2014 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA

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18 Community Highlights: Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. Guided Tours to Open Houses.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly this weekend in Franklin County at the Bernardston Unitarian Church.

Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. War of 1812 to Urban Townhouses. Guided Tours to Open Houses. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HISTORY

Take a special back-to-school themed tour of the Stockbridge Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 8th, now the final resting place of numerous former town residents of special interest. This late afternoon tour will feature visits from ghosts of former schoolteachers and town residents who want to share their stories of learning in Stockbridge. Same evening in the Pioneer Valley, learn about the Grand Trunk Hotel, once an important part of Turners Falls’ life and culture! Join the Great Falls Discovery Center to visit the hotel’s former site, and use your imagination (along with artifacts, photos, and recorded testimony) to piece together an idea of what a stay at the hotel may have been like. – Both tours are free.

Old Sturbridge Village hosts Drummer’s Call on Saturday, Sept. 8th, a celebration of 19th century military music. There will be a parade featuring numerous groups in costume, uniform “fashion shows,” and more. Along with the learning opportunities available during a visit to the village, the event offers families a chance to learn about music history, and the role that music played in the military (especially during the Civil War). Then on Wednesday, Sept 12th, OSV is hosting a special homeschool day, featuring events and activities centered around the War of 1812. The War of 1812 is perhaps one of the most misunderstood conflicts in American history – immerse yourself in 1830’s life to learn about this war in American history.

The Rowe Historical Society presents Robert Frost- for kids on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th! The event will include a reading of some of Frost’s most kid-friendly work, as well as a talk on his life and poetry. John Dennis Anderson will dress as Frost, and questions will be answered first as Frost may have, then from a historian’s perspective. Prepare for the presentation by reading some of Frost’s poetry at home! Then in the evening of Monday, Sept 10th, the Pelham Historical Society will include a special presentation on the area’s rich agricultural history. Authors Ruth Owen Jones and Sheila Rainford will share slides and material from their book Harvesting History, which covers over 300 years of local agrarian history. The event is great for older students interested in agriculture and/or the development of their community, and can help to supplement studies of American history and culture. – Both events are free.

ARCHITECTURE

There are two guided afternoon tours happening on Saturday, Sept 8th. In Berkshire Cty., take a guided tour of the grounds at Field Farm in Williamstown, a Trustees of Reservations site that is home to two stunning modernist homes, nestled amongst over 300 acres of beautiful Berkshire scenery. Families can learn about the history and design principles behind the homes, and explore the paths and foothills of the property.  And in Hampden Cty., learn about Springfield’s unique historic district at Mattoon Street with the Springfield Preservation Trust Home Tour! The area is home to one of Western Massachusetts’ only distinctly urban rows of conjoined brick townhouses, and tours are being offered of these historic homes! Visitors will learn about the history of the area and its significance within the development of the community, as well as interesting facts about the homes’ unique architecture and why the design is specific to urban environments.

ANIMAL & NATURE ADVENTURES

The Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield is home not only to exotic creatures, but to animals native to New England as well! Visit the zoo on Saturday, Sept 8th for Backyard Friends, a program on animals you’ll find locally and how to help them survive and thrive.  Then on Sunday, Sept 9th, it’s Grandparents Day at the Zoo in Forest Park! Grandparents get a free train ride with a child ticket. – Another zoo adventure awaits at the Southwick Zoo on Sunday, Sept 9th where they will be celebrating Massachusetts Day! Present a state residency card (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to receive buy-one-get-one admission.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly on Sunday morning, Sept. 9th. There will be hands-on science activities at the Bernardston Unitarian Church, and maybe even a chance to see some live butterflies up close! Over in Amherst in the afternoon on Sunday, participate as citizen scientists helping the staff at the Hitchcock Center tag Monarch butterflies. Then on Monday morning, Sept 10th the canal in Turners Falls is drained once a year to allow for maintenance to the power station and the canal’s walls. Northfield Mountain is offering a unique opportunity to explore the canal bed while it’s dry! Participants, clad in boots and bearing buckets of all sorts, will be able to see species not normally found due to their aquatic habitats (including dragonfly nymphs, lamprey eels, and more). Kids can learn to identify new species! All collected critters will be released afterwards. – Both events are free.

ART ADVENTURES

Celebrate Springfield’s history and culture at the annual Mattoon Street Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept 8th in Springfield! This year marks the 40th year of the festival, making it the longest running arts festival in the valley. There will be local food, artisan vendors, art showcases, and tours of the many historic homes and gardens surrounding the historic Quadrangle neighborhood. The event also features a special children’s carnival.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th, the Museum School at the Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is offering an open house, featuring demonstrations of many of the different skills that students can learn, a chance to meet faculty, and, of course, ample opportunity to learn about the school’s programs for children and parents.

Arts Night Out in Northampton on Friday night, Sept 14th, features the annual Chalk Art Festival.  Community members can view the finished pieces (created in public spaces all across town by artists with varied styles and specialties) while visiting the many other galleries, restaurants, and businesses hosting art shows. Artists will be drawing from 8am-4pm, and families can explore Northampton to view the creation process before seeing the finished product! A free event.

MUSIC

There are a couple of music school open houses happening this weekend.  In Berkshire Cty., the Berkshire Music School in Pittsfield hosts a morning pen house for prospective students and parents on Saturday, Sept 8th. There will be an instrument petting zoo and opportunity to check out youth music classes. And in Hampshire Cty. on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th,  families are invited to visit the Northampton Community Music Center to learn about the many different programs offered to the community (and to learners of all ages!). Families can take a demo class, visit an instrument petting zoo, explore the center, and get information about fall programs, classes, performances, and more. – Visiting these open house sis a great first step for families interested in bringing music education into their family, or for kids with a keen interest in learning to read music, sing, or play an instrument.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sandy Richard]

Berkshire Family Fun for Early-Mid September 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
Sept. 8th – 21st, 2012

We’ve rounded the corner from summer freedom to the routine of autumn, with kids back in school, homeschoolers organizing their fall schedules, and prek & story hours starting back up.  We’ve listed many ongoing activities below and will continue to add to the list as the season progresses.

Activities to look forward to over the next couple of weeks include Images Cinema’s International Family Film series, Lee Founders’ Weekend, the Tub Parade in Lenox, Youth Summit in Pittsfield, Oliver! and Story Pirates at the Colonial Theatre, International Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Hilltown Hoot in Washington, Housatonic River Walk in Great Barrington, among many others.

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Sept. 21st:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly eNewsletter!

Ticket Giveaway: Story Pirates at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Giveaway: FOUND at The Colonial Theatre

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14 Community Highlights: Corn Mazes to County Fairs. 19th Century Games to Gallery Tours.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

This is a great time of the year to go on a bug hunt with your kids. Search for these Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars in the leaf folds of sassafras, or the emerald green, gold studded chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly on the stems and leaves of milkweed. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Corn Mazes to County Fairs.  Beavers to Estuaries.  19th Century Games to Gallery Tours. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

LOCAL AGRICULTURE

For Labor Day weekend families can get a strong dose or two of local agriculture. The 145th annual Blandford Fair takes place Friday-Monday, Aug 31-Sept 3, as does the 195th edition of the Three County Fair in Northampton. Visit to learn about animals, local agriculture, local history, and local culture – and see magic shows, live music, and more! And all weekend long families can get lost in a corn maze at Warner Farm  in Sunderland. Mike’s Corn Maze offers a fun and challenging outdoor adventure (of the best kind!) for families of all ages.

HISTORY

Saturday, Sept 1st through Monday, Sept 3rd, families can visit Old Sturbridge Village for Family Fun Days!  This special long weekend program offers families a chance to play numerous games – as they were played in the 19th century!  Families can try a game of French and English, play baseball, watch a fire balloon fight, and do 1800’s crafts.  There will also be chances to see craftsmen at work on various projects, tour the village, and learn about 19th century life.

On Friday evening, Sept 7th, older students interested in local history can participate in a program at the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn about the settling of Turners Falls, the development of industry, and cultural changes within the community.  This talk will focus on the immigration of a specific group, and the changes that occurred during the time when that group came to the area. It’s a free talk and best for teens and older.

ASTRONOMY

Arunah Hill Days take place this weekend in Cummington, bringing with them a host of astronomy activities and outdoor adventures for families!  On Saturday afternoon, Sept 1st, families can visit the nature center for a GPS treasure hunt, nature walks of the grounds, and rocket building and launching!  Evening will bring telescopes, and stargazing!  Master gazers will help families with telescope use and will teach visitors to find and identify stars, constellations, and more.  Activities take place throughout the day.

Then Friday evening, Sept 7th, the Springfield Museums host Stars Over Springfield.  Visit the museum to take a peek at the stars through a rooftop telescope!  In case of clouds or rain, a planetarium show will be presented instead.

NATURE & ANIMAL ADVENTURES

Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls will be exploring habitats of the Connecticut River watershed using their investigation stations over the next few weeks, starting with estuaries on Sunday afternoon, Sept 2nd.  Park interpreters will be on hand to help families with children of all ages understand exhibits and will focus shared information on a particular habitat found in the watershed.  Then on Tuesdays mornings the center hosts an environment-themed program for kids ages 3-6yo called Kidleidescope, and interactive learning opportunity with crafts. All programs are free.

On Wednesday morning, Sept 5th, families with preK kids can take a hike at Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough!  Their “Nice and Easy” family-friendly hike is about two hours long and will cover 1-2 miles of trail. Then in the evening in Lenox, families with slightly older kids can visit Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s beaver ponds to learn about beaver habits and local habitats.  The program will also teach visitors information on animals that are attracted to beaver-created ponds, and the changes that beavers have caused to landscapes since their reintroduction to the area over 80 years ago.

ART ADVENTURES

On Wednesday morning, Sept 5th, the Norman Rockwell Museum hosts, “Creating Together: A Parent-Child Experience,” an art workshop featuring a gallery tour and hands-on art making in Stockbridge, and in the afternoon, the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls hosts open studio hours where families can visit to experiment with art materials and try out new forms of expression – or just to work on perfecting skills.

On Friday evening, Sept 7th, Pittsfield host First Friday art walk, which means families will have a chance to explore galleries, shops, and restaurants, all featuring beautiful artwork by a variety of artists, mediums and styles.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

12 Community Highlights: Honey Bees to Katydids. Shady Porches to Tomatoes.

How many different types of tomatoes are there? And how many are being grown locally? Visit Red Fire Farm’s annual tomato festival in Granby on Saturday, Aug. 25th to find out! The event includes an all-afternoon tomato tasting, as well as many other fun activities, performances, etc. centered around local food and a locally-based lifestyle. There will be live music from local artists, goods on sale from local artists and artisans, presentations from notable chefs, workshops on utilizing local foods and resources.

Pollinators to Nocturnal Insects.  Historic Homes to Historical Societies. Tomatoes to Honey. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

INSECT ADVENTURES

Pollinators play an important role in our ecosystem! This Saturday, Aug. 25th, families can learn about pollinators in the Berkshires.  In the morning families can learn about bees, hornets, and wasps at Field Farm with the Trustees of Reservations in Williamstown – scary though their sting may be, the science behind pollinating creatures is fascinating! Then in the afternoon at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield there will be a special program on honey bees! The event is part of the village’s Return and Learn series, and will teach visitors about the role these pollinators play in the ecosystem, and all about beekeeping (and its history at the village). Great information for older students to pair with studies of local agriculture and entomology!

On Tuesday, August 28th, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton hosts an evening of nocturnal summer bugs! There will be an informational slideshow about katydids and grasshoppers, then a trip outside to listen to (and perhaps find!) some of the noisy summer critters. Designed for adults, the program is best for older students interested in wildlife biology and entomology

LOCAL HISTORY

Many artisanal skills, now rare, were once necessary for survival.  On Saturday, Aug. 25th, the Ashley House in Sheffield will host a day where families can learn about the many different skills necessary for running a household. Visitors can try spinning wool, caring for animals, cooking, and more! There will also be demonstrations of all sorts for families to view. Just a further north,  Shady Porches happens in Stockbridge on Saturday too.  Tour the town and learn about the Stockbridge’s history from residents, past and present, found on porches of historic homes. The tour, hosted by the Stockbridge Library, features actors playing Stockbridge residents – doctors, lawyers, bakers, etc., – and offers a fun and exciting take on local history.

On Sunday, Aug. 26th, several historical societies will offer free afternoon learning events. Learn about local history and Native Americans by visiting the Agawam Historical Association’s Firehouse Museum where there will be displays, artifacts, and more from which visitors can learn about the first residents of what is now Agawam.  The Plainfield Historical Society will be offering a guided hike to explore former mill sites along the Mill River! The event begins with a talk on the many former mills and their sites, and is followed by a trek through the woods. Families can learn about the industries that helped to bring people to the area and build community, and learn about how the area has changed! The Buckland Historical Society is open in the afternoon! Families can visit to learn about local history from the many different artifacts, pieces of memorabilia that the museum is home to. Kids can learn about how their community has evolved and learn about how significant national and international events and changes have affected where they live.

On Tuesday evening, Aug. 28th, the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton will host “Civil War Field Artillery: The Guns, The Equipment, and the Men” with award-winning historian, Civil War expert, Norbert Rieke. Mr. Rieke will review the different types of field artillery often displayed at our National Parks, giving older students insight into the history of the Civil War through these historic artifacts for their visits to these national treasuries.

SKILLSHARE

Katywil Farm Community in Colrain is hosting a day long block party on Saturday, Aug. 25th, filled with community skillshares and other fun activities! Families can learn weaving and dying, go on a medicinal herb walk, learn to extract honey and make pickles, and more! Visitors are also welcome to share their own skills.

ARCHITECTURE

Tour The Folly, a post-modernist home on the grounds of Field Farm in Williamstown, also on Saturday, Aug. 25th. The Trustees of Reservations will be offering midday tours of the home, and visitors can learn about its unique architectural style and compare it with the farm’s guest house, designed in the American modern style. Great for older kids interested in architecture, design, and engineering.

