Summer Fun Heats Up in the Berkshires
The kids are out of school, the days are getting warmer, and the kid-friendly activities are in abundance in the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley. And that can only mean one thing: while families embrace the summer season and search for the next adventure around the region, Hilltown Families’ founder and editor-in-chief Sienna Wildfield is working overtime. There is a reason Hilltown Families was voted the Pioneer Valley Advocate’s best blog two years in a row, and Sienna’s it. So as you set out to relax and enjoy all the fantastic events and happenings laid out for you here at Berkshire Family Fun, and on Hilltown Families every day, take a little time to send Sienna a quick note and thank her. Thank you, Sienna!
I know the Berkshires is known for its spectacular fall foliage, and stellar winter skiing opportunities, but my favorite time in the Berkshires is summer. The theaters open, the festival season comes alive, the historic homes and sites awake after a long restful winter, and I have a list of things to do with my kids a mile long.
Though I know I won’t hit them all, I know there are a few activities we aren’t going to miss including — the free Chinese Festival Family Day at the Clark Art Institute scheduled for Sunday, June 24; Tanglewood’s Family Fest set for Friday, June 29; an outdoor concert or two at one of the free series around the county that kick off this month; and Barrington Stage Company’s Youth Theatre production of “Beauty and the Beast” opening July 25 and running through Aug.12 (which will be showing on the Berkshire Museum Stage this year), just to name a few.
THE CLARK IN WILLIAMSTOWN
Every time the Clark schedules a free Family Day I make an internal promise to attend with the kids and my husband, and I have yet to keep that promise to myself. But once again that promise has been made for the upcoming Chinese Street Festival celebration at the museum set for Sunday, June 24, beginning at 11 a.m., and I intend to keep it this time. In celebration of the museum’s “Unearthed” exhibit, the Clark’s campus will be transformed into a traditional Chinese street festival complete with booths featuring fun activities for the whole family. From having one’s future told by an oracle and learning to write one’s name in Chinese characters to a dragon parade and a visit from a real water buffalo, there is plenty to delight the family. Again, the event is FREE! The Clark is located at 225 South St., Williamstown. For more information visit theclark.edu or call 413-458-2303.
TANGLEWOOD IN LENOX
I love Tanglewood and so does my family, which is why we try (operative word here is TRY) to get there once a summer. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. But in celebration of Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary season Friday, June 29, will kick off the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays Program, and I hope to be there with my three kids and adorable hubby (yes, I said adorable). From 4 to 7 p.m. families are invited to enjoy the beauty of the Tanglewood campus, and partake in an educational scavenger hunt among other family-related activities, all while enjoying a live musical performance. Bonus: A gift will be awarded to families who complete the scavenger hunt. The event is FREE, but advance registration is recommended. For more information call 413-637-5393 or visit tanglewood.org/familyfunfest.
FREE FAMILY CONCERTS
Free family concerts abound in the Berkshires come summer with many beginning in late June or early July. The Clark kicks off their free weekly Tuesday night concert series on July 6, at 6 p.m. with Red Molly. As with each weeks’ concert, barbecue fare will be available for purchase and the galleries will remain open until 6 p.m. In the event of rain the concerts will be held in the auditorium.
Pittsfield’s annual Live at the Lake series (sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union and Live 95.9) kicks off with a performance by Whiskey City on July 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Burbank Park on Onota Lake. The concerts will be offered each consecutive Wednesday evening through Aug. 24. More information on concert dates and performers can be found at greylock.org.
North Adams also celebrates the beginning of its free “Concerts at (Windsor) Lake” series on July 11. The concerts are held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Bradley Street and Kemp Avenue. These concerts combine great music with the beautiful natural backdrop of Windsor Lake. Attendees are encouraged to pack a picnic, bring a chair or blanket, and let the sweet sounds of music and water carry them away on a warm summer night. Concessions are available at the lake, but people are welcome to bring their own food. Limited quantities of beer and wine are allowed. Parking is free, and swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are allowed at the lake. For a full listing of concerts call 413-664-6180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BERKSHIRE ANTHENAEUM IN PITTSFIELD
Ok, I know most parents are familiar with their local library’s summer reading programs, but oooooh the libraries in the Berkshires have so much to offer to add to your family’s Summer of Fun Calendar. As with many local libraries the Pittsfield Library will also sponsor a number of weekly activities in association with its summer reading program. Upcoming activities:
- June 24: Summer Reading Club Begins
- June 25 (and consecutive Mondays through Aug.18): Picture Day — Bring in an original drawing about a book for a ticket in the weekly raffle.
