20 Community Highlights: Mushroom Walk to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art.

Foraging for mushrooms may sound like an interesting pursuit, but it requires training. Many edible mushrooms have near-identical impersonators which are highly toxic. One of the best ways to become a safe mushroom forager is by learning from an expert, ideally out in nature where mushrooms can be observed. Try a guided mushroom walk this weekend in Westhampton to learn about edible mushroom in our region.

Nipmuc to Back-to-School Celebrations. Motorama to Cemetery Walk. Lava Lamps to Installation Art…. These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlights this week: Aggie Fair season marches on with the Cummington Fair, which runs August 27-30. This fair began back in 1883, when the Hillside Agricultural Society began to place strong focus on “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil.” The modern day fair offers many connections to those first events, and also includes components relevant to current times. Saturday’s theme is “Old Fashion Fair Day,” featuring many animal shows, a youth tractor pull, a roast beef dinner, live entertainment, and an evening square dance. 413-634-5091. Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA. ($; FREE for children under 10)


Agricultural FairsMycologyMedia LiteracyBack-to-SchoolFlora & FaunaEntomologySTEMNative American CultureInstallation Art  ♦ TheaterFilmKayakingImmigrationCemetery WalkUpcyclingAutomotive Engineering


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Agricultural Fairs

August 27-30 — CUMMINGTON FAIR
Aggie Fair season marches on with the Cummington Fair, which runs August 27-30. This fair began back in 1883, when the Hillside Agricultural Society began to place strong focus on “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil.” The modern day fair offers many connections to those first events, and also includes components relevant to current times. Saturday’s theme is “Old Fashion Fair Day,” featuring many animal shows, a youth tractor pull, a roast beef dinner, live entertainment, and an evening square dance. 413-634-5091. Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA. ($; FREE for children under 10)

September 4-7 — BLANDFORD FAIR
One way to mark the changing of the seasons is to tune in to the types of produce and routines that predominate at local farms. At the Blandford Fair‘s opening night, get a hint of autumn as you examine the giant pumpkin display. Visitors can also look at local art, have fun at the midway, sit down to a meatloaf supper with other fair-goers, and witness 4-wheel drive truck pulls.  413-848-2888. 10 North Street, Blandford, MA. (< $ admission; < $ parking; FREE for children under 6)

September 4-7 — THREE COUNTY FAIR
There is something to be said for experiencing something new, and the Three County Fair offers a plethora of opportunities to do so during its run from September 4-7. On Friday, you can see unique antique tractors, watch a championship horse pull, appreciate the talents of the Axe Women of Maine, and root for your favorite swine in a pig race. Not your typical Friday night fare! New experiences like this invite language development (new vocabulary), cultural appreciation, historical perspective-taking, and the simple delight of discovery and surprise. 413-584-2237. Three County Fairgrounds, 41 Fair Street, Northampton, MA. (< $; FREE for children under 11)

Mycology

Saturday, August 29. 9am-12pm — MUSHROOM WALK
Foraging for mushrooms may sound like an interesting pursuit, but it requires training. Many edible mushrooms have near-identical impersonators which are highly toxic. One of the best ways to become a safe mushroom forager is by learning from an expert, ideally out in nature where mushrooms can be observed. The Westhampton Library is hosting “Grown in Westhampton,” a mushroom walk with expert Tyler Seavey. Participants are invited to bring any wild mushrooms they would like to identify. Appropriate for older students and adults who can appreciate the serious nature of proper mushroom collection, as well as the associated risks. Rain date: Sunday, August 30. 413-527-5386. 1 North Road, Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Media Literacy

Saturday, August 29. 10am — PSYCHOLOGY/LANGUAGE/FILM
The beautiful animated film, Ernest & Celestine (PG, 2012), is the feature for this week’s Family Film Series at Amherst Cinema. This film, recipient of and nominee for many awards, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. Take your family and encourage your kids to think about prejudices and friendships across social and cultural boundaries. Follow up after the screening with a conversation about friendships that cross-cultures and how their unlikely friendship and adventures might influence future relations between mice and bears. This film can also support French language curriculum and geography. (Find France and Belgium on a world map.) For more ideas on how to use this film to support interests and education, check out this study guide. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Back-to-School Community Celebrations