Bucket ListFind out about these events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES & CDS:

Suggested Events for August 25th-31st, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The 144th annual Cummington Fair, a four-day agricultural celebration right in the heart of Western MA, begins this evening and runs through the weekend! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Thursday-Sunday, August 23rd-26th in the Heart of Western MA – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The annual and beloved Cummington Fair takes place all weekend! Opens at 4pm on Thurs., 1pm on Fri. and 9am on Sat/Sun. Weekend highlights – along with the opportunity to learn about farming and farm animals, local industries, and agriculture – include antique tractor show, circus performances, kids pumpkin contest, magic shows, 4H sheep contest, along with midway rides, games. 97 Fairgrounds Road. Cummington, MA. ($)

Saturday, August 25th in the Hampden County - BACK TO SCHOOL CELEBRATION: School is starting soon! Celebrate the return of school bus rides, fun learning, and bag lunches at Springfield Public Schools’ back to school celebration from 10am-2pm. There will be performances and demonstrations, as well as free backpacks and school supplies for the first 5,000 students to visit. Takes place at Blunt Park. 413-787-7908. 2460 Roosevelt Avenue. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Find out what’s happening in Berkshire County through Sept. 7th.

Saturday, August 25th in the Hampshire County – LOCAL FOOD: How many different types of (delicious) tomatoes are there? And how many are being grown locally? Visit Red Fire Farm’s annual tomato festival to find out from 12noon-5pm! The event includes an all-afternoon tomato tasting, as well as many other fun activities, performances, etc. centered around local food and a locally-based lifestyle. There will be live music from local artists, goods on sale from local artists and artisans, presentations from notable chefs, workshops on utilizing local foods and resources, and, in the morning, a 5K race! 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (<$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Parents’ Night Out Tix Giveaway! Deadline to enter: Sept. 4th.

Friday, Aug. 31st – Monday, Sept. 3rd – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Visit the 145th annual Blandford Fair! There will be animals galore, many opportunities to learn about farming and agriculture, midway games and rides, performances, and more! 413-848-0995. 10 North Street. Blandford, MA. ($)

Friday, Aug. 31st – Monday, Sept. 3rd – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The 195th edition of the Three County Fair takes place this weekend! Visit to learn about animals, local agriculture, local history, and local culture – and see magic shows, live music, and more! Fair Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

All are invited to join us on an organized field trip to the Food Bank of Western MA on Sat., Sept. 15th at 1:30pm. Sign up to join us!

Saturday, Sept. 1st - COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate the end of summer at the great 2012 Holyoke Community Block Party from 12noon-9pm! There will be live music and food (featuring some particularly delicious treats and particularly entertaining acts) all day! Takes place at Heritage State Park. Dwight Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

SCHOOL OPENINGS: The Montessori School of Northampton currently has openings for fall 2012 in their Little Children’s House classroom. Meeting three mornings per week, this class is an introduction to Montessori for children age 2 years to 3 years 6 months by September 1. For more information, visit their website at www.northamptonmontessori.org or contact Laura, their Director of Admissions, at 413-586-4538 x103.

BENEFIT CONCERT: The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) proudly presents “Goodnight Irene”; a benefit concert for the annual Source to Sea Cleanup. This powerful event, with singers from throughout the watershed, will bring communities together to celebrate resilience in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Join CRWC on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA, 7:00pm Tickets $10, on sale at CRWC Greenfield office. For other ticket sales locations, about the music and singers, and other details go to www.ctriver.org.

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your class, event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

YOUTH VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Westfield on Weekends is seeking volunteers ages 12 years old and older to help with the 8th annual Westfield Colonial Harvest Day, which will be taking place on Saturday, Sept 29 from 10am– 6:30pm on the grounds of the Westfield Athenaeum and on Court St. There will be a general meeting in the Whitney Study at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday, Aug 28 at 6pm for all those who are interested in finding out more about Colonial Harvest Day and the many volunteer opportunities for this annual community event. For more info, call Colonial Harvest Day Co-Chair Chris Lindquist at 413-568-0638, or email at clindquist@westath.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
August 25th-31st, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

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Berkshire Family Fun for Late August-Early September

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 25th – September 7th, 2012

Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation’s summer Free Fun Fridays series, Mass MoCA in North Adams will offer free admission on Friday, Aug. 31st!(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

As the summer comes to a close, so do many ongoing summer concert and theater events that enriched Berkshire County this summer.  As we transition from summer towards the school year, many playgroups and libraries quiet down for a couple of weeks, but they will be sure to pick back up in September.

In the meantime, during these last couple of weeks of summer, there are still a lot of fun opportunities happening for families to enjoy: Main Street Stage will put on a theater performance at Bascom Lodge; David Grover will perform a family concert at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; Tanglewood will offer a family-friendly concert; and Berkshire Theatre Group will be putting on a production of Oliver! at The Colonial Theatre… just to name a few!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through the first week of September:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday!
List of Weekly Suggested Events

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18 Community Highlights: Solar Energy to Herpetology. Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.

Many of the agricultural fairs offer community lunch, dinner and BBQs.  Here families come together at the Cummington Fair to enjoy a fresh bounty of corn together. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.  Solar Energy in Northfield to Herpetology Stockbridge.  These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles & kits to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

FAMILY/COMMUNITY DINNERS

As harvest time approaches, more and more opportunities arise for families to have dinner together with their community. It’s Elihu Burritt Day in New Marlborough all day on Saturday, Aug 18th, and in the late afternoon families can come together for a Pig Roast, or enjoy a community grilled chicken dinner at the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club’s annual chicken barbecue in Plainfield! The annual Free Harvest Supper takes place on Sunday, Aug. 19th on the Greenfield Town Common, bringing together families and local farms, offering a delicious locally grown community meal. CISA’s Local Hero Restaurant Days happens Tuesday & Wednesday, Aug. 21st & 22nd in the Pioneer Valley. Support local farmers and local businesses by encouraging families to eat at one (or a few!) of the 51 participating Local Hero restaurants. If you’re interested in other community dinner opportunities, many of the agricultural fairs serve community dinners.

AGRICULTURAL FAIRS

Last week the agricultural fairs began with the Middlefield Fair, and they are continuing with the 95th annual Heath Fair starting Friday, Aug. 17th with fireworks and running through the weekend with a community chicken BBQ for lunch on Sunday. The 85th annual Westfield Fair also begins Friday, Aug. 17th, and runs through the weekend as well, serving up both a spaghetti community dinner and chicken BBQ. On Saturday, Aug. 18th, the 72nd annual Berkshire 4-H Youth Fair and Gymkhana happens in Pittsfield for one day, and starting next Thursday, Aug. 23rd, the 144th annual Cummington Fair begins, a 4-day agricultural fair with midway and all the attractions of a hometown country fair, including spaghetti, turkey, and roast beef community dinners.

These fairs are rich in community traditions, and families can learn about local agriculture and meet animals of all kinds. In this small sampling alone families can see demonstrations, learn about domestic animals, submit their jarred jams, bake pies, ride on the midway, play games, enjoy a community BBQ/dinner… and be entertained by great music and family performances!

STEM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH)

Learn how solar power works at Northfield Mountain on Saturday morning, Aug 18th with educator Rachel Roberts in a free solar workshop for kids ages 9+. Participants will do a variety of hands-on science and art projects connecting them with the general concepts of solar power, supporting their learning of power and how energy is generated. There will also be a tour of Northfield Mountain’s solar facility! On both Saturday, Aug. 18th & Sunday, Aug. 19th, the Hampshire County Radio Controllers host their annual Scale Fly-In in Hadley. Families who fly remote control planes can bring their planes to fly, but a plane is not required to attend! Families can learn about radio controlled planes and the basics of piloting one at the event – pairs well with basic physics and aviation studies!

ANIMAL ADVENTURES

Animals we are highlighting this week include birds, amphibians, reptiles & caterpillars. On Sunday, Aug. 19th families can practice their birding skills in the morning at Mt. Tom in Holyoke with a guided walk around the park, and in the afternoon kids can explore Tolland State Forest in East Otis with Teaching Creatures, learning about Herpetology and the roles reptiles and amphibians play within the local ecosystem. Families can continue with their studies of herpetology in Stockbridge on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, with a program designed to teach participants about some of the more than thirty types of frogs, snakes, turtles and salamanders that live in the region, with some of the animals on hand for observation! – The youngest of your family can join in a caterpillar-themed storytime, also on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to discover the mysteries of this transformative creature.

LOCAL HISTORY

Discovering local history through the lens of family biographies and experiences is an excellent way for children to understand former times in the region. On Saturday, Aug. 18th families can visit Naumkeag in Stockbridge for an interactive tour, becoming a member of the Choate family who once lived in this historic home, while learning about the building’s history and the stories it holds. Then on Sunday, Aug. 19th, kids can learn how the tram enables families to take vacations at Skinner State Park’s Summit House in Hadley in the early 1900’s. – At the Mission House in Stockbridge on Saturday, Aug. 18th, families can celebrate their own personal history by creating scrapbooks to fill with memories, record oral histories for future generations, and learn methods of recording family history… all while exploring the many families and communities that once lived in the Berkshires.

Another opportunity to explore history in New England is at Old Sturbridge Village’s Textile Weekend on both Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 18th & 19th. There will be special events and presentations throughout the day, all about textile making, sewing and quilting. Visitors can learn about using quilts to piece together parts of history, make their own quilt squares or pockets, learn to card wool, see exhibits of 19th century quilts, and more! If you can’t make it to OSV this weekend, next Friday, Aug. 24th they offer free admission all day!

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES, CD & ACTIVITY KITS:

Suggested Events for August 18th-24th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The Heath Fair is a quintessential Western MA agricultural fair. With the absence of a midway, the fair brings families simple entertainment, with traditional games like tug-o-war, potato sack races and climbing the rope ladder, a community chicken BBQ for lunch on Sunday and live music by excellent local musicians. The 95th annual Heath Fair begins this Friday, Aug. 17th and runs through the weekend. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Friday-Sunday, August 17th-19th in Franklin Cty. – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The annual Heath Fair kicks off on Friday, Aug. 17th from 5-11pm! Highlights for Friday night include live music (including Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem!), cheese making demonstrations, and family square dancing! All day Saturday, families can learn about local agriculture and meet animals of all kinds (there’s even an ADGA goat show!), go on a wagon ride, hear live music, see demonstrations of sheep herding, beekeeping, and herbal medicine. On Sunday events include youth sheep and cattle shows, a performance by the Heath School Strings, live music from the Sweetback Sisters and the Shelburne Falls Military Band, wagon rides, a community parade, and more! 9 Hosmer Road. Heath, MA. ($)

Saturday-Sunday, August 18th-19th in Berkshire Cty. – CULTURAL STUDIES/GREEK: OPA! Spend the weekend in Greece, without the travel! St. George Greek Orthodox Church is hosting their annual Grecian Festival this weekend, 11am-8pm on Saturday and 12noon-6pm on Sunday – families can visit to enjoy a day filled with Greek food, music, dance/dancing, a marketplace, and more! Kids can learn about Greek culture, as well as the role that religion plays within it, at the festival, and will also be able to learn about Greek-American life and the prevalence of Greek culture within the local community. 413-441-8113. 73 Bradford Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 19th in Franklin Cty. – COMMUNITY DINNER: The annual Free Harvest Supper takes place on Sunday, Aug. 19th from 4:30-6:30pm on the Greenfield Town Common!  The dinner brings together over 50 local farms and hundreds of volunteers in order to offer a delicious local community meal.  All are welcome to join in sharing this truly community celebration event, which features a bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays and a Really, Really Free Market. Guests are asked to bring their own place settings, so as to keep the event as waste-free as possible!  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Thursday-Sunday, August 23rd-26th in the Hilltowns – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The annual and beloved Cummington Fair takes place all weekend!  Opens at 4pm on Thurs., 1pm on Fri. and 9am on Sat/Sun. Weekend highlights – along with the opportunity to learn about farming and farm animals, local industries, and agriculture – include antique tractor show, circus performances, kids pumpkin contest, magic shows, 4H sheep contest,  along with midway rides, games.  97 Fairgrounds Road. Cummington, MA.  ($)

Saturday, August 25th in the Pioneer Valley - BACK TO SCHOOL CELEBRATION: School is starting soon!  Celebrate the return of school bus rides, fun learning, and bag lunches at Springfield Public Schools’ back to school celebration from 10am-2pm. There will be performances and demonstrations, as well as free backpacks and school supplies for the first 5,000 students to visit.  Takes place at Blunt Park.  413-787-7908.  2460 Roosevelt Avenue.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, August 25th in the Berkshires – HISTORY: Many artisanal skills, now rare, were once necessary for survival – Ashley House hosts a day where families can learn about the many different skills necessary for running a household from 11am-3pm.  Visitors can try spinning wool, caring for animals, cooking, and more!  There will also be demonstrations of all sorts for families to view.  413-298-3239 ex 3305.  Stockbridge, MA.  (<$)

BULLETIN BOARD

SCHOOL OPENINGS: The Montessori School of Northampton currently has openings for fall 2012 in their Little Children’s House classroom. Meeting three mornings per week, this class is an introduction to Montessori for children age 2 years to 3 years 6 months by September 1. For more information, visit their website at www.northamptonmontessori.org or contact Laura, their Director of Admissions, at 413-586-4538 x103.

SLEEP WORKSHOP: Awaiting the arrival of a new baby? Join other expectant parents for a sleep workshop, “Sleep for Expectant Parents,” on Monday, Aug. 20th from 6-8pm in Hampshire County.  This workshop will offer a look into the world of sleep science and its clear implications for families.  Learn why sleep is essential for your newborn and hear concrete strategies to help you and your baby develop healthy sleep habits in the first months of life.  Recommended by area pediatricians and obstetricians.  Led by Beth Grams Haxby Ed.M. and held at The Center for Midwifery at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA.  Cost: $20.00 payable by cash or check. Call or email to register: 413-348-6273 or beth@sleepandparenting.com.

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

BENEFIT CONCERT: The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) proudly presents “Goodnight Irene”; a benefit concert for the annual Source to Sea Cleanup. This powerful event, with singers from throughout the watershed, will bring communities together to celebrate resilience in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Join CRWC on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA, 7:00pm Tickets $10, on sale at CRWC Greenfield office. For other ticket sales locations, about the music and singers, and other details go to www.ctriver.org.

