Suggested Events 10/03/09-10/09/09

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Garlic and Arts Festival

North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an Event

Click here to suggest an event.

If 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, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending

  • FEATURED EVENT: North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival happens all weekend in Orange, MA. Kids under 12 get in free. Visit www.garlicandarts.org for more info.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Subscribe to the HFVS Podcast

The HFVS Podcast is back in action!  Technical difficulties blah blah blah blah … but that’s all fixed now and our podcast is back!  So now our listeners have three ways to tune in:

  1. HFVS Podcast: Listen to our most recent episodes anytime you wish!  Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!
  2. Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio from 9-10am.
  3. On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA from 9-10am.

BULLETIN BOARD

 Win Tickets to see Dan Zanes and Friends

  • Victoria Worth of Ashfield, MA writes: The Smith soccer team will be holding 30-minute clinics for children after games on Oct 3 and Oct 10th. The kids will get to play in some fun activities and interact with the College varsity players. The games are held on the athletic fields at the college. Check the website for game times.
  • Frank Grindrod of Ashfield, MA writes: I just started a blog and we have our first post with a guided tracking walk in Alaska! Please share with the community. Thanks. The link is here.
  • Katarina Noyes of Hadley, MA writes: Volunteer Parent Aides reach out to Hampshire County parents looking for support. 3-5 hrs/wk makes a difference in the life of a family. If you are caring, non-judgmental and a good listener, then you can be a Parent Aide. Fall training now! Call Katarina at Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley, at (413) 584-5690 ext. 140 or email knoyes@bcfcma.org
  • OPEN HOUSE: Amy’s House Childcare will be hosting an open house both this Saturday and on Tuesday from 9am-Noon on Main Street in Cummington, MA.  Come explore a new option to childcare in the hilltowns.

    Conway Festival of the Hills (Oct. 4th, 2009)

    Conway Festival of the Hills this Sunday, October 4th, 2009.

  • Kim Edgar writes: Please plan to join us and invite others to attend the Northeastern Girls Collaborative (NEGC) Western MA Fall Forum being held at the brand new Engineering and Nanotechnology Ford Hall at Smith College, Northampton, MA on Thursday, November 19, 2009 from 4:00pm. to 6:00pm. Click here for more info.
  • AVAILABLE GRANTS: The Chesterfield Cultural Council seeks proposals from schools & youth groups. Click here for more info.
  • Claire Morenon writes: CISA is working on organizing a Winter Fare market this year in Northampton, and we need help! Click here for more info.
  • CALL TO ARTISTS:  Submit your photo or kids art work.  Do you have a great photo of life in Western Mass, or a fabulous work of art your kids have created that you’d like to submit to Hilltown Families?  Send your jpg or link to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.
  • CLASSES FOR KIDS: Don’t forget to check out our Suggest an Afterschool or Homeschool Class bulletin board.  Lots of great classes have been shared so far.  Share with us a class you’d like to suggest to local families too!
  • SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families.  Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser,  business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events.  Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival (October 3-4th, 2009)

Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival (October 3-4th, 2009)

Saturday 10/03

Read the rest of this entry »

And the Winner Is … Ashfield FilmFest

Notes from Nan: Ashfield FilmFest 2009
By Nan Parati, HF Contributing Writer

September 26th, 2009: Ashfield FilmFest

What a great time was had by over 400 people last Saturday night at the Third Annual Ashfield FilmFest at Town Hall! Fifteen films were entered, the rules being that the films had to be no longer than five minutes, and have some connection to the town of Ashfield (um Massachusetts, not the one in England, I don’t think.)

Red Gate Farm had held workshops in filmmaking and there were a number of entries from kids that were quite fun. Nancy Hoff at the Hardware Store had a brilliant idea in recreating the “Dancing Queen” scene from Mama Mia and orchestrated hundreds (yes? hundreds?) of Ashfield women in giving up their daily toil to join in a rousing musical dance down Main Street ending with a plunge in Ashfield Lake. (I remember that day and it was cold! More kudos to everyone connected with that film for staying in character and following through!) There was a hilarious mockumentary on Big Foot sightings in Ashfield by Jason Mazzarina and Elijah Rottenberg. I’d like to see that one again. There were thoughtful films on the best of Ashfield and its caring for each other, documentaries of daily life and events in Ashfield, and just plain funny ones on summer interning at Red Gate Farm, haunted barns at Red Gate Farm and then, on the pancakes at Elmer’s.

When Gayle Kabaker came to me in early summer to say she wanted to make a film about Elmer’s pancakes, I backed away saying, “I don’t think I want to be involved with this,” a project I feared was somehow going to be a five-minute infomercial on our pancakes. I do love our pancakes, but I couldn’t see myself standing there pitching them or standing proudly by while someone else did. I wasn’t sure what she had in mind and did everything I could to dissuade her from the idea.

Then she brought me the script and it was SO goofy and downright funny—AND I would get to wield a gun and smoke a cigar; the casting was very well-thought out, and it featured three of my favorite people in cameo roles, so I agreed and even did my own hair and makeup for the shoot.

One great thing about the FilmFest is that idea that so many people wanted to come out and see locally-made films, support their friends’ work, dress up in magnificent fashion, clap, cheer and whistle, that over eighty people were actually turned away from the event due to space limitations. I understand that much of the turned-away crowd ended up at Elmer’s for an impromptu alternate party that culminated in patrons doing the final clean-up so that poor Mary, who had not expected to be there by herself (we had thought we’d stay open until seven or so) that night could finally close and go home to sleep before coming back the next morning to cook breakfast. It was a night of community fun and togetherness, something this town is known for and yearns for again after our summer of rocky and uncomfortable division.

When the awards were announced (and rewarded with beautiful individually-created ceramic plates by Dawn Fessenden, as beautiful as any gold-plated statue!) it came out thus:

  • First Prize for Youth: Galen Knowles for History in a Free Fall
  • First Prize for Adult: Nancy Hoff for Dancing Queen
  • Ashfield History Prize (sponsored in part by the Ashfield History Project): Tamsen Merrill for Stocking the Food Pantry
  • Ashfield Resident Prize: David Fessenden for Locavore
  • Grand Prize: Gayle Kabaker for The Great Ashfield Pancaper
  • The well-deserved and roundly applauded Audience Choice Award (for their favorite film, voted on directly after the showing of all the films) was Nancy Hoff’s Dancing Queen.

Congratulations to all who participated, actually getting it together to make a whole film, finish it and get it in! Keep that creative momentum and let’s do it again next year!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm every week in her column, “Notes from Nan.” Share dinner with her every Friday at Elmer’s. Menu’s are posted with her column. nanparati@aol.com

Volunteer Opportunities for Hilltown Families

Katarina Noyes, Parent Aide & Groups Coordinator for Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley, MA writes:

Become a Parent Aid Volunteer!

Parent Aides receive training and then are matched with a parent who wants the service. They spend 3-5 hours a week supporting a parent in multiple ways including:

  • Raise the parent’s self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Assist parents to find resources for their families
  • Support positive parenting to prevent child abuse and neglect
  • Increase understanding of child development
  • Expand social contacts and reduce isolation
  • Help parents learn to help themselves

Who are volunteers?

Volunteers come from all walks of life and share a common interest in building a nurturing relationship with a parent in the community who needs support. Parent Aides can be parents, or not, working or retired.

Criteria for being a Parent Aide

Volunteers need to be at least 21 years of age, agree to attend bi-weekly group supervision at the agency, and be available to meet weekly with the parent. Volunteers must have a valid driver’s license, car insurance and access to a car. A background check is required. If you are caring, non-judgmental and a good listener, you can be a Parent Aide.

