Calef’s Country Store celebrates 150 years of business

Zach Lewis

Calef’s Country Store is turning 150.  

This historic Barrington, New Hampshire business got its start during the antebellum period. Their website, a more recent addition to Calef’s, explains the birth and journey of this cultural landmark.  

“In 1869, just after the Civil War, Mary Chesley Calef mortgaged her family farm and pledged her savings to open Calef’s Store in the front rooms of her modest home in Barrington NH,” the website says. “Five generations of the Calef family operated Calef’s Big Store until the 1990’s, including Mary’s son Senator Austin Calef. Today the traditions endure as Calef’s Country Store serves the local community as well as visitors from afar.”  

Much of the operation is the same as it was when Calef’s Country Store first opened its doors.  

“We still pump our own molasses and honey, cheese is aged in our cooler, and our smoked Ham is mouthwatering,” the “history” section of the Calef’s website states.  

Those with a sweet tooth will especially enjoy the candy selection, with the choices ranging from Boston Baked Beans and saltwater taffy, to candy bars and chewing gum. 

Calef’s is planning on celebrating the anniversary with a, “throw the switch’ celebration – complete with giveaway train whistles and engineer hats, and a visit from the restored Mount Washington Cog Railway Peppersass engine,” according to a press release sent to The New Hampshire by the owner of Calef’s, Greg Bolton.  

The press release continues by describing in depth what the patrons can expect with the multiple versions of the famed Peppersass on the premises while re-iterating the importance of the train whistles and engineering hats.  

“Inside the store, visitors will see a small replica of the steam engine Peppersass chugging along a track laid around the store’s periphery. Young and old are invited to participate in the official ‘throwing of the switch’ with free train whistles, engineer hats and traditional red bandanas, and Calef’s will be unveiling a new ‘Rat Track Cheddar’ cheese made to honor both anniversaries.”  

Calef’s will allow the public to interact with the antique train.  

“Outside, the Peppersass engine, complete with smoking stack, will be set up for visitors to explore, as they learn more about the history of the Cog. The first-ever mountain climbing train, Peppersass has been recently restored and is touring major cities and museums, looking just as it did when it first appeared 150 years ago and helped build the Mt. Washington Cog Railway,” the press release said.   

If that wasn’t enough, the celebration continues as, “music will be provided by the Barrington Middle School band, and there will be hot dogs, ice cream, face-painting, balloons and much more.” There’s something to experience that all ages in attendance will enjoy.  

This event will take place, on Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is described as a, “co-celebration, as it spotlights the Cog, another iconic New Hampshire institution marking a century and a half.” 

 Bolton told The New Hampshire that the store is “looking forward to a wonderful, family-friendly event, and we thank our friends at the Cog for taking part in what is sure to be a memorable day.”  

On top of this event, Calef’s holds a myriad of summer activities including an iced tea day, a donut day, and even an international fudge day. The press release also mentioned that, “Calef’s is currently planning its official 150th anniversary celebration, set for Sept. 7.” 

Directions to Calef’s can be found in The Ballad of Calef’s Country Store, which states “On the Barrington Road, not far from Dover, / You will find it pays to be a rover; / For once you find Calef’s store, / There you’ll trade for evermore!”