoast winners, readers and attendees, as well as provide the value we always have to our Manchester and Concord contingencies. Lee is halfway in the middle and perfectly represents everything we know about New Hampshire: rolling, beautiful acreage and beautiful scenery all around us.”
As a distillery and winery with vast grounds, Flag Hill presents unique opportunities for the Best of NH Party. The event will take place outside, under multiple tented spaces and an overflow garden with live entertainment. Additionally, 75 guests will receive an intimate Flag Hill spirits tasting and tour with distiller and owner Brian Ferguson, and 10 groups will stay in RiverCrest Villas’ tiny homes, located on the property. Both VIP experiences are already sold out, and Pelech’s excited about the possibility of further growth in 2024.
“It was really attractive to have an event site that was capable of hosting an event like ours,” Pelech says. “Flag Hill just broke ground on a brand-new tasting room, which will include this gorgeous wrap-around porch, and that will potentially allow us to grow in size for 2024 and offer some expanded VIP tickets. Flag Hill’s just great. They’ve been an amazing partner.”
As always, Pelech’s optimistic about New Hampshire Magazine’s ability to unite the state over all that makes it great. The Best of NH Party remains a huge part of that.
“We’re very proud of our magazine, the print presence and the digital presence that we’re able to give winners,” Pelech says. “This is the trifecta where we can bring people together, too, first-hand to sample and try some of the things and expose them to places in other parts of the state that they may not be aware of — that, in a day trip, are still possible. The Best of New Hampshire brand means something. When we’re able to award it to a particular business or restaurant for a given year, it really adds a lot of credibility, and their followers and enthusiasts have made it possible, but it’s so important for helping these people grow their presence to outsiders, to people who’re visiting the state or to people from other parts of the state. It is so important. Print’s not dead — what the hell!”
Getting hungry? Here’s a small taste of what’s on the menu for the evening.
Guests can look forward to: pulled pork mac and cheese from 110 Grill, maple mashed sweet potatoes topped with bacon jam and a Parmesan crisp from the NH Food Bank, potato leek soup from The Peddler’s Daughter, BBQ wings from Vernon Family Farms and Kitchen, Birria tacos and shrimp and grits from Celebrations Distinctive Catering. Additionally, don’t miss beer and their famous crullers from Northwoods Brewing Company.
Ready to attend? Purchase tickets for the 2023 Best of NH Party here.
Food and drink samples will be provided by:
- Celebrations Catering
- The Common Man
- Flag Hill Distillery & Winery
- Riverwalk Bakery & Café
- Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery
- New England’s Tap House Grille
- Vernon Family Farm and Vernon Kitchen
- The Peddler’s Daughter
- Red’s Good Vibes Food Truck
- Suzie’s Diner
- The Sleazy Vegan Food Truck
- Eat More Cake
- 110 Grill
- Northwoods Brewing Company
- LaBelle Winery
- Smuttynose & Island District Company
- Stoneface Brewing
- 603 Brewery
- On the Rocks
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- 1800 Cristalino Tequila
- Coca Cola Northeast
- Feast & Fettle
- Samuel Adams