Please contact Katarina at (413) 584-5690 ext.140 or knoyes@bcfcma.org

All the Best New England Traditions Celebrated at the Ashfield Fall Festival

The 39th Annual Ashfield Fall Festival Takes Place Columbus Day Weekend

Soup Kitchen at 2008 Ashfield Fall Festival

During the Ashfield Fall Festival the Congregational Church cooks up hearty soups, hosts a craft sale and tag sale. All are welcomed. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Exhibitors of fiber and textile arts, woodwork, blown glass, pottery, jewelry, kid’s clothing and more will display and sell their wares in several venues along Main Street. Food vendors will serve locally-grown or prepared foods— from the iconic fried dough with maple cream and apple pie with a slice cheddar, to kielbasa grinders and chowder.

Saturday morning kicks off with the Agricultural Commission’s second annual Tallest Sunflower and Heaviest Pumpkin “challenge cup” competition. At noon Saturday, teams formed on-the-spot for the annual “Pumpkingames” will compete in a variety of games such as pumpkin bowling and the pumpkin relay race.

If you’re more of a spectator than a competitor, bring your stuffed baked potato and hot pumpkin donut over to the festival stage and listen to great music from local performers such as Radio Free Earth, Zoe Darrow and the Fiddleheads, and Lui Collins. Several teams of Morris Dancers will also be on hand to keep you in the fall festival spirit.

Families will enjoy the low-cost activities for children, including face-painting, a bounce house, the “fidget ladder”, sand art, pumpkin painting, and an arcade of games created and run on the Town Common by local youth. Tag sales will be held both days, and bargain hunters and booklovers alike will enjoy several book sales.

The 2009 musical entertainment line up:

On Saturday, Oct. 10

  • 10 a.m., Banish Misfortune, this “session” band plays traditional Irish and Scottish tunes.
  • 11 a.m., Radio Free Earth, an eclectic, rootsy band plays “crossover” music mining the world’s songbook.
  • 1:15 p.m., Zoe Darrow and the Fiddleheads. A jigging phenomenon who performs traditional Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton fiddle tunes.
  • 2:30 p.m., Bluegrass showcase with James Delnero and Lost Mountain.
  • 3:30 p.m., Morris dancers. Valley groups Juggler Meadow Morris men, the
    Rapscallions and Wake Robin are joined by dancers from around New England.

Sunday, Oct. 11

Cummington Family Center - Ashfield Fall Festival

Fun for the whole family at the Ashfield Fall Festival! The Cummington Family Center offers information for parents with young kids. The Ashfield Community Preschool host games for all kids to play. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

  • 10:45 a.m., Bluegrass and roots music showcase with The Academy Freightshakers.
  • Noon, Lui Collins, an internationally recognized recording artist who is the director of Hilltown Music Together and Kids’ Jam.
  • 1:15 p.m., The Hilltones present classic and country rock, blues and oldies.
  • 2:30 p.m., West County Jazz, an ensemble that plays classics from the modern jazz repertoire, with a little bossa nova.
  • 3:45 p.m., A Celtic showcase with Manfred Gabriel and special guests.

The Ashfield Fall Festival (www.ashfieldfallfestival.org) is a volunteer-run event that raises funds for local community organizations and for the Ashfield Citizens’ Scholarship Fund. The event takes place on both public and private property, indoors and outdoors, and generally attracts a large crowd. For the safety and comfort of all, we ask that you please leave your dogs at home.

Photos from 2008 Ashfield Fall Festival.

New Family Entertainment Series Comes to Florence!

New Family Entertainment Series in Florence Presents
Laura Doherty in Concert on Thursday, Oct. 15th

NoHo Pride and the Cup and Top Cafe have partnered up to bring you a series of live entertainment fundraising events to include children’s entertainment, local area artists such as singer\songwriters, spoken word poets, and more.

October brings their first show featuring children’s musician, Laura Doherty at the premiere concert from this series for an afternoon family performance in Florence, MA.  There will be a special intermission fun provided by Heidi Haas’s talented group of improv children!


VIDEO:  Laura Doherty – “Hot Dog” [Kids in the City]

  • When: Thursday, October 15, 2009
  • Time: 4:00 PM
  • Where: Florence Civic Center, next to the Lilly Library in Florence, MA
  • Tickets: Advance sales at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA
  • More Info: www.northamptonpride.org
  • You’ll also be able to hear Laura’s music and interviews on these local radio shows:

    • Spare the Rock
      on 93.9 The River · Saturdays 8-10 AM, and also Saturdays 7-9 AM on Valley Free Radio 103.3 hosted by Bill Childs who also coordinates live music events for children.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    100 Links (August/September 2009)

    100 Links (August/September 2009)

    Nearly every day I add recommended links to the Hilltown Families bank of on-line resources.  Some of you might find these links well suited for your family, others, maybe not so much.  But it’s a fun and useful list worth perusing!  If you have a link you’d like to share, post it in our comment box.

    Where are these links? You won’t find them on your blog reader nor via email if you subscribe to our newsfeed.  But if you visit the blog on-line and scroll half way down, on the left you will find the column, “Links We Recommend,” with a list of our most recent recommended links.  If you haven’t been visiting the site regularly to peruse these great resources, not to worry – below is the last 100 links we’ve posted in the past two months: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page).

    Archived Lists of 100 Links: If you’d like to peruse our List of 100 Links from months past, click HERE and then scroll up or down.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Suggested Events 09/26/09-10/02/09

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Pumpkins

    Decorative pumpkins at Clarksdale Farm in Deerfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Click here to suggest an event.

    If 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, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending

    SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO OR KIDS ART WORK

    Do you have a great photo of life in Western Mass, or a fabulous work of art your kids have created that you’d like to submit to Hilltown Families?  Send your jpg or link to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    • WORKSHOP FOR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES: A free workshop is being offered by Adoption Journeys in Amherst, MA on October 1st to help adoptive parents and professionals learn about special education law, both federal and state, and how it plays out in the schools. Click here for more info.
    • VIDEO CONTEST: Learn more about Whole Foods Market School Lunch Makeover Video Contest here.
    • LOCAL BUSINESS WORKSHOP: Hilltown CDC announces a new workshop for small businesses on How to Get the Media to Tell Your Business Story.  More info here.
    Chesterfield Library Book Sale (September 26th, 2009)

    Chesterfield Library Book Sale on Saturday, Sept. 26th from 9am-1pm. (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    • AVAILABLE GRANTS: The Chesterfield Cultural Council seeks proposals from schools & youth groups. Click here for more info.
    • WHAT’S UP IN HOLYOKE?: Discover Holyoke, MA on Saturday, October 24th from 10am-4pm during Passport Holyoke.
    • DINNER ON US: In Amherst there will be a free weekly roundtable discussion series for campus and Amherst Family Center families with young children called Dinner on Us, Monday evenings during the academic year in the UMass Student Union Building in Amherst, MA. As far as I know it’s open to all, but if they run into over enrollment, I’m sure that they will prioritize UMASS students, staff, and alums, as well as AFC families.  Sessions are free and include: dinner, supervised children’s activities and parking. Family Dinner: 5:15-5:45pm, Supervised Children’s Activities: 5:45-7:30pm, Roundtable Discussion: 6:00-7:30pm. Space is limited. To pre-register call: 413-545-4466 OR email cshrc@stuaf.umass.edu.
    • CLASSES FOR KIDS: Don’t forget to check out our Suggest an Afterschool or Homeschool Class bulletin board.  Lots of great classes have been shared so far.  Share with us a class you’d like to suggest to local families too!
    • STREET PERFORMANCE: If you’re in Northampton on a Saturday night with the family, look for Bubble Ben in the alley between Thornes Marketplace and the parking garage:

