Berkshire Family Fun for Late January – Early February, 2013

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
January 26th – February 8th, 2013

Ready to shake off those winter blues? There are several events coming up in Berkshire County that will get you moving and having fun! Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will host National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Winter Wildlife Day happens at the WRLF, and Williamstown’s 10th annual Snowfest will take place too!

There will also be ways to supplement learning for older students! In honor of Black History Month, the Berkshire Museum will present “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” and the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Curator of Education, Tom Daly, will review Rockwell’s dedication to civil rights throughout his career. There will be a presentation about frogs and salamanders by Berkshire Community College professor Tom Tyning at the Berkshire Atheneaum for those interested in nature studies, and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss will give a presentation at Williams College, talking about “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through February 8th, 2013:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Mid-Late January, 2013

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
January 12th-25th, 2013

We’re nearly a month into winter with a healthy layer of snow on the ground, a great excuse to get outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the Berkshires!  There are several opportunities to dust off and put your snowshoes to good use over the next couple of weeks!  So strap on your snowshoes and select your choice destination for winter fun, including snowshoe race at Constitution Hill in Lanesborough, the Haskins Center’s Cabin Fever Festival in North Adams, Mountain Meadow Preserve in Williamstown, Notchview in Windsor, the Becket Quarry in Becket, Winter Trail Days at Hilltop Orchard in Richmond, and Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through January 25th, 2013:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events Suggest Event

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Berkshire Family Fun for the New Year, 2013!

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 29th, 2012 – January 11th, 2013

The year ends with a flurry of marionette shows, musicals, magic shows, and community theater productions in the Berkshires, and a new year begins with a First Day Hike at the Pittsfield State Forest.  Culture and amazing natural resources to fill your days while we usher out one year and in another!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through January 11th, 2013:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Late December, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 15th – 28th, 2012

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

There are just a couple more weekends left before Christmas, followed by school winter vacation. Berkshire County continues to celebrate the change of season and several of the museums and community centers will have activities for kids during the week of winter vacation. – Then it’s the New Year!

Cookies with origins from around the world are a staple of the holidays! Gingerbread Men to Hermits to Sugar Cookies are baked up in home kitchens and given as gifts. This weekend kids can learn how to make Rugalach at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington, and next weekend families are welcomed to participate in a homemade cookie swap a Moments House in Pittsfield or pick up cookies at the Hinsdale Cookie Walk. Take the time to learn about the history behind cookies from other cultures, or make that recipe your grandmother handed down and share the backstory with your family and friends.

Find out about over 50 community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through December 28th, 2012:

North Berkshire County
Central Berkshire County
South Berkshire County

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Early December, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 1st-14th, 2012

Experience Main Street in Stockbridge just like Norman Rockwell did during the Stockbridge Holiday Stroll on Sun., Dec. 2nd from 12noon-2pm. Downtown Stockbridge will be filled with antique cars, carolers will perform all over town, and there will be fun family activities for all! The re-creation is a unique opportunity to experience Norman Rockwell’s work in real life!

The holidays are here and they’re celebrating in the Berkshires!  Holiday strolls are taking place in Williamstown, Great Barrington and Stockbridge during these first two weeks of December. Santa’s making his rounds visiting Crane & Company’s Model Farm, Dalton CRA, Lilac Park, Lenox Fire Department, and the Berkshire Museum.  Gingerbread houses are being built at Hops & Vines and the Lenox Library, and latkes are being fried up at Wild Oats… and people and chorus groups are singing and performing all over the region!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Dec 14th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Mid-Late November, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
November 17th-30th, 2012

This weekend families can head to a couple of the museums for special performances, exhibits and tours, including Curiosity Family Day at The Clark along with the opening of Giselle’s Remix, a gallery show curated by 11-year-old Giselle Ciulla. Remix is virtual gallery on The Clark’s web site featuring over 400 paintings, sculptures, and other items from the museum’s galleries. Within Remix is a tool called uCurate where kids can browse through pieces and design their own gallery shows! Giselle’s curated show was selected and the opening is this Saturday, Nov. 17th.

Once this weekend passes all eyes are on the holidays! Hometown Holidays in North Adams begins on Wednesday, Nov. 21st with a Christmas Tree Lighting. Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum kicks off its 5th annual A Home for the Holidays program starting Friday, Nov. 23rd in Lenox. Pittsfield’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony happens on Friday, Nov. 30th with caroling and Santa. And the town of Stockbridge celebrates the 23rd annual Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas beginning Friday, Nov. 30th.

All of these holiday highlights, and many more community building, educational opportunities and volunteer connections for families in Berkshire County can be discover below in this edition of Berkshire Family Fun through Nov. 30th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Early to Mid November

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
November 3rd – 16th, 2012

Halloween always seems to mark the beginning of the holiday season with Thanksgiving just around the corner. In between Halloween and Thanksgiving is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Families can join students from Berkshire Community College (BBC) for a Diwali celebration in Lee in mid-November as they share several traditions from this holiday.

