I’m Back in the Berkshire Groove
Greetings from the backwoods of Hinsdale, MA! I’ve been hiding out here for the last month and half in an attempt to escape the world and all those within it. Our little slice of heaven here has been my refuge while I regroup from the hustle and bustle of the school year and copious amounts of sporting events, as well as recover from a recent “minor” surgery that seemed to throw my body for a loop. But now that summer is nearly here and activity in the Berkshires is heating up as quickly as the weather should be, and I can’t wait to get out there to explore it all with my kids, husband, friends and (if I can manage to sneak away) myself!
A LITTLE HOUSEKEEPING
Hilltown Families’ editor Sienna Wildfield and myself have been experimenting around with this column for a while in an attempt to figure out the best way to keep you all interested, informed, and coming back for more. We tried bringing you a monthly feature of events, but it just seemed like the posts got WAY too long, and writing so early in the month resulted in missing a number of worthwhile events as many press releases came in after the first of the month.
Also, I love to have fun with this column and bring you more than just my maternal insights involving family fun in the Berkshires. I also like to ramble about mommy things that include such subjects as how to deal with the death and loss of two bunnies in two weeks (one died suddenly and one escaped into the wild). Or I might want to share with you my Top 10 strategies for dealing with the incessant and ridiculous arguments between two young brothers that tend to drive me insane. Or maybe I just want to share with you a funny family anecdote from the past weeks or a not-so-funny 10-year-old joke I was told the other day.
So here I go again, mixing things up a bit. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you love and don’t love about Berkshire Family Fun. Feel free to leave a comment on this post or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
May marked the return of 3rd Thursdays to Pittsfield (the next one is set for June 21, from 5-8 p.m.) and with it a new monthly event titled First Fridays ArtsWalk. The ArtsWalks highlight the openings of various month-long exhibits in over 25 arts venues throughout downtown Pittsfield. The year-round “walks” will occur the first Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. with most of the activities occurring indoors. This month kicked off Hilltown Families’ own Traveling Photography Exhibit at TREEHOUSE Gallery located at 305 North Street. Photographs of life and landscapes in Western Massachusetts by Hilltown Families’ founder, Sienna Wildfield, will be on view at the gallery through June 30. This marks the exhibit’s debut in the Berkshires and if you have ever browsed through the gallery here on this site you’ll know Sienna’s pretty fantastic at what she does. All art is for sale with proceeds benefiting Hilltown Families. For more information about the First Fridays ArtsWalk visit firstfridaysartswalk.com. For information regarding upcoming 3rd Thursday events go online to discoverpittsfield.com/3rdThursdays.
IT’S THEATER TIME IN THE BERKSHIRES
The beginning of summer also brings with it the start of the summer theater season in the Berkshires, which began for me with a trip to Barrington Stage Company’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield to see “Lungs” Saturday night. “Lungs” by Duncan MacMillan and directed by Aaron Posner tells the story of a young couple contemplating having a child during a time of global anxiety and political unrest. If they overthink it, they’ll never do it. But if they rush, it could be a disaster. What will be the first to destruct — the planet or the relationship? The show runs through June 10. Tickets and show times can be found online at barringtonstageco.org.
Also debuting on the company’s Mainstage this month is the classic “Fiddler on the Roof,” which runs June 13-July 14, and Mark St. Germain’s “Dr. Ruth, All the Way” which runs June 19-July 15 at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center. Barrington Stage Company’s Mainstage is located at 30 Union St. while the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center is located at 36 Linden St. Both are located in Pittsfield.
The theaters at Lenox’s Shakespeare & Company are also abustle this month with the openings of “The Tale of the Allergists Wife,” June 12 on the Elayne P. Bernstein stage, “King Lear,” June 16 in Founders’ Theatre, and “Parasite Drag,” June 20, back in the Bernstein Theatre. Also playing now at the Bernstein Theatre through September is “Cassandra Speaks,” a performance that features actress Tod Randolph as Dorothy Thompson, the complex journalistic icon who Time Magazine once called the most influential woman in America next to Eleanor Roosevelt (I’m hoping to catch a performance this week). A trusted adviser to many world leaders, Thompson was the first foreign correspondent to be expelled from Nazi Germany on the personal order of Adolf Hitler. In this tell-all tale, we join Dorothy amidst the chaos of last-minute wedding day preparations, but Thompson spends more time regaling over her colorful career than she does getting ready to tie the knot. Sounds intriguing! Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemball Street in Lenox. For dates, times, and ticket information for any of these performances visit shakespeare.org.
And playing at The Colonial Theatre on South Street in Pittsfield this week is Planned Partyhood and Naia Kete, who will team up on tonight, June 7, at 9 p.m. for a musical reunion. Also gracing The Colonial stage on June 13 at 7:30 p.m. is musical sensation Raekwon, an integral part of one of the greatest hip-hop groups to date, the Wu-Tang Clan. Tickets may be purchased by calling 413-997-4444 or going online to berskhiretheatregroup.org.
The last “theater” experience occurring in the Berkshires in the next couple of weeks that I will let you in on is not really taking place in a theater at all, but in a museum — MASS MoCA in North Adams to be exact. On Saturday, June 16, at 11:30 a.m., families can head to North County to catch a performance by the “bubblegum pop meets indie rock” group The Jimmies. The Jimmies will perform their unique brand of catchy and hilarious songs that will make kids jump around and parents smile in equal measure. The group’s most recent album, Practically Ridiculous, has made top ten lists from The Washington Post to Time Out NY. MASS MoCA is located on Marshall Street in North Adams. For more information visit moca.org. – Check the Hilltown Families eNewsletter this weekend to find out how families can enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets along with 4 museum passes to the museum for next Saturday! Not yet subscribed? Click here to sign up for free!
