Berkshire Family Fun: April Vacation Week

A School Break Survival Guide

The Frog (played by Mark Hohlstein) offers the Princess (played by Honora Toole) the ball he has retrieved from the well in Castle Hill Theatre Company’s production of ‘The Frog Prince’ set to open Wednesday, April 20, at New Stage Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield.

School vacations at home always sound like a good idea until about the third day in a row of hearing those incessant whines from your children: “I’m bored.” “There’s nothing to do.” Well, this year you have one of two choices — you can lock them in separate rooms for the week and throw away the key or you can follow this simple guide to having some fun in the Berkshires.

STEP 1: KICK OFF THE WEEK IN STYLE

Start your week off on the right foot by celebrating the first weekend of vacation with a bang. Area museums, rec centers, theaters, churches, etc. are making it easy with a plethora of activities for the family; the difficult part is going to be choosing just one.

On Friday, April 15, Barrington Stage Company kicks off the weekend with the Pittsfield Youth Commission Talent Show from 7:30-9 p.m. at the company’s Union Street theater in Pittsfield. The event gives Berkshire County youth the opportunity to showcase their many talents in a fun and safe environment. You must purchase tickets but the prices are minimal. For more info call 413-499-9348 or email mmoyborgen@pittsfieldch.com.

Next up for the weekend … On Saturday, April 16, families can choose from:

  • 1 p.m. family movie, “Twas the Night Before Easter” at the First Congregational Church in North Adams
  • Easter egg hunt at Sweet Brook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Williamstown (call 413-398-8700 to learn more)
  • Healthy Kids Day for families featuring Zumba, gymnastics, a scavenger hunt and face-painting from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Pittsfield YMCA
  • Sheep shearing demonstrations at Hancock Shaker Village (Route 20, Hancock) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • International Family Film Series at Images Cinema in Williamstown featuring animated shorts “Night & Day,” “Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage,” “The Gruffalo,” “Let’s Pollute” and “The Lost Thing” beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Shakespeare & Company’s whirlwind tour through the life, times and works of Williams Shakespeare in “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World,” 1 p.m. Kemble Street, Lenox
  • “Life in a Vernal Pool,” at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield where participants will take a look at egg masses of frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp and fingernail clams from 10 a.m.-noon (413-229-8600)
  • Norman Rockwell Museum’s “Page-Turners: Creating Handmade Art Books” where teens can design, assemble and bind their own books made from fine papers, fabrics and art supplies from 1-4 p.m in Stockbridge.

If I weren’t in Florida my children and I would probably head south to try out the Bartholomew’s Cobble event and then wander on over to one of my favorite Berkshire County Museums — the Rockwell Museum — but good luck choosing from that list. I say, run yourself silly on Saturday and then sit back and relax at home on Sunday. That’s just my recommendation.

STEP 2: RUN DON’T WALK TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARIES

I know you’ve heard this from me before, but libraries today offer some incredible FREE programming for families and during school vacations many of them tend to ramp things up. Next week is no different and it all starts at the New Lebanon, N.Y., (just over the Hancock border) with chess instruction for kids of all ages and levels. Chess begins at 6:30 p.m. The library will also offer a bingo afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. on Monday, April 18, for kids ages 5 to 12. For more information call the library, located on Route 20, at 518-794-8844.

It’s family game day from 2-4 p.m. at the Milne Public Library in Williamstown on Tuesday, April 19.

Then on Tuesday, April 19, the Milne Public Library in Williamstown will celebrate “National Hanging Out Day” (you’ve gotta love that!) with a family game afternoon. Families are invited to bring a favorite board game or borrow one of the library’s to play between 2 and 4 p.m. One of my favorites is Sorry, but if it happens to be a long rainy afternoon you might want to try one of my kids’ favorites — Monopoly. The library is located at 1095 Main Street. For more information call 413-458-5369.

Next we move on to Wednesday, April 20, where the Lenox Library, New Lebanon Library, the Milne, and the North Adams Library all have programs scheduled. In Lenox, beginning at 11 a.m., children ages 4 to 12 will be introduced to the wonders of our prehistoric past and dinosaurs while also learning about what lurks beneath the soil and the rock ledges of our region. The New Lebanon Library will feature Rhonda’s Reptiles where kids can meet, touch and learn about snakes, tortoises, dragon iguanas and a baby alligator beginning at 2 p.m. And the Milne will feature both a 10:30 a.m. story time, followed by an Easter craft as well as teen songwriting workshop with Bernice Lewis from 1-4 p.m.

