Greenfield Winter Fare Celebrates Local Food in Franklin County!

5th Annual Winter Fare in Greenfield
Kicks off on Saturday, Feb 4th for a Weeklong Celebration

There will be four local food community potlucks scheduled throughout the week, including the towns of Greenfield, Gill, Ashfield and Conway. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Greenfield’s annual Winter Fare will take place on Saturday, February 4th! Along with the farmers’ market, workshops, and barter market that Winter Fare offers, there will be several events happening across Franklin County to celebrate local food, too!

Greenfield’s first Winter Fare took place five years ago, spearheaded by Juanita Nelson, and was designed as a celebration of local food during the season when local farms are least visible.  However, despite the cold, ice, and snow, there’s still an abundance of local food available during the winter!

At the Greenfield’s Winter Fare, community members can come together to enjoy local foods, share their own home-preserved foods, and learn more about growing, preserving, composting, etc. at the many workshops offered.  The main Winter Fare event will take the place of the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market at the Second Congregational Church (Main Street) from 10am-1pm.  Other events include a local foods brunch spotlighting local honey and a new show from Piti Theater Company on Feb 5th., a screening of the documentary, “King Corn” on Feb. 8th, a seed swap and composting workshop on Feb. 12th, and four different local food potlucks throughout the week.

Greenfield’s Winter Fare celebrates delicious locally grown and produced foods, and provides numerous learning opportunities to the community.  Visit the farmers’ market and explain to your kids how it’s possible to buy local greens, squash, carrots, and apples during the winter when nothing grows outside, or teach them some kitchen skills and create a local dish to contribute to a potluck.  You could even do some canning with your kids to trade at the barter market!  The possibilities are endless.  To learn more about the many events taking place all over Franklin Count, visit

Historic Village Offers 4 Hands-On Classes in West Springfield

Storrowton Village Museum Offers Unique Historic Programs During Winter School Vacation Week

Storrowton Village Museum, an educational arm of Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA, presents hands-on school programs and guided tours of its historic buildings throughout the year as well as seasonal 19th century-themed events.

This year, in order to accommodate the changes made to public school vacation schedules, Storrowton Village’s February break programming will take place alongside special programs designed for students who do not have vacation during the week of February 21st-24th.

The historic village, located in West Springfield at the Big E, hosts four different classes, each of which offers hands-on learning experiences.  In “Little Red Schoolhouse,” kids will learn what a day at school during the 19th century would have been like (think quill pens!).  The, “Look Back” program teaches about the different roles for girls and boys in daily tasks like cooking and blacksmithing.  There is also a Storrowton sampler program that offers a look into many different aspects of 19th century living.  The village’s normal vacation program, “A Day Away in the Past,” will be available for students as it normally is during school vacation.  This program gives kids the chance to dress in period clothing and to do early American crafts such as candle dipping, 19th century games, and blacksmithing.  For prices and more information, or to register for the programs, call 413-205-5051 or

The Story of Negro League Baseball at the Eric Carle Museum

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
At the Eric Carle Museum on Feb 7th – June 10th, 2012

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is opening its latest exhibit,“We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” on Feb 7th and running through June 10th, 2012.  The exhibit features oil paintings by Kadir Nelson, which were created to illustrate a book of the same name.  The intention of the book is to preserve the history of the Negro League and to offer information in a format that is easily accessible.  Nelson conducted huge amounts of research while creating his paintings- he interviewed former Negro League players, searched through old photographs, collected memorabilia, and even tried on and took photographs in old league uniforms.  His images accurately capture the spirit of the league.  The players faced intense racial discrimination and social inequalities, and were forced to take lower salaries than their white equivalents.  Despite this, they played on, and the determination and dedication that created the spirit of the league is conveyed by the paintings.

A visit to the exhibit can be not only a study of art but a study of American cultural history- it would fit well with a look at the civil rights movement or a discussion or unit on racial inequality.  For more information, call the Eric Carle Museum at 413-658-1100 or visit

Tu B’Shevat: New Year of the Trees

Not Your Grandparents' Shtel: Exploring Jewish Culture in Western Mass by Amy Meltzer

Tu B’Shevat: A Birthday Celebration for the Trees

Last month, I wrote about the Hebrew calendar and the lunar months that make up the Jewish year. The month of Shevat began with the last crescent moon, and features one of my favorite holidays of the entire year – Tu B’Shevat (which means, literally, the 15th of Shevat.)