ENTER TO WIN FAMILY DINNER: Who loves pizza?! In honor of CISA’S Local Hero Restaurant Days, planned for Aug. 21st & 22nd, Hilltown Families is giving away a $40 gift certificate to one of the 51 Local Hero participating restaurants – Hillside Pizza! Enter to win by emailing your favorite family dinner recipe for inclusion in our Season at the Table series to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com by 12noon on Monday, Aug. 20th. We’ll select one family from all who submit a recipe to receive a gift certificate to Hillside Pizza.  Then get out and enjoy a well balanced local food meal on Aug. 21st & 22nd at any of the participating restaurants who are commitment to buying locally grown produce and products and will be highlighting local specials on their menus during Local Hero Restaurant Days!  Visit CISA for a list of Local Hero restaurants and their featured menus.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
August 18th-24th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

Read the rest of this entry »

31 Community Highlights: From Rabbits to Reptiles, Watershed to Caves

Solomon’s Seal (pictured here) is claimed to relieve a range of afflictions, from bruises to acne, menopause to broken bones. On Sunday, Aug. 12th, at Mt. Greylock, go on a medicine plant walk at 10am or 2pm and learn to identify plants with medicinal properties, like Solomon Seal and many others. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Rabbits in Turners Falls. Reptiles in Lenox. Barbados in Springfield. South Africa in Amherst.  These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

HISTORY

Local historical societies are great places to visit with the family to discover local history while giving children a better understanding of where they live.  Featured this weekend are three societies located in the towns of Buckland, Chesterfield and Shelburne Falls. On Sunday, Aug. 12th, all three historical societies will be open. The Buckland Historical Society is having an open house from 2-4pm in a former schoolhouse filled with three floors of locally relevant displays and artifacts. The Chesterfield Historical Society will be hosting an ice cream social at 4pm at the Edwards Memorial Museum, featuring a Victorian Parlor and old organ, as well as period dresses and costumes.  The Shelburne Historical Society will be open on Saturday too.  From 2-4pm stop by this former school building, home to artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to the community’s history.

Another fun way to learn about local history is by acquainting your family with our community ancestors. On both Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 11th & 12th at 1 and 2pm, at the Trustees of Reservation’s Ashley House in Sheffield, families can learn about Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, a natural healer and midwife, who sued for her freedom in 1781 (free). On Sunday, Aug. 12th at 11am, families can visit Naumkeag in Stockbridge for an interactive tour, designed just for kids.  Discover the Choate family who once lived in this historic home, while learning about the building’s history and the stories it holds (>$).

Look Park in Florence hosts The Battle of the Seven Pines, a weekend of Civil War reenactment, on Aug. 11th & 12th. Highlights include tours of soldiers’ campsites, meeting soldiers and learning about Army life, battle reenactments, and opportunities to learn about Civil War medicine and artillery, and the role that women played in the war ($).

ANIMAL STUDIES

Animals we’re featuring this week include rabbits, reptiles, birds and bats. In addition to specific animals this week, kids can learn about animal adaptations. Much like humans, animals need their senses in order to survive, but they also have unique adaptations. Learn about interesting animal adaptations and how they use them to survive in their environment on Saturday, Aug. 11th from 10am-1pm at the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield. ($)

On Sunday, Aug. 12th at 10:30am, hone your birding skills at Mt. Tom in Holyoke. Rangers will help visitors learn to search for birds, and visitors will get to try out their new skills around the park (free).  On Tuesday, Aug. 14th at 10:30am, kids can learn all about wild rabbits at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls, and on Thursday, Aug. 16th at 11am, the Boston Museum of Science’s Reptiles! live animal program will be at the Lenox Library (free). At the the Notch Visitors Center in Amherst, kids can learn about bats, and the role that they play in the local ecosystem on Friday, Aug. 17th at 1pm. (Free)

CULTURE

Discover dance, stories and music from Native American, Caribbean, South African, and Arab cultures this week. Experience Native American culture at the Rock, Rattle, and Drum Pow Wow this weekend in Lanesborough ($), or visit the Mission House in Stockbridge on Saturday, Aug. 11th at 1pm for a program on folklore and stories of Native Americans (>$).

Celestial Voices, a choir from Barbados will perform a variety of music, including traditional Caribbean music at St. Peter’s Church in  Springfield on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 4-6pm ($$), and at 7:30pm  Village Harmony’s Teen Ensemble presents a concert of South African song and dance, Italian Renaissance music, and shape-note singing on the green at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst ($).

On Thursday, Aug 16th at 1pm, percussionist Karim Nagi will bring traditional Arab and Muslim instruments and music to the Springfield Museums for a show that features traditional costumes and dances ($).

GEOLOGY

This weekend the Big E is hosting the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show in West Springfield ($). Great chance to check out specimens and to ask collectors and experts questions.  If you’d rather get outdoors to learn about geology, take a morning guided hike at Skinner State Park in Hadley on Saturday, Aug. 11th and learn about the geology of the Holyoke Range.  Or in the afternoon in Amherst, take a guided hike from Notch Visitor’s Center to discover the Horse Caves. In the Berkshires, the Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams hosts Marvelous Marble Walks on both Saturdays and Sundays, where visitors can learn about the marble quarry that once operated nearby.

HABITATS & BOTANY

Visit the Great Falls Discovery Center  in Turners Falls on Saturday, Aug. 11th at 10:30am to participate in, “What’s Wrong in the Watershed?”  The fun family scavenger hunt takes participants through the center, exploring each of the watershed habitats to find out what’s wrong (free). In the afternoon explore the waterfalls of Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough on a guided hike from 1-4pm (free). Then on Sunday, Aug. 12th, at Mt. Greylock, go on a medicine plant walk at 10am or 2pm and learn to identify plants with medicinal properties (free). On Tuesday, Aug. 14th in Holyoke, Mt. Tom hosts Trail Kids, a morning program for kids ages 7-9 to learn about the many different plants and animals they find at the park (free).

ASTRONOMY

There are two free opportunities to stargaze on Saturday, Aug 11th.  The Trustees of Reservations and representatives from Arunah Hill Natural Science Center with be stargazing at Notchview in Windsor where kids of all ages can gaze through telescopes and learn to identify planets and stars (Rain date: Aug 12.). Or visit the summit of Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough to stargaze with the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association. There will be a variety of telescopes on hand for families to become acquainted with the cosmos (Rain or clouds cancels.).

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

Keep the math motor going this summer.  Disguised as games and play, chess and LEGOS can help! Last year we wrote about the benefits of chess and how when played from a young age, chess can be beneficial to a child’s learning and development. This week, on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 1-3pm, an informal Chess Club continues at the Lilly Library in Florence, and on Wednesday, Aug. 15th, drop-in chess for all ages and abilities takes place at the Forbes Library in Northampton from 1-3pm. Both opportunities are free and ongoing. Bringing your own chess board is welcomed.

Kids can practice the basic principles of engineering and design by building and experimenting with LEGOS. On Monday, Aug.. 13th at 3:30pm, the Chicopee Library will host a free LEGO time, and on Thursday, Aug. 16th at 10:30am, so will the Storrs Library in Longmeadow.

Another fun STEM opportunities happens at noon on Sunday, Aug. 12th at the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield where kids can experiment with the chemistry of  different types of goo – learn about what goes into each one, and how the substance changes based on its ingredients. (>$)

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES:

  1. The Civil War for Kids: A History with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
  2. A Free Woman On God’s Earth: The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom
  3. A+ Books: Amazing Animal Adaptations Series
  4. Smithsonian Handbooks: Reptiles and Amphibians (Smithsonian Handbooks)
  5. Bats (Zoobooks Series)
  6. Native American Stories (Myths and Legends)
  7. The Legend of the African Bao-Bab Tree
  8. Barbados (Cultures of the World, Second)
  9. Roadside Geology of Massachusetts (Roadside Geology Series)
  10. Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water
  11. Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them
  12. Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors: Revised Edition

Suggested Events for August 11th-17th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference happens this weekend at UMass with workshops for kids of all age and an old-fashioned country fair with games like watermelon seed spitting (pictured here from last year’s country fair) and ox plop bingo!

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS


Friday-Sunday, August 10th-12th in Hampshire Cty.AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Middlefield Fair, an old-time country fair established in 1855, happens this weekend.  Gates open at 4pm on Friday, Aug. 10th and the runs through the weekend. A quintessential New England agriculture fair, Middlefield Fair hosts sheep & cattle shows, horse & oxen pull, pancake breakfast, Roast Pork dinner, fiddler’s contest, live music, family entertainment and displays in the exhibit hall and historical museum. 413-623-6027.  7 Bell Rd. Middlefield, MA (>$, Kids under 12 are FREE)

Saturday & Sunday, August 11th-12th in Hampden Cty. – 10am-6pm – GEOLOGY: The Big E is hosting the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show next weekend! Families can visit to see and learn about tons of different types of stones, fossils, geodes, and more! It’s a great way to supplement studies of geology and natural history – try identifying some exhibits on your own to test knowledge! 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. ($)

Saturday & Sunday, August 11th-12th in Hampshire Cty. from 8am-4pm – HISTORY: Look Park hosts The Battle of the Seven Pines, a weekend of Civil War reenactment!  Today’s highlights include tours of soldiers’ campsites, meeting soldiers and learning about Army life, battle reenactments (including a takeover of the Look Park train!), and opportunities to learn about Civil War medicine and artillery, and the role that women played in the war.  413-584-5457.  300 North Main Street.  Florence, MA.  ($)

Saturday, August 11th in Franklin Cty. from 2-8pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate River Culture at the annual Turners Falls Block Party! There will be a parade, live music, a BMX stunt show, games, locally made goods, and more! Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Next Friday-Sunday, August 17th-19th in Franklin Cty. – AGRICULTURAL FAIR:  The annual Heath Fair kicks off on Friday, Aug. 17th from 5-11pm!  Highlights for Friday night include live music (including Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem!), cheese making demonstrations, and family square dancing!  All day Saturday, families can learn about local agriculture and meet animals of all kinds (there’s even an ADGA goat show!), go on a wagon ride, hear live music, see demonstrations of sheep herding, beekeeping, and herbal medicine.  On Sunday events include youth sheep and cattle shows, a performance by the Heath School Strings, live music from the Sweetback Sisters and the Shelburne Falls Military Band, wagon rides, a community parade, and more!  9 Hosmer Road.  Heath, MA.  ($)

Net Saturday-Sunday, August 18th-19th in Berkshire Cty. – CULTURAL STUDIES/GREEK: OPA! Spend the weekend in Greece, without the travel!   St. George Greek Orthodox Church is hosting their annual Grecian Festival this weekend, 11am-8pm on Saturday and 12noon-6pm on Sunday – families can visit to enjoy a day filled with Greek food, music, dance/dancing, a marketplace, and more!  Kids can learn about Greek culture, as well as the role that religion plays within it, at the festival, and will also be able to learn about Greek-American life and the prevalence of Greek culture within the local community.  413-441-8113.  73 Bradford Street. Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Join Easthampton City Arts+ and the Easthampton Bear Fest in a Teddy Bear Picnic—a summertime community picnic around Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton on August 11, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.Bring your family, friends, teddy bears and neighbors, and share a seat on a large gingham picnic blanket that will be provided by Bear Fest. The cupcake truck, SugarBakers Cake Truck, will be stationed nearby to provide sweet treats. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite Teddy bear to share in the festivities and the band  Shiprock and Anchordog Acoustic Greatness will be performing live for picnic goers. Pack a picnic basket and join the community fun!

featured serviceHOST FAMILY NEEDED FOR CHINESE STUDENT: Baijie, a 15-year old boy from China, is packing his bags to come to the Academy at Charlemont as an exchange student. A talented calligraphy artist, he loves soccer and basketball. Baijie needs a family who could open their home and their hearts to him this fall. Host families provide a place for the student to sleep and study, meals, and a warm, supportive environment. They receive a $500 monthly stipend, and transportation is covered. Students have their own spending money and medical insurance. Since Baijie arrives very soon, interested families are asked to contact Ann Newsmith, 802-257-4710, ann.newsmith@gmail.com as soon as possible so that Baijie’s travel and visa arrangements may be completed.

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

SCREENINGS: The Family Resource Center in North Adams offers FREE Ages and Stages Screenings. Infants and young children have so many developmental changes and milestones in the early years, it’s helpful to know where your child is developmentally and how to best support their growth. Ages and Stages is a well respected screening tool that will guide families in understanding their child’s development. The FRC staff will spend an hour with you and your child to go through this screening tool. Please contact their office for more information or an appointment at mzepka@ccberkshire.org or 413-664-4821.

BACK PACKED FOR SUCCESS: The Family Place is hosting a back-to-school event for kids entering 1st grade through 6th grade at local northern Berkshire schools.  Kids & their parents can get a free backpack filled with school supplies  and meet their school principal.  The event for families living in Florida & Savoy will be located at Gabriel Abbott Elementary School (56 North County Road) in Florida on August 21st from  5:30 -6:30 pm .  The event for families living in Williamstown, North Adams, Clarksburg, Adams, & Cheshire will be located at The Family Place (61 Main Street) in North Adams on August 23rd from 12:30pm – 2:30 pm. Pre-registration required. Contact Sara or Amber at 413-663-7588  or email at smcdonald@nbccoalition.org to register by August 20, 2012.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
August 11th-17th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for Early-Mid August, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 11th-24th, 2012

We’re entering the season of community festivals, craft and agricultural fairs!  A few to highlight in Berkshire County over the next two weeks including Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow at Wirtes Farm in Lanesborough, Hinsdale Dayz at the town fire station, Berkhsire 4-H Fair in Pittsfield, Grecian Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsfield, Stockbridge Summer Arts and Crafts Show, Zucchini Festival in the town center of West Stockbridge, Berkshire Crafts Fair at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington, and  Family Day on the village green in New Marlborough.

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through August 24th:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! List of Weekly Suggested Events

Read the rest of this entry »

26 Community Highlights: From Blacksmithing to Civil War Heroines, Knots to Bubbles

Most kids LOVE bubbles, and on Thursday, Aug 9th at 2pm they can have a ton of fun at the Chicopee Public Library who will host “BubbleMania: Science, Art & Comedy” with bubble-ologist, Casey Carle! Casey brings his audience age appropriate science that is both artistic and comical. Through bubbles, participants will learn about physical laws, like molecular bonding and surface tension, while being entertained with humor and amazing skills. — The science of bubbles can also be done at home and in the classroom. Check out BubbleMania’s Study Guide and Step-by-Step Online Video Series to support further learning through the science of bubbles!

August is here and there’s less than one month left of summer before the school year begins again for many.  And while there is a break from the classroom for these couple of months, the learning opportunities never stop!  August is chock-full of educational and fun events for families, ranging from blacksmithing to Civil War heroines, knots to bubbles!

We’re even including a list of book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted this week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

NIGHT SKIES

Once in a blue moon… August will be one of those rare months when a full moon occurs twice in one month, with the second full moon called a Blue Moon.  This is a fun fact to explore with your kids while stirring up their interests in the night skies. There are a few opportunities to supplement those interests this next week too. Tonight on Friday, Aug 3rd from 8-9:30pm families can stargaze the night away at Naumkeag in Stockbridge. Stargazing kits including maps and activities will be available for participants. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 4-5pm, kids can learn about stars and planets at the Mason Library in Great Barrington with an introduction to studies of outer space for younger students. Midweek on Wednesday, Aug 8th at 7:30pm, the Wilbraham Library hosts, “Stories of the Night Sky,” with Kevin Kopchynski followed by an evening of stargazing.  All three events are free.