    • A CALL TO ARTISTS: Create unique installations for Festival of Trees The Berkshire Museum is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Festival of Trees this year from Nov. 14 to Jan. 3. As many know, the Festival of Trees is a Berkshire County tradition where local businesses, schools and community groups decorate trees to display in the Museum galleries. To accompany these trees, we are looking for local artists to create unique artworks for installation that can be free standing, hang on the wall, or from the ceiling in the exhibition, keeping in mind the galleries are big and we are interested in large scale work. Deadline for submissions of proposals is October 2, 2009. For full guidelines or for more information contact Maria Mingalone at mmingalone@berkshiremuseum.org
    • COMMUNITY PROJECT: As part of the local 350 Neighbors project, the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA will be collecting 8 ½” x 11″ photos or drawings of the bountiful diversity of life here in the hilltowns to be shared in a display at the Old Creamery through October. More info HERE. Check out the gallery of digital images already submitted HERE:

    • POLL:  Did you get a chance to take our poll?  As our 1,001 post we’ve posted a poll to help HF better serve our readers.  Please take a moment to answer a questions.  Pretty please with a cherry on top! Click here to go on.

    • SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families.  Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser,  business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events.  Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 09/26

    September 26th, 2009: Ashfield FilmFest

    7pm - FILM FESTIVAL: The 3rd Annual Ashfield FilmFest happens at the Town Hall. Ashfield, MA

    Read the rest of this entry »

    What I Learned on my Vacation by Nan Parati

    Notes from Nan: What I Learned on my Vacation by Nan Parati:
    BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

    Dang it, I know I was supposed to have this finished and sent out a few days ago, but until exactly 24 hours ago, I was on a real, live vacation; the first one since the one I was on in 2005 when I accidentally moved here. My friend Nancy (Rob’s sister) and I took a road trip out to South Dakota (which is where people always think to go from here on a vacation!) We were actually on an aimless road trip vacation, but ended up in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota and it was just wonderful! I did not take my computer so I let my mind have its own vacation to wander aimlessly around the mountains and it had a great time, completely separate from anything I was doing. So now, trying to get it engaged in work again is just a little difficult, but not too bad.

    One thing I discovered and therefore, need to ask my accountant if discovering this means I can write the entire week off, is that there’s no place like Elmer’s. Now, if I were the cook I would feel boastful writing that, but since I am not, I can truly say that the food at Elmer’s is really good. Especially the pancakes. And the eggs. And the sausage. And all the dinners. And the inn is pretty good, too. Me, I was on vacation to see someplace different and yet all the food and local accommodations (we tried to sleep and eat at only locally owned, locally run places) were run by people who seemed to work hard to make their places indistinguishable from anyplace else in the country. Me, I’m thinking that if you’re on vacation you want to be someplace special with really good food! So I am going to bet that other people feel the same way and keep on being as weird as we already are.

    The place I found most interesting, by the way, was an inn and restaurant combination we found on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. The Native woman who owned it and I had a good old time talking about the trials and tribulations of running your own place and found we had a lot in common in that she had said, “Running a motel is easy! Let’s do that! And now wishes she could go on vacation, too. We talked about a cultural exchange program where she would come to New England and run Elmer’s for a week and I’d go out there and run her place on the Res. I think we’d both be in for a lot of surprises, and I’ll bet you guys would be a lot more accepting of her than her local clients would of me! But people were nice all around and a good time was had by all. And I finally got my hot summer—it was in the 80s, close to 90 the whole time we were there! Now that is what you really want on a vacation!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Family Day: Eat Dinner with Your Children

    Celebrate Family Day on September 29th

    Family Day in Amherst, MA (Sept. 29th, 2009)

    FAMILY DAY: A DAY TO EAT DINNER WITH YOUR CHILDREN

    Did you know that the more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to drink and use illegal drugs? They are also more likely to do better at school. Dinnertime is a great time to connect with your kids.

    Celebrate Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children on Tuesday September 29th, 2009 with a meal at home or at one of the participating restaurants offering family discounts on Tuesday the 29th. Visit communitiesthatcarecoalition.org for a listing.

    • Look Park in Florence, MA will have Family Day on Tuesday, Sept. 29th, offering free entry to the park, free ice cream and free train rides. All picnic sites are available for free on this day and families are encouraged to share dinner at the park.

    Win Tickets to See Dan Zanes and Friends: Family Dance Party (Deadline 10/19/09)

    Win Free Tickets to See
    DAN ZANES AND FRIENDS: FAMILY DANCE PARTY

    At the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall in Amherst, MA

    SHOWTIME:
    Friday, October 23rd at 7pm
    Family Fun Pre-Show Party begins at 6pm

    Hilltown Families and the UMass Fine Arts Center have partnered up to offer a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Dan Zanes and Friends: Family Dance Party at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on the UMass campus in Amherst, MA on Friday, October 23rd.  Festivities begin at 6pm. This is an ASL interpreted event. Find out how to enter to win below.

    ABOUT DAN ZANES

    Concerts by Dan Zanes & Friends are always cause for celebration, filled with singing and dancing to songs brimming with warmth, wisdom and wonderful music. The Grammy-Award Winner is joined by his “beautifully scruffy, harmonically precise, spirited, and better-than-ever band” and they’ll be singing songs in both English and Spanish with their own homespun style giving you the feeling that a bunch of wildly talented friends and neighbors just got together to throw a party . . . and everyone’s invited.

    PRE-SHOW EVENTS

    Family Fun Pre-Show Party
    Please come at 6 PM for a pre-show party for families. There will be hands-on craft activities and healthy snacks for everyone while they last.

    Arts Give Back
    Please bring a new or gently used book to donate to Link to Libraries. Link to Libraries collects and distributes new and gently used books to elementary school libraries and nonprofit organizations to enhance the language and literacy skills of children of all cultural backgrounds. Please visit their site (www.linkstolibraries.org) for a list of preferred books or bring some goodies from your personal collection.

    LET’S SWEETEN THE POT

    The winner will receive four copies of a Dan Zane’s album to give to friends and family, courtesy of the UMass Fine Arts Center.

    HOW TO WIN

    Your chance to win a family 4-pack of  tickets to see Dan Zanes and Friends: Family Dance Party at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on the UMass campus in Amherst, MA, plus four copies a copy of a Dan Zanes CD is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

    1. POST A COMMENT BELOW and be sure to tell us your
    2. FULL NAME and where you
    3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) You must include your town and state to be eligible.
    4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
    5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 10/19/09 @ 7pm (EST).

    If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets are available at the UMass Fine Arts box office, online at UMass Fine Arts Center or by calling 545-2511 or 1-800-999-UMAS.

    Click here to listen and subscribe to the Hilltown Family Variety Show Podcast!

    Conway Festival of the Hills

    48th Annual Conway Festival Of The Hills
    October 4th, 2009 in Conway, MA

    Remember this great V-log HF Contributing Writer Tom Adams shared last year about his family trip to the Conway Festival of the Hills in Conway, MA?