Early this month, Native American culture is also being celebrated by BCC and at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, and in Great Barrington the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will offer an autism-friendly screening of London’s National Theater’s production of, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.”

Other highlights in Berkshire County early this month include Dr. Augie’s Entomology Workshop, family volunteering at Springside Park, Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School’s Holiday Handcraft Fair, Monument Mountain Music in Common Youth Program at the Guthrie Center, and international game day at the Ramsdell and Mason libraries.

Find out about these events and other community building events, community based educational opportunities, and community service based learning connections happening throughout Berkshire County through November 16th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Late Oct to Early Nov

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
Oct 20th-Nov 2nd, 2012

The leaves have peeked and now enters Halloween in the Berkshires. Trick-or-treating and rag shag parades happen all through out the region, but Berkshire County will play host to several annual Halloween traditions, including MCLA’s 18th annual Boo Bash in North Adams, Pittsfield Halloween Parade, the Pumpkin Walk-About in Stockbridge, and Washington’s Pumpkin Walk. Other fun events not to miss in Berkshire County through the end of October include a Muppet extravaganza at MASS MoCA, Chilling Tales and Ghost Tour at The Mount, the last days of Lord of the Flies at the Barrington Stage Company, Mermaid Theatre’s production of A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar at the Colonial Theatre and family supper at Hancock Shaker Village.

“I’m relatively new to the Berkshires so I’m mostly familiar with the southern Berkshires. I love finding out about all these lovely little towns north of me, and knowing about all the various events going on ALL THE TIME, from concerts to theater, to apple picking. I moved here to live in the country and Hilltown Families keeps me informed of all the wonderful things country life has to offer.” – Valerie Sheehan (Lenox, MA)

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Nov. 1st, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

Halloween in Western MATo find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday. There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region. Be sure to check our columnLearn Local. Play Local. everyFriday too for event highlights to are not only fun but educational too!

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Early-Mid October 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
Oct 6th-19th, 2012

Dr Marmalade at CAM

Marmalade Productions will be at the Spectrum Playhouse in Lee with her “Emerge-And-See” Wagon on Saturday, Oct 6th at 11am.  Read our review of Dr. Marmalade’s performance from several years ago in Shelburne Falls.

The foliage is peaking in Berkshire County!  This is your moment to get out in your community, or for visitors to travel to the region, for taking in the beautiful autumn colors.  Plus, there are so many great excuses to get out in Berkshire County over the next two weekends! In this edition of BFF we’ve included over 60 listings in 17 towns throughout Berkshire County!

A few things we want to highlight for Columbus Day Weekend, Oct 6th & 7th, include the Berkshire Botanical Garden‘s  78th annual fall festival, Jiminy Peak‘s Fall Festival, the Berkshire Museum presents Father Goose’s Tales, a Pumpkin Fest at Bidwell House Museum, Hinsdale Dayz, and a Medieval Faire at Ventfort Hall!

Another highlight is the Berkshire Coaching Weekend at Shakespeare & Co. on Saturday, Norman Rockwell Museum on Sunday, and The Mount on Columbus Day.  Also on Columbus Day, Oct 8th, David Grover will lead a sing-along at the Berkshire Museum and there will be pumpkin carving at Chesterwood (David Grover will also be at Family Fun Day at Laston Park on Sat., Oct 6th).

For the weekend of Oct 13th & 14th, there are several great hikes & outdoor adventures planned in Windsor, Lee, LenoxGreat Barrington, Monterey and Windsor! Also happening the weekend of the 13th & 14th is the Berkshire Orchid and Tropical Show at BCC. And make sure to note the Bizarre Bazaar that happens on Sat., Oct 13th at the Brigham Center.

A few fun things happening at the libraries include a free youth theater workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Saturday, Oct 6th, a Mexican Bingo Night & Dessert Potluck at the Masson Library on Friday, Oct 12th and an evening of Star Wars at the  Lenox Library on Friday, Oct 19th.

And if  you’re looking for a parents’ night out, three things to know about include the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema screening of “Sleepwalk With Me” on Saturday, Oct 6th, the Zombie Pub Crawl in Pittsfield on Friday, Oct 12th, and a benefit for the Rock On! Scholarship Fund, part of Rock On! youth mentoring programs, at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre on Friday, Oct 19th.

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Oct 19th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun Late September – Early October, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
Sept 22nd – Oct 5th, 2012

This past spring, MA Cultural Council named downtown Pittsfield one of the first state-designated Cultural Districts. This designated district is now called the Upstreet Cultural District, in honor of the longtime nickname for downtown used by generations of Pittsfield natives.

History comes alive in Berkshire County the weekend of Sept 22nd & 23rd with over 15 hiking, walking and behind-the-scene tours of local landmarks and outdoor spaces.  Peruse the list for a plethora of ways to explore Berkshire County while taking in its rich history!

