Fall is “Boo”tiful in the Berkshires
Last weekend I broke out my gloves, hat and favorite cozy fleece, grabbed the travel mug filled to the rim with a delectable hazelnut blend, and prepared myself for a full day of football at Bill Laston Memorial Park in Lanesboro. The air was crisp and clean, the brilliant foliage filled the landscape and eased my mind, and the energy on the gridiron was contagious. Ahh, I love fall in the Berkshires.
Highlights in this week’s Berkshire Family Fun:
- Washington Pumpkin Walk
- Enchanted Halloween Forest
- Ticket Giveaway to Enchanted Halloween Forest
- Final 3rd.Thursday
- Neighborhood Haunted Houses
- Paranormal at Ventfort Hall and Gilded Age Museum
Years ago Lenox teenagers and young adults alike headed into the woods at the end of Shermerhorn Park dozens of intricately carved pumpkins lighting their way to the annual Keator-hosted Halloween bash and bonfire. These pumpkins weren’t your average, everyday jack-o-lanterns replete with triangle eyes, noses and rows of crooked teeth. The Keator’s pumpkins were carved to resemble public figures, television personalities, movie stars and haunted scenes right out of the horror movies — venerable works of art talked about around town for years to come. Each year townsfolk would wonder how the Keators et al. would outdo their creations from the year before.
A little over 10 years ago John Keator and his wife Georgette, brought the party to the town of Washington, and this time the invite list included mothers, fathers, small children, teenagers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and more. The first party, although small, was well-received and since has become an annual event known as the Washington Pumpkin Walk. This year marks the 13th annual Washington Pumpkin Walk set for Friday, Oct. 28, beginning with pumpkin viewing and trick-or-treating at 6:30-7:30 p.m., followed by a bonfire and snacks for the family.
As a yearly attendee and pumpkin carving inductee last year (hopefully I’m a little better this year), I can guarantee that this is an event not to be missed. It is crowded, but for good reason — the pumpkins are fantastic. And if you’re lucky you may just catch a glimpse of local Washington resident Mr. James Taylor and his family, rumor has it they were spotted last year.
The park is located on Route 8 in Washington; it won’t be easy to miss with flashing police lights leading the way and a ginormous bonfire that will keep you warmer and cozier than my favorite fleece and mittens.
A few years ago while working at The Advocate Weekly in Berkshire County I was asked to cover a story on the Castle Hill Theatre Company. The then-traveling children’s theater company founded by Nicki Wilson was one of the few local company’s to provide professional children’s theater to area families.
My children and I attended an original performance of “Tatterhood” and were hooked. The actors were fantastic, the story content child (and adult) appropriate. There was humor for the young and the old, whimsical costumes and sets, and to top it off, after the show (as is with all Castle Hill performances) there was a Meet and Greet with the actors.
Castle Hill Theatre Company has since found a home in Pittsfield at New Stage Performing Arts Center, and this Halloween season they have whipped up some “spooktacular” fun for the whole family at the 57 North Street address.
Opening today, Oct. 20, the company is hosting an “Enchanted Halloween Forest,” an interactive tour of scenes from five beloved fairy tales. Audience members will have an opportunity to stand in such settings as the gingerbread house from “Hansel and Gretel”, Rumplestiltskin’s hay bale home in the forest, grandmother’s house in “Little Red Riding Hood”, the fjords of “Tatterhood” and the giant’s castle from “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Following the grand opening The Forest will be open Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday’s and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. through Oct. 30. There may even be a few snacks handed out to visitors during your visit, so be sure to bring your sweet tooth. For reservations (there is a small admission fee) call 413-418-0999.
I have a family 4-pack of free tickets to giveaway to one lucky family to see the Enchanted Halloween Forest at the New Stage Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield on either Oct 28, Oct 29 or Oct 30 (winner picks their date)! To enter to win simply post a comment below and tell us what you enjoy about this bi-weekly column. Berkshire Family Fun. Please include your full name and town. Deadline to enter to win is Thursday, Oct 27th by 12noon. Winner will be selected via random.org and their name will be posted below along with directions on how to claim tickets – so check back next Thursday afternoon to see if you won! Good luck!
FINAL 3RD THURSDAY
The opening of the “Enchanted Halloween Forest” on Thur., Oct. 20th is happening in conjunction with the final Downtown Pittsfield 3rd Thursday event and, of course, there will be a Halloween theme, as well as a celebration of the seventh annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival during the evening’s festivities. All of North Street will be shut down from 5 to 8 p.m. so that families can enjoy good music, good food, art, the enchanted forest and more. There also will be costume contests at the Froio Senior Center and Carr Hardware.
So if you don’t have anything planned for the evening, get your butts to downtown Pittsfield. These events have been some of my children’s favorites.