    Jeff Rutherford of Conway, MA posted this years festivities:

    The 48th Annual Conway, Massachusetts’ Festival of the Hills, an annual fall festival that has been recognized as a Library of Congress “Local Legacy” in Western Massachusetts, will take place Sunday, October 4th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.. The Festival of Hill’s numerous events will include:

    • Covered Bridge Classic 10K Road Race
    • live bands
    • craft fair
    • food vendors
    • skillet toss
    • logsplitting contest
    • art show
    • children’s activities
    • parade

    All proceeds from the Festival go to a scholarship fund that is made available to all Conway graduating high school seniors.

    Last year, the festival continued its efforts to reduce trash generated at the event by increasing recycling and adding composting of Festival waste. Again this year, the Festival will provide bins for recycling bottles and cans as well as bins to collect compostable food and paper. New this year will be water stations where attendees can get a cups of water, reducing the use of single-use water bottles. Last year’s Festival sent 26 bags of compostable food waste, paper products, and other biodegradables to Bear Path Farm in Whately, MA to be turned into garden compost instead of sending it to the transfer station and a landfill. Twelve bags of recyclable/redeemable material were collected. Again this year, the Festival invites everyone who attends to help the Festival reduce its environmental impact by using the composting and recycling stations.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Autumnal Equinox Sunrise & Sunset Gatherings at UMass Sunwheel

    Autumnal Equinox Sunrise & Sunset Gatherings
    at the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst, MA

    The public is invited to witness the passing of the seasons by joining Dr. Judith Young of the U.Mass. Dept. of Astronomy to watch the Sun rise and set over the tall standing stones in the U.Mass. Sunwheel for the Autumnal Equinox of 2009.

    The sunrise and sunset events will be held on both Tuesday & Wednesday, Sept. 22 and 23, 2009. Visitors for the sunrise viewing should arrive at 6:45 a.m., and visitors for the sunset viewing should arrive at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

    These gatherings will celebrate the Equinox, the International Year of Astronomy, and also 12 years of Sunwheel seasonal events for the public, which have attracted over 10,000 visitors.

    Find out more here: SUNWHEEL GATHERING INFO.

    Chesterfield Cultural Council Seeks Proposals From Schools & Youth Groups

    Chesterfield Cultural Council Seeks Funding Proposals
    Proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science projects due October 15th.

    The Massachusetts Cultural Council has set October 15th, 2009 as the deadline for organizations, schools and individuals to apply for grants that support cultural activities in the community. The Chesterfield Cultural Council in Chesterfield, MA is encouraging area groups to take advantage of this opportunity.

    According to Council spokesperson Leslie Charles, these grants can support a variety of artistic projects and activities in Chesterfield — including exhibits, festivals, short-term artist residencies or performances in schools, workshops and lectures.

    The Chesterfield Cultural Council will also entertain funding proposals from schools and youth groups through the PASS Program, a ticket subsidy program for school-aged children.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Letterboxing: Adventure, Art and the Great Outdoors

    Letterboxing: A Crafty Outdoor Adventure
    By Jessica Branciforte

    Letterboxing in Goshen, MA

    Letterboxing at the DAR in Goshen, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Letterboxing involves a mixture of artistry, adventure, navigation, and secrecy. All in all, it’s a great big treasure hunt with art lying in wait where the “X” marks the spot. It’s very similar to geocaching, except with clues instead of coordinates, and when found, a letterbox contains a tiny piece of one of a kind art – a hand carved stamp. Mix stamp making and treasure hunting in the great outdoors and you’ve got yourself a fun and creative pastime.

    Legend suggests that letterboxing began in 1854 when calling cards were placed in jars found outdoors. Upon finding a jar, others were encouraged to leave their card as well. Modern letterboxing follows the same guidelines using hand carved stamps and the World Wide Web.

    What you’ll need before you start:

    • A thirst for adventure and the outdoors
    • Your own trail stamp, which should be a hand carved image that you think best represents you
    • Letterboxing clues
    • A small inkpad and a logbook
    • A compass (optional but fun)

    The Art of the Letterbox Hunt

    Step One: To begin, you’ll need to carve your own signature stamp. You can always use a pre-made stamp that you’re especially fond of, but many find it fulfilling to carve their own mark. Using Speedball tools and an eraser or some carving rubber, create the image you would like to represent your trail ID. You can also use this great tutorial on stamp carving.

    Step Two: Use the Internet to find some clues! Folks who create letterboxes publish the steps it takes to find them online. It’s hard to go on a treasure hunt without the map. You’d be surprised where letterboxes are located, since even the smallest of towns can have hidden boxes. You may have even discovered one while hiking in the past and didn’t quite know what it was. To start finding letterboxes close to you, check out www.letterboxing.org.

    Step Three: Some letterbox hunts will take all afternoon while others only fifteen minutes. Choose a set of clues that suits your schedule for the day, and your hunting style. Some clues are posted in poem form while others cut right to the chase and tell you how many steps to take and in what direction. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for. You can find letterboxes in state parks, campgrounds and even graveyards. Either way it’s rewarding when you find your way to the end of the hunt. Picture yourself nearing the end of your journey. You might read something like, “Take ten paces to your right” “Look for the tree with the double trunk” or “Dig into the ‘V’ of the tree until you find the box.” Woo hoo! You’ve found a letterbox! Inside you should find a logbook, a carved stamp, and some ink.

    Leave Your Mark

    Here’s your chance to make your creative mark in the world. Open up the logbook to a clean page and use your own stamp to leave your mark. Write a few notes about your trip and what you saw while hiking and sign your name. If you’d like to you can even write the date and where you’re from. It’s especially interesting for others to discover leaf though the log book and read other entries. Some books take you years into the past!

    You’ll also want to make a record of finding this letterbox for yourself. Take the stamp provided inside the letterbox and stamp it into your own logbook. Jot down a few notes about your travels and remember to record the date and location of the box. These extra anecdotes are a great way to remember a trip away from home, as letterboxes are generally hidden in state parks or forests that represent the natural identity of an area.

    More Letterboxing Adventures

    Letterboxing in Goshen, MA

    Letterboxing at the DAR in Goshen, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    There’s a HUGE letterboxing world out there! Interested in finding “hitchhikers” “microboxes” and “mystery boxes?” Learn more about lingo and letterboxing etiquette at www.atlasquest.com.

    Letterboxing combines your creative abilities along with the fun of active exercise and adventure in the great outdoors. Once you get started with this addictive activity, you’ll soon find yourself with a logbook full of recordings of great hunts and hikes—as well as full of great memories. You’ll want to look back over your findings and compare what you’ve recorded with others as well.

    Recommended Reading:

     


    Originally published in Handmade News. Reprinted with Permission.

    Organic vs. Natural

    Organic vs. Natural: Don’t Let Your Family Be Fooled

    Organic Consumers Association writes:

    The “natural” food phenomenon worries many in the organic industry. So-called “natural” products aren’t regulated and don’t have to meet any special standards, so they can be marketed more cheaply than genuine certified organic food. Many formerly organic brands are trying to fool consumers into thinking natural and organic are the same.

    Early this year, for instance, WhiteWave Foods added “natural” Silk soy milk to its line of organic products. This summer, WhiteWave (a unit of Dean Foods) broadened its Horizon line of organic products with its first “natural” offering: Little Blends, a yogurt for toddlers. In August, it began test-marketing Milk Breakers, a six-ounce single serving of “natural” milk with added protein.

    This year, for the first time since at least 2004, sales of “natural” foods and beverages will likely grow at a faster rate than sales of organic foods, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

    The organic industry is fighting back. In September, Organic Valley will debut an online calculator that lets consumers see how many chemicals they avoid by using organic milk.