Other notable events happening over the next two weeks include the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival in North Adams, Hopkins Forest Fall Festival in Williamstown, production of “Lord of the Flies” in Pittsfield, and the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair.

Many of the libraries host story & craft hours every week (see full list in our list of Weekly Suggested Events) and several of them are hosting special upcoming events. Lenox Library will host the Nutshell Playhouse for a Saturday afternoon performance. Local author, Ty Allen Jackson, will be at the Berkshire Athenaeum for a special weekend author event. The Ramsdell Library will screen an evening family film for teens. Lee Founders Weekend and Lenox Apple Squeeze happen all weekend too!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Oct 5th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Early-Mid September 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
Sept. 8th – 21st, 2012

We’ve rounded the corner from summer freedom to the routine of autumn, with kids back in school, homeschoolers organizing their fall schedules, and prek & story hours starting back up.  We’ve listed many ongoing activities below and will continue to add to the list as the season progresses.

Activities to look forward to over the next couple of weeks include Images Cinema’s International Family Film series, Lee Founders’ Weekend, the Tub Parade in Lenox, Youth Summit in Pittsfield, Oliver! and Story Pirates at the Colonial Theatre, International Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Hilltown Hoot in Washington, Housatonic River Walk in Great Barrington, among many others.

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Sept. 21st:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly eNewsletter!

Ticket Giveaway: Story Pirates at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Giveaway: FOUND at The Colonial Theatre

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Berkshire Family Fun for Late August-Early September

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 25th – September 7th, 2012

Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation’s summer Free Fun Fridays series, Mass MoCA in North Adams will offer free admission on Friday, Aug. 31st!(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

As the summer comes to a close, so do many ongoing summer concert and theater events that enriched Berkshire County this summer.  As we transition from summer towards the school year, many playgroups and libraries quiet down for a couple of weeks, but they will be sure to pick back up in September.

In the meantime, during these last couple of weeks of summer, there are still a lot of fun opportunities happening for families to enjoy: Main Street Stage will put on a theater performance at Bascom Lodge; David Grover will perform a family concert at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; Tanglewood will offer a family-friendly concert; and Berkshire Theatre Group will be putting on a production of Oliver! at The Colonial Theatre… just to name a few!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through the first week of September:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday!
List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Berkshire Family Fun for Early-Mid August, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
August 11th-24th, 2012

We’re entering the season of community festivals, craft and agricultural fairs!  A few to highlight in Berkshire County over the next two weeks including Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow Wow at Wirtes Farm in Lanesborough, Hinsdale Dayz at the town fire station, Berkhsire 4-H Fair in Pittsfield, Grecian Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsfield, Stockbridge Summer Arts and Crafts Show, Zucchini Festival in the town center of West Stockbridge, Berkshire Crafts Fair at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington, and  Family Day on the village green in New Marlborough.

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through August 24th:

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! List of Weekly Suggested Events

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Arthurian Legends and Gold Dubloons at Norman Rockwell Museum

World of Adventure with Howard Pyle
Family Festival Day at Norman Rockwell Museum
Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Howard Pyle (1853-1911) was one of America’s most popular illustrators and storytellers during a period of explosive growth in the publishing industry. A celebrity in his lifetime, Pyle’s widely circulated images of pirates, knights, and historical figures were featured in dozens of publications and were admired by such artists and authors as  Mark Twain and Norman Rockwell.

Explore history, as depicted in artist Howard Pyle’s illustrations, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA!  The museum’s newest exhibit features nearly 80 of Pyle’s works, created between 1876 and 1910, the subjects of which include Arthurian England, heroes of the American Revolution, and the fate of Scottish so-called pirate Captain Kidd.

On Saturday, August 4th the museum will present World of Adventure: Arthurian Legends and Gold Dubloons, a family festival day, from 12noon-4pm. Along with opportunities to explore the museum’s galleries and view Pyle’s work, there will be scavenger hunts, performances, art making, and more! The 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry will be sharing a replica of a Civil War encampment, where families can meet soldiers and learn about wartime camp life.  The band Ampersand will perform music from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and kids can meet all sorts of soldiers, pirates, and knights!

For older kids (and parents), the museum will be screening, “Howard Pyle and the Illustrated Story,” a documentary film that follows Pyle’s work through generations of media.  Check out the trailer which gives a glimpse of Howard Pyle’s talents as illustrator, author, and mentor:

World of Adventure: Arthurian Legends and Gold Dubloons, presented in conjunction with the Museum’s current exhibition, “Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered,” takes place from 12noon-4pm on Saturday, August 4th – visit to learn about the art of illustration, American history, and legends of knights, dragons, and pirates!  Find out more about the Norman Rockwell Museum at

[Image credit: We Started to Run back to the Raft for Our Lives, 1902 Howard Pyle (1853-1911) Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches Delaware Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1912]

Berkshire Family Fun for Late July – Early August, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 28th – August 10th, 2012

Summer theater and music continues in the Berkshires!  In addition to cultural performances, there are also great learning opportunities in  Berkshire County over the next two weeks!

