Wolfeboro – Kathy Fairman of Wolfeboro and Alton was recognized for her lifetime contributions to the area’s tourism industry at the Lakes Region Tourism Association’s (LRTA) Annual Meeting held at Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith on October 30.
In presenting the LRTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Past President Lucy Van Cleve of Wakefield cited several of Fairman’s accomplishments, including co-founding The Laker newspaper (1984) and the Wolfeboro Trolley Company, Inc. (1988), also calling Fairman a “Wolfeboro historian.” Van Cleve added that she and Fairman served on the Town of Wolfeboro’s Economic Development Committee.
A familiar face behind the wheel of Molly and Jolly the Trolley in Wolfeboro, Fairman has spent nearly 50 years working in the Lakes Region, often sharing stories, both written and verbal, about the people, places, and events at the heart of the area’s communities. Kathy’s roots run deep in the Lakes Region. Her great-grandparents purchased a lot on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Jolly Island in Gilford in 1893 and built a modest two-room camp
that is still there and in a family trust, so it will continue to be for a very long time. “Seven generations of my family, including me, learned to love and appreciate the lake and its traditions while staying at the camp. It is part of who I am,” said Fairman. (And
yes, Jolly the Trolley is named for Jolly Island.) Her family became year-round residents in 1954 when Kathy’s parents purchased a 1783
farm on Miramichie Hill in East Alton. Kathy grew up attending Alton schools through the sixth grade. In the 1960s her father’s job took the family back to Massachusetts. At that time, the family became Lakes Region weekenders and summer people. “I wasn’t happy about the move, but looking back, it was really a good thing. I didn’t fully appreciate what we have here in the Lakes Region until I lived somewhere else. As
a result, I understand why summer people and newcomers sometimes better appreciate what year-round residents can take for granted .”Upon graduation from Boston’s Suffolk University in 1974, Kathy packed up her life and returned to the Lakes Region with a BS in Journalism degree in hand.
Following a summer job at WEMJ-AM radio in Laconia, Kathy landed a position as a reporter for the Granite State News in Wolfeboro, where she remained until 1980. “This was where I discovered my passion for local history. My first assignment was to review old ‘Grunter’ (Granite State News) issues and write a column called ‘Looking Back’, 10, 20, 30 years or more. I loved it: The news, the weekly society columns, and
even the ads with prices for groceries, cars, and shoes from days gone by.” Known as Kathy (Fairman) O’Meara in those years, in 1976 she authored Remember When…A Collection of Old Photographs of Wolfeboro, NH, published by the Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce in honor of America’s Bicentennial. “And that’s when I met my dear friend and mentor, Mildred Beach; we mostly call her ‘Beachie.’ She was executive secretary of the Lakes Region Association, and her office was in the same building as the Granite State News on South Main Street. “I learned so much from Beachie. I still do, in fact,” said Fairman, who looks forward to frequent visits with her friend of 50 years. Beachie is 99 years old and lives in her own home in Wolfeboro. Beachie worked for the Lakes Region Association for 45 years, most of those years as director. Fairman served as News and Public Affairs Director at WASR-Radio, Wolfeboro, from 1980 to 1984, where her team won numerous awards from the NH Associated Press Broadcasters Association for local and regional news coverage, among them her own “Ask 1420” and “Community Interview.”
In 1984 she and Richard “Dick” Eaton founded The Laker newspaper establishing a partnership that would continue for 35 years. In 1988, The Laker won the annual Media Award from the New Hampshire Travel Council “for its outstanding recognition and public awareness of New Hampshire as a Vacation State.” The Wolfeboro Trolley Company was a spin-off from The Laker after three directors of the Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce (Dick Eaton, Gregg Roark, Sr., and Dave Hemenway) brought Molly the Trolley to town in 1987 to alleviate parking congestion.
Later, Kathy and Dick tweaked the trolley into an attraction and formed the Wolfeboro Trolley Company, Inc. In 1998 Dick and Kathy added an antique wooden boat ride experience to the town’s offerings with the addition of the Millie B (named for Mildred Beach) to the Wolfeboro Trolley Company. They sold the successful boat ride business to the New Hampshire Boat Museum in 2011 for the boat’s value. Fairman served as chairman of Wolfeboro’s 250th Anniversary Committee in 2009-10 and was presented with the General James Wolfe Award by the Wolfeboro Area
Chamber of Commerce in 2017 “in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to our community for the benefit of present, and future residents, businesses and visitors.” She continues to work fulltime as owner and manager of the Wolfeboro Trolley Company and is looking forward to a busy 2024 season.
Photo caption: Kathy Fairman
Photo by Ashley Rand, Through the Pines Photography