Saturday, August 29. 10am-2pm — SPRINGFIELD PCED
Getting ready to go back to school can be both exciting and stressful for children. Help your child generate (or maintain) positive feelings about the start of a new school year in a back to school celebration at Blunt Park, hosted by the Springfield Parent & Community Engagement Division. There will be a barbeque, entertainment, and representatives and resources from many community organizations. The first 6,000 students will receive a backpack filled with school supplies! Volunteers are needed to help make this event a success, so please consider donating your time to this worthwhile endeavor. 413-787-7908. 2460 Roosevelt Avenue, Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, September 1. 5pm-6:30pm — TOWN OF AMHERST
Some children are feeling ready to get back into the classroom and to their school-year routines. Others may be more reluctant, wishing for more summer adventures or perhaps anxious about the start of the new school year. Parents/guardians may be experiencing a range of emotions about the end of summer, too. A back-to-school celebration helps get everyone energized about the fun and learning that await! The Town of Amherst and the Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools invite students and their families to join teachers and school staff on the Common for a First Day Celebration of games, art, and live entertainment. Trolley service will be available to transport attendees from the Amherst Regional High School parking lot to the Common, beginning at 4:45pm. 413-362-1825. Amherst Town Common, South Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Flora & Fauna

Saturday, August 29. 10:30am-12pm — NATURALIST SKILLS
Basic naturalist skills are fun to develop and will serve a person for a lifetime! Learning to use a hand lens helps develop fine motor skills and increases one’s ability to observe, and subsequently, describe objects. Discovering how a field guide is organized and how it is used helps one establish a stronger understanding of systems of classification and allows for lots of practice with comparing and contrasting. Project Native‘s Bug & Butterfly Safaris invite children to develop and practice these skills as they traverse fields in search of eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies to relocate into the Butterfly House. All ages welcome; all children should be accompanied by an adult. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Rain cancels. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 30. 4pm-6pm — ENTOMOLOGY/ECOLOGY
Butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects stay very active through late summer. The Langevin family of Conway and the Friends of the South River invite you to enjoy a nature walk through the Langevin meadows for a close-up look at some of the area’s most interesting and important arthropods. In 2012, this property was registered as an official monarch waystation, meaning that it can host a large population of migrating monarch butterflies with its milkweed-dense vegetation! Please wear comfortable shoes and long pants, and take your usual tick precautions. Severe weather will result in rescheduling. 413-369-4697. 302 Riley Road, Conway, MA. (FREE)

STEM

Saturday, August 29. 11am-1:30pm — DENSITY/KITCHEN SCIENCE
Traditional lava lamps utilize convection currents (not unlike those that occur beneath the Earth’s crust) to create their mesmerizing effect of rising and sinking orbs. In the “Bubbling Lava Lamp” STEAMcraft program at the Meekins Library, participants will create a different sort of lava lamp that uses other processes (and kid-safe, “kitchen science” materials) to move the “lava.” What a fun way to see scientific principles at work! Appropriate for children ages 5 and up with parental supervision. 413-268-7472. 2 Williams Street, Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 29. 1pm – 2pm — ELECTRICITY
Explore the differences between static and current electricity using a variety of conductors, insulators, magnets, and a Van de Graaff generator (those big towers which, when you put your hand on them to get “charged”, cause your hair to stick out in wild and crazy ways)! Hosted by the Springfield Science Museum at the Zoo in Forest Park. 413-733-2251. 302 Sumner Avenue, Springfield, MA. (< $)

Native American Culture

Saturday, August 29. 11am-2pm — NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE/HISTORY
The Nipmuc are one of North America’s First Nations, and for thirty thousand years, they lived in a region that included parts of southern NH, central MA, northeastern CT, and northern RI. Today the Otis Cultural Council presents a Native American Culture Exhibition which will be enriched by the participation of members of the Historical Nipmuc Tribe. Activities include songs, dances, stories, and dream catcher art. 413-269-0100. Mountain View Campground, 1858 North Main Road, Otis, MA. (FREE)