ANIMAL STUDIES

Birds of prey, beavers and bats are the three animals we’re highlighting this week. On Sunday, Aug 5th from 10am-12noon meet Tom Ricardi’s birds of prey up close at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield ($) and then again on Friday, Aug 10th at 11am at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. — Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox will host two programs this week, one about beavers, the other about bats. On Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6:30-8pm, join them to search for beavers (and signs of beavers, like lodges, dams, and trees that have been munched on). Kids can learn about the role that beavers play in a changing landscape, as well as the other wildlife that beaver-created ponds can attract. At the end of the week Friday, Aug 10th from 6:30-8pm discover and search for bats with a handy bat detector to listen to their calls. (>$)

LOCAL AND WORLD CULTURE

A fun way for kids to learn about other cultures is through music and food. On Saturday, Aug 4th from 11am-3pm, take a short field trip to the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT for their Green Corn Festival ($).  The festival celebrates the ripening of the season’s first corn, a tradition in many different tribes, and Native American culture.  Also on Saturday at 6:30pm, the Lenox Library hosts Didgeridoo Down Under, featuring a free puppet show and jam workshop with the didgeridoo, an Australian instrument rich in Aboriginal culture.

On Sunday, Aug 5th from 12noon-6pm, Pittsfield’s annual Ethnic Fair takes place with food and music from around the world. Families can learn about the traditions of several world cultures, and older students can use what they learn to think about international influences on American customs and traditions.  In the evening on Sunday, Aug 5th at 6pm, Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song Performance with Sanga-of-the-Valley happens at Bascom Lodge in Adams, fusing original songs and spoken word with traditional West African rhythm and dance (free).

LOCAL AND NEW ENGLAND HISTORY

The region is always rich in opportunities to explore both local and regional history. This weekend there are several opportunities, including a couple that span both days.  On both Saturday & Sunday, Old Sturbirdge Village hosts Redcoats and Rebels a Civil War reenactment. The event is the largest of its kind in New England, and includes demonstrations of cannon firing and battle techniques, live fife and drum music, and more. Out in Pittsfield, (bb) families can celebrate the tradition of blacksmithing at Hancock Shaker Village for Age of Iron Weekend. The village will be full of activities and demonstrations related to blacksmithing, and families can take part in a scavenger hunt, hear talks on blacksmithing in Shaker history, tour the blacksmithing shop, and much more. ($)

There are a few other history events happen in Berkshire Cty. on Saturday, Aug 4th too. From 11am-2pm, learn about the history of families who lived locally between 1650 and 1950 at the Mission House in Stockbridge. Kids will learn about the importance of preserving family history, and can create their own family trees and scrapbooks to take home ($). At 2pm in North Adams, Western Gateway Heritage State Park will host a program on female soldiers in the Civil War (free), and at 4pm families can tour the Stockbridge Cemetery to learn about the town’s “cottage-era” and the community members who had ties to historic homes in central Berkshire Cty. (>$).

In the Pioneer Valley, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 1-4pm, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield will be hosting a special open house in celebration of the community’s support. Along with the chance to explore the museum and learn about local history, there will be blacksmithing demonstrations, papermaking, walking tours by the Green River and live music (free).

ART, FILM & THEATER

If you’re looking for art, film & theater opportunities, on Saturday, Aug 4th from 12noon-4pm visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for “World of Adventure,” a special family festival day to celebrate the museum’s newest exhibit, which features illustrations by Howard Pyle ($).  Then later in the week on Friday, Aug 10th from 4-8pm, tour the galleries at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton for Free Second Friday.  There will be a kids activity happening from 4-6pm, along with a guided gallery talk at 6:30pm.

In the realm of theater, on Saturday, Aug 4th at 7:30pm, older kids interested in film studies can see an authentic silent film on the big screen at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls. Pothole Pictures will be screening “Wings,” a 1927 B&W film restored with an orchestral recreation of the original organ accompaniment (>$).  On Tuesday, Aug 7th from 9:30am-4pm, kids can spend the day creating an entire puppet show at the Becket Arts Center (>$), or at 1pm take part in a musical theater improv workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield (free).  Then at the end of the week on Friday, Aug 10th at 4:30pm, children can learn about theater costuming and props at the Williamstown Theater Festival with a behind-the-scenes look at how their costume department functions ($).

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Other cool things happening this week that will get your kids thinking and learning include a spelling bee happening at the Chicopee Library on Wednesday, Aug 8th from 6-7:30pm for word-savvy kiddos in grades 3-6 (free).  On Thursday, Aug 9th at 6pm, families can learn to tie useful knots at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield, taught by a former sailor- learn three easy knots that can be used for almost anything (<$). And on Friday, Aug 10th from 10am-6pm, the Big E hosts the East Coast Gem, Mineral,and Fossil Show for the next three days in West Springfield ($).

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUGGESTED SUPPLEMENTAL READING:

  1. Birds of Prey Coloring Book (Dover Nature Coloring Book)
  2. A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky
  3. Amazing Solar System Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series)
  4. Beavers (Kids Can Press Wildlife Series)
  5. The Bat Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series)
  6. American Indian Festivals (True Books: American Indians)
  7. The Healing Sounds of the Didgeridoo: An Invitation to a Personal Spiritual Journey
  8. World Music Drumming: A Cross-Cultural Curriculum
  9. Eyewitness Civil War (DK Eyewitness Books)
  10. The Blacksmith (Colonial People)
  11. Daring Women of the Civil War (Civil War Library)
  12. Pirates, Patriots, and Princesses: The Art of Howard Pyle (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)
  13. Eyewitness: Film
  14. 40 Knots to Know: Hitchs, Loops, Bends and Binding (Quick Starts for Kids!)
  15. Eyewitness: Rocks & Minerals

Suggested Events for August 4th-10th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

There will be a clothing swap on Saturday, August 4th from 9am-1pm at the Ashfield Congregational Church. “Ashfield Needles and Threads” will sponsor this one-day opportunity to clear out your closets and outgrown kids clothes in a way that redirects and recycles them back into our community. All remaining items will be donated to area shelters and services. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

This weekend of August 4th and 5th from 10am-5pm- MUSEUM ADVENTURES/HISTORY: Hancock Shaker Village hosts the Age of Iron Weekend. For a full weekend blacksmiths from Berkshire, Connecticut, the Capital District, and New England Blacksmith Guilds will be at the village demonstrating the art of blacksmithing and metal work. Families can even have hands-on opportunity to try the art of blacksmithing. There will be several techniques and styles highlighted, including ironwork craftsmanship dating from the 17th to the 21st century, Japanese hardware, tool making, engraving, and Viking and Shaker forging. This learning opportunity will afford youth a first hand look at how blacksmithing was an integral part of life in Shaker history. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic. Pittsfield, MA ($$)

This weekend of August 4th & 5th from 9:30am-8pm/5pm – HISTORY: Old Sturbridge Village hosts Redcoats and Rebels this weekend, a Civil War reenactment! The event is the largest of its kind in New England, and includes demonstrations of cannon firing and battle techniques, live fife and drum music, and more! 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. ($)

This Sunday, August 5th from 1-4pm – LOCAL HISTORY: The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage is hosting a special open house in celebration of the community’s support. Along with the chance to explore the museum and learn about local history, there will be blacksmithing demonstrations, papermaking, walking tours by the Green River, live music, and more! 413-336-8275. 2 Mead Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Next weekend of August 10th-12th in Hampshire Cty.LOCAL FOOD: The annual Northeast Organic Farming Association holds its annual conference this weekend! Each day is packed with workshops on a wide variety of farming-related topics. There are even special workshops each day for kids and teens! Along with workshops, there will be vendors, a farmers’ market, delicious organic food, and more. The event takes place at UMass Amherst – camping and dorm rooms available for the weekend. Pre-register for workshops. University Drive. Amherst, MA. (FREE-$$)

Next Saturday, August 11th in Berkshire Cty. from 10am-10pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate zucchini, a delicious summer treat, at the Zucchini Festival today! There will be zucchini races and zucchini-themed games all day, along with live music (including kids’ performers), zucchini weigh-offs, zucchini decorating contests, a petting zoo and pet parade, delicious food, and more! Takes place in the center of West Stockbridge. 413-232-0222. West Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Next Saturday, August 11th in Franklin Cty. from 2-8pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate River Culture at the annual Turners Falls Block Party! There will be a parade, live music, a BMX stunt show, games, locally made goods, and more! Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Next weekend of August 11th-12th in Hampden Cty. – 10am-6pm – GEOLOGY: The Big E is hosting the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show next weekend! Families can visit to see and learn about tons of different types of stones, fossils, geodes, and more! It’s a great way to supplement studies of geology and natural history – try identifying some exhibits on your own to test knowledge! 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
August 4th-10th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

Read the rest of this entry »

Community and Service Based Learning for Families: 22 Highlights for Next Week!

On Friday, Aug 3rd, kids can immerse themselves (not literally) in a pond!  Northfield Library hosts a morning family adventure to learn about the life in a local pond – using nets, magnifiers, and guides, families will learn to identify many different pond creatures. (FREE)

Hilltown Families Highlights for this coming week combine economic development with community-based and service-based learning:

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

There are several opportunities to support your community this week. We all know that shopping local is a great way to foster economic development, and this weekend there are a few events that make it easy to shop local, including sidewalk sales in both downtown Northampton and downtown Greenfield, and the annual Arts & Crafts Fair at Church on the Hill in Lenox.  Another way to support your community while benefiting from service based learning is by volunteering as a family. A few opportunities coming up this week include building a new trail with the Trustees of Reservations in Ashfield on Saturday, July 28th, helping out at the Just Roots Food for All Garden to support local hunger relief every Sunday in Greenfield through the growing season, and a community-wide gleaning event currently being organized in Amherst (interest meeting on Tuesday, July 31st).

ANIMALS

Animal adventures next week include nocturnal insects & animals, aquatic critters, and birds of prey. Hatifield Library takes a look at what critters come out only at night on Tuesday, July 31st while the Chicopee Library presents their predators hosted by Tom Ricardi and his Birds of Prey on Thursday, Aug 2nd.  If fish and aquatic animals are your interest, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield has an Aquarium Adventure program every Thursday where kids can meet & greet while learning about these critters.

HABITATS

Ponds, rivers and streams are great natural habitats for families to explore and learn about ecology during the summer months. On Saturday, July 28th, kids can learn about the unique habitats provided by beaches, especially beaches at our local ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls in the morning, and after lunch join educator Dawn Marvin Wood for an afternoon of river studies at the Northfield Library. On Sunday, July 29th, families can walk the canal side trail in Turners Falls and learn about all of the creatures who call the river home, or take a guided canoe trip at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield with the Trustees of Reservations and learn about the history of the Housatonic River. Ponds are the focus on Friday, Aug 3rd as Northfield Mountain hosts a special family adventure to learn about the life in a local pond – using nets, magnifiers, and guides, families will learn to identify many different pond creatures.

LOCAL HISTORY

Families can learn about local history through the lens of fiber, pottery, wells and bricks this week. On Saturday, July 28th, families can visit Historic Deerfield to learn about tailoring, as part of the museum’s “Fun with Flax” exhibit, or the Ashley House in Sheffield to learn about the craft of pottery and its history. Also on Saturday, Kingman Tavern Historical Museum in Cummington hosts an afternoon of sheep shearing and fiber history.  On Sunday, July 29th in Plainfield visit the Shaw Library for a program that takes a look at how residents during the 19th century created their own aqueduct to draw water from springs on higher ground.  Later in the week on Friday, Aug 3rd, the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls will present a program that looks at the local brick making industry of Montague City and the importance of this industry to our local history.

MATH & SCIENCE

Summer time is no time to put math and science on hold!  At the Forbes Library in Northampton, Gary Pozzato and his computerized friend Robo the Robot will share information about space, planetary orbits and rockets on Tuesday, July 31st.  On Wednesday, Aug 1st the Westhampton Library will host an origami demo where kids use math and geometry skills for folding paper.  Also on Wednesday, at the Monson Library, kids crazy about LEGOS can practice basic principles of architecture, design, and physics during an afternoon drop-in.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happen all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)
SUGGESTED SUPPLEMENTAL TITLES:

Suggested Events for July 28th-August 3rd, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Western Massachusetts’ very own Oxbow Water Ski Show Team host the 28th Annual Eastern Region Ski Show Tournament this weekend in Northampton on the Connecticut River. Sunday is the day to go! Four teams put on an hour show each starting at 9am. Great family fun! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, July 28th from 2-5pm - HISTORY/SHEEP SHEARING: Kingman Tavern Historical Museum hosts an afternoon of sheep shearing and fiber history!  Traditional blade shearer Kevin Ford will do a demonstration (beginning at 3), and families can explore the museum to see lots of local artifacts (many related to shearing) and learn about local history!  413-634-5527.  41 Main Street.  Cummington, MA.  (FREE)

Weekend of July 28th & 29thWATER SKI SHOW: Did you know Western MA has it’s very own water ski show team?  The Oxbow Water Ski Show Team, established over 30 years ago, is hosting the annual Eastern Region Water Ski Show Tournament this weekend. Four teams from New England come together to compete, each putting on a show the whole family will enjoy!  Saturday are individual acts, including Swivel, Adagio Doubles, Freestyle Jump, and Team Jump. On Sunday (the day to go!) each team will put on an one-hour show starting at 9am including barefooting, swivel skiing, jumping, ballet lines, doubles, and of course the famous human pyramids.  Where else are you going to see something like this outside of Florida? BYO blanket & chairs. 413-543-2235. Oxbow Marina. Old Springfield Road. Northampton, MA (FREE, >$ PARKING)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Weekend of August 4th and 5th at 8:30am – AVIATION: The Great New England Air Show takes place this weekend at Westover Air Force Base!  Families can visit to learn all about different types of planes, watch flight shows, and see giant Air Force planes and helicopters up close!  Chicopee, MA.  ($)

Weekend of August 4th and 5th from 10am-5pm- MUSEUM ADVENTURES/HISTORY: Hancock Shaker Village hosts the Age of Iron Weekend. For a full weekend blacksmiths from Berkshire, Connecticut, the Capital District, and New England Blacksmith Guilds will be at the village demonstrating the art of blacksmithing and metal work.  Families can even have hands-on opportunity to try the art of blacksmithing.  There will be several techniques and styles highlighted, including ironwork craftsmanship dating from the 17th to the 21st century, Japanese hardware, tool making, engraving, and Viking and Shaker forging.  This learning opportunity will afford youth a first hand look at how blacksmithing was an integral part of life in Shaker history. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic.  Pittsfield, MA ($$)

BULLETIN BOARD

INFO SESSION: The Academy at Charlemont will host a summer information session August 1, 7 – 8 PM at the Forbes Library in Northampton.  At The Academy, rigorous academic and artistic exploration are nurtured by a supportive community, governed by an Honor Code.  The curriculum develops skills to prepare students for Senior Independent Projects culminating in presentations to the community.  Studio Block classes connect students with local artists, musicians, and writers.  Academy students are stretched by leadership, citizenship, and athletic requirements.  Everybody plays, everybody learns, everybody matters. Meet students, staff, and parents on August 1 and learn what it means to “Find your voice, speak your mind”.  Details at www.charlemont.org.