The Milne and New Lebanon libraries are at it again on Thursday with a planting event beginning at 2 p.m. for the Williamstown library’s new vegetable garden and more plant talk in New Lebanon with an “Eat Your Lawn: Edible Wild Plants” workshop for adults and teens at 7 p.m. The North Adams Public Library (74 Church St.) will join the list of library events that day with an Earth Day celebration beginning at 2 p.m. featuring Earth-friendly stories and crafts for ages 7 and up. To learn more call 413-662-3133. And don’t forget to stop by the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield if you are in the area at 1 p.m. for “The Minstrel’s Romp,” a funny show of music sung, strummed and fiddled by storyteller Mary Jo Maichack. Also, back in February I wrote an article about local libraries in The Family Beat and at the time I was told by Holli Jayko at the Adams Free Library that there was going to be a Zoo on the Go program with live animals from Forest Park Zoo in Springfield. I’m not sure if that program is still a go, but you might want to call 413-743-8345 to find out.

STEP 3: MUSEUMS ARE A MUST

I’ve already mentioned some of the programming at the Norman Rockwell Museum and Hancock Shaker Village (a living history museum), but there are still a number of other programs that I haven’t mentioned set to take place this week at area museums.

The Norman Rockwell Museum has scheduled at “Words and Pictures: Writing and Illustrating Classic Tales” workshop for children ages 7 and up Monday thru Friday, April 18-22, beginning at 1 p.m. and running until 3 p.m. Check out the museum’s website at nrm.org to see more of its vacation-week offerings.

The Berkshire Museum on South Street in Pittsfield will host the Berkshire Children’s Theatre this week as they present “Kids Love Broadway!” featuring songs and scenes for children’s all-time favorite musicals such as “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins” and “Shrek the Musical” (check www.berkshiremuseum.org for times and prices). Also go online to the Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA and the Williamstown Museum of Art to see what they have scheduled for the week.

STEP 4: CHECK OUT THE LOCAL THEATERS

I’ve already touched on some happenings at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and the Berkshire Museum that all include a number of kid-friendly, family-friendly performances, but don’t forgot to browse through the event listings for The Colonial Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Main Street Stage, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, New Stage Performing Arts Center and more.

In fact, beginning Wednesday, April 20, Castle Hill Theatre Company will present a humorous, revamped and retold story of “The Frog Prince” complete with professional actors, music, audience participation and more. The 50-minute production, whose director Laurie Ellington said “sparkles,” is feel-good theater at it’s best. This one is sure to have you leaving the theater with a smile and in a very good mood. Not a bad thing to have happen in the middle of a vacation week. For showtimes and ticket information visit New Stage’s website.

STEP 5: SEARCH FOR MORE ACTIVITIES YOURSELF

Touch-A-Truck is coming to North Adams on Wednesday, April 20, from 10 a.m.-noon.

I could go on and on with other activities for the vacation and week and the week after that, but I would really like to begin my vacation now. So I will tell you quickly some good places to search to find some more fun-filled family activities throughout the Berkshires. First off right here at Hilltown Families is a great place to start. Sienna Wildfield does an incredible job providing families with up-to-date events in the Pioneer Valley and Berkshire County region. Another good place to browse when looking for latest in Berkshire Family Fun (besides this column) is The Family Beat’s website (www.thefamilybeat.com) where I work. My editor Rebecca Dravis is the “Calendar Queen” and not only does she post a weekly Best Bet for families but she also makes sure that all calendars on the site are up to date. This week’s Best Best is the Family Resource Center’s Touch-A-Truck event Wednesday, April 20, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Haskins Center, Route 8, North Adams, where kids can explore fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, dump trucks and more.

Speaking of the Family Resource Center, Child of Care of the Berkshires who houses the Resource Center, is another great resource for family-friendly events in the area so you might want to check out their website at www.ccberkshire.org.

So enjoy yourself with some of these activities when you need them and don’t forget to relax a little with your kids, too.

ONE MORE THING

O.k. I just had to mention this one last event. Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm at Hancock Shaker Village (Hancock, MA) opens on April 16 and runs through May 8. This is something that kids young and old will surely enjoy AND you can win a family four-pack of tickets to attend by letting The Family Beat know what animal your child would most like to see and why.  Submit your entry below to be entered to win. And as always, check back at Hilltown Families regularly for Parents’ Night Out contests and giveaways. We all know those are a MUST for surviving the weeklong school vacations.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Bevan McIlquham Berkshire Family Fun

Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our biweekly 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 every other week.

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