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Calef’s Country Store Celebrates 150th Anniversary

This article contains reporting from the Calef's 150th Anniversary Event, which was held on September 7th, 2019.

BARRINGTON, N.H. - Joel Sherburne has been working for Calef’s Country Store for over 60 years, as the store celebrated its 150th birthday on Saturday. Joel thanked the Calef's family, previous owners, and the new owners that have all made his life so memorable. The store is famous for its cheddar cheese, as Joel said, “Every bite, it tastes just right!” He also thanked the Calef’s team that runs the store so well. Most of all, Joel connected on a personal level with hundreds of customers that gathered under a tent next to the store. He also said that Calef’s will be just as great for the next 150 years.

The entire crowd sang the “Happy Birthday” song to the store and there was a cake cutting with the Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, who posed with Joel and the owners. Everyone was offered a commemorative cupcake to celebrate the event, as there was not enough cake to feed the entire crowd.

It was the first time I had met Joel, even though I had been to Calef’s many times before. He asked who I was, and I told him I owned the new newspaper, Barrington Town News. He looked perplexed, and then when I explained that it was an online newspaper, he said he “doesn’t do online”. So, I told him I’d make a print edition just for him. Joel was serving cheese at Calef’s before the Desktop Computer was invented. Now people have smartphones, that are faster than the computers that existed at the time Joel started working there, which were at that time about the size of the current Calef’s building. It’s hard to imagine how the times have changed – Calef’s existed before the Internet was invented.

The nostalgia of the store hasn’t faded over time, as evident by the crowd size at this event. There were antique cars parked in front of Calef’s today, and it’s hard to believe that every car on the streets back then once looked like them.

There was old-time music played by Carolyn & Friends, which plays Bluegrass, Gospel, and Country music. Joel asked them to play the Goodnight Irene song, that he sang along to. He jokingly requested it to be played in the key of “L” – musical keys only range from “A” to “G”. Musical instruments played by the band included a Banjo, a Guitar, String Bass, Violin, Harmonica, and a Tambourine.

There was a raffle, where several people won peanut butter cups, NECCO and Mary Janes, a Breakfast Box, a six-pack of root beer, and a cheese box. People bought raffle tickets, and the proceeds were donated to a local non-profit. One person won two items.

If you want to see Joel again, he’ll arrive in the police force escorted tractor at the Rochester Fair on September 12th, 2019. Ernie Landry has known Joel for 12 years and was there taking pictures of him shaking people’s hands. He said Joe arrived in a rented helicopter at the Rochester Fair before. He always gets a hat that said Fair Ambassador, according to Ernie. Joel added that he’s the Lighthouse President, which I had recently read about in a book about Calef’s that you can purchase at the store.

The way that the community came together today was amazing, and we hope to see more events like this in the future in Barrington, New Hampshire. For now, you can continue to stock up on cheese and other supplies at Calef’s Country Store, as I did today. It’s a place that people will continue to bring visitors to from around the world, and perhaps many years from now, people will be reading about the memories that happened at this event at the 300th Anniversary Event. Who knows, maybe there will be spaceships flying overhead, but the consensus is that Calef’s Country Store will still be in business just like it started out 150 years ago.