HOME SCHOOL CONNECT FAIR: On Tuesday, July 31, SHINE Middle Grades Home School would like you to learn about programs for home-schooling families in the valley, while having a good time!  Come to the 10am performance by Alex the Jester at The Pines Theater in Look Park in Florence at 10am, and then stay for the fun.  The Home School Connect Fair will take place from 10:45-2:00 in the mini-pavillion next to the splash park. There will be laughing yoga, hula-hooping, a lesson by the Pioneer Valley Women’s Martial Arts, and a family Contra Dance. There are also many vendors, including, Tekoa Mountain Outdoors, Simplicity Parenting, North Star Learning Center, A Natural Music School, Lui Collins, & more. Learn more about the event at: http://www.facebook.com/events/248710701898130/.

FOR SALE: Are you interested in building your own home on land trust land? Want to live in rural Wendell in the center of “town?” Only $19,000 for antique school house, well and septic. Use the school house as an accessory building or restore it for a dwelling. Land owned by non-profit member organization - Valley Community Land Trustwww.vclt.org for more information.

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.”  Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth  living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

VOLUNTEER FOR HISTORY: Is your teen (or you) a bit of a history buff?  Would they be interested in learning more about local history?  Storrowton Village in West Springfield is currently seeking youth volunteers for the 2012 Big E, from Sept. 14-30. It’s an opportunity to provide a service to the community, as well as to gain and share knowledge of 19th century history.  Volunteers dress in 19th century clothing and either act as hosts or guide tours through the village.  This is a great activity for friendly, outgoing teens!  Volunteer training begins on Aug 22 for 3 sessions, including Aug 29 & Sept 5, from 1-6pm. For more info. & to schedule interview, call 413-205-5051 before Aug 15.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
July 28th – August 3rd, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for Late July – Early August, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 28th – August 10th, 2012

Summer theater and music continues in the Berkshires!  In addition to cultural performances, there are also great learning opportunities in  Berkshire County over the next two weeks!

With a region rich in local history, the history of families who lived in the Berkshires dating back to the 1600’s can be explored at the Mission House in Stockbridge, or explore during a guided tour of the Stockbridge Cemetery. Families can also learn about female soldiers in the Civil War at Western Gateway Heritage State Park  in North Adams, and “Amazing Americans” at the Milne Library in Williamstown. At the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, families can discover the importance blacksmithing was to Shaker history through demos and hands-on activities, and at the Ashley House in Sheffield the history and importance of pottery can be examined.

Other upcoming family fun learning opportunities in Berkshire County include exploring local boreal forests in Windsor with Mass Audubon, mapping the night sky at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, and learning about stars and planets at the Mason Library in Great Barrington.  There are even a couple of opportunities to learn about other cultures, including Australian Aboriginal culture at the Lenox Library and several other cultures at Pittsfield’s annual Ethnic Fair.

The Berkshires are not only a terrific place for high quality entertainment, but also a fun place to learn!  Find out all the fun thing’s happening for families and make plans to explore the Berkshires!

Read the rest of this entry »

From Owls to Bats, Puppets to Marionettes: 20 Highlights for Next Week!

Highlights this coming weekend and next week include fun family events for learning about insects, owls, bats, and local habitat, along with a plethora of performances both with and about puppets!

If you’re heading to the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls this Tuesday for their Bees & Flowers program, download their Great Falls Quest activity sheet  before heading over and go on a search through the exhibits at the nature center to solve the quest! – For additional supplemental reading material on topics highlighted this week, be sure to check out our list of recommended titles!

SIX-LEGGED CRITTERS

A few weeks ago we mentioned how families interested in entomology (the study of insects) can participate as citizen scientists in their own backyards during National Moth Week, happening this coming week, July 23-29.  In addition to this great opportunity to explore these nocturnal insects in your own backyard, Ramsdell Library (Housatonic, MA) invites families to come learn about fireflies on Monday, July 23rd at 1:30pm, and the Pelham Library will be exploring nocturnal insects on Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30pm. Insects of the day can be studied this week too… on Tuesday, July 24th at 10:30am, kids ages 3-6 can learn about the fascinating role that bees and pollination play in the environment at the Great Falls Discovery Center (Turners Falls, MA).  And the best news, all of the events are FREE!

FLYING ANIMALS

If two or four-legged critters are more of your interests, the Mason Library (Great Barrington, MA) will host Wingmasters on Saturday, July 21st at 1:30pm for a program on owls. Kids can learn about the animals’ amazing powers of flight, sight, and hearing. (FREE) —But owls are the only flying animal with great hearing… so are bats! On Friday, July 27th at 7pm, Twilight World of Bats happens at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (Lenox, MA). Kids ages 5-15yo can learn about the ecology and diversity of bats in the region.  Using a bat detector, participants can “eavesdrop” on these flying mammals as the hunt the evening sky for food. (>$)

PUPPET PERFORMANCES

Families can fill their days with fun family programming all summer long, including an abundance of puppet/marionette shows happening this week! Robbins-Zust Marionettes will perform several shows throughout the week, including Firebird on Saturday, July 21st at Marketplace Cafe (Pittsfield, MA). Then the performances move to Saint Paul’s Church (Stockbridge, MA) with The Emperor’s New Clothes on Monday, July 23rd, Jack and the Beanstalk on Tuesday, July 24th, The Three Little Pigs on Wednesday, July 25th, and Carnival of the Animals on Thursday, July 26th (>$).

A couple of libraries will host puppet performances this week too. The Goshen Library will host Talking Hands Theater‘s production of Little Superheros on Monday, July 23rd at 6:30pm, and the Westhampton Library will host puppeteer Deborah Costine‘s production of Woodland Cinderella on Tuesday, July 24th at 10am. Both shows are free.

Museums join in the poppet fun too with CactusHead presenting Little Red Riding Hood at the Eric Carle Museum (Amherst, MA) on Sunday, July 22nd at 1pm, and the Springfield Museums hosting Tanglewood Marionettes production of Sleeping Beauty later in the week on Friday, July 27th at 11:30am & 1:30pm. ($)

Not only are there family shows with puppets, there are even shows about puppets… the most famous puppet of them all… Pinocchio! The Berkshire Theater Group will present Pinocchio in the Dell at The Mount (Lenox, MA) beginning this week. Show runs Tues–Sat at 4pm and Tues & Thurs at 7pm, through Aug. 11th.  ($$)

NATURE SCIENCE

Getting outdoors with the kids and exploring the region can lead to many wonderful learning moments this weekend. On Saturday, July 21st, families can join the Hilltown Land Trust for a free morning hike in the Hilltowns, exploring the Strasburg Conservation land (Worthington, MA), a forested area being restored to old growth quality. In the Berkshires, parents and their nature-curious pre-schoolers are invited to explore the pond and meadows of Sheep Hill (Williamstown, MA) at a nature observation class sponsored by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation ($). And in the Pioneer Valley, families can explore rivers, streams, channels, and islands with Art O’Leary in the wildlife sanctuary at Stanley Park (Westfield, MA) (Free).

Then on Sunday, July 22nd,  older kids can learn about native flowers of the Pioneer Valley with Nancy Goodman of the New England Wild Flower Society at Mt. Norwottuck (Amherst, MA) ($$).

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happen all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!).

RECOMMENDED TITLES:

Suggested Events for July 21st-27th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

It’s time to PYO blueberries! Benson Place in Heath, MA has low bush berries that are a lot of fun to gather using a blueberry rake. They will be open for PYO this weekend and next. – Find other places to PYO blueberries here: Where’s Your Favorite Place to PYO Blueberries in Western MA

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Saturday, July 21st from 10am-4pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Saturday is Bryant Day at the Bryant Homestead!  The event celebrates William Cullen Bryant, beloved 19th century author, editor, and conservationist.  The day is full of opportunities to learn about Bryant’s work and the history of the homestead, as well as live music, poetry readings, and a lecture on crafting short stories.  Families can pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic on the homestead’s grounds, tour the building, and learn about an important part of local and literary history.  413-532-1631 ex10.  207 Bryant Road.  Cummington, MA.  (<$)

Sunday, July 22nd from 2-4pm – LOCAL HISTORY: The Buckland Historical Society is hosting an open house today. Located in a former schoolhouse, the Historical Society is home to artifacts of local importance – families can learn about the history of their community, and kids can help place their knowledge of American History in the context of their surroundings by learning about the history of their town. 413-625-9763. 20 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Saturday, July 28th at 6pm - OUTDOOR PERFORMANCE: Main Street Stage is doing a whirlwind backyard tour this summer with their production, “The King Stag,” a play chronicling a queen-finding quest.  The story is told through puppets, masks, music, magic, stilts, and more.  Next Saturday’s performance takes place at the Adams Visitor Center.  3 Hoosac Street.  Adams, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, July 29th at dusk – OUTDOOR FILM: The hills are alive with the Sound of Music! Quite literally, in fact – Images Cinema screens the film outside tonight on the Morgan Lawn!  Williamstown, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Meet the creator of Knuffle Bunny and The Pigeon!  Author and illustrator Mo Willems is coming to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Saturday, July 21 at 10:30 a.m, to present his new films Knuffle Bunny Free:  An Unexpected Diversion and Edwina:  The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct! Enjoy the films, chat with Mo and get your favorite Mo Willems books signed.  Free with Museum Admission.  For details visit www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1100.

Handmade for Kids Holiday FairCALL FOR CRAFTERS: Hilltown Families is a proud sponsor of the Cummington Family Center’s 3rd annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair. The fair is the center’s annual fundraiser and an excellent opportunity for community members to find commercial-free handmade items, many supporting creative free play. This year’s fair will be held on November 3rd at Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington, MA. Registration is now open for crafters who make handmade, commercial-free items for kids of all ages.  Spaces are also open for anyone interested in leading hour long gift-making workshops for children and/or adults. This is a great family-friendly event. If you are interested in learning more, email Stacey at cummingtonfamilycenter@yahoo.com.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: RH Conwell CEC is seeking to employ a certified individual to teach ELA to students in grades K-6. RHC is a small privately funded school, whose staff teaches students to their specific abilities within multi-age settings versus to their age or grade level. RHC staff relies heavily on differentiated instruction and creative hands-on learning, and the staff holds students to high expectations within their individualized learning plans. If you feel you may be a good fit to the team, please apply today. This position is part-time with the possibility of additional hours contingent on enrollment. Flexibility is a must. RHCCEC is an EOE.  Send resume packet to: RHC Attn: J. Dupont 147 Huntington Rd. Worthington, MA 01098 or JDupont@rhccec.org

INFO SESSION: The Academy at Charlemont will host a summer information session August 1, 7 – 8 PM at the Forbes Library in Northampton.  At The Academy, rigorous academic and artistic exploration are nurtured by a supportive community, governed by an Honor Code.  The curriculum develops skills to prepare students for Senior Independent Projects culminating in presentations to the community.  Studio Block classes connect students with local artists, musicians, and writers.  Academy students are stretched by leadership, citizenship, and athletic requirements.  Everybody plays, everybody learns, everybody matters. Meet students, staff, and parents on August 1 and learn what it means to “Find your voice, speak your mind”.  Details at www.charlemont.org.

FOR SALE: Are you interested in building your own home on land trust land? Want to live in rural Wendell in the center of “town?” Only $19,000 for antique school house, well and septic. Use the school house as an accessory building or restore it for a dwelling. Land owned by non-profit member organization - Valley Community Land Trustwww.vclt.org for more information.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

Have you ever wanted to learn about herbalism but can’t find the time for classes? This summer Hilltown Families is partnering with Blazing Star Herbal School, offering our readers the opportunity to enter to win a correspondence course from their Do-it-Yourself Herbalism Series (valued at $150). Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, July 25th.

FAMILY CAMPING REGISTRATION OPENS: Families who would like to try out camping this summer are encouraged to sign up for the Becoming an Outdoors Family Camping Weekend to be held on Aug 4-5, 2012 at the Otter River State Forest in Templeton. This is a partnership program between the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, Dept. of Conservation & Recreation and North Face. No prior outdoor experience is necessary; this weekend is especially designed for families new to camping. The focus will be on learning basic camping skills, such as outdoor cooking, fishing, archery, and hiking. Some camping equipment is provided. Registration deadline: Jul 27. Some scholarship assistance is available. Registration materials are posted at: www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/bow/bow_calendar.htm.

CAR SEAT SAFETY: Get your child’s car seat inspected and checked for proper car installation by certified technicians at the Amherst Fire Department this Saturday, July 21st.  A seat check can help families identify potential problems with their car seats and ensures that children are traveling as safely as possible!  Call to schedule an appointment (each lasts about 30 minutes).  413-259-3355.  68 North Pleasant Street.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
July 21st-27th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Summer Playgroups
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

23 Highlights to Educate and Entertain Your Family

Here are 23 smart reasons to staycation in Western MA next week:

Kids can explore the Bullitt Reservation on a Snake Search and Frog Find this Saturday in Ashfield. Families will learn how to hunt for snakes, salamanders, frogs, and other small creatures and how to properly handle these critters, so as to ensure that they are properly treated in the future.

HISTORY

The learning continues this summer with a plethora of fun community-based educational opportunities happening across the region! On Saturday, July 14th, it’s Fire and Ice Day at Old Sturbridge Village, affording a chance for families to learn about the history of fire fighting and how homemade old fashioned ice cream is made with historical demonstrations and activities. History lessons continue this Saturday as visitors to Historic Deerfield can learn about the history of food and cooking, and think about how food preparation has changed over time, as part of their open hearth cooking program.  Then on Sunday, July 15th, the Springfield Museums host Indian Day – a celebration of the history of Indian motorcycles, manufactured in Springfield until 1953, playing an important part in the city’s history.