THAR SHE BLOWS
In April the Berkshire Historical Society launched it’s summer-long festival “Call Me Melville,” a countywide celebration of all things Herman Melville, and unveiled the Melville Trail, a self-guided tour of a dozen of sites in Berkshire County that influenced the life and writing of one of America’s most treasured authors. I’ve recently fallen in love with many of the Berkshires historical homes and sites, and so have my children, and I think this event might be a short, easy way to introduce them to Moby Dick’s author, and the home where he conceived of the tale. On Saturday, June 9, at 11 a.m. as part of the ongoing Melville festival, the Berkshire Historical Society will unveil Michael Melle’s hay sculpture “Ahab and the Whale.” The unveiling will take place at Melville’s former Holmes Road, Pittsfield home known as Arrowhead and is a free event. For more information about other festival events throughout the summer visit callmemelville.org.
Melville is just one of many famed writers who called the Berkshires home and The Mount in Lenox was home to one of the greatest, in my opinion, women writers of all time, Edith Wharton. I’ve toured the former home and grounds of this progressive woman who often wrote about taboo subjects during her time, and it is fantastic. On June 10 the venue is opening its doors for a free family day beginning at 11 a.m. and going through to 3 p.m. Visitors can tour the house, explore the gardens and trails, bring a picnic, and enjoy the surroundings. Scavenger hunts, story times, and other activities are scheduled to occur throughout the day. Food and beverages are available for purchase on site.
The Williamstown Historical Museum is also providing a free opportunity for locals and tourists alike to learn more about Berkshire County history with a lecture set for June 10 at 2 p.m. at the Williams Inn in Williamstown. Richard Rand, senior curator at the Clark Art Institute, will discuss the story of the Clark’s transformation from a quiet, rural venue for the display of a private art collection to an internationally famous museum. For more information call 413-458-2160 or visit williamstownhistory.com.
DITCH THE SCREENS
Sometimes — OK, much of the time — I don’t understand my children. Several times (on absolutely GORGEOUS days), I have found one or more of the three tucked away in his or her bedroom, hibernating in the basement, or chilling in the living room in front of some sort of screen. Televisions, iPads, iPods, computers … they live in a virtual world, and I haven’t been doing a very good job lately of making them hang out in the real world. But with the nicer days ahead, the Berkshires will provide you with plenty of spaces and places to get them outdoors.
Once again the Berkshire Natural Resources Council will be hosting ongoing family-friendly hikes to the public with the next one scheduled for June 9 at 1 p.m. at Olivia’s Outlook in Richmond, overlooking Stockbridge Bowl. This hike is designed to tune participant’s senses and to help them become more aware of the world around them. Three or four trailside activities and a short hike are planned. A parent or guardian must accompany all children. Participants are encouraged to bring, snacks, water, sunscreen, bug repellent (if needed), and appropriate footwear. Pre-registration is required; call 413-499-0596 and ask for Amanda or email email@example.com. ** Getting there: From the center of Lenox take Route 183 south for 1.5 miles, passing Tanglewood. Where 183 bears left, go right on Richmond-Lenox Road, continuing uphill for another 1.5 miles. Take a left into the parking area at Olivia’s Outlook.
Sheep Hill in Williamstown is also providing an opportunity to get your family outdoors with its Annual Firefly Hike and Campfire set for Thursday, June 21, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Campfire stories, S’mores, and a walk through the darkening meadow to experience the dazzling firefly show will all be on the agenda for the evening. There is a suggested donation (>$). Severe weather will cancel the event. For more information visit wrlf.org.
MAYBE NOT ENTIRELY
I know I am contradicting what I said above, but catching a Family Flick together is an integral part of the summer experience, so maybe I’ll concede on my No Screens every once in a while, especially if we can find a great Outdoor Movie venue. Images Cinema in Williamstown is providing an opportunity for families to see a number of fun family films on June 9 in honor of Reunion Weekend at Williams College, starting with a screening of Liza Johnson’s (Class of ’92) “Return” at 3:30 p.m.; followed by “The Lorax,” at 6 p.m.; and “The Princess Bride,” at 7:30 p.m. The theater is located on Spring Street. For more information visit imagescinema.org.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE LIBRARIES
A Family Fun post would not be a post without mentioning the wonderful happenings at our local libraries here in the Berkshires. For the upcoming weeks I am going to let you in on two events in particular that I thought sounded pretty cool — one for adults and one for kids. The first is scheduled for June 10 at 4 p.m. at the Lenox Library Main Street, Lenox. The Berkshire Eagle’s “Mountain Man Insights” journalist, “Honest” Henry Kranz, will discuss his 21-year roller-coaster ride of communicating his humorous and plucky insights to the world. The event is Free. Visit lenoxlibrary.org or call 413-637-2630 for more information.
Then on Saturday, July 14, from 11 a.m. to noon, the Mason Library in Great Barrington will feature a “Night Animals!” presentation with visitors from the Forest Park Zoo in Springfield. Participants will see and learn about nocturnal animals with a zookeeper. If they get there early (10:30 a.m.) they can participate in an animal craft, too. The Mason Library is located at 231 Main St. in Great Barrington. For more information about upcoming events visit gblibraries.org
Oh, and for those who didn’t understand that the title to this post was a nod to Kiss’ late 1970s classic “New York Groove,” well then … I’ve just severely dated myself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires. Kelly is a freelance writer living in Hinsdale with her husband, Mark, and three children — 12-year-old twins, Max and McKenna, and almost-10-year-old, Shea. She has had her work published in The Advocate, The Family Beat and Berkshires Week out of Berkshire County, and the former Wee Ones E-magazine. She also authors a new blog and Facebook page titled “Renaissance Mom.” firstname.lastname@example.org — Check out Berkshire Family Fun on the first Thursday of every month.