With a region rich in local history, the history of families who lived in the Berkshires dating back to the 1600’s can be explored at the Mission House in Stockbridge, or explore during a guided tour of the Stockbridge Cemetery. Families can also learn about female soldiers in the Civil War at Western Gateway Heritage State Park  in North Adams, and “Amazing Americans” at the Milne Library in Williamstown. At the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, families can discover the importance blacksmithing was to Shaker history through demos and hands-on activities, and at the Ashley House in Sheffield the history and importance of pottery can be examined.

Other upcoming family fun learning opportunities in Berkshire County include exploring local boreal forests in Windsor with Mass Audubon, mapping the night sky at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, and learning about stars and planets at the Mason Library in Great Barrington.  There are even a couple of opportunities to learn about other cultures, including Australian Aboriginal culture at the Lenox Library and several other cultures at Pittsfield’s annual Ethnic Fair.

The Berkshires are not only a terrific place for high quality entertainment, but also a fun place to learn!  Find out all the fun thing’s happening for families and make plans to explore the Berkshires!

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Berkshire Family Fun for Mid-Late July, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
July 14th-27th, 2012

Berkshire County is full of high caliber cultural venues hosting quality entertainment for families just outside of the big cities, but smaller community venues and local parks have a lot to offer in the summer months too! There are playgroups, nature hikes, crafting and story times happening at the libraries, parks and family centers. Live music and baseball can be enjoyed in the parks, marionette shows at cafes and churches, and family films are screened under the stars. It’s these types of free community building opportunities that bring families together thereby strengthening the fabric of the region— while the area’s larger venues bring us amazing opportunities for culture and entertainment!

Over the next couple of weeks, cultural venues in north Berkshire Co. like Mass MoCA will host their annual Bang on a Can Festival’s Kids Can Too, while Williamstown Theater Festival invites kids backstage to discover theater production.  In central Berkshire Co., Jacob’s Pillow hosts free original contemporary dance performances, Tanglewood offers a free weekly music educational program for families, Berkshire Museum organizes a family day to celebrate their new exhibit on American Indian art, and Hancock Shaker Village opens their doors up for a one day free visit.  And in south Berkshire, The Mahaiwe Center puts on a community sing-along indoors, while families can enjoy croquet on the lawn at Naumkeag outdoors.

The list goes on!  Find out what’s happening and make plans to explore the Berkshires!

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Berkshire Family Fun: Late June, 2012

Summer Fun Heats Up in the Berkshires

The libraries across Western MA will host a plethora of free family activities this summer! Scott Jameson will be at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on June 30th with a magic show, followed by a juggling workshop for kids 8yo and older. Find out about this activity an many others happening across Berkshire County.

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.


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 or call 413-458-2303.


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

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Berkshire Family Fun: Early June, 2012

I’m Back in the Berkshire Groove

The Jimmies are coming to MASS MoCA on Saturday, June 16th for a super fun family concert, and Hilltown Families has a family 4-pack of tickets along with 4 free gallery admissions to give away to one of our eNewsletter subscribers. Make sure you’re subscribed and this Thursday check you inbox to discover the details on how you can enter to win… it’s super easy and super fast to enter!

Greetings from the backwoods of Hinsdale, MA! I’ve been hiding out here for the last month and half in an attempt to escape the world and all those within it. Our little slice of heaven here has been my refuge while I regroup from the hustle and bustle of the school year and copious amounts of sporting events, as well as recover from a recent “minor” surgery that seemed to throw my body for a loop. But now that summer is nearly here and activity in the Berkshires is heating up as quickly as the weather should be, and I can’t wait to get out there to explore it all with my kids, husband, friends and (if I can manage to sneak away) myself!


Hilltown Families’ editor Sienna Wildfield and myself have been experimenting around with this column for a while in an attempt to figure out the best way to keep you all interested, informed, and coming back for more. We tried bringing you a monthly feature of events, but it just seemed like the posts got WAY too long, and writing so early in the month resulted in missing a number of worthwhile events as many press releases came in after the first of the month.

Also, I love to have fun with this column and bring you more than just my maternal insights involving family fun in the Berkshires. I also like to ramble about mommy things that include such subjects as how to deal with the death and loss of two bunnies in two weeks (one died suddenly and one escaped into the wild). Or I might want to share with you my Top 10 strategies for dealing with the incessant and ridiculous arguments between two young brothers that tend to drive me insane. Or maybe I just want to share with you a funny family anecdote from the past weeks or a not-so-funny 10-year-old joke I was told the other day.