NATURAL HISTORY

In Ashfield on Saturday, July 14th, families can explore the Bullitt Reservation on a snake search and frog find, where they will learn how to hunt for and properly handle snakes, salamanders, frogs, and other small creatures.  Or they can learn about plants native to the Connecticut River Watershed at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls during a family workshop on trees, flowers, and other plants found locally.  Then on Sunday, July 15th, the Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield celebrates Rainforest Day where kids can meet rainforest animal friends up close, and play fun educational games to learn about the animals and their habitat.

Northfield is one of the most interesting local places to learn about natural history, and on Tuesday, July 17th, the Northfield Library hosts a program on the stories behind the town’s unique landscape, the creation of the Connecticut River, and the natural history of the Pioneer Valley. On Thursday, July 19th, kids can learn about carnivorous plants at the Monson Library during a program on all of the different types of  unusual insect eating plants found all around the world!

ENGINEERING & ARCHITECTURE

In addition to great history and nature science opportunities,the Boston Museum of Science brings engineering and physic lessons to Western MA libraries. On Tuesday, July 17th, also at the Northfield Library, the Museum of Science will lead a hands-on engineering program call World of Bridges, and on Friday, July 20th, kids can explore the science behind rocketry at the MN Spear Library in Shutesbury.

MUSIC

The region also hosts terrific summer entertainment series. Last week we highlighted great lawn concerts families can enjoy in the evening hours throughout the summer.  This week there’s more great music opportunities for families: beloved local children’s musician Mister G performs at Look Park in Florence on Tuesday, July 17th; Buttery Brook Park in South Hadley hosts children’s performer John Porcino on Wednesday, July 18th, as part of their summer performance series; and the Springfield Museums invites families to come learn about the history and evolution of American Roots Music at Made in the Shade, an interactive educational concert designed to teach kids about music history on Thursday, July 19th. We should also mention that the Green River Festival in Greenfield has a family music stage with a terrific line-up happening this Saturday & Sunday, July 14th & 15th.

THEATER

We wanted to make mention of the theater and puppetry performances happening this week too. In West Springfield the Majestic Theater presents Rumplestiltskin as part of their summer children’s theater series running Monday, July 16th-Wednesday, July 18th.  In Northampton, Paintbox Theater presents The Princess Knight at Smith College’s Mendenhall Center Wednesday, July 18th-Friday, July 20th this next week.

PUPPETRY

This week in our column, Berkshire Family Fun, we tell you about the various marionette performances happening in Berkshire County, and in the Pioneer Valley, families can find a few more puppetry performances: on Saturday, July 14th, celebrate Bearfest puppet-style with a puppet presentation of Goldilocks and the Three Bear at the Easthampton Congregational Church; Sunday, July 15th, Amherst College hosts the annual KO Festival of Performance featuring the Mettawee River Theater Company performance of Communications from a Cockroach on the lawn at the college’s observatory; and on Wednesday, July 18th, Circus on a String comes to the Springfield Museums where Robert Rogers presents his circus marionettes who perform vignettes carefully choreographed to music.

Find out more about these events and a many, many others (like Red Gate Farm‘s community BBQ in Buckland, and Emily Dickinson Museum‘s 19th-century Children’s Circus in Amherst) in our list of Weekly Suggested Events.

Suggested Events for July 14th-20th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Green River Festival

Green River Festival happens this weekend July 14th & 15th in Greenfield, MA. Congrats to all of our ticket winners! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, July 14th from 10am-5pm – ART FESTIVAL: The Hilltown Arts Alive Festival takes place today! There will be several different shows, sales, activities, and concerts for families to see and hear throughout Worthington. Highlights include live music with local artists (including jazz with Charles Neville), an art show featuring locally made pieces at town hall, children’s activities at RH Conwell School, open houses at local businesses, and more. Celebrate arts in the community and see what local artists and artisans have been creating. Worthington, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, July 14th from 11am – FAMILY CONCERT: Mass MoCA hosts the annual Bang on a Can Festival’s Kids Can Too.  The faculty and fellows behind the festival present a concert where kids can learn all about new instruments and musical sounds – plus it’s totally fun! Advance tickets suggested. 413-662-2111. Mass MoCA Way. North Adams, MA. (<$)

Sunday, July 15th from 8pm – THEATER: Amherst College hosts the annual KO Festival of Performance. The event features the Mettawee River Theater Company, performing “Communications from a Cockroach” on the lawn at the college’s observatory. The show features live music, movement, and puppets, and tells the story of a cockroach whose soul is that of a reincarnated poet- he writes by jumping onto typewriter keys! In case of rain, the show will take place at the Holden Theater. Snell Street. Amherst, MA. ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Have you ever wanted to learn about herbalism but can’t find the time for classes?  This summer Hilltown Families is partnering with Blazing Star Herbal School, offering our readers the opportunity to enter to win a correspondence course from their Do-it-Yourself Herbalism Series (valued at $150). Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, July 25th.

Saturday, July 21st from 9am-5pm – CULTURAL STUDIES: Dig out your kilt and your claymore, have a breakfast of haggis, and head to Look Park for the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival.  There will be pipe bands and highland dancers (of all ages and abilities.) competing and performing throughout the day, men’s and women’s highland games (a traditional Scottish strength competition, involving telephone pole-throwing and stone slinging), Scottish food (both modern and traditional), informational booths, and vendors selling everything from UK treats like Cadbury and Irn Bru to hats and scarves made of clan tartans.  Families can celebrate their Scottish heritage or learn about Scottish history and culture!  300 North Main Street.  Florence, MA.  ($$)

Sunday, July 22nd from 2-4pm – LOCAL HISTORY: The Buckland Historical Society is hosting an open house today.  Located in a former schoolhouse, the Historical Society is home to artifacts of local importance – families can learn about the history of their community, and kids can help place their knowledge of American History in the context of their surroundings by learning about the history of their town.  413-625-9763.  20 Upper Street.  Buckland, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

FAMILY THEATER: PaintBox Theatre is a theatre of improvisation and imagination for the whole family. Start with a children’s classic. Add three actors. Add a theatre, the Paintbox stage & a screen. Add artwork (by kids). Add lots of audience participation & improvisation. Stir well. There you go: Paintbox! This season: The Ugly Duckling, July 4-7; The Princess Knight, July 18-21; and Zorro!, August 1-4. All shows are presented in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green Street, on the Smith College Campus in Northampton, MA. More information at -413-585-3220 Or online www.newcenturytheatre.org/paintbox.html

19th-CENTURY CHILDREN’S CIRCUS: It’s Circus Time at the Emily Dickinson Museum! On Saturday, July 14, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst presents “Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus,” from noon to 4 pm. Especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 10, this annual event is free and open to the public. Activities include folksongs and stories with Tim Van Egmond; a performance by Henry the Juggler; a reading of Emily and Carlo by author Marty Rhodes Figley; and the annual Circus Parade. Other activities include “tightrope” walking, ring-toss, and kid friendly crafts. For details and a complete schedule, visit www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/circus. With questions, contact Valerie Gramling, program coordinator, at 413-542-2034.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: RH Conwell CEC is seeking to employ a certified individual to teach ELA to students in grades K-6. RHC is a small privately funded school, whose staff teaches students to their specific abilities within multi-age settings versus to their age or grade level. RHC staff relies heavily on differentiated instruction and creative hands-on learning, and the staff holds students to high expectations within their individualized learning plans. If you feel you may be a good fit to the team, please apply today. This position is part-time with the possibility of additional hours contingent on enrollment. Flexibility is a must. RHCCEC is an EOE.  Send resume packet to: RHC Attn: J. Dupont 147 Huntington Rd. Worthington, MA 01098 or JDupont@rhccec.org

CALL FOR CRAFTERS: Hilltown Families is a proud sponsor of the Cummington Family Center’s 3rd annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair. The fair is the center’s annual fundraiser and an excellent opportunity for community members to find commercial-free handmade items, many supporting creative free play. This year’s fair will be held on November 3rd at Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington, MA. Registration is now open for crafters who make handmade, commercial-free items for kids of all ages.  Spaces are also open for anyone interested in leading hour long gift-making workshops for children and/or adults. This is a great family-friendly event. If you are interested in learning more, email Stacey at cummingtonfamilycenter@yahoo.com.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

Irene Branson writes, “Ashfield Needles and Threads is hosting another Free Clothing Exchange–a community hand-me-around to facilitate Recycling, Reusing, Sharing and Happiness! It’s scheduled for Saturday, August 4th from 9am–1pm in the Congregational Church on Main Street.  People are invited to drop off clean clothes and shoes in excellent condition—all seasons and sizes– in the foyer of St. John’s Church on the corner of Main and South Streets between the afternoon of Sunday July 29th and the night of Friday August 3rd.    Remember, folks can come pick out some clothes on Saturday whether they brought any to share or not. Stock up! Everyone is encouraged to bring family and friends and their own reusable shopping bags.  Leftover items will be redistributed through Share the Warmth and the Salvation Army.”

PARENT AIDES: The Parent Aide Volunteer Program at Berkshire Children and Families has a few openings for moms and dads in Hampshire County who may be interested in having a Parent Aide. Parent Aides are nonjudgmental, supportive, trained volunteers who provide home visiting support to parents who are not involved with the Department of Children and Families. Parents can refer themselves or you can refer families with their permission. Please contact Gail Fries at 584-5690, ext. 114 to make a referral.

Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force writes, “A remembrance event in honor of Jessica Dana who was allegedly murdered by her partner Jeb Daly on June 22 will be held on Monday July 16 at 7pm at Knightville Dam in Huntington.  There will be three speakers at the event: Marianne Winters, Executive Director of Safe Passage; Phil Barry, brother-in-law of the late Karen Hart Trudeau from Blandford who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2002, and a family member or friend of the family. Attendees will have the opportunity to write cards to Jessica’s children, or write in a memory book for the family. Donations will be accepted on behalf of the family.  For more information contact the Task Force at southernhillsdvtaskforce@gmail.com or visit the Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force on Facebook.”


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
July 14th-20th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Summer Playgroups
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for Mid-Late July, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 14th-27th, 2012

Berkshire County is full of high caliber cultural venues hosting quality entertainment for families just outside of the big cities, but smaller community venues and local parks have a lot to offer in the summer months too! There are playgroups, nature hikes, crafting and story times happening at the libraries, parks and family centers. Live music and baseball can be enjoyed in the parks, marionette shows at cafes and churches, and family films are screened under the stars. It’s these types of free community building opportunities that bring families together thereby strengthening the fabric of the region— while the area’s larger venues bring us amazing opportunities for culture and entertainment!

Over the next couple of weeks, cultural venues in north Berkshire Co. like Mass MoCA will host their annual Bang on a Can Festival’s Kids Can Too, while Williamstown Theater Festival invites kids backstage to discover theater production.  In central Berkshire Co., Jacob’s Pillow hosts free original contemporary dance performances, Tanglewood offers a free weekly music educational program for families, Berkshire Museum organizes a family day to celebrate their new exhibit on American Indian art, and Hancock Shaker Village opens their doors up for a one day free visit.  And in south Berkshire, The Mahaiwe Center puts on a community sing-along indoors, while families can enjoy croquet on the lawn at Naumkeag outdoors.

The list goes on!  Find out what’s happening and make plans to explore the Berkshires!

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for July 7th-13th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Great Blue Heron at Ashfield Lake. Read more about the Great Blue Heron at MassAudubon and how you can protect their habitats. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, July 7th from 4:30-10pm – FIREWORKS: Celebrate the 4th of July with the city of Greenfield! There will be music, activities, and vendors, and fireworks at 9:30. Takes place at Beacon Field and Greenfield Middle School. Beacon Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, July 8th at 1pm – PUPPETS: Cactus Head Puppets present “Little Red Riding Hood” at the Eric Carle Museum! The story is told with both hand and shadow puppets. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA (<$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter to win a pair of tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 14th & 15th in Greenfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win is Friday, July 6th

Saturday, July 14th from 10am-5pm – ART FESTIVAL: The Hilltown Arts Alive Festival takes place today!  There will be tons of different shows, sales, activities, and concerts for families to see and hear throughout Worthington.  Highlights include live music with local artists (including jazz with Charles Neville), an art show featuring locally made pieces at town hall, children’s activities at RH Conwell School, open houses at local businesses, and more!  Celebrate arts in the community and see what local artists and artisans have been creating.  Worthington, MA.  (FREE)

Saturday, July 14th from 11am – FAMILY CONCERT: Mass MoCA hosts the annual Bang on a Can Festival’s Kids Can Too!  The faculty and fellows behind the festival present a concert where kids can learn all about new instruments and musical sounds – plus it’s totally fun!  Advance tickets suggested.  413-662-2111.  Mass MoCA Way.  North Adams, MA.  (<$)

Sunday, July 15th from 8pm – THEATER: Amherst College hosts the annual KO Festival of Performance!  The event features the Mettawee River Theater Company, performing “Communications from a Cockroach” on the lawn at the college’s observatory.  The show features live music, movement, and puppets, and tells the story of a cockroach whose soul is that of a reincarnated poet- he writes by jumping onto typewriter keys!  In case of rain, the show will take place at the Holden Theater.  Snell Street.  Amherst, MA.  ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

FAMILY THEATER: PaintBox Theatre is a theatre of improvisation and imagination for the whole family. Start with a children’s classic. Add three actors. Add a theatre, the Paintbox stage & a screen. Add artwork (by kids). Add lots of audience participation & improvisation. Stir well. There you go: Paintbox! This season: The Ugly Duckling, July 4-7; The Princess Knight, July 18-21; and Zorro!, August 1-4. All shows are presented in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green Street, on the Smith College Campus in Northampton, MA. More information at -413-585-3220 Or online www.newcenturytheatre.org/paintbox.html

19th-CENTURY CHILDREN’S CIRCUS: It’s Circus Time at the Emily Dickinson Museum! On Saturday, July 14, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst presents “Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus,” from noon to 4 pm. Especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 10, this annual event is free and open to the public. Activities include folksongs and stories with Tim Van Egmond; a performance by Henry the Juggler; a reading of Emily and Carlo by author Marty Rhodes Figley; and the annual Circus Parade. Other activities include “tightrope” walking, ring-toss, and kid friendly crafts. For details and a complete schedule, visit www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/circus. With questions, contact Valerie Gramling, program coordinator, at 413-542-2034.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes, “Are you concerned about food marketed to children? Do you want to keep up with all of the latest news and opportunities to take action against junk food marketers? The Food Marketing Workgroup, of which CCFC is a proud member, has launched a new site to help you do just that. With fact sheets, model policies, and action opportunities for reducing junk-food marketing in community settings like schools, supermarkets, and restaurants, it’s a hub for individuals and organizations that value children’s health over food industry profits. Visit www.foodmarketing.org today.”

