Affordable Family Fun in the Berkshires

Lots of Free and Cheap Family Offerings in the Upcoming Weeks

‘Love of a Lady,’ a 20-minute DVD short story written by Ruth Heuberger and illustrated by her husband Hans will screen at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on March 10. (Photo credit: Hans Heuberger)

It appears mud season has arrived in the Berkshires and so, too, have a plethora of upcoming activities for families. From great ideas for a Parents Night Out to Lego competitions, marionettes, movie shorts and more I’m sure there is bound to be something for everyone.

LET THEM BUILD

My 9-year-old is a Lego fanatic. Not a holiday or birthday passes him by without a box filled with endless creative possibilities being placed in front of him. On Saturday, March 19, the Lenox Library is holding its fourth annual Lego Build-a-thon for 5 to 14 year olds from 9:30 to 11 a.m. All participants must bring their own Legos to build an original design from scratch capable of operating on a fishing line. Building starts promptly at 9:30 a.m.; a zipline demonstration will be held from 10:14-10:45. Prizes will be awarded for all participants. For more information and to register call 413-637-0197.

MORE AT THE LIBRARIES

In my last column I lauded local libraries and the myriad activities they offer FREE for families like the Lego competition above, and in the upcoming weeks they are at it again. The New Lebanon Library in New Lebanon, N.Y. is just over the boarder and close to many Berkshire towns and it serves as a local community center, cultural venue and education satellite facility for the town. On Friday, March 18, families can attend one of the library’s many Family Movie Nights and watch a screening of the 2010 hit Megamind. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Then on March 24 the library will host a Family Craft Night featuring the making of clay pot wind chimes. Both of these events are free. The library is located on Route 20. For more information about its upcoming events call 518-794-8844 or go online to newlebanon.lib.ny.us.

Last week I had the opportunity to talk to a wonderful woman and author of the short children’s story Love of a Lady that tells the story of one family’s attempt to adopt a shelter dog in France: they don’t return with the dog they have chosen, but the original owner gets his long-lost pet back. That author was Ruth Heuberger, a Great Barrington resident, who along with her artist husband Hans turned the short story into a 20-minute DVD with Hans’ beautiful illustrations and Ruth narrating the sweet, heartfelt story. The DVD is aimed to serve as a book-raiser for local Head Start programs around the county and throughout the country when screened. The next “Love of a Lady” book-raiser and screening will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Mason Library in Great Barrington. Those who attend are encouraged to bring a new or gently used book to donate to the Great Barrington Head Start students. Each child in the program will receive one of the donated books to take home as their own. The library is located on Main Street; call 413-528-2403 for more information. If you would like to find out how you can get a copy of the DVD to screen as a benefit for your local Head Start program e-mail Ruth Heuberger at haruhe@verizon.net.

One last library event, besides the ongoing story hours at most local libraries (check the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events), is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, at the Stockbridge Library. “Haiku for Kids” will feature local poet Mike Miller who will teach kids about the haiku and encourage them to write and illustrate their own work. I will be speaking to Miller later this week for an article to appear in The Advocate (advocateweekly.com) and online at thefamilybeat.com next week so be sure to check them out to learn more. The event begins at 11 a.m. The library is located on Main Street in Stockbridge. For more information call 413-298-5501.

CELEBRATING STUDENT CREATIVITY

Did you know that March is not only Music in Our Schools Month but it is also National Youth Art Month? Community Health Programs and the Renaissance Art School in Great Barrington will be celebrating with the opening of a student art gallery on the walls of CHP’s newest health-care facility located at 444 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington. An opening reception will be held Friday, March 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. More information at 413-528-9311, ext. 1179, or 413-528-9600.