    “We’re holding on when some other sectors are sinking,” says Theresa Marquez, chief marketing executive for Organic Valley. “Our future is organic.”

    Read more HERE.

    HFVS Rollin’ On Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

    Listen to Podcast:

    ROLLIN’ ON EPISODE

    Saturday from 9-10am
    September 19th, 2009
    WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
    Northampton, MA

    FEATURED VIDEO: Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Big Truck” [Rockin’,Rollin’ and Ridin’]


    New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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    • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Big Truck” [Rockin’,Rollin’ and Ridin’]Music
    • Joe West – “Dump Truck and Tractors” [If The World Was Upside Down]Music
    • Ben Rudnick & Friends – “Old Joe Clark” [A Frog Named Sam]
    • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
    • PSA: Library Card Sign-Up Month
    • Lunch Money – “I Love My Library” [Dizzy]
    • Laura Doherty – “Firefly” [Kids in the City]Music
    • Charity and the JAMband – “Wish” [Rock Your Socks Off]
    • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
    • The Deedle Deedle Dees – “Teddy Days” [Freedom in a Box!]
    • Mr. David – “Crocodiles are Hungry” [Jump in the Jumpy House]
    • Burl Ives – “The Sailor and the Crocodile” [Burl Ives Favorites for Children]
    • Burl Ives- “The Crocodile Song” [Burl Ives Favorites for Children]
    • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Hey-O” (featuring Roscoe Orman) [Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’]Music
    • Wicked Hemlocks – “Number Count” [Quill of the Mad]
    • School House Rock – “Three is a Magic Number” [School House Rock]
    • Station Id: Yosi & The Superdads [www.yosimusic.com]
    • AudraRox – “Moms & Dads” [Park Slope Parents: The Album]
    • Peter Himmelman – “Main Dish” [My Trampoline]Music
    • Uncle Rock – “Hippie Harvest Kitchen” [Uncle Rock U]

    Read the rest of this entry »

    30th Annual Hilltown Junior Olympics in Plainfield

    Hilltown Junior Olympics

    The 30th Annual Hilltown Junior Olympics happens at the Plainfield Town Park on North Central Street in Plainfield, MA on Saturday, September 26th, 2009.

    WHAT ARE THE HILLTOWN JUNIOR OLYMPICS?

    Janet Laroche of Chesterfield, MA writes: The Hilltown Junior Olympics is a six-town event that has been taking place for the past 30 years. Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Windsor and Worthington take turns hosting the event where children between the ages of 5 and 14 participate in 4 individual events. The events range from the bean bag toss and horse shoe toss for the younger children to the 70 yard dash, shot put and basketball shoot for the older children. There are 5 divisions and a child’s age will determine which division they will participate in and which events they will take part in.

    The day begins with a parade of the six towns and their teams. There’s a master of ceremonies who introduces the towns, introduces the person who will do the invocation, leads the group in the pledge of allegiance, introduces the singer of the national anthem and the runners who come into the stage area with the lighted Olympic torch.

    As well as individual events, there are 3 exciting town events that also take place. One boy and one girl from each division are randomly chosen each year to participate in the tug of war, relay race and obstacle course. Each town has a team consisting of 10 children. The town events are competitive and very fun to watch.

    There are sophisticated scoring rules in place fore every event and volunteers in the tally table have the responsibility for tallying up each individual event as well as the town events. The town with the most points at the end of the day wins the event. Trophies are handed out for first, second and third place. Children who did well in their individual events receive medals for first, second and third place and are called up to the podium.

    Every child receives a participation medal for being there that day and contributing to their town’s team.

    It takes many volunteers, close to 100, to make the day go smoothly. Volunteers assist with leading divisions to their respective events, handing out equipment for each event, parking cars, cooking food, raking sand pits, coaching town event teams, as well as many other positions.

    The Hilltown Junior Olympics was the idea of Stanley Svoboda, a Cummington resident who wanted children to have a chance to participate in an event that was something like the Olympics. Thirty years later, the event is still something children in these six towns look forward to each year.

    Janet Laroche can be reached at jalaroche@verizon.net.

    Suggested Events 09/19/09-09/25/09

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Chicken Lawn Ornaments in Ashfield, MA (collage)

    What the cluck is up in Ashfield? Chicken lawn ornaments are all the rage in Ashfield, MA... or are our Ashfieldian neighbors up to something else? (Photo credits: Sienna Wildfield)

    Click here to suggest an event.

    If 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, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending

    SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO OR KIDS ART WORK

    Do you have a great photo of life or landscape in Western Mass, our a fabulous work of art your kids have created, that you’d like to submit to Hilltown Families?  Send your jpg or link to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

    FRIDAY NIGHT

    • BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER:  Friday, Sept 18th in Amherst, MA. Check out the world renowned Bread and Puppet Theater performing at Amherst High School’s Auditorium on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7pm. This is a benefit performance for the South Amherst Conservation Association.  Bread and Puppet Theater accomplish  creative political theater the entire family will enjoy.  More info HERE.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    Retirement Party for John Cotton in Williamsburg (Sep. 20th, 2009)

    Retirement Party to honor & thank Chief John Cotton for his service to the town of Williamsburg on September 20th, 2009 at the Burgy Bullets Snowmobile Club. Click on image to find out more info.

    • VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Volunteers are needed for a Bread and Puppet event this Sunday, September 20th (admission is free). Bread and Puppet will be performing The Dirt Cheap Money Circus at 1 p.m. at the Red Barn Lawn at 893 West Street in Amherst, MA. Volunteers are needed to perform with the B&P puppeteers, and the rehearsal schedule is Saturday, 12-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-12 p.m. If interested in volunteering, please contact ptinto@hampshire.edu.
    • CLASSES FOR KIDS: Don’t forget to check out our Suggest an Afterschool or Homeschool Class bulletin board.  Lots of great classes have been shared so far.  Share with us a class you’d like to suggest to local families too!
    • PARENT DISCUSSION SERIES: In Amherst there will be a free weekly roundtable discussion series for campus and Amherst Family Center families with young children called Dinner on Us, Monday evenings during the academic year in the Student Union Building. As far as I know it’s open to all, but if they run into over enrollment, I’m sure that they will prioritize UMASS students, staff, and alums, as well as AFC families.  Sessions are free and include: dinner, supervised children’s activities and parking. Family Dinner: 5:15-5:45pm, Supervised Children’s Activities: 5:45-7:30pm, Roundtable Discussion: 6:00-7:30pm. Space is limited. To pre-register call: 413-545-4466 OR email cshrc@stuaf.umass.edu.

      Massachusetts Harvest for Student Week (09/21/09-09/25/09)

      Massachusetts Harvest for Student Week: September 21st-25th, 2009 Join in as schools and colleges across the state purchase, serve, and engage students in hands-on activities to celebrate the bounty of Massachusetts agriculture! The goal for Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week is to spur new buying relationships between schools and farms, as well as increase existing purchasing in schools around the state. Schools are also encouraged to focus on the benefits of locally grown foods through educational activities, such as creating school gardens, taking trips to farms, and integrating agricultural themes into the classroom.

