32 Community Highlights: Frankenstein to Ghost Tours. Museum Adventures to Musicals.

Mount Cemetery in West Chesterfield, MA. [Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]

Frankenstein to Ghost Tours. Stargazing to Birdwatching. Simple Machines to Science LabsMuseum Adventures to Musicals.

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlights this week are Cemetery Tours! While touring a cemetery around Halloween might fit well into a spooky themed community event, nearby cemeteries are great places to learn about local history and the lives of those who have lived here before us. Interpreters can share the history of the cemetery and the roles the departed may have had on the settlement and growth of the area. Here are several upcoming walks happening during the Halloween season…


Nature StudiesMusic/Film StudiesCulinary ArtsAstronomyAnimal StudiesCemetery ToursCultural StudiesMusicals/TheaterMuseum AdventuresFarmingSciencePlant Studies



Nature Studies

Join the Appalachian Mountain Club for a family hike at Mount Sugarloaf on an easy two-mile round trip hike on Saturday morning, October 26th.  Named after the loaf-like shape that sugar historically was molded into for shipment, this butte-like mountain offers amazing views of the Connecticut River Valley. With the leaves falling, the colors of autumn will surround you, giving you a better view of trees and shrubs that call Mount Sugarloaf home in South Deerfield.

Music/Film Studies

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Shapiro, will perform along with the iconic horror film, Frankenstein (1931; not rated), a black & while film based on the classic novel by Mary Shelley by the same name. On Saturday evening, October 26th, come in costume and enjoy this classic horror film with live orchestral accompaniment.  A fun way to expose children to the orchestra while supporting film studies of a widely censored film by several states when it was first released in the early 30′s, including Massachusetts.

Culinary Arts

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and Williams Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program are holding their annual Pie Potluck and People’s Choice Competition on Saturday evening, October 26th, in Williamstown!  Bakers and pie-lovers of all ages are invited to bake pies to bring and share, participate in the People’s Choice pie contest, see a crust-making demonstration by Williams Dining’s lead baker Michael Menard, make candlefloats, sing, and more.  This event brings community members together over homemade food and is a great source of inspiration to get your young bakers in the kitchen cooking up with local ingredients to share at this community event.

Astronomy

Discover the night sky with MassAudubon in Hampden at a presentation and sky-viewing event on Saturday evening, October 26th.  This family astronomy program invites families to look at and learn about the stars, constellations, and planets in the sky, as well as the science and mythology behind them.

Want to learn about astronomy first-hand?  Join the Trustees of Reservations and the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center for an evening of stargazing and searching for moons, planets, galaxies, and more at Notchview in Windsor on Saturday evening. Bundle up and bring the kids to this outdoor free viewing of the heavens.

The Westfield Athenaeum and Dr. Kevin Manning present “Astronomy for Everyone: Size and Scale of the Universe” on Tuesday evening, October 29th.  Audience members will learn all about the stars and the universe, and will get the chance (weather permitting) to view the night sky with a powerful telescope.  You can hope to see the rings of Saturn, the craters of the moon, and more at this free event for all ages.

The Springfield Museums’ rooftop telescope will be open for a sky viewing on Friday evening, November 1st!  Curator of Physical Science Richard Sanderson will present a talk titled “Comet ISON: Comet of the Century?”  Comet ISON, only recently discovered, is expected to make an appearance in late November.  Being called “the Comet of the Century” some reports are that the comet might be brighter than the moon, but many scientist give it a lesser grade in brightness… come to the talk and hear more on this new discovery.

If you want to continue your learning about the night sky with your family following these events, check out Sky Map, and Android phone app, that allows you to identify the constellations and planets in your night sky.

Animal Studies

Learn about what birds are around the Berkshires this time of year with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council on an early morning bird walk at Constitution Hill in Lanesborough on Saturday morning, October 26th.  Explore the shrubby fields, wetlands, and hardwood forests of this preserve on a leisurely walk while searching for migratory and resident birds. Discover what types of local habitats are important for their survival and the different types of seeds they feed on. Older students interested in birds or local habitat would find this program interesting. Bring along a Birds of Massachusetts Field Guide, notebook and binoculars too!