So here I go again, mixing things up a bit. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you love and don’t love about Berkshire Family Fun. Feel free to leave a comment on this post or send an email to I’d love to hear from you.


May marked the return of 3rd Thursdays to Pittsfield (the next one is set for June 21, from 5-8 p.m.) and with it a new monthly event titled First Fridays ArtsWalk.  The ArtsWalks highlight the openings of various month-long exhibits in over 25 arts venues throughout downtown Pittsfield. The year-round “walks” will occur the first Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. with most of the activities occurring indoors. This month kicked off Hilltown Families’ own Traveling Photography Exhibit at TREEHOUSE Gallery located at 305 North Street. Photographs of life and landscapes in Western Massachusetts by Hilltown Families’ founder, Sienna Wildfield, will be on view at the gallery through June 30. This marks the exhibit’s debut in the Berkshires and if you have ever browsed through the gallery here on this site you’ll know Sienna’s pretty fantastic at what she does. All art is for sale with proceeds benefiting Hilltown Families. For more information about the First Fridays ArtsWalk visit For information regarding upcoming 3rd Thursday events go online to


The beginning of summer also brings with it the start of the summer theater season in the Berkshires, which began for me with a trip to Barrington Stage Company’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield to see “Lungs” Saturday night. “Lungs” by Duncan MacMillan and directed by Aaron Posner tells the story of a young couple contemplating having a child during a time of global anxiety and political unrest. If they overthink it, they’ll never do it. But if they rush, it could be a disaster. What will be the first to destruct — the planet or the relationship? The show runs through June 10. Tickets and show times can be found online at barringtonstageco.orgRead the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for May 2012

Family Fun in the Berkshires: May 2012

May in the Berkshires (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)We are entering into my favorite time of year in the Berkshires. A time when the frozen Berkshire hills that lay semi-dormant this winter turn into a bustling center of activity. People emerge once again from their homes, tourism picks up, theater schedules kick into full gear, outdoor activities are plentiful, Trustees of Reservation properties reopen, and annual festivals return. So once again, grab your calendars, blackberries, iPhones and the like, and get ready to plan you itinerary in the Berkshires for the month of May.


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Berkshire Family Fun for April 2012

Family Fun in the Berkshires: April 2012

April in the Berkshires (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)Spring temperatures have sprung a little early this year and the unseasonably warm weather in the past weeks has gotten people outdoors and milling about the Berkshires in anticipation of the summer season much earlier than in recent years. But now with the cooler temperatures returning, people may be thinking about retreating back inside until the summer weather is here to stay! Well think again, because there is still plenty happening inside and out around the region to keep families busy, and with a school vacation just around the corner that is music to any parent’s ears. So grab your calendars, iPhones, iPads, Google calendars, and the like and get ready to mark these dates down.


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Berkshire Family Fun for March 2012

New and improved and better than ever!
More Family Fun in the Berkshires

After a brief hiatus from my column, I am back, refreshed and ready to reveal Berkshire Family Fun’s new format. From now on this column can be found posted at Hilltown Families on the first Thursday of each month filled with an entire months worth of activities for the whole family. From theater, to music, to fundraising opportunities, music, museums and more, this column will try and bring you the most up-to-date list of family-friendly events in the region. As for those press releases that come to me after my Family Fun deadline, we will try our best to give them a mention in our list of weekly events. So grab your calendar and a pen, iPhone, Blackberry, etc., whatever your “keeping track of schedules” preference may be and here goes …


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Berkshire Family Fun: A New Year in the Berkshires

Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Berkshire County

Packing away the holiday leftovers and looking towards the new year!

After digging my way through piles of holiday leftovers — random boxes, misplaced electronics, stray decorations, miscellaneous family members, and long-forgotten party food — I emerged with the sudden urge to purge, declutter and organize my life. Call it New Years inspiration, procrastination (there’s lots of writing that should have been getting done in that time), or simply a desire to start 2012 off feeling lighter and more energized. Regardless of the hidden causes behind my massive reorganization project, it has resulted in the ability to find things easier. “Where’s my coat?” one child asked. “I believe you’ll find it in the COAT closet hanging on a COAT hook. Novel idea I know, but take a look,” I replied. We have discovered “missing” objects such as my daughters lost Halia bracelet, and the cord to a laptop computer (the cost to replace, had I done that, approximately $90) that the kids had “looked everywhere for.” The piles of mail and paperwork that had begun to take over my island have been sorted and relegated to a small basket in the front entryway, and I feel fantastic! Now if I can just organize my calendars so I will remember deadlines, I’ll be all set.


Besides organizing my home, I have also made a few other changes in my life to kick off the new year. One of the most influential changes is my gratitude journal. Each day on Facebook at Renaissance Mom I post at least five things that I am grateful for. From coffee, to family members, to pellet stoves on cold winter days, it’s amazing how much there is to be thankful and it’s amazing how one’s daily perspective changes once you have taken stock of these things. In fact, I was so inspired by the feelings elicited from writing the journal that I took 30 minutes to write each of my three children a letter telling them five things about their character that I was grateful for. From one’s great big heart to another’s incredible sense of humor, and a daughter who has this amazing ability and courage to always try new things, I let them know, that although they don’t always hear it from me (sad I know), there are far more positives to say about them than negatives.