- June 26 (and consecutive Tuesdays through Aug.18: Crazy Hat Day —Wear a silly hat to the library for a ticket in the weekly raffle.
- June 27 (and consecutive Wednesdays through Aug.18): Stuffed Anmal Day — Bring your favorite stuffed animal for a ticket in the weekly raffle.
- June 28 (and consecutive Thursdays through Aug.18): Recital Day — Recite a poem or sing a song for a ticket in the weekly raffle
- June 29 (and consecutive Fridays through Aug.18): Blue Shirt Day — Wear a blue shirt to the library for a ticket in the weekly raffle.
- June 30 (and consecutive Saturdays through Aug.18): Fly Like a Bird Day — Flap your wings like a bird for a ticket in the weekly raffle.
- June 24 at 2 p.m., School-aged Movie, featuring “Black Cat,” “Miss Nelson is Back,” and “The Paperboy.” Film programs are approximately 20 to 30 minutes long; no registration is required.
- June 26, at 1 p.m., craft activity “Dream Your Wishes Well,” approximately 30-40 minutes long for children 5 to 12 years old. Registration is required.
- June 27 at 1 p.m., the Berkshire Music School will present a free family musical program. For more information call 413-442-1411 or go online to berkshiremusicschool.org.
- June 29, at 10 a.m., Preschool Films, featuring “Duck on a Bike,” “Frog Goes to Dinner,” and “Owen.” Film programs are approximately 20 to 30 minutes long; no registration required.
- July 2, 2 p.m., School-aged Movie, featuring “Uncle Elephant.” Film programs are approximately 20 to 30 minutes long; no registration is required.
- July 3, 1 p.m., Pumpernickel Puppets will present “Peter Rabbit.” No registration required.
- July 5, 1 p.m., Shoot for the Stars Rocket Ship craft, approximately 30-40 minutes long for children 5 to 12 years old. Registration is required.
The Berkshire Anthenaeum/Pittsfield Library is located at 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield.
MASON LIBRARY IN GREAT BARRINGTON
The Mason Library in Great Barrington is also a plethora of activity this summer! Starting with its Summer Reading program kick-off event on June 21, from 10:30 a. m. to 12:30 p.m. featuring Bruce the Balloon Man. The following day on June 22 at 6:15 p.m. families are encouraged to snuggle up in their jammies and head to the library for a Blockbuster Family Movie Night. Visitors to the library are encouraged to bring a blanket; popcorn and drinks will be provided.
June 25, from 10:30-11:15 a.m., kicks off the library’s Little Lads & Lasses Literacy program for babies, toddlers, early preschoolers (through age 5) and their caregivers. The program will help participants learn early literacy skills to increase their likelihood of reading success. Then on June 27, from 4 to 5 p.m., the library will host a program for children ages 9 and up on where participants will learn about bats and construct a bat house for the library. The program will be taught by scientist Suzie Fowle Shroeder; registration is required.
Next up on June 29 at 4 p.m. the library will feature a Beat the Heat Hit Afternoon Movie featuring PG or PG-13 movies for older children to enjoy in the air-conditioned community room. The fun continues on June 30, from 1 to 2 p.m. the library will present an hour of fun with a magic show performed by Scott Jameson, followed from 2 to 2:30 p.m., with a Juggling Workshop for children ages 8 years and up. Space is limited to 15 participants; registration is required. For more information visit Scott’s website scottjameson.com.
During the week of July 2-6 (library is closed July 4) the Mason Library will celebrate Comic Book Week with Joey Chernila. The program for children ages 7 to 11 will take place from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. each day, and will encourage participants to explore the library’s premier collection of children’s graphic novels, as well as books from Joey Chernila’s own collection in a relaxed, snack-and-read-with-friends environment. Joey will be on hand to help avid readers become their own comic creators, publishers and distributors through the simple and versatile “zine” format.