The Agawam Public Library presents Wingmasters, a free live birds of prey program featuring local raptors, including eagles, hawks, and falcons.  Wingmasters aims to increase public understanding and appreciation for North American birds of prey through their programs and presentations.  This program will teach about these remarkable birds and give audience members a chance to ask questions like, “What types of habitats are important for their survival,” and “How long do they live in the wild?” Come with your questions and discover these amazing majestic birds on Saturday afternoon in Agawam.

The Hitchcock Center’s Enchanted Forest event takes on Friday and Saturday evening, October 25th & 26th in Amherst.  This exciting event takes you through the Hitchcock Center’s grounds on a non-scary tour with the theme of “Animal Wonders: Cool Things We’ve Learned From Animals.”  Local creatures that inhabit the nature center grounds will emerge to share stories and teach you about themselves and their habitats while you explore the woods and celebrate Halloween.

Cemetery Tours

The Sheffield Historical Society is holding a “Spiritwalk” through Center Cemetery for kids and adults on Saturday afternoon, October 26th.  Learn about the history of this south Berkshire County small town through the lives of previous residents on this guided walk. 

The David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History presents a Florence Graveyard Tour – Celebrating the Park Street Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, October 27th.  Steve Strimer will lead the tour, and will discuss the burials of anti-slavery activists, educators, and progressive industrialists that founded Florence. Those who are interested in local history and the Underground Railroad will enjoy this tour, which introduces cemetery visitors to Florence’s rich and interesting history and the residents that helped to shape not only local history, but had an impact on the course of National history.

Tour Holyoke’s Forestdale Cemetery with historian Penni Martorell on Sunday evening, October 27th. She will reveal the lives and histories of many of Holyoke’s earliest residents.  Learn how diseases like whooping cough, smallpox and influenza took the lives of paper and textile mill workers and their young children in the late 1800 and early 1900′s. This beautiful cemetery has many stories to tell you, and tales of the residents buried there will broaden your understanding of the history of Holyoke and the people who lived there before you.

If it’s ghostly apparitions, spooky spirits, and archaic graves you want to see this Halloween season, look no further than the Old Burying Ground in Westfield, a National Register of Historic Places in America established in 1668. Hour-long guided tours by lantern light will be led through the Old Burying Ground on Sunday evening. Historic personages, who rest in the antiquated land, including General William Shepard and Reverend Edward Taylor, the poet laureate of Colonial America, will be enacted by community performers in colonial grab, who will meet participants at their respective graves. The Old Burying Ground is the oldest remaining cemetery in its original location in the United States with 1100 remaining gravestones with its last recorded burial in 1934.  The tour will not only capture the Halloween spirit but will also offer a new appreciation for some of the founding families of Westfield, both the more famous as well as the everyday folk who helped make Westfield what it is today.

The Springfield Preservation Trust is offering a twilight tour of Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield on Tuesday afternoon, October 29th, which opened for burials in 1882.  Docents will lead visitors around the graveyard to six different graves, where costumed interpreters will speak about each person, including philanthropist Primus Mason and clothing store pioneer Lyman Besse. 

Put on your Halloween costume and join the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange for a special Halloween StoryWalk for the youngest ones on Wednesday morning, October 30th!  Stroll through Grove Street Cemetery as you read Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington and enjoy related activities.

Cultural Studies

On Saturday afternoon, October 26th at the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley and Wolf Tree Programs present “A Window Into the Past: Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands,” a free program for kids ages 7-12 that focuses on what life was like for Native Americans in New England before the arrival of the Europeans.  Participants will learn about the tools they used, how to make a fire, what they would have hunted and with what types of weapons.  They also learn about beads use to make jewelry by indigenous hunter-gatherer groups in the Paleolithic age.  This is a great way for kids to learn about indigenous groups of the Northeast and how they lived and thrived before the arrival of the Europeans. 

Musicals/Theater

  • Seussical in Turners Falls at the Shea Theater.
  • The Doll People in Northampton at the Smith College Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Theatre 14.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Westhampton at Hampshire Regional High School
  • Dracula in Westfield at the Westfield Theatre Group.
  • Harvey in North Adams at Mill City Productions.