    • LOCAL FOOD: This fall as the local harvest peaks and thoughts shift toward winter eating, NOFA/Mass presents their first annual statewide Fall Food Preservation Day. On September 19, there will be food preservation workshops spread throughout the state, including in Cummington and Northampton, MA. Preserving food that we grow or purchase locally at the height of its freshness and flavor can save money, lessen our dependence on the global corporate food chain, and provide wonderful flavor and real food all year round. Isn’t now a good time to learn skills to do this? More info HERE.
    • MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Festival of Trees this year from Nov. 14 to Jan. 3. As many know, the Festival of Trees is a Berkshire County tradition where local businesses, schools and community groups decorate trees to display in the Museum galleries. To accompany these trees, they’re looking for local artists to create unique artwork to be on view through the exhibit. For more information contact Maria Mingalone, mmingalone@berkshiremuseum.org.
    • ENERGY SAVINGS: This fall, CET is offering free home energy savings workshops in towns throughout western Massachusetts (Gill, Amherst & Ashfield). Attendees will learn a wide array of energy saving solutions, including low-cost and no-cost measures, to common energy concerns. More info HERE.
    • SMALL BUSINESS WORKSHOP: Hilltown CDC announces a new workshop for small businesses on “How to Get the Media to Tell Your Business Story.” This three-hour evening workshop, on October 14 from 6 to 9 PM, will take place at Gateway Regional High School, 12 Littleville Road, Huntington, MA. More info HERE.
    • STORYTIME FOR PRESCHOOLERS: Every Wednesday at 10:30 am is Preschool Storytime at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg with Children’s Librarian Rochelle Wildfong.
    • AUDTIONS FOR KIDS: The Piti Theatre Company seeks performers (actors & dancers) ages 5 & up as well as adults for their interactive, outdoor theatrical event “Salmon Falls” which tells the story of the Deerfield River through movement, song and storytelling. The audition will be from 12:30 –3:00 pm behind the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls on Sunday, Sept. 27th. The performance will take place on three Saturdays afternoons, Oct. 3– 17th behind the Arms Library at 1:30. For details go to www.ptco.org/next. To register, email jonathan@ptco.org or call (413) 625. 6569.
    • COMMUNITY PROJECT: As part of the local 350 Neighbors project, the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA will be collecting 8 ½” x 11″ photos or drawings of the bountiful diversity of life here in the hilltowns to be shared in a display at the Old Creamery through October. More info HERE. Check out the gallery of digital images already submitted HERE.

    • SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families.  Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser,  business or announcement on our Weekly List of Suggested Events.  Serious inquiries can email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details.

    WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    SATURDAY – 09/19/09

    Rosh Hashanah

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Children’s Products

    Results Show Great Need in Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act

    A nonprofit environmental research organization released results today on over 900 common products tested for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC) and arsenic. Using an XRF analyzer, researchers at the Ecology Center analyzed the ingredients of pet products, cars, women’s handbags, children’s car seats and more, creating the largest database yet of independent tests of toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

    The results can be found on the user-friendly website: www.HealthyStuff.org. Visitors can look up products by manufacturer, brand, or product type and easily generate lists of highly rated and poorly rated products.

    HealthyStuff.org tested for chemicals based on their toxicity, persistence and tendency to build up in people and the environment. Such chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, liver toxicity and cancer.

    “The more we test, the more we find that the presence of toxic chemicals is widespread in everyday consumer products,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center, who created the site. “It should not be the responsibility of public health advocates to test these products. Product manufacturers and legislators must take the lead and replace dangerous substances with safe alternatives.”

    For the past several years the Ecology Center has spearheaded groundbreaking research on toxic chemicals in toys, cars and children’s car seats at HealthyToys.org and HealthyCar.org. HealthyStuff.org is a compilation of all of these findings and more.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    TAKE ACTION: “Back to School with Better Milk” Day of Action

    Today is “Back to School with Better Milk” Day of Action

    Our kids deserve the healthiest food possible, and parents deserve to have a say in what their kids eat. Milk is a staple for many of our nation’s youngsters, and it’s crucial that the milk served in schools be safe, healthy and free of artificial hormones. The artificial growth hormone rBGH is on its way out. Consumers are rejecting it at the marketplace, and many stores have stopped selling it completely. Now we need to make sure our public-school children have the same choice.

    On September 16th, 2009 we’re having our first annual National “Know Your Milk” Day of Action to urge our Congressional Representatives to make the right choice for our kids, our cows and our future. Calls are easy to make and will make a big difference! Can you take 30 seconds now and make a call?

    • To find out how you can take action go HERE.

    Share Images Of Local Native Plants & Animals at the Old Creamery in Cummington

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    Wild native plants, animals and insects in the hilltowns. Pictured here: Golden Orb Weaver Spider, Tiny Toad, Coltsfoot, Fox Den, Trillium, Ringneck Pheasants, Skunk Cabbage, Luna Moth and Virginian Tiger Moth (caterpillar). (Photo credits: Sienna Wildfield)

    Rosemary Wessel of Cummington, MA writes:

    350 Neighbors : A Project to Support 350.org

    All over the world, on October 24 2009, thousands of communities will add their unique voices to the global chorus calling for legislators to act swiftly and boldly to reduce Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels back to or below 350 ppm. The organization, 350.org, has put out a call for everyone on the planet to express their concern about climate change by creating or participating in a local, community-based, media engaging, and beautiful action which can be documented and sent via internet to our legislators.

    For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275ppm of CO2. Today, CO2 levels are at 389 ppm and rising by about 2 ppm per year.  Recent research by James Hansen of NASA indicates that 350 ppm is probably the upper limit of safe CO2 levels for human life ” if we wish to maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted”.

    In December of 2009, world leaders from every nation will meet in Copenhagen to finalize a new climate change agreement. 350.org is a global effort to convince our leaders to make 350 ppm the “north star” guiding us back out of the danger zone.

    350 NEIGHBORS –  LOCAL HILLTOWN EVENT

    350 Neighbors is a local project to express how precious the bountiful diversity of life is to us here in the hilltowns. We are lucky to live in a place where wild plants and animals still enrich our daily lives. 350 Neighbors is a project to appreciate and celebrate our wildlife neighbors and express our concern for the future of our lives and theirs by creating a local 350.org action.

    We’re organizing a day of events on October 24, the International Day of Climate Action. Have ideas? Want to help? Contact Amy at 634-5659

    Now for the fun part! How YOU can participate!

    The Old Creamery in Cummington, MA will be collecting 8 ½” x 11″ photos or drawings of our wild plant and animal neighbors. We are displaying them at the Old Creamery until a date in October when we will create a big display and slide show of all the photos we collect. Come watch the store come alive with beautiful images!  Bring in pictures that you have taken locally of your wild neighbors.  (Preferably not the guy next door in his loin cloth.) We will try to get at least 350 different local species, but all duplicates will be included in the show. We would love to have the 350 be native plants and animals, but if you are in love with that hybrid rose by your back door, we will include it in a non-native section of the show. Please fill out a form with each picture you submit to help us all learn about our neighbors. Let’s remind our legislators what is at stake in Copenhagen.

    IF POSSIBLE, SUBMIT YOUR IMAGES IN TWO FORMATS

    1. PRINT IMAGES FOR DISPLAY:
      The form is available at the Creamery, where the photos are currently being displayed. Bring in your 8-1/2 x 11 print, fill out the form and we’ll gladly display it!
    2. DIGITAL IMAGES FOR SLIDE SHOW:
      If possible, please also email any digital originals or scanned photos to Rosemary Wessel (wsrw@verizon.net) to be used in the slide show. If you don’t have a digital original or a scanner, please email to let us know, so we can scan it for the show.

    Don’t forget to let us know your name, where the photo was taken, the approximate date it was taken, the species name if you know it and any comments or story connected with the image.

    Thanks!