SING A SONG

There are always opportunities for kids to show off their creative side in the Berkshires — artistically, musically and on stage —with great rewards. On April 9 and 10 Berkshire Lyric will hold auditions for its 2011 Young Musicians Scholarship program at Kimball Farms on Walker Street in Lenox. Auditions are open to young musicians ages 13 to 21 who reside in Berkshire County. Applicants are asked to prepare two pieces and are requested to provide their own accompanist as by March 31. Applications are available from Berkshire County music teachers, at the Berkshire Athenaeum, the Berkshire Music School, or by calling Anna Stevenson at 413-442-5968. Winners will perform at the annual Young Musicians Concert at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox on May 1.

SPEAKING OF PERFORMING

There are plenty of theaters in Berkshire County but sometimes you don’t have to look any further than your local school system to find a fun, inexpensive production to take the kids to. This week you can catch the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown courtesy of students at Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield. Performances begin today March 17 and run through Sunday, March 20. For show times click here. All performances will take place at Berkshire School in Sheffield. For more information call 413-229-8754, ext. 127. ($)

Also courtesy of a local school, families can catch a rendition of Billy St. John’s Peril on the High Seas on March 19 at 7 p.m. featuring St. Stanislaus Kostka School eighth-graders. The production will be performed at Kolbe Hall on Hoosac Street in Adams. For more information call 413-743-1091. ($)

SOMETHING ACTIVE

There is no lack of inactivity in our house as the kids bounce from one sports season to the next with maybe a week break in between, but if you are looking for other ways to keep your children active in the Berkshires, Berkshire South Regional Community Center is a good place to start. On Saturday, March 19, the center will be holding a free afternoon of archery instruction for girls in kindergarten through grade 12. Participants can explore the sport of archery, an active, no-impact exercise that promotes healthy competition. Times are 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. To register call the Crissey Road, Great Barrington center at 413-727-7129 or e-mail ccoursey@gscwm.org.

I PROMISED MARIONETTES

There are two opportunities in the upcoming weeks to see Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes in the Berkshires and both of them will take place at Marketplace Café on North Street in Pittsfield. On March 19 the company will present “Jack and the Beanstalk” and on March 26 they will present “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Both events begin at 11:30 a.m. and best of all … they are FREE! For more information call 413-358-4777.

SOME OOEY GOOEY FUN

I couldn’t resist mentioning the next event sponsored by the Family Resource Center in North Adams on March 23. Kids and their parents will be treated to an “Ooey Gooey Night” to experiment with some messy fun at the First Baptist Church located on the corner of Eagle and Main streets in North Adams. The one-hour event begins at 6 p.m. For more information call 413-664-4821.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT

After a long weekend parents are always in need of a little (or a lot) of time away from the kids to reconnect, let loose and/or just have fun. Last weekend I attended the local Civitan’s Soup fundraiser for area food pantries on Friday night and had so much fun laughing (and consuming a few beverages) with friends that I didn’t quite make a full evening of fun at the next night’s fundraiser for St. Agnes School, but I will be sure to make the annual Benefit Association Cabin Fever Dance set for Saturday, March 19, beginning at 7 p.m. featuring band Shut Up & Dance (the band starts playing at 8). The Benefit Association is a local organization that funds programs throughout the Central Berkshire School District to benefit all kids and this event is their give-back to the parents. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling 413-684-3579. The dance will take place at Wahconah Country Club in Dalton and I promise you it is always a night full of fun! ($)

There is also plenty going on at the local theaters — Barrington Stage Company, Shakespeare & Company, New Stage Performing Arts Center, the Mahaiwe and The Colonial to name a few. So if you are looking for a brief escape with your spouse or ALONE check out the theater’s websites for shows and times and stay tuned for more Family Fun in the Berkshires in two weeks.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Bevan McIlquham Berkshire Family Fun

Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires.  Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, a chocolate lab, a very fat cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate and the Editor of The Family Beat in the Berkshires. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her non-fiction published by Wee Ones online family magazine. When not writing or editing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. kwm229@msn.com — Check out Berkshire Family Fun the first and third Thursday of each month.

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