Each child responded in their own way, a hug here, a question there, and then they each tucked the note away in a secret hiding place where they could find it in the future when a little pick-me-up is needed. I also promised to write them more letters throughout the year full of more gratitude. I’m aiming for once a month, but if I only get to it quarterly, I’ll be fine with that.


I recently bought a new printer and I was browsing through my husband’s iPhone to show him how to print from it wirelessly. I happened upon a list with three brief phrases or thoughts written on it, one of which was “Food pantry/service.” Upon inquiring about the random list, Mark informed me that they were his thoughts for the new year that he had written down while visiting his father in the hospital in Alabama.

Service has always been something we have tried to ingrain in our children, and made a way of life for our family, but we have always wanted to do more, and do more together. We’ve discussed volunteering at a soup kitchen or participating in the construction of a house through Habitat for Humanity, and this year Mark and I have both put it at the top of the list to find the right cause or organization for our family.

Community members in Northern Berkshire are devoting an entire day to community service on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 16, to celebrate the “life, principles, and ideals of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.”

The day begins at 9 a.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Parish Hall in North Adams (located between Big Y and Mass MOCA) with coffee and pastries. Families are invited to help partake in community service projects for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Louison House, Salvation Army, COTY Youth Center, and Northern Berkshire Community Coalitions new Family Place, as well as help weatherize Berkshire Community Action Council homes, man can and food collection sites, and assembling personal kits, meals, or making mitten and scarfs for those in need.

Participants will return to St. Elizabeth’s at 12:30 p.m. for a free luncheon and community celebration of the Day of Service in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At that time there also will be entertainment, uplifting words and the presentation of the annual Peacemaker Award to Mark Lincourt for his dedicated volunteer work in the Berkshires.

For more information, contact Kathy Keeser at or at 413-346-7196 or Liz Boland at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition at 413-663-7588.


Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Matrushka Toys and Gifts in Great Barrington will present “The Gingerbread Man,” a puppet play with puppeteer Christine Pierce Inglis, as part of the preschool “Mornings at Matrushka” series. According to the press release, “watching puppet plays, hearing stories and learning songs cultivates the child’s imagination, strengthens the ability to concentrate and inspires a love of language.” Matrushka Toys is located at 309 Main Street. For more information call 413-528-6911.

Also on Saturday there will be a Wee Reads “Celebrate Winter” event at the Berkshire Anthenaeum on Wendell Avenue from 10:30 a.m. to noon, where Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” will be read followed by a movie and craft. For more information call 413-499-9480, ext. 5.

Stay tuned for more family-friendly happenings in the Berkshires in next weeks column.


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.” — Check out Berkshire Family Fun every other Thursday.

[Photo credit: (ccl) LennyBaker]

Berkshire Family Fun: 16 Ways to Weave Family and Community Holiday Traditions Together in the Berkshires

Keeping Holiday Traditions Alive in the Berkshires

Currently my living room looks as if Christmas threw up all over it. Boxes of old decorations, more stockings than we have family members and pets combined (and that includes the three fish, cat and new puppy, Murphy), tree ornaments, Christmas villages, holiday-themed books, empty cookie tins and more lay strewn on top of couches, countertops, hardwood floors and coffee tables making it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand — writing this column. But as all three of my children have continued to remind me since the first day of December, it’s all about tradition!



The first holiday tradition I attempted to tackle this month was our unique (or maybe not so unique) way of counting down the days until Santa Claus arrives. Each year (preferably prior to Dec.1, but often occurring sometime within the first week of December) my husband drags the bags of nearly 50 holiday-themed books from the attic for me to peruse and wrap. I browse the titles, rescuing our favorites from the piles until I have 24 in front of me.

This year, I separated the books into two piles: one for my niece, Kylee, and one for us. Yearly favorites such as Olivier Dunrea’s Bear Noel, Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus series, a version of E.E. Cummings Little Tree written and illustrated by Chris Raschka, and Patricia Rae Wolff’s A New Improved Santa made it into our pile, while extra copies of The Polar Express, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Twas the Night Before Christmas were tossed into Kylee’s, along with other 2-year-old appropriate stories that had long since been abandoned by my kids.

Then I wrapped each present in Christmas wrapping, each dated with the day of the month Dec. 1-24, each one ready to be unwrapped on its given day and read at bedtime. This tradition used to require my husband and I to take turns reading. Now McKenna, Max and Shea (ages 12, 12, and 10) alternate with Mark and I, either reading a page at a time and then passing it to the next family member, or claiming an entire book for themselves.