Museum Adventures

Check out the Amherst College’s Mead Museum on Saturday, October 26th on this special free Halloween-themed Family Fun Day!  The Mead Docents will lead the Halloween-themed celebrations, offering “candlelit” tours of the museum’s galleries, spooky stories, and scavenger hunts. A highlight of the Halloween-themed tours will be an ancient Roman sarcophagus, a new addition to the Mead’s collection. Spooking interpretations of the Museums exhibits is a brilliant way to get kids interested in history and art! Refreshments & craft projects included. What a fun way to celebrate Halloween while exploring a great local museum! 

MASS MoCA in North Adams invites you and your family to their Family Art Quest, a museum-wide scavenger hunt complete with art-making activities, snacks, and hidden treasures, on Saturday afternoon!  Kids of all ages are invited to dress up as mythical creatures in honor of Chinese artist Xu Bing’s gigantic found-material phoenix sculptures.  Integrate your family into the museum with costumes and exploring the museum for clues and treasures… building a love for art and local community art resources like this amazing contemporary art museum in north Berkshire County.

Explore the Wistariahurst Museum and the Skinner Family Estate in Holyoke by candlelight on their Halloween ghost tours happening Saturday evening.  This is a rare chance to see the inside of the Skinner Mansion at night while learning about its haunted history!  The Museum is the former home of William Skinner, a silk manufacturer from Western MA whose family donated their estate to the City of Holyoke in the late 50′s.  Tour the Museum by candlelight and learn more about this prominent Pioneer Valley family amongst the museum’s permanent collection of textiles, manuscripts and decorative arts. =

In the spirit of the major construction activity under way at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as it enters the final phase of its expansion project, the Institute will hold a free construction-themed Family Day in Williamstown on Sunday afternoon, October 27th. Children of all ages will delight in the activities planned for the day, including: “Great Big Cardboard Building Challenge,” in which kids of all ages can create large-scale buildings using sturdy cardboard; Tonka Truck play area, complete with all kinds of toy construction vehicles and large piles of wood chips, gravel, and dirt to spark building and excavation ideas; Sketching gallery artwork on cardboard at Stone Hill Center;  Trail walks up Stone Hill, culminating in hayrides, jack-o’-lantern carving, free cider, and enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the expansion project.

Farming

The Greenfield Community Farm is hosting a Fall Farm Festival on Sunday afternoon, October 27th!  There will be activities for all ages and interests: a farm tour; a pig tractor demonstration; workshops; a food policy discussion and letter-writing; medicinal plant harvesting and distribution; weed dating; work projects; kids’ activities and childcare; clowns, juggling, and face-painting; music and theatre performances; a potluck with barbeque and hot soup; a campfire; and hot apple cider. Wow!  Loads of opportunities to learn about local farming while having fun with your family and new friends!

Science

High school students can attend the fourth annual ScienceQUEST at UMass Amherst on Saturday, October 26th.  This free event gives teens the chance to do hands-on science activities in a college setting while experiencing science-based demonstrations and guided lab tours.  This is an amazing opportunity for students to learn more about the study of science and fields of interests while discovering the many facilities and programs available at UMass that would support their STEM based studies. 

Be a mad scientist at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday morning! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials. Kitchen Kaboom! is totally kid-safe, but adults must accompany participating scientists. After exercising their interests in science, visit the aquarium and learn about aquatic habitats, and check out the taxidermic animals to find the similarities and differences between species from our region and other regions of the country. Later in the afternoon,  experiment with paper airplanes and learn about basic principles of physics as part of their PaperWorks exhibit! Instructions and materials are provided for families to come and build their own, giving kids the opportunity to practice concepts of geometry and applying it to the physics of flying. Then test the design to learn what factors affect the plane’s ability to fly.

Kids in K-3 can learn all about simple machines with Helen Ann Sephton from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at the Wendell Free Library on Wednesday afternoon, October 30th!  Kids will learn about machines using levers, pulleys, wheels, axles, and inclined planes through hands-on activities and solving challenges.  This is a free hands-on opportunity for kids to explore the physics and construction of simple machines.

Plant Studies

The Berkshire Community College Orchid and Tropical Show takes place this weekend, October 26th-27th, in Pittsfield, celebrating orchids, succulents, bromeliads, bonsai, and other tropicals.  Learn about the different types of environments these plants need to thrive in, and their adaptations that support their pollination.  With twenty exhibits, features vendors, demonstrations, educational talks, and workshops, find out what types of insects pollinate the different species of plants and how you might be able to grow them in your own home.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

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