18 Community Highlights: Solar Energy to Herpetology. Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.

Many of the agricultural fairs offer community lunch, dinner and BBQs.  Here families come together at the Cummington Fair to enjoy a fresh bounty of corn together. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Community Dinners to Agricultural Fairs.  Solar Energy in Northfield to Herpetology Stockbridge.  These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles & kits to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

FAMILY/COMMUNITY DINNERS

As harvest time approaches, more and more opportunities arise for families to have dinner together with their community. It’s Elihu Burritt Day in New Marlborough all day on Saturday, Aug 18th, and in the late afternoon families can come together for a Pig Roast, or enjoy a community grilled chicken dinner at the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club’s annual chicken barbecue in Plainfield! The annual Free Harvest Supper takes place on Sunday, Aug. 19th on the Greenfield Town Common, bringing together families and local farms, offering a delicious locally grown community meal. CISA’s Local Hero Restaurant Days happens Tuesday & Wednesday, Aug. 21st & 22nd in the Pioneer Valley. Support local farmers and local businesses by encouraging families to eat at one (or a few!) of the 51 participating Local Hero restaurants. If you’re interested in other community dinner opportunities, many of the agricultural fairs serve community dinners.

AGRICULTURAL FAIRS

Last week the agricultural fairs began with the Middlefield Fair, and they are continuing with the 95th annual Heath Fair starting Friday, Aug. 17th with fireworks and running through the weekend with a community chicken BBQ for lunch on Sunday. The 85th annual Westfield Fair also begins Friday, Aug. 17th, and runs through the weekend as well, serving up both a spaghetti community dinner and chicken BBQ. On Saturday, Aug. 18th, the 72nd annual Berkshire 4-H Youth Fair and Gymkhana happens in Pittsfield for one day, and starting next Thursday, Aug. 23rd, the 144th annual Cummington Fair begins, a 4-day agricultural fair with midway and all the attractions of a hometown country fair, including spaghetti, turkey, and roast beef community dinners.

These fairs are rich in community traditions, and families can learn about local agriculture and meet animals of all kinds. In this small sampling alone families can see demonstrations, learn about domestic animals, submit their jarred jams, bake pies, ride on the midway, play games, enjoy a community BBQ/dinner… and be entertained by great music and family performances!

STEM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH)

Learn how solar power works at Northfield Mountain on Saturday morning, Aug 18th with educator Rachel Roberts in a free solar workshop for kids ages 9+. Participants will do a variety of hands-on science and art projects connecting them with the general concepts of solar power, supporting their learning of power and how energy is generated. There will also be a tour of Northfield Mountain’s solar facility! On both Saturday, Aug. 18th & Sunday, Aug. 19th, the Hampshire County Radio Controllers host their annual Scale Fly-In in Hadley. Families who fly remote control planes can bring their planes to fly, but a plane is not required to attend! Families can learn about radio controlled planes and the basics of piloting one at the event – pairs well with basic physics and aviation studies!

ANIMAL ADVENTURES

Animals we are highlighting this week include birds, amphibians, reptiles & caterpillars. On Sunday, Aug. 19th families can practice their birding skills in the morning at Mt. Tom in Holyoke with a guided walk around the park, and in the afternoon kids can explore Tolland State Forest in East Otis with Teaching Creatures, learning about Herpetology and the roles reptiles and amphibians play within the local ecosystem. Families can continue with their studies of herpetology in Stockbridge on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, with a program designed to teach participants about some of the more than thirty types of frogs, snakes, turtles and salamanders that live in the region, with some of the animals on hand for observation! – The youngest of your family can join in a caterpillar-themed storytime, also on Friday morning, Aug. 24th at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to discover the mysteries of this transformative creature.

LOCAL HISTORY

Discovering local history through the lens of family biographies and experiences is an excellent way for children to understand former times in the region. On Saturday, Aug. 18th families can visit Naumkeag in Stockbridge for an interactive tour, becoming a member of the Choate family who once lived in this historic home, while learning about the building’s history and the stories it holds. Then on Sunday, Aug. 19th, kids can learn how the tram enables families to take vacations at Skinner State Park’s Summit House in Hadley in the early 1900’s. – At the Mission House in Stockbridge on Saturday, Aug. 18th, families can celebrate their own personal history by creating scrapbooks to fill with memories, record oral histories for future generations, and learn methods of recording family history… all while exploring the many families and communities that once lived in the Berkshires.

Another opportunity to explore history in New England is at Old Sturbridge Village’s Textile Weekend on both Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 18th & 19th. There will be special events and presentations throughout the day, all about textile making, sewing and quilting. Visitors can learn about using quilts to piece together parts of history, make their own quilt squares or pockets, learn to card wool, see exhibits of 19th century quilts, and more! If you can’t make it to OSV this weekend, next Friday, Aug. 24th they offer free admission all day!

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES, CD & ACTIVITY KITS:

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