On Christmas Eve, the last book is always the same, though the version and illustrations may change. Twas the Night Before Christmas completes our holiday advent, and as the kids sit in their holiday pajamas, just opened a few hours earlier, all five of us (and at times it has been 20 of us, depending on which friends and family members join us for the evening) sit around the fire, candles burning and tree lights sparkling, where we recite the book (known almost by heart at this point), before sprinkling reindeer food in the backyard and heading off to bed where “visions of sugarplums dance in our heads.”

The Sheffield Historical Society will be sharing in a storytime tradition of its own this year with residents of the town on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10:30 a.m. when Mrs. Santa Claus will read stories by local authors to visitors at the Old Stone Store on Route 7 in Sheffield. For more information visit

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Berkshire Family Fun: Holiday Traditions in the Berkshires

Let the Holidays Begin

Traditions abound in our family beginning with the annual Thanksgiving dinner featuring 25-plus family and friends, mint chip pie, a rousing game of left-right-center and a roundtable discussion of what everyone is thankful for. Soon the holiday books for everyday of December will be wrapped (our own take on the Christmas advent calendar), trees will be chosen, chopped and decorated, and my children’s annual Christmas Eve gift — new pajamas — will be purchased.

Berkshire County is flush with holiday celebrations, many of which have made their way into our family’s list of annual Christmas traditions, and though there are too many to mention them all in this column, here are a few of our favorites.


The Nutcracker, performed by the Albany Berkshire Ballet, will be on stage Dec. 10th & 11th in Pittsfield. (Image courtesy The Colonial Theatre)

The Nutcracker” is a well-known Christmas tradition wherever you live, and for those living in the Berkshires this tradition is kept going each year as a result of the hard work and dedication of the Albany Berkshire Ballet.

The Albany Berkshire Ballet has been bringing its acclaimed production of “The Nutcracker” to audiences throughout the Northeast for over 35 years. Each year, over 600 children are chosen to perform alongside the professional dancers of the ABB in six venues — dancing for over 9,000 audience members. This year’s performances in the Berkshires will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. — For showtimes and information log onto or


The Santaland Diaries runs Dec. 2nd-3oth in Lenox, MA. (Image courtesy Shakespeare & Company)

Another Berkshire County holiday tradition began last year by way of the legendary Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and I was lucky enough to partake in it with my husband and friends.

Directed by S&Co. Artistic Director Tony Simotes and starring Peter Davenport, the company presented David Sedaris’ hilarious one-man production, “The Santaland Diaries,” an occasionally subversive, alarmingly clever, engagingly poignant and always side-splittingly funny true account of Sedaris’ time spent working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s Department Store. By the end of the evening my companions and I were rolling in our seats due to the absolute hilarity of seeing this good-looking man deliver a nearly two-hour monologue onstage in his elf costume. We all vowed to return to theater next year during the holidays in hopes of partaking, once again, in our newfound holiday tradition.

This year the show returns this weekend with Simotes once again in the director’s chair and veteran S&Co. funny man Ryan Winkles tackling the role of Crumpet the Elf. The show opens Friday, Dec. 2, and runs through Dec. 30. — For more information log onto S&Co.’s website at


From the Midwest to the Berkshires, local singer-songwriter, Mary Verdi has been bringing people together through her music for years, and for the second year in a row she will bring families together to ring in the holidays at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield with a concert titled “Christmas at the Colonial with Mary Verdi.”

The concert is set for 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, and will feature Verdi and her band, the St. Raphael’s and St. Patrick’s bell ringers from Williamstown, a children’s chorus, the Rock On guitar orchestra, Dalton Ballet Studio dancers, Tony Lee Thomas and, of course, Santa Claus. Audience members will get the opportunity to hear Verdi’s new original song, “Christmas Time,” performed, as the evening will also serve as a celebration of the official release of her new Christmas album “Christmas in the Berkshires.” Later in the concert a children’s cast of elves will take the stage to lead audience members in a heart-warming sing-a-long.

I’m so excited to tell you about this concert as I had the privilege of hanging out with Mary on many occasions, and for the last year I have been getting updates as to the status of this album. I can personally guarantee that this holiday event is sure to fill even the biggest of Scrooges with holiday cheer, and perhaps it could be the beginning of a new holiday tradition for you and your family.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial ticket office at 111 South St., by calling 413-997-4444 or online at


After nearly 70 years of sitting dormant in the center of Pittsfield, The Colonial Theatre underwent a major renovation and reopened its doors to the public as a theater in 2006. Since its reopening the local theater has been known for presenting stellar family and educational programming at all times of the year. Last year for my twin’s 12th birthday we all took a family “mental health” afternoon to catch Black Violin, two violinists who combine classical music and hip-hop to present a show that is truly out of this world, at the venue. (If they ever return to the area I highly recommend you catch them in action.)