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Does your kid love spending time outside, exploring and learning all about their surroundings?  They can join the Junior Rangers at Mt. Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough, MA to learn about and adventure throughout the park!  The Junior Rangers program gets kids outside, and helps them learn about geography, ecology, conservation, etc. while also helping them learn their way around the mountain and helping them gain trail navigation skills.  Along with kid-friendly hikes, the program will include fun learning activities, too!  Kids interested in being a Junior Ranger must register for the program by July 11th, and the program will take place on Tuesdays from 10am-12noon from July 12th – August 23rd.  To register, call the park at 413-499-5262.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
July 7th-13th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents

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Celebration and Educational Highlights for the Week of July 4th

Fourth of July parades are scheduled in Westfield, Williamstown, Pittsfield, East Longmeadow, Shelburne Falls and Chesterfield on July 4th. Fireworks light up the night sky that same evening in West Springfield, Springfield, North Adams, Agawam and Amherst. Happy 4th of July! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Fourth of July celebrations are abundant this weekend and on Wednesday. Discover parades and places to view fireworks in the region with our 2012 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks resource page.  But fireworks aren’t all the excitement that will be happening this next week.  There are plenty of opportunities for kids to continue learning at the many community-based educational events, or just to be entertained with a slew of kid performances.  Plus several community celebrations will be bringing together an intergenerational crowd celebrating life in Western MA.

COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATION

On Saturday, June 30th, the Historic Deerfield‘s open hearth cooking program is celebrating its 25th anniversary and families can learn about the history of food and cooking. And on Sunday, July 1st families can learn about the history of the Springfield Armory at Armory Day with activities for families, including live Revolutionary and Civil War-era music and tours of the museum and grounds.  The armory played a very important role to the North during the Civil War – kids can learn about the importance of Springfield by visiting this historic site! Also on Sunday, families can join the Chesterfield Historical Society for a historical bus tour of the town with multiple stops, including discussions and visual aids, part of the Chesterfield’s 250th celebration.

Other educational opportunities for older kids on Saturday, June 30th include: exploring Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area in Florence with naturalist Dr. Josh Rose, identifying species of beetles, bugs, and butterflies.  And in the evening, at Northfield Mountain,  learn all about fireflies, then search for them and collect data for the Museum of Science’s Firefly Watch program.

SUMMER ENTERTAINMENT

This Saturday, June 30th, there are several family entertainment events: Mary Jo Maichack performs stories and songs about sleep, dreams, and stars at the Stockbridge Library; puppeteer Tom Knight presents, “The Garbage Monster and Other Tales” at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst; juggler/magician Scott Jameson leads a juggling workshop for kids at the Mason Library in Great Barrington.  Another fun event to put on your calendar happens on Tuesday, July 3rd when drummer Otha Day shares a variety of percussion instruments with kids, as well as some of the basic principles of percussion at the Milne Library in Williamstown.

COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS

Three intergenerational community celebrations happening this next week that we want to highlight include Chicopee Fest-of-All at Szot Park with fireworks at dusk on Saturday, June 30thChesterfield’s 250th anniversary celebration with historical tours and a family walk on Sunday, July 1st; and the Montague Center Fire Association will host their annual community bonfire on Tuesday, July 3rd.

To find out more about these events and many more happening all week, check our current list of Weekly Suggested Events.

Suggested Events for June 30th-July 6th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Beginning this Sunday, July 1st, the town of Chesterfield will celebrate 250 years with events happening all week, including their hometown 4th of July parade on Wednesday (pictured here) and fireworks on Friday, July 6th! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Fourth of July celebrations continue this Saturday, June 30th with fireworks in Chicopee, Ware and Westfield! Check our 2012 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks resource page for a full listing of events, parades & fireworks in Western MA!

Saturday, June 30th from 11am-10pm - COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Chicopee Fest-of-All at Szot Park. Music, food and fun activities. Fireworks at dusk. 100 Abby Memorial Drive. Chicopee, MA

Sunday, July 1st from 9:30am-12noon – COMMUNITY DANCE: It’s Community Dance Day at Jacob’s Pillow!  There will be dance workshops throughout the day, to help the community learn about (and learn to do!) new types of dance and movement.  Workshops include tai chi, yoga, swing, and more!  There will also be guided tours of this National Historic Landmark, and picnicking on their Great Lawn.  413-243-9919.  385 George Carter Road.  Becket, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, July 1st from 10am-4pm – HISTORY: Learn about the history of the Springfield Armory at Armory Day!  There will be tons of activities for families, including live Revolutionary and Civil War-era music, kite flying (bring your own if you have one!), and tours of the museum and grounds.  The armory played a very important role to the North during the Civil War – kids can learn about the importance of their city by visiting the historic site!  413-734-8551.  Federal Street.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter to win a pair of tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 14th & 15th in Greenfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win is Friday, July 6th

Saturday, July 7th from 4:30-10pm – FIREWORKS: Celebrate the 4th of July with the city of Greenfield!  There will be music, activities, and vendors, and fireworks at 9:30.  Takes place at Beacon Field and Greenfield Middle School.  Beacon Street.  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, July 8th at 1pm – PUPPETS: Cactus Head Puppets present “Little Red Riding Hood” at the Eric Carle Museum!  The story is told with both hand and shadow puppets.  413-658-1100.  125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA  (<$)

BULLETIN BOARD

Goldthread Herb Farm is providing Community Supported Medicine (CSM) Shares to the community… and Hilltown Families has a large share ( to giveaway to one lucky family! Deadline to enter to win is Monday, July 2nd.

CYCLING: MASS MoCA has discovered a way to provide environmentally friendly transportation for its visitors to explore North Adams and Williamstown with- bicycles! The museum now has a fleet of easy-to-ride bikes designed specifically for urban environments. There are even a couple kid-sized bikes! Rental is only $3 per hour- helmet included. There are plans in the works for a paved bike trail to Williamstown in the future. Enjoy a lovely morning touring the museum’s galleries, then head out on a bike into North Adams and explore the town! For more information, visit blog.massmoca.org.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
June 30th-July 6th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Summer Playgroups
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents | Workshops for Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for June 23rd-29th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Great weekend to PYO organic strawberries in the Hilltowns! Ed Stockman of Summit Farm in Plainfield, MA writes, “Strawberry season is here at Summit Farm and the berries are abundant and delicious. We will be opening our pick-your-own strawberries on Tues. June 19 and continue picking for 3 to 3 1/2 weeks depending on the weather. We are open for pick-your-own berries everyday from 8am until 6pm on a self-serve basis.”

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Fourth of July celebrations begin this Saturday, June 23rd with fireworks in Florence, Easthampton and Monson. Check our 2012 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks resource page for a full listing of events, parades & fireworks in Western MA!

All weekend, June 23rd-24th from 10am-6pm – MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL: The annual Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival is happening all weekend. The festival, traditionally known as a Renaissance Faire, will bring together fun, food, and entertainment with a medieval flair. It will be a day for everyone: kids, teens, and adults alike. Many characters from the Robin Hood legend will be making appearances along with jousting, juggling, eagles and falcons, knife throwing, archery, and vendors selling period foods, and artisan crafts and merchandise. Millers Falls R&G, 210 Turners Falls Rd. Montague, MA ($$)

 Also all weekend, June 23rd-24th from 10am-4pm – HARVEST CELEBRATION: It’s lavender season! Celebrate at the Lavender Festival at Johnson Hill Farm. Visitors can tour the farm, check out lavender products from local vendors, learn about uses for lavender by watching demonstrations, and take part in workshops to learn things like wreath making and flower art! 413-625-6439. 51 Hog Hollow Road. Buckland, MA. (FREE ENTRANCE)

Sunday, June 24th from  11am - CHINESE STREET FESTIVAL: It’s Family Day at The Clark, and the museum grounds have been transformed into a traditional Chinese Street Festival! Kids can learn all about Chinese culture, have their fortune told by an oracle, learn to write with Chinese characters, and have Chinese street food for lunch. Kids can even be part of a dragon parade! 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (<$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter to win a pair of tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 14th & 15th in Greenfield, MA! Deadline to enter to win is Friday, July 6th

Saturday, June 30th from 10am-3pm – ENTOMOLOGY: Explore the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area and help to identify all of the species of beetles, bugs, and butterflies that are found! Naturalist Dr. Josh Rose will lead the exploration – bring a lunch (to enjoy at the dam!) and dress for the weather. North Farms Road. Florence, MA. (FREE)

 Sunday, July 1st from 9am-6pm – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Today is the beginning of Chesterfield’s 250th anniversary celebration! Events take place all day, and include historical tours of town, a one-mile walk, informational displays, and more! Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

MEET ERIC CARLE! The acclaimed author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be signing books this Saturday, June 23rd at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. for members) at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Get your books signed, say hello, and have your picture taken. A signed Eric Carle Book makes the perfect gift! Plus, Picture Book Theatre will perform Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, said The Sloth for two special performances. The book signing is free with museum admission; Picture Book Theatre is $3 per person. Sponsored by People’s United Bank. For more information on the book signing, please visit: www.carlemuseum.org or call 413-658-1100.

INNOVATION SCHOOL: Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington is pleased to announce that it is transitioning to an Innovation School in September. It’s a cutting-edge program that transforms a traditional classroom environment into a vibrant learning community where students are authentically engaged, energized, focused, challenged, and having fun! The program’s successful, ground-breaking strategies are project based, hands-on, creative and authentic — with proven academic results for students in reading, numeracy, research, writing, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. School choice openings are now available in grades Pre-K through five. For more information, call Berkshire Trail Elementary School at 413.634.5327 or visit online.

PLANT STUDIES: Summer Intensives at Goldthread Organic Herb Farm. Let the aromatic air of the farm restore harmony and revive your senses while enjoying two hands-on, capacity building botanical medicine intensives at Goldthread this summer. In July join them for a multi-dimensional week long immersion into the aesthetics, qualities & manifestations of the Ayurvedic 5 elements that will give participants both a scholastic and deeply felt understanding of botanical medicine. In Sept, propagate, harvest, process, and study the botanical characteristics, medicinal properties and therapeutic uses of 25-30 major herbs grown at the farm during the Farm to Pharmacy Intensive with David Crow and William Siff. Dates, tuition and full details are on their website.

HOST FAMILIES: Joe Bock writes, “Share your summer with a young person from Spain! Homestaysusa offers Spanish children the opportunity to experience American culture by living with a host family for the month of July. We match ages, genders & interests to those of the host family. Students come to the area with a supervisor who is nearby & in contact the entire time. Host families receive $600 stipend, the student pays for extra activities, including camps & excursions. Hosting teens are invited to an exciting 2-day New York trip with the group. More info & testimonials at homestaysusa.org. Personal references available upon request. Become a host family & represent the Hilltown community to students from abroad. A summer you will always remember. joe@homestaysusa.org.”

CYCLING: MASS MoCA has discovered a way to provide environmentally friendly transportation for its visitors to explore North Adams and Williamstown with- bicycles! The museum now has a fleet of easy-to-ride bikes designed specifically for urban environments. There are even a couple kid-sized bikes! Rental is only $3 per hour- helmet included. There are plans in the works for a paved bike trail to Williamstown in the future. Enjoy a lovely morning touring the museum’s galleries, then head out on a bike into North Adams and explore the town! For more information, visit blog.massmoca.org.

SUMMER CAMP: Are you looking for a great summer experience for your kids? Check out our post Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA which highlights opportunities happening throughout the region. With a great variety of themes, there are many summer camp/programs your family can choose, including: farm & gardening, music, art, technology, nature, personal development, science, theater, sports, ballet, preK, college… as well as a good old fashion summer camp! Discover what’s being offered near you, and find out how you can add a camp to this growing list too!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
June 23rd-29th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Summer Playgroups
Weekly eNewsletter | Events for Working Parents | Workshops for Parents

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Aug 13th-19th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Peter Freisem of Cricket Hill Jams preps yellow beans he plans to pickle into country style dilly beans. Pick up a jar this weekend at the Ashfield Farmers' Market.- Click on the photo to read resources CISA recommends for putting food by, and get those jams and jars ready to enter into the many upcoming agricultural fairs! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, August 13th from 10am-10pm in the Berkshires – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: West Stockbridge hosts the 8th annual Zucchini Festival today! The event begins with a pet parade and show, followed by exciting activities throughout the day including a slam dunk challenge, mini golf, rock climbing, a zucchini catapult, dunk-a-fireman booth, zuke races, and live music! The day ends with a fireworks display. The festival takes place in the town center. 413-232-0222. Routes 41 and 102. West Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Later in the day on Saturday, August 13th from 3-6pm in the Pioneer Valley – COUNTRY FAIR: If you can’t make it to the entire NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) conference at UMass, at least visit the Country Fair! There will be all kinds of exciting activities, including horse-drawn wagon rides, tomato bobbing, sack races, melon seed spitting contests, pie-eating contests, cow plop bingo, and more! 413-230-7835. Massachusetts Avenue. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Also in the afternoon on Saturday, August 13th from 1-6pm in the Pioneer Valley- MUSIC FESTIVAL: KidsRock for Beacon music festival takes place today- the event is to raise money for the Beacon Field Playground Project. There will be live music all afternoon, as well as raffles, food, and a kids play area! All of the bands performing include local kids. 20 Sanderson Street. Greenfield, MA. ($)

Then on Sunday, August 14th from 10am-6pm in the Berkshires - NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE: The 6th Annual Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow-Wow is this weekend at Wirtes Farm! The event is a celebration of Native American arts and culture and includes all kinds of entertainment, activities, vendors, and learning opportunities! 413-443-2481. 45 Greylock Road. Lanesborough, MA. ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, August 20th starting at 8am – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Visit cows and sheep, hear live music, play games, learn about local agriculture, and more today at the Westfield Fair!  The grounds open early, and there are tons of exciting events happening throughout the day.  413-222-4067.  Fair Lane.  Westfield, MA.  ($) 

On Sunday, August 21st from 8am-5pm – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Today is the final day of the Heath Fair!  Today’s events and shows are mostly the youth category- check out what the kids are doing!  There will also be a blueberry pancake breakfast, classic car cruise, wagon rides, and a Primate Fiasco show at 2!  9 Hosmer Road.  Heath, MA.  ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

SUSTAINABILITY WORKSHOPS FOR FAMILIES: North Amherst Community Farm presents “Building Sustainability Together: Skill for Kids and Families.” This series of workshops will offer hands-on activities for kids 5yo and older, accompanied by a caregiver. Workshops in the series include; Worm Bin Composting (Wed., 8/17, 10am-12noon); Seed Saving: Plant the Future (Sat., 8/20, 2-4pm); and Harvest the Sun (Wed., 8/24, 10am-12noon). All classes are $10 for each child/adult pair, and $3 for additional children, and will be held in Amherst at the North Amherst Community Farm (rain or shine), home of Simple Gifts CSA (1089 North Pleasant St.). Pre-registration is required by calling 413-624-6223, or email programs@nacfonline.org. For more info about this series, visit www.nacfonline.org.