Tu B’shevat is best known as the New Year of the Trees, or the Birthday of the Trees. Why, you might ask, do trees need their own New Year, and why would all trees celebrate one birthday no matter when they were planted? The primary reason is that there are several Biblical commandments that require knowing a tree’s age. The ancient law of Orlah prohibits eating any tree-grown fruit until it hits the ripe old age of four; agricultural tithes also depend on the age of a tree. Rather than expect people to keep track of each individual tree’s birthday, the Rabbis determined that all trees would share one birthday – the 15th of Shevat – for the purpose of these calculations.

In Medieval Times, Jewish mystics, knows as the Kabbalists, recognized Tu B’Shevat as an opportunity not just for running the numbers, but for honoring and celebrating trees (and by extension, all of creation.) They developed a Tu B’Shevat seder, not unlike the Passover seder, in which participants would eat and drink a variety of symbolic foods that grow on trees while reciting prayers and studying ancient texts. In recent years, the Tu B’shevat seder has become a popular and eclectic tradition. Some seders still delve into the complex and esoteric themes of the ancient kabbalists. Many seders focus instead on the theme of environmental stewardship, while others are more simple affairs – a chance to eat, sing and tell stories while celebrating a love of trees. There are many seders for all ages taking place in the area this month. If you would rather try your own, there are some wonderful resources are compiled at the website of Hazon, a Jewish organization dedicated to sustainability. I especially loved this animated version of a traditional story about Honi the Circle Maker and the the importance of planting for future generations:

If you are looking for other ideas for how to honor the birthday of the trees, I’ve offered 15 suggestions over at Homeshuling.

In Israel, Tu B’shevat falls just as the rainy season is coming to an end and the almond trees begin to bloom. In New England, Tu B’Shevat falls in the dead of winter. Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to start keeping an eye open for one of our most beloved gifts from trees – the maple sap which will soon be rising and boiling up at sugar shacks all over Western Massachusetts. When I write next month’s post, I hope to be baking up treats for the holiday of Purim with fresh maple syrup!


Amy Meltzer

Amy is a Kindergarten teacher at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, MA, and the author of two children’s books, A Mezuzah on the Door, and The Shabbat Princess. She writes the blog Homeshuling for Beliefnet, and a monthly column for the Jewish parenting site Amy lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and two daughters.


PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco in the Hilltowns!

Winklepicker Festival
Mardi Gras Ball w/ Buckwheat Zydeco
& After-Party w/ The Primate Fiasco
Saturday, Feb 18th @ 7pm in Ashfield, MA

Winklepicker Festival's Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco at the Ashfield Town Hall (412 Main Street), followed by an after-party with The Primate Fiasco, happens on Feb 18th! Deadline to enter to win: 2/15. Details below.

Continuing our Parents’ Night Out promotions, Hilltown Families has a pair of tickets to giveaway to one very lucky couple to the Winklepicker Festival Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco at the Ashfield Town Hall (412 Main Street), followed by an after-party with The Primate Fiasco next door at Elmer’s, in Ashfield, MA on Saturday, February 18th at 7pm. Deadline to enter to win: 2/15. Details below.


Italy has Carnivale, Brazil has the same. Germany has Fasching, New Orleans has Mardi Gras… Ashfield has Winklepicker! – And while those other festivals are all tied to the last possible blow-out moments before the contemplative days of Lent, out here in the Protestant hinterlands, Winklepicker is tied to the hardest part of the year – when the novelty of winter has worn off, warmth is still half a globe-turn away and you’d like something to do besides plow snow and rake roofs.

Winklepicker stirs all the warmth of music, dancing, community, eating and drinking up together in one big, roiling pot. Winklepicker celebrates warmth and fun in the coldest, plainest days of the year. This inaugural year, the third weekend of February also turned out to be the weekend that precedes the above celebrated festivals, and the theme of Mardi Gras in New Orleans was picked as the inaugural theme for the weekend.