Last year I was introduced to one of Dalton’s longest-running Halloween traditions, a family haunted house at a private residence on Pine Street in Dalton. OK, maybe it’s not the longest-running, but the kids are definitely talking about it. This family must start decorating their yard and garage in August to get everything up and ready for the hundreds of trick-or-treaters who stop by on Halloween night. The best part of the spookily awesome decorations inside and out: the BONFIRE. That came in handy last year as I stood outside in the snow (yes, full-fledged snow flurries poured down on us that night), while my children were scared to death by the “electrocuted man” inside. If you are in the area, stop by, you will surely win a parenting award along with my husband and myself for introducing your children to that kind of gore.
I haven’t been to this haunted house, but I’ve seen it talked about all over the Internet and posted on Facebook by house owner Shannon Korntopia. Korntopia has invited everyone to view her outdoor haunted house on South Onota Street in Pittsfield. It is open to visitors from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Halloween night, but Korntopia says, “It’s 1000 times better when it gets dark.” The house will provide a little Halloween fun for kids of all ages” and as long as people are coming they’ll stay open past the 10 p.m. end time. Hmmm. We might have to visit that after our trick-or-treating excursion. My kids will be surely have nightmares for weeks after that.
My children are avid fans of the SyFy channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and reruns of “Ghost Whisperer” on ION. The paranormal fascinates them. So it’s not surprising that after watching an episode or two of these sci-fi thrillers my 12-year-old daughter is afraid to walk to the other side of the house alone. Yup, another Parent of the Year Award is coming my way. While I’m at it I figure why not really freak the kids out by taking them to one of the Halloween paranormal happenings at Ventfort Hall and Gilded Age Museum on Sunday, Oct. 30, and Monday, Oct. 31.
On Oct. 31 the Chicopee Paranormal Investigators will conduct a program at the mansion from 4:30-8:30 p.m. in which one of CPI’s founding members, Tom Laughlin, and his team will present evidence they have captured in over 10 investigations at the historic 1893 mansion. The presentation will be followed by a brief equipment demonstration where the team will train participants on their equipment and show them how to conduct investigations. The group also will show audio and video clips of what they found room by room at Ventfort Hall. The program will conclude with a Victorian Tea. My kids are sure to sleep well after experiencing this real-life ghost story.
Then on Oct. 31 Lisa Lanno will present “Messages from the Other Side” at 4 p.m. Lanno is an intuitive who will begin with a Q&A session and give background about her work. She well then choose a few audience members at random to give complimentary readings to. Maybe my dogs Koty and Kenai will have a message from the other side for my kids
Ventfort Hall is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox. Call 413-637-3206 or log onto gildedage.org for more information.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MY HUSBAND
I know this column is a lot shorter than usual, and there are plenty of events and happenings that I could have included, but alas, I had to cut it short this week, as I am on my way to Worcester to celebrate at an awards dinner to honor my husband (and a whole bunch of other Massachusetts winners): He was selected as Berkshire County Realtor of the Year. Congratulations honey! We are so proud of you!
But here are a few other events and activities happening in the area in the upcoming days:
Thursday, Oct. 20-Saturday, Oct. 22
14th annual Words are Wonderful: A “festival of language” sponsored by the Williamstown Elementary School PTO that celebrates the power and magic of words with family-friendly events scheduled throughout the remainder of the week. Log onto www.wordsarewonderful.org for a schedule of activities.
Friday, Oct. 28
67th annual Pittsfield Halloween parade, 7 p.m.: Tyler and Smith streets to Woodlawn Avenue, Pittsfield.
Saturday, Oct. 29
October PlayFest, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: a costume party for children up to age 6 sponsored by the Family Resource center where visitors will paint pumpkins, make leaf rubbings and more. The event is free, but registration required. The Haskins Center is located on Route 8 in North Adams. Call 413-664-4821 for more information.
Sunday, Oct. 30
Fifth annual Greylock Federal Credit Union Pumpkin Patch Hunt, 1:30-2 p.m. (immediately following the Adams Halloween Parade): An annual held at the Adams Town Hall where children ages 2 to 10 can hunt for magic pumpkins packed with treats: Ages 2-3/1:30 p.m.; ages 4-5/1:40 p.m.; ages 6-7/1:50 p.m.; and ages 8-10/2 p.m. The Town Hall is located on Route 8 in Adams. For more information go online to www.greylock.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires. Kelly is a freelance writer living in Hinsdale with her husband, Mark, and three children — 12-year-old twins, Max and McKenna, and almost-10-year-old, Shea. She has had her work published in The Advocate, The Family Beat and Berkshires Week out of Berkshire County, and the former Wee Ones E-magazine. She also authors a new blog and Facebook page titled “Renaissance Mom.” firstname.lastname@example.org — Check out Berkshire Family Fun every other Thursday.