CUMMINGTON FAIR: The 143rd Annual Cummington Fair happens August 25th-28th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. With one of the most comprehensive agricultural presentations in the state, the fair is billed as “The Biggest And Best Little Fair in the Country”.  This family friendly, four-day agricultural fair is packed with exhibits, family activities, delicious food, classic cars and live music. Truck, horse and oxen pulls headline the fair along with a demolition derby, and the Western Mass Logging Championship. And the fun doesn’t stop there-families can also enjoy midway, games, roving entertainers, live music, petting zoo, 4-H presentations, skid steer rodeo, square dancing and community dinners. Find a full schedule of events at www.cummingtonfair.org.

CLOTHING EXCHANGE: The Family Resource Center of North Adams would like to remind Berkshire parents that their Clothing Exchange is a great resource for back-to-school clothes!  The exchange has gently used clothing in every kids’ size (including babies) and there are new clothes coming in frequently!  Along with clothing, the exchange also has a shelf of free children’s books.  If your kids have outgrown clothes that are still in great shape, consider contributing them so that other families may benefit!  Families needn’t donate in order to take clothes, but there is a 2 bag per visit limit.  The exchange is in the Haskins Center at 210 State Street in North Adams.  For more information, call 413-664-4615.

Bright Eyes

Enter to win a pair of tickets to see Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA on Sunday, August 28th! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, Aug. 24th. Click on banner to find out how you can enter for a chance to win.

PIONEER VALLEY MAP: Hiking, biking, and general outdoor adventuring in the Pioneer Valley are now all easier than ever thanks to the new trail map that the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission has developed!  The map shows the exact locations of all trails in Hampshire and Hampden counties, along with a description of each trail to help adventurers choose the right location for their abilities!  The map is great for people who already hike and bike frequently, but it’s also great for those who don’t- it helps to make trails more accessible.  The map is available for purchase at many Pioneer Valley bookstores and outdoor equipment shops.  For more information, visit pvpc.org.

CALL FOR SIDEWALK CHALK ARTISTS: Northampton’s annual Chalk Art Festival will be taking place on September 9th, and the Northampton Center for the Arts is currently seeking artists to participate!  Artists must apply for the festival, which takes place as part of Arts Night Out.  Artists will work within a 5×5 concrete area and will spend from 8am-4pm the day of the contest creating their masterpiece.  There is a $100 stipend for participation, and larger cash prizes for winners.  Applications are available at Guild Art Supply (Northampton) and the Northampton Center for the Arts.  For more information, including contest rules, visit www.nohoarts.org.

GARDENS AS CLASSROOM: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced a formal request for applications to its People’s Garden Grant Program!  The grants are available for the creation of produce, recreation, and/or wildlife gardens in both urban and rural areas, so long as the gardens provide opportunities for informal science education.  Applicants who receive funding may be required to provide micro-subgrant support to other local projects.  For more information about the grants and the application process, and to download a copy of the application form, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

COMMUNITY BIKE RIDES: The Trustees of Reservations have organized a series of bike rides in and around Holyoke!  The rides, which will take place on August 20th and 27th, will begin at 9am from the Open Square Farmers’ Market (4 Open Square Way) and follow a 6-8 mile route.  During the ride, participants will get to explore various properties run by the Trustees within Holyoke, such as the Lands of Providence.  Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome, so long as they are capable of participating in a long ride that includes hills.  After the ride, cyclists will be able to buy fresh produce at the market!  For more information, visit ttor.org or call 413-274-8288.

Enhanced PublicitySPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 13th-19th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Aug 6th-12th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

It's blueberry season! Whether you like to pick your blueberries off of the high bushes, or rake them off the low ones, there are many places to PYO in Western MA and a couple of festivals to celebrate all things blueberry this weekend. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, August 6th from 11am-5pm – BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL:   10th Annual Wild Blueberry Jubilee at The Benson Place.  Learn about low bush blueberries through fun and educational activities. Celebrate the harvest with your community.  PYO low bush blueberries in small quantities. 413-337-5340  182 Flagg Hill Road. Heath, MA (FREE)

On Sunday, August 7th from 12Noon-4pm – BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL: 9th Annual Blueberry Days of Summer at the Kelso Homestead Blueberries. A festive day with PYO high bush blueberries, live music, pie eating contest, animals, Birds of Prey program, games and great food. Take a wagon tour of the farm and enjoy a day with the family. 413-354-7897 207 Bromley Rd. Chester, MA (>$)

Also on Sunday, August 7th from 12Noon-6pm - ETHNIC FAIR: Pittsfield Ethnic Fair returns with food, music, and costumes to the first block of South St. (between Park Sq. & Housatonic St.). International music and dance on two stages, the fair highlights the diverse culture found in Pittsfield. Come with the kids and enjoy delicious food, music, crafts and dancing. 413-443-6501 South St. Pittsfield, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

This week on Thursday, August 11th at 10am-4pm – LITERACY: “LittleFest” happens at the Springfield Museums.  The event is designed to promote literacy and a love of reading in young children.  There will be science demonstrations, art activities, crafts for kids, food vendors, free books for the first 500 visitors, and performances by storyteller/musician John Porcino and musician Brian Chevalier.  800-625-7738.  21 Edwards Street.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE w/Museum Admission)

On Saturday, August 13th at 1pm - FAMILY CONCERT: Mister G rocks the Berkshire Museum with a family concert in their auditorium. With his newest release, BUGS!, kids can learn about insects and the natural world through music, and then after the concert check out the live exhibit, “Geckos: Tails to Toepads”. Within the exhibit are 14 different types of geckos all living within their natural (museum-created) habitats!  413-443-7171.  39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

BULLETIN BOARD

LEARN TO CAMP: Do your children/grand kids want to go camping but you just don’t have the experience or confidence to go alone? The DCR and DFW’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program will be offering a Becoming an Outdoors Family Camping Weekend next weekend, Aug. 13-14, at Myles Standish State Forest in Carver, MA. If your family is just beginning their camping adventures, join other like-minded families for a weekend of skill building for outdoor recreation, including camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking and outdoor cooking skills. Enjoy a night hike, camp fire and outdoor adventures with other families learning the skills of camping. $30 per person, includes 2 meals. Register by Friday, Aug. 5th. Call for more info. 508-389-6300

SCREENINGS: The Family Resource Center in North Adams offers FREE Ages and Stages Screenings. Infants and young children have so many developmental changes and milestones in the early years, it’s helpful to know where your child is developmentally and how to best support their growth. Ages and Stages is a well respected screening tool that will guide families in understanding their child’s development. The FRC staff will spend an hour with you and your child to go through this screening tool. Please contact their office for more information or an appointment at mzepka@ccberkshire.org or 413-664-4821

Find out more about our enhanced publicity options and how you can advertise your event, class, camp - or join our team of amazing sponsors!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can with your marketing.

INSTRUMENT DONATIONS WANTED: Have an old piano, violin, flute, or other instrument taking up space in your home? Donate it to the Artspace’s Used Instrument Sale. Donations or consignment both accepted. All proceeds will benefit Strings for Kids, free weekly group lessons for grades 3 – 6 at Greenfield Public Schools. Artspace’s mission is to encourage and nurture the appreciation of and participation in the arts. Artspace serves 350 students annually with weekly lessons and classes. For more information, call  413-772-6811 , email info@franklyarts.com or visit www.franklyarts.com.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety ShowHope Harris will Guest DJ the HFVS this weekend show playing tunes by Annette Funicello, John Prine. The Sippy Cups, The Subdudes, Ella Fitzgerald, Sly & The Family Stone, Johnny Cash, Julie Andrews, and many others, including selection off her new CD, Cousins Jamboree.

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 6th-12th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for July 30th – Aug 5th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

With the axiom “If You Grow it, You Can Show it,” the staff of Berkshire Botanical Garden invites backyard gardeners throughout the region to show what’s growing in their family gardens by entering the GROW SHOW August 6-7. Details below. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, July 30th from 10am-10pm in the BerkshiresHULA HOOP FESTIVAL: Pittsfield City Hoopla festival returns to Springside Park for a day of festivities inspired by the craft, craze and creativity of the hula hoop. There will be workshops ($), slacklining, drumming, mandalas, hiking, hooping contest, food & vendors. Bring the kids for a day of hula hooping madness in the park! 874 North St. Pittsfield, MA (FREE) 

Also on Saturday, July 30th at 12noon in the Pioneer ValleyCOMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Laurel Park celebrates this weekend with the annual Chataqua Revival!  There will be live music (including local heroes the Lonesome Brothers), food, hula hooping, a chance to meet Pedal People and try out their equipment, and a talk on local soil science.  The event ends with a community cookout in the evening.  2 Laurel Park.  Northampton, MA.  (FREE)

And in the evening on Saturday, July 30th from 7-9pm in the HilltownsBENEFIT CONCERT: The Nields, a local hero sister singer-songwriter duo, will perform tonight at The Village Church.  The show is a fundraiser for the rebuilding of the West Cummington Congregational Church.  413-634-2160.  Main Street.  Cummington, MA.  (FUNDRAISER)

On Tuesday, August 2nd at 2pm – MUSIC FESTIVAL:  Tanglewood on Parade, the venue’s annual day of musical activities, welcome families to come and enjoy the day!  There will be live music throughout the day, with the event ending with the 1812 overture.  Alongside performances there will also be fun children’s activities such as an instrument playground, a magician, stargazing via telescope (after dark), and free tours of Tanglewood!  413-637-1600.  297 West Street.  Lenox, MA.  ($$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, August 6th at 10:30am in the Pioneer Valley – FAMILY THEATER: Paintbox Theater presents “The Sword in the Stone”- a show just for kids!  The show takes place at Smith College’s Mendenhall Performing Arts Center.  413-587-3933.  Green Street.  Northampton, MA.  ($) 

Also on Saturday, August 6th from 12noon-8pm in the Berkshires – CORNFEST: Enter a corn-eating contest, hop around in a sack race, make dolls from corn husks, and more at Whitney’s Farm today as part of CornFest 2011!  413-442-4739.  1775 South State Road.  Cheshire, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

HILLTOWN POTTERY TOUR: The Hilltown 6 will host its annual pottery tour and sale on Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31, from 10am-5pm. This is a great chance to see firsthand the tools and techniques behind eight nationally recognized clay artists who live and work in our very own hilltowns. Check out the studios, kilns and settings of these talented potters and step inside their worlds to see how their surroundings inspire their individual voices. This year three studios will feature guest artists. The studios and guests are: Robbie Heidinger with guest David Leith, Michael McCarthy, Constance Talbot, Christy Knox with guest Karin Noyes, Hiroshi Nakayama, Sam Taylor, Eric Smith, and Mark Shapiro with guest Jeffrey Lipton. For a detailed map go to www.hilltown6.com.

THERAPY DOGS WANTED: The Good Dog Foundation, which works to find pups who can be trained as therapy dogs, will be at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge every Monday through September 12th to search for dogs to join their therapy program!  If a dog (and their human) is chosen to participate in the program, they get the opportunity to go through training to learn to provide canine therapy for healthcare, social services, and in educational and community facilities.  Dogs must be at least 3 ½ months old to be screened.  Screenings will take place from 1-2pm and are free.  For more information, visit thegooddogfoundation.org.

Redcoats & Rebels

Enter to win a family 4-pack of tix to "Redcoats & Rebels" at Old Sturbridge Village for the weekend of August 6th & 7th. Deadline to enter: 8/3.

GROW SHOW: Does your family love to garden?  If so, the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Grow Show in Stockbrige is for you!  There are numerous divisions to enter and the show is open to all ages!  Plants, flowers, and vegetables can be entered into the horticulture division- anything from a stem or single flower to a basket of fruit and veggies is accepted.  There are also divisions for garden design, plant photography, and a special youth division where plant-themed artistic entries can be created before the show (kids can enter other divisions, too).  The Grow Show is an opportunity for families to showcase their green thumb(s) or to just learn more about horticulture!  Whether you enter or not, the Grow Show is a great learning opportunity for families- think of the plants you’ll see!  Entering the show is free, and it takes place on August 6th and 7th.  For more information, visit berkshirebotanical.org.

Meredyth Babcock writes, “Teen River Clean program is looking for a few Teens, ages 15-18 who live in Washington, Becket, or Chester, who are interested in helping preserve the Westfield River. We have volunteers who have adopted sections of the Wild & Scenic river that have identified a few problem areas and we need a few strong creative teens to help us address these areas and create a short film of our efforts!! We will be working August 1st, 3rd and 5th. All young volunteers will receive a small scholarship as a thank you from the Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory committee. Call Meredyth Babcock, Wild & Scenic Volunteer Coordinator for more detailed information and to apply. 413-623-2070 or volunteer@westfieldriverwildscenic.org, www.westfieldriverwildscenic.org

Find out more about our enhanced publicity options and how you can advertise your event, class, camp - or join our team of amazing sponsors!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can with your marketing.

FREE MUSEUM ADVENTURE: Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation, every Friday this summer different museums have offered free admission to families.  On Friday, August 5th, the opportunity to see a museum for free is coming to Springfield- all four of the Springfield Museums will offer free admission for all!  There will be special activities throughout the day to celebrate, including a puppet show, a live performance, art activities, and science demonstrations!  Take advantage of this opportunity and check out all that the museums have to offer- you kids (and you!) can learn about tons of different topics while exploring the museums.  To learn more and to see an exact schedule of the day’s events, visit springfieldmuseums.org or call 413-263-6800.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety ShowSummer fun on the Hilltown Family Variety Show this week as we dig deep into the archives for a summer episode from years past! So many great shows to choose from! Listen in to see what we end up rebroadcasting.

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS:
JULY 30th – Aug 5th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

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