Mayfair Farm

Craig Thompson and Sarah Heffron of Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, show off one of their baby lambs. Photo Rob Fountain

How do you capture the beauty and offerings of diverse resources in a 25-word “elevator speech?” For Eric Lorimer, owner of Jack Daniels Motor Inn in Peterborough and member of the Monadnock Travel Council, you can’t.

“It is the curse of diverse resources,” Lorimer says with a laugh.

Trying to draw people to the Monadnock Region with a simple and concise sales pitch may be the most challenging aspect of tourism in the region. With mountains and lakes, arts and college towns, the area offers a lot.

This plethora of offerings is reflected in the success of travel and tourism in the area. Statewide the occupancy rate is down 3% compared to previous years; however, local bed and breakfasts we interviewed for this article are seeing a steady, if not an increased, number of visitors.

“It feels like business is gaining each year,” says Sarah Heffron of Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, New Hampshire. Heffron, along with Craig Thompson, opened an Airbnb cottage on their farm three years ago. They also started offering weddings and events, which have increased business.

Their 2020 wedding season runs from May until October; its success has surprised Heffron. “(This year) is really booked. We have space for maybe two more events,” she says.

She notes that weddings now account for approximately two-thirds of Mayfair Farm’s business; the remainder of the time the farm owners are busy with visitors who want to get away to their farm stay.

Sheri St. Laurent of The Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy agrees. She says that things are going well and this year has felt really busy. They have been hosting a lot of families at their family destination resort, situated at the base of Mount Monadnock. They are seeing grandparents bring their grandchildren, families who came as children themselves bring their children, and families come back year after year.

St. Laurent especially loves their millennial visitors. She says they come, often from the Boston area, looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They want to go someplace where things are the same as when they were younger. They want traditions, she says; they want the same rooms and food.

Lorimer, of the Monadnock Travel Council, agrees that people come here from the Boston region looking to get away. Even though the region is only 1.5-2 hours away from the city, it feels much farther, being a great locale for road trips and even day trips.

The retail representatives who are members of the Monadnock Travel Council — an organization that is all volunteer-run by 60 business members that, in addition to retail, include lodging and restaurants — have been reporting increasing numbers, showing that people aren’t just coming here for longer, overnight stays. Day trips are making up a portion of visitors to the

Monadnock Region.

Travelers are coming to the region from all over the country and, as Lorimer has noticed, Canada as well. Canadian travelers come in waves, likely due to exchange rates and their perception of the value they are getting for their travels.

Agri-tourism is a growing niche of tourism in the area. Farms, like Mayfair Farm, are trying to increase income and stay afloat, and are adding bed and breakfast to their offerings. Visitors from more rural areas are drawn to the slower pace and ability to connect with their food sources. At Mayfair Farm, guests can enjoy many activities — browse the self-serve farm store, enjoy meals made with just-picked local ingredients, and gather berries — and never have to leave the farm.

Lorimer also sees an interest in combining agriculture with tourism and feels like it is an area that could grow and be built up. He thinks that in addition to agriculture, the draws to the area include the aggregation of events in the area, arts offerings, music and

natural resources.

According to the New Hampshire State travel and tourism website, the numbers are primarily holding steady statewide with a slight increase for springtime travel.

It may not be easy to nail down exactly why people should come to visit the region in a few words; some things have to be seen to be believed. The beauty and resources of the area speak for themselves and visitors are agreeing.

Michelle Stephens writes from Hinsdale, New Hampshire.