Lastly the library will sponsor a “Make Your Own Dreamcatcher” craft on July 5, from 4-5 p.m. Registration is required.
The Mason Library is located at 231 Main St., Great Barrington. For a complete list of summer programs at the library visit gblibraries.org.
The Stockbridge Library is kicking off the summer season with a Summer Solstice bash set for Saturday, June 23, from noon to 4 p.m. at Memorial Field (next door to the Co-op). The library will celebrate summer a free family-friendly day of fun, sun, live music, good food, games and more. Music will be provided by David Grover (noon), The Marty Jimmons Bluegrass Band, and The Easy Ridin’ Papas. Other highlights include the local farm showcase, local artisan/vendor marketplace, SoCo ice cream, The Meat Market, tie-die table, and children’s arts and crafts.
MOUNT GREYLOCK IN LANESBOROUGH
The Berkshires is a year-round playground for the outdoors lover, and this summer Mount Greylock State Reservation will provide some of the best outdoor programs of the summer with a series of weekly hikes for all ages. The schedule is as follows:
- Sundays, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.: Medicinal Herb Walk, easy walks to discover plants that may be used as medicine. All ages are welcome.
- Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Guided Hike, a strenuous hike to various locations on Mount Greylock. All ages welcome; sturdy foot-wear suggested, bring lunch and water.
- Fridays, 10 a. m.: Tyke Hike for children ages 8 and under and their parents/guardians, a short hike to experience the nature around us followed by a fun children’s story.
- Fridays, 1 and 4 p.m.: Hiking 101, where participants can build their confidence to hike more through a guided hike. Leaders will discuss trail safety, map reading, equipment, and bear etiquette. All ages are welcome.
- Saturdays, 1 and 4 p.m.: Wild Waterfalls, where participants will explore nearby waterfalls individually in this series of hikes. There will be some strenuous hiking and wet, slippery condition.
Participants will meet at the Mount Greylock Visitors Center on Rockwell Road in Lanesborough. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Steve Linscott or Eric Socha at 413-499-4262.
SHEEP HILL IN WILLIAMSTOWN
Also for the outdoor enthusiasts Sheep Hill in Williamstown will host its annual Firefly Hike and Campfire tonight, Thursday, June 21, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Visitors will enjoy campfire stories, S’mores, and a walk through the darkening meadow to experience the dazzling firefly show. There is a suggested donation (>$). Severe weather cancels the event. Sheep Hill is located at 671 Cold Spring Road in Williamstown. More information can be found at wrlf.org.
MASS MOCA IN NORTH ADAMS
During the summer area museums break out the new exhibits for the kids and on June 23 MASS MoCA’s Kidspace will open “Curiosity.” “Curiosity will feature ten internationally-acclaimed artists whose works will represent a wide range of materials and explore themes that many children are curious about, such as dinosaurs, suberheroes, ninjas, cowboys, monsters, and fantasy. The Art Cabaret, an art-making studio, will serve up inspiring art materials for chidren to explore at café-style seating.
Another kid-friendly activity at MASS MoCA set for Saturday, July 7, at 11 a.m., is the first of a two Gallery Quests scheduled for the summer. Gallery Quest is a stimulating, family-friendly scavenger hung led by MoCA’s professional education staff and tour guides through the museum galleries. The quest involves plenty of opportunities to explore the art on display, followed by art-making projects that realte to what’s been seen in the galleries. The quests are free for museum members and $ for non-members; includes gallery admission.
MASS MoCa is located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesdays.
MAHAIWE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER IN GREAT BARRINGTON
I mentioned summer theater in the Berkshires, and though many of the area theaters have begun offering year-round programming, the offerings are more eclectic and provide even more family-friendly programs in the summer. Just take this next family-friendly event at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7. At 8 p.m. both evenings the venue will feature MOMIX, an innovative dance company based in Washington, Conn. In Director Moses Pendleton’s most recent work Botanica the dancer-illusionists will take audience members through the seasons, blending movement, circus, athleticism, and magical effects. The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington. For tickets($$-$$$) and information, visit mahaiwe.org or call 413-528-0100.
Until next column … STAY BUSY!
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.” email@example.com — Check out Berkshire Family Fun on the first Thursday of every month.