This year’s festival includes: Creole Cooking Workshop; Exhibit of Mardi Gras costumes; Mardi Gras Kids Music Camp; Concert with Chris Smither; Gospel Brunch; and a Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco (after-party with The Primate Fiasco). Find out more at


Grammy Award-winning American musical legend, Louisiana vocalist, and accordion and organ master Buckwheat Zydeco is the preeminent ambassador of Louisiana zydeco music. The New York Times says, “Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural leads one of the best bands in America. A down-home and high-powered celebration, meaty and muscular with a fine-tuned sense of dynamics…propulsive rhythms, incendiary performances.” This high-energy band will lead a night of dancing and Mardi Gras revelry that you won’t want to miss, so put on your dancing shoes and join Buckwheat Zydeco as he heats up Ashfield Town Hall. Then stay for the After Party with The Primate Fiasco. The Ball begins at 7pm; after party at 9:30pm. – Not familiar with Buckwheat Zydeco, sample his music here… but be sure to put on your dancing shoes first!


Your chance to win a pair of tickets to the WinklePicker Festival Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco at the Ashfield Town Hall (412 Main Street),  followed by an after-party with The Primate Fiasco next door in Ashfield, MA, on Saturday, February 18th at 7pm is easy & simple!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting “Like” below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES HELPS YOUR FAMILY SHAKE OFF THE WINTER BLUES below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 02/15/12 @ 7pm (EST)

Tickets at Turn It Up!, World Eye Books, Boswell’s Books, Elmer’s Store & online at For more info call 413-628-4003.

Monthly Saturday Morning Music Party Series for Families at Flywheel!

Saturday Morning Music Party Series in Easthampton
Free Pancakes, Live Music, Dancing & Crafts

Known to its neighbors and fans for boisterous concerts and a DIY aesthetic, the Flywheel Arts Collective of Easthampton may not immediately spring to mind when considering a venue for a family-friendly activity for the kids. But with the announcement of the ‘Saturday Morning Music Party,’ a free monthly breakfast bash featuring a variety of activities, performances and diversions for kids (to run from February through May, initially), Flywheel becomes just that.

  • WHAT: Monthly Saturday Morning Music Party Series for Families
  • WHERE: Flywheel Arts Collective, 43 Main Street (Old Town Hall), Easthampton, MA 
  • WHEN: Saturdays, Feb 11, Mar 10, Apr 7 & May 12, 10am
  • COST: Free. Suggested Donation $5 ($10 per family) for Mar 10 & Apr 7 concerts.
  • CONTACT: 413-527-9800

Partnering with Hilltown Families and The No-Nap Happy Hour, the first of four installments of the Saturday Morning Music Party series kicks off on February 11 at 10am at Flywheel’s Easthampton location in the town hall building at 43 Main St. in Easthampton. Subsequent events take place on March 10, April 7 and May 12. Each month’s bash features a pancake breakfast followed by musical performances, various activities and guided arts and crafts.


On Saturday, February 11th, following a free pancake breakfast which begins at 10am, the first installment of the series features a screening of an episode of Pancake Mountain, a Washington D.C.-based, public-access, Saturday morning TV show hosted by a goat puppet who often features indie rock bands as guests. After the show, kids join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.”

Dj Youthelectronix, a.k.a. Jeremy Smith, a veteran Flywheel volunteer, led the effort to organize the Saturday Morning Music Party series. Driven to recreate the success of similar Saturday morning activities at Flywheel’s previous location, Smith says, “Offering unique and creative activities for families and kids while providing an outlet for artists to connect with the community falls exactly in step with Flywheel’s mission.” He’s particularly proud of the “diverse programming” to be offered, which is anything but the rote kids’ fare.


Subsequent month’s events will include live family concerts with award-winning musicians, Uncle Rock on March 10th, and R.O.C.K. on April 7th, along with a pancake breakfast and artist-­led arts and crafts, and other fun activities. Then on May 12th the series will close out just as the Easthampton Bear Fest kicks off with the Little Bear Craft & Dance Party!

“Saturday Morning Music Party!” is supported by a grant from the Easthampton, MA local Cultural Council  — a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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