Art, Theater & Film

Saturday, August 29. 5pm-8pm — INSTALLATION ART
What does it mean to be part of an ecological community? What is it like to contribute to the evolution of a participatory piece of art? Explore these questions at the opening of the Flotsam Weirs 2 installation at the Meekins Library. The installment features film projections and a process piece to which visitors are welcome to add their own “story” using natural materials. 413-320-2736. 2 Williams Street, Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 30. 4pm — THEATRE/ART HISTORY
Witness the final years of Vincent van Gogh’s life, as reimagined through the letters he wrote to his brother, Theo, in the Ensemble for the Romantic Century‘s theatrical concert, Van Gogh’s Ear. This performance will complement the van Gogh exhibition that visitors to the Clark have been enjoying this summer (on view through September 13). Advance ticket purchase strongly advised. 413-528-1216 x 3102. Stone House Ballroom, 250 Division Street, Great Barrington, MA. ($$$)

Monday, August 31. 7:30pm — COMMUNITY FILM
Residents of Northampton have created their first Crowdsourced Cinema project, a fun and ambitious Northampton Community Television undertaking! People filmed their own versions of scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG, 1981), and these have been assembled into a remake of this classic film. Bring a blanket to sit on the lawn of the Forbes Library and be ready for an entertaining evening of locally-made cinema! 413-587-3550. 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE) [POSTPONED]

Outdoor Adventures

Saturday, August 29. 6pm-8:30pm — KAYAKING
Each month’s full moon has a special name (or names) which connects it to the seasons. August’s full moon (also a supermoon this year!) is known as the Full Red Moon, the Green Corn Moon, and the Sturgeon Moon. No matter the name, a paddle by moonlight is a summery experience you won’t want to miss. Northfield Mountain Recreation & Environmental Center invites you to explore the moonlit Connecticut River and Barton Cove on its Full Sturgeon Moon Paddle. Bring snacks, water, and a flashlight, and your own kayak if you have one. Intended for ages 16 and up; beginning and experienced paddlers welcome. Registration required. 413-863-9300. 82 French King Highway, Gill, MA. ($$; FREE with own kayak)

Immigration

Saturday, August 29. 7pm — THEATRE
The lives of immigrants who arrived and settled in Pittsfield from 1840-1940 are showcased in rich detail in I Am Pittsfield: The Immigrant Century, a play being performed at Melville’s Arrowhead. This realistic interpretation, based on written and oral histories, contains themes of ethnic hostility, poverty, and prejudice, and as such is appropriate for mature teens and adults. Reservations strongly recommended. 413-442-1973. The Red Barn Theater, Melville’s Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Local History

Saturday, August 29. 7pm — CEMETERY WALK
The supermoon — a full moon when the Moon is closest to Earth along its orbital path — is a sight to behold! What better night to go on a stroll through a graveyard? A number of interesting historic figures are buried at Worthington’s North Cemetery. Thanks to the Worthington Historical Society, these individuals will be theatrically “brought back to life” to tell you about themselves and the times in which they lived. This type of “first person” historical accounting leaves quite an impact! Suitable for teens and adults. Bring a flashlight and insect repellent. 413-238-0491. North Cemetery, Cold Street, Worthington, MA. (FREE)

Upcycling

Sunday, August 30. 9am-12pm — ARTS & CRAFTS
Upcycling is the process of reusing old, damaged, or garbage/recycling-bound materials to create something new! This creative, Earth-friendly craft diverts items from the waste stream. Makers’ Mill is hosting a workshop at which participants can create an upcycled plastic tote. Folks will start out with empty, plastic animal food bags, and will be guided through the entire process to create a cool, useful tote. Sewing machines and other necessary supplies will be provided, although you are welcome to bring your own plastic bags if you wish. Previous sewing experience is helpful but not necessary. Intended for older students and adults. Younger students may participate with an adult caregiver. 413-749-2073. 73 Main Street, North Adams, MA. ($)

Automotive Engineering

Sunday, August 30. 9am-3pm — MOTORAMA
What is it about big trucks, hot rods, motorcycles, and other vehicles that captures the interest and imagination of so many children and adults? Some folks are drawn to the mechanics of different types of engines, others to aesthetic and aerodynamic designs, and still others to the history behind each model. You and your family can explore any number of these themes at this year’s Motorama, when several streets in North Adams will be filled with vehicles to observe! Rain date: Saturday, September 5. 413-664-6180. Main, Holden, and Eagle Streets, North Adams, MA. (FREE)


Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Buckland, Colrain, Cummington, Deerfield, Hadley, Longmeadow, Montgomery, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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