    Local Food Preservation Workshop Day in Cummington & Northampton

    Food Preservation Workshops in the Pioneer Valley: Sept. 19th, 2009

    (Photo credit: chotda)

    Cummington Community House
    33 Main Street, Cummington, MA

    The workshop in Cummington will be taught by Kathy Harrison who is author of “Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens.” Workshop highlights include using a dehydrator to put by vegetables, canning sauces and preserves using water bath canning, pickling techniques for delicious condiments that can complement the main meal, ways to safely can meat using a pressure cooker, and storage for root crops. Workshop participants will receive hand-outs on what different techniques are ideal for various crops, and list of the top resources available for learning more details about food preservation.

    Town Farm
    1 Ventures Field Road, Northampton, MA

    The workshop in Northampton will be taught by Abigail Clarke, a yoga teacher and an avid gardener and food preservervation and will explore the uses of drying, freezing, canning and pickling and explain the equipment needed for each technique. The workshop will also cover the basics of root cellaring for storing root crops throughout the winter. Clarke will teach some basic body mechanics for ease in the kitchen, so20all those hours of chopping, stirring and canning don’t put unnecessary strain on the body. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own questions to the workshop.

    In addition to Cummington and Northampton, workshops are also being held in Brookline, South Natick, Concord, Groton, Princeton, Winchendon Springs, Shelburne, Springfield, and Great Barrington.

    Click HERE for more info or contact Ben Grosscup 413-658- 5374. If you plan to do a walk-in registration, please call in advance to find out if there is space availability. A potluck lunch will be shared at the event, and registrants are invited to bring something to share or bring their own lunch.

    (Photo credit: ccl chotda)

    Suggested Events 09/12/09-09/18/09

    Circumzenithal Arc

    Circumzenithal Arc spotted in the morning sky in Haydenville, MA by Barbara Tomawski while waiting at the school bus stop with her granddaughter.

    SUGGEST AN EVENT

    Click here to suggest an event.

    If 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, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending

    SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO OR KIDS ART WORK

    Do you have a great photo of life or landscape in Western Mass, our a fabulous work of art your kids have created, that you’d like to submit to Hilltown Families?  Send your jpg or link to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

    BULLETIN BOARD

    • Jamie Bishop of Plainfield, MA writes: Throughout the year 4-H Youth have worked on projects to bring to the Fair.  The Big E offers the opportunity to highlight their work to all of New England.  You can find out more information at: http://www.thebige.com/agriculture/4-H/index.html
    • CONTEST WINNER: Thanks you to everyone who signed up for a chance to win tickets Alegria! We had a great response and loved hearing from everyone.  Using the random number generator over at random.org we have selected a winner:  Angie Gregory of Northampton, MA. She is the winner of a family 4-pack of free tickets to see Alegria on its premiere night, Wednesday, September 16th at 7:30pm, at the Mullins Center in Amherst, MA.  If you did not win, we will have more giveaways in the very near future! So be sure to check back or join the Hilltown Families Emailed Newsfeed (Sign up!)
      MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  The Third Annual Ashfield FilmFest will take place at 7:p.m., on September 26th at Town Hall, Ashfield, Massachusetts.

      MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Third Annual Ashfield FilmFest will take place at 7:p.m., on September 26th at Town Hall, Ashfield, Massachusetts.

    • FREE SUPPORT GROUPS: Free Positive Parenting and Kin Caregivers groups starting in the valley.  More info here.
    • COMMUNITY CHORUS: The Hilltown Choral Society welcomes new singers and will hold rehearsals for their Holiday Concerts and Winter Concert on Monday evenings beginning September 14th, 2009 from 7:30 to 9:00pm in the Worthington Historical Society Building (intersection of Routes 143 and 112) in the center of Worthington, MA.  More info here.
    • HOMESCHOOL DAY: Homeschool families are invited for an educational celebration of the fall harvest on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at the Historic Deerfield Museum in Deerfield, MA.  More info here.
    • DENTAL CARE FOR KIDS: “Gator Grins”, the dental outreach program serving students in the Gateway Regional School District, will open the school year by seeing Littleville Elementary School students in Huntington, MA who are due for their six month checkups, beginning September 14 at the school.  More info here.
    • MARKET YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS: The Hilltown Business Directory will list 350 local businesses in 20 towns, by category, by name, and by town. This 160 page reference book will be used all year by local residents. The Directory makes it easy for residents to support their neighbors by using locally available products and services, thereby strengthening the hilltown economy and preserving and creating local jobs.  More info here.
      FEATURED EVENT:  On Saturday, in Ashfield, MA, friends and neighbors from across the region are invited to the Highland Communities Initiative’s (HCI) fifth biennial conference to celebrate the Highland’s rural nature and to share ideas from area residents that may hold the keys to its future.  Click on image for more info.

      FEATURED EVENT: On Saturday, in Ashfield, MA, friends and neighbors from across the region are invited to the Highland Communities Initiative’s (HCI) fifth biennial conference to celebrate the Highland’s rural nature and to share ideas from area residents that may hold the keys to its future. Click on image for more info.

    • PUBLIC FORUM: To further his goal of being fully accessible to constituents from all cities and towns in his district, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) is bringing his rolling series of open monthly meetings, dubbed Coffee & Conversation to the hilltown Peru, MA on Friday, September 18th. Downing hosts these public forums in rotating communities across the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Senate District ten months out of the year. More info here.
    • MARKETING WORKSHOP: Hilltown CDC announces a three-session workshop on Marketing Your Website, on Sept. 16, 23 and 30, at Gateway Regional High School in Huntington, taught by Peter Pelland. Each three-hour evening session will be from 6 to 9 PM. The total cost is $90, with tuition waivers available for low and moderate income people, and with $5 off per session for Hilltown CDC members. More details are available at http://www.hilltowncdc.org, or by calling 413-296-4536 ext. 12.  More info here.

    SUGGESTED EVENTS

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    We’ve been getting great results from out 1,001 Post: A Poll. Thank you to all families that have responded so far. If you haven’t had a chance to tell us your 2-cents, click on over to our poll and give us your feedback. It’s short and easy and should take more than a couple of minutes. It will really help us determine how to best serve our community of families.

    SATURDAY

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    Take the Family Apple Picking

    Apples!

    Ireland Orchard Apples-1

    Apples are becoming ripe for the picking all over Western Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Apple season is here and there are many great orchards your family can visit to pick your own peck of apples.

    Ireland Street Apple Orchards in West Chesterfield use to be where my family would go, but after 20+ years of being in the apple orchard business Fred and Millie Chick have retired.

    You can pick your own apples at a number of Local Hero farms or pick some up at a local retailer. In my search for local PYO apple orchards in the hilltowns and valley, I can across this list of local farms.  Give a call before heading over to confirm availability and time to pick.

    Pressing Apple Cider

    Pressing apple cider. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    • Apex Orchards
      153 Peckville Road
      Shelburne, MA 01370
      Tele: 625-2744
    • Atkins Farms
      1150 West Street
      Amherst, MA 01002
      Tele: 253-9528
    • Clarkdale Fruit Farms
      303 Upper Road
      Deerfield, MA 01342
      Tele: 772-6797
    • Outlook Farm
      136 Main Road (Route 66)
      Westhampton, MA 01027
      Tele:  529-9388

      Roasting apples over an open fire

      Baking apples over an open fire. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    • Pine Hill Orchards
      248 Greenfield Road
      Colrain, MA 01340
      Tele: 624-3325
    • Quonquont Farm
      9 North Street
      Whately, MA 01093
      Tele: 575-4680

    UPPER CRUST
    Where did the saying “Upper crust” come from? According to the U.S. Apple Association, in early America, when times were hard and cooking supplies were scarce, cooks often had to scrimp and save on ingredients. Apple pie was a favorite dish, but to save on lard and flour, only a bottom crust was made. More affluent households could afford both an upper and a lower crust, so those families became known as “the upper crust.”