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical returns to Western MA on Dec. 4th in Pittsfield. (Image courtesy The Colonial Theatre)

On the agenda for this weekend? The Colonial is presenting a tale of firsts — a stuffed animal’s first trip in the laundry, a little girl’s first words and a Daddy’s first time dealing with his child going “boneless” — in its upcoming musical “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” coming to the Pittsfield theater on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. This musical, based on Mo Willems’ Caldecott Honor-winning picture book, and combines the talents of six-time Emmy Award winner Willems and Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Silversher to lovingly celebrate the heart and heartache that comes from Daddy, Trixie and Trixie’s beloved Knuffle Bunny’s visit to their local laundromat. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 413-997-4444.

Another holiday tradition in the Berkshires is the annual holiday performance of Berkshire Theatre Festival’s rendition of the Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol,” and since the merger of the company with The Colonial last year to form the Berkshire Theatre Group, the performance has been moved to the Pittsfield venue. This year, patrons who attend one of the 11 scheduled performances will get an extra special treat, as the performance not only feature local residents of all ages, but also local legend James Taylor. (“I see fire and I see rain …”)

Performances are set for Dec. 17-18, 20-23, and 26-30. For more information on performance times and tickets visit The Colonial’s website.

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Berkshire Family Fun: A Prelude to the Holiday Season

Don’t Leave Us Yet Fall: Snow gives locals a jump on the winter season in the Berkshires but there is still time to squeeze out some last drops of fall!

Snow came early to the Berkshires this year and while many spent their days and nights being lulled to sleep by the terminal humming (or screeching) of their generators, my children took the opportunity to break out the snowmobiles and start the winter season early. But now with the majority of snow melted and a bit of warm weather headed our way, I’ll save a rundown of the snowmobile and skiing opportunities in the region for another column.


This column is on the short side this week because I just returned from a recent trip to northeastern Massachusetts to help care for my sisters two-year-old, Kylee. Needless to say, I’m a little tired, but oh what fun it is to be an aunt. We spent time at the park and library, watched hours of Curious George DVDs, had a couple of carpet picnics and we even mixed it up a little one day and had lunch for breakfast and breakfast for lunch.

Spending that time with Kylee  was so much fun and it gave me time to observe a little bit of all of us in her. That strong stubborn streak? Compliments of myself and my daughter (and possible a cousin or two on Daddy’s side). Her adventurous side? Perhaps my boys (especially Max). Her cooking abilities (man, she can cook a great pancake and hotdog soup in her toy kitchen)? Her daddy. Her ability to spin a good joke (or a least act like anything she or anyone else does is the funniest thing in the world) definitely comes from sister (although her Uncle Mark is pretty good at that, too). And that’s not all she got from mommy … Kylee, apparently, inherited her mother’s obsession with Curious George. While my sister’s 30-plus-year-old tattered George still sits on Kylee’s bookcase, Kylee has myriad versions of the stuffed animal strewn around the house, as well as a full library of George DVDs to watch over and over and over again. Ah, to be two again.

Even if you aren’t as George obsessed as my sister and her two year old, you won’t want to miss the newest exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. On Nov. 12 the museum will unveil “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Magret and H.A. Rey”, as well as “Pop-UP! The Magical World of Movable Books,” to the public with an opening celebration from 1 to 4 p.m.

Featuring nearly 80 original drawings and preparatory dummies for Margret and H. A. Rey children’s books and documentation related to their escape from Nazi-occupied Europe, the “Curious George exhibit” will examine the parallels between the obstacles the Reys faced and the drawings that may have saved their lives.

Later that evening adults can partake in an event beginning at 5:30 and running through 7:30 p.m. that aims to interpret the role that Curious George played in safeguarding his own creators in times of danger as symbolic, Claudia Nahson, curator at the Jewish Museum, delves into the remarkable lives and works of Margret and H. A. Rey, who in 1940, fled Paris with a Curious George manuscript in their suitcase. Art and documentation related to their escape from Nazi-occupied Europe, and the parallels between the obstacles the couple faced and the drawings that may have saved their lives will be explored. Claudia Nahson is the curator of “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey.” A festive reception will follow.

The history and wonder of pop-up books will be brought to life in “The Magical World of Movable Books” exhibit featuring Barbara and Bernard Shapiro’s extensive collection of movable literature for the young and the young at heart. The exhibition will feature diverse genres, from whimsy and fantasy to the worlds of art, history and science. Published books by the Munich-based illustrator Lothar Meggandorfer (1847-1925), multimedia artist Red Grooms, and pop-up masters Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart will be on view with selected original illustrations that have made these amazing published pop-ups possible. Original book illustrations also will be on view. For more information on both exhibits visit


The exhibit is on view through Feb. 5 and you can win a family pass to go see it!!! All you need to do is let us know at the bottom of this column what you and your children are most excited to see at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and why by next Thursday, Nov. 17, and you will