    Get the Kids Baking and Sewing for the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair

    Call for Pie Bakers and Quilters to Compete at the
    12th Annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair

    Young bakers can use some of the regions local bounty of peaches, apricots, raspberries, apples or pears to bake a pie while having fun and learning about Shaker history and the culinary arts!

    Warm up your rolling pins and get stitchin’! Hancock Shaker Village seeks entrants to the pie contest and juried quilt exhibition at the 12th annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair on September 26th & 27th in Pittsfield, MA.

    PIE CONTEST

    The pie contest will include both professional and amateur categories (get the kids baking!), with judging held on Saturday afternoon, September 26th. Registration deadline is Sept. 18th. This year’s all-star pie judge team includes:

    • New Yorker writer, Susan Orlean
    • Berkshire Eagle executive editor, Tim Farkas
    • Berkshire Living senior editor, Lesley Ann Beck
    • RuralIntelligence.com co-editor, Marilyn Bethany

    JURIED QUILT EXHIBIT

    The juried quilt exhibition titled “A Harvest of Quilts” will feature approximately 30 antique and newly-made quilts. The exhibit will be on display in the Round Stone Barn during the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair on September 26 and 27. Quilt ribbons will be awarded on Sunday, September 27 at 4:30pm. Quilts must not have been previously exhibited at the Village and can be either the entrant’s own handiwork or antique quilts that they have inherited or collected. Examples with fine quilting or interesting stories are particularly desired. Quilts of all sizes – wall hanging to bed size – done by quilters of all ages are welcome.

    KIDS TENT

    In addition to the pie contest and quilts exhibition, the 12th annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair will feature a kid’s tent filled with

    • Shaker-inspired games
    • farmers’ market with samples of heirloom vegetables to tast
    • vendors and demonstrations of old-time farm-related crafts and trades
    • wagon rides
    • and more!

    This event is free with regular admission.  For contest rules and to download registration forms, see the Programs & Events section of hancockshakervillage.org or call 413.443.0188.
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    Free Positive Parenting and Kin Caregivers Groups Starting in the Valley

    Katarina Noyes of Hadley, MA writes:

    Greetings!

    Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley is happy to announce the starting date of another Positive Parenting group. This free group covers topics including parenting styles, age-appropriate discipline, child development, self-esteem, and communication. The 10-week series will begin Monday, September 28, 2009. The group will meet from 5 pm to 7pm at Berkshire Children and Families, 220 Russell Street, Suite 200 Hadley, MA. A meal, transportation and childcare will be provided.

    We are also offering the Kin Caregivers group beginning September 23, 2009 from 5 pm to 7:30 pm, also at Berkshire Children and Families in Hadley. This group is for relatives who are caring for their grandchildren, siblings, cousins, nieces or nephews ages 0 to 6. Topics to be covered include: legal issues, the impact of children’s histories on their current lives, children’s developmental needs, health issues, caregivers and children’s relationships with biological parents. A meal, transportation and childcare will be provided.

    If you have any questions please feel free to call me at 413-584-5690 ext. 140 or email knoyes@bcfcma.org

    Katarina Noyes
    Parent Aide & Groups Coordinator
    Berkshire Children and Families
    P.O. Box 343
    220 Russell Street, Suite 200
    Hadley, MA 01035

    President Barack Obama’s Back-to-School Address

    Prepared Text of Obama’s Speech to School Students

    The prepared text of President Barack Obama’s back-to-school address scheduled for Tuesdays, as released in advance by the White House:

    Hello, everyone — how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through 12th grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

    I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

    I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday — at 4:30 in the morning.

    Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

    So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Revolutionize Your School Lunch Program

    Three ways to revolutionize your school lunch program

    Need help banning mystery meat from your school’s cafeteria? Get the tools you need from three organizations dedicated to serving up better lunches: Healthy School Lunch Campaign, farmtoschool.org and The Lunch Box. Read more over at GreatSchools.net.

    Hilltown Community Chorus Group Welcomes Families to Join

    New Singers Of All Ages Are Welcome to Join the Hilltown Choral Society!

    According to a new study by Chorus America, children who sing in choruses have greater academic success and more advanced social skills than children who don’t sing. Click on the link below to read more about their findings.

    Do you have children that love to sing? Are you looking for ways you or your family can be more involved with your community? Did you know there was a Hilltown community chorus group, the Hilltown Choral Society, and they are welcoming new singers of all ages?

    The Hilltown Choral Society welcomes new singers and will hold rehearsals for their Holiday Concerts and Winter Concert on Monday evenings beginning September 14th, 2009 from 7:30 to 9:00pm in the Worthington Historical Society Building (intersection of Routes 143 and 112) in the center of Worthington, MA.

    The  Holiday Concerts are to be held on Saturday December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, 2009, and a Winter Concert will also be held on Sunday January 3rd, 2010.

    With nearly 10 million children and 32 million adults singing in choruses, choral singing is the most popular form of participation in the performing arts*.

    “The prototype of a choral singer is how Americans aspire to see themselves today: as active, involved citizens with a broad range of creative interests and concerns for their communities,” says Ann Meier Baker, the President and CEO of Chorus America.

    According to a *new study conducted by Chorus America, choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.  Read their findings here: How Children, Adults and Communities Benefit from Choruses: The Chorus Impact Study.

    For more information about the Hilltown Choral Society, or to reserve a place in the group, please contact Chorus Director, Jeff Hunt, at 413-499-7320 or Jeffcomusic1@aol.com.  Jeff Hunt, is also organist at St. Mark’s Church in Pittsfield, MA.

    Take the Kids To Tour Local Organic Dairy Farms On Raw Milk Dairy Day (Sep. 12th, 2009)

    Families Can Learn About Local Milk Production During
    Raw Milk Dairy Day: Saturday, September 12th, 2009

    Raw Milk in Ashfield, MA

    Raw Milk in Ashfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Nine Massachusetts raw milk dairies will open up their farms for tours and other activities. Learn why raw milk tastes so good and why it’s so good for you! Meet your farmers and their cows and get to know where your food comes from.

    Organized by the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter. For more information about Raw Milk Dairy Day, contact Winton Pitcoff, NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network Coordinator, at winton@nofamass.org, or (413) 634-5728. For information about raw milk click HERE.

    Ashfield:  Sidehill Farm
    137 Beldingville Rd
    Ashfield, MA
    413-625-0011
    amy@sidehillfarm.net
    http://www.sidehillfarm.net

    2:30 p.m. tour
    Sidehill Farm will offer a guided tour at 2:30 pm, including visits to pastures, the town’s oldest milking parlor, and their unusual facilities – a milk room built into a step van and a yogurt plant in a semi trailer. Stay after the tour for samples of their raw milk and yogurt.

    Shelburne:  Davenport Maple Farm
    111 Tower Rd
    Shelburne, MA
    413-625-2866
    davenportmaplefarm@crocker.com

    10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Visit the small grass-fed herd of Normande/Holstein cross cows the milkroom and barn, and pet the calves. There will be milk, eggs and maple products for sale and visitors can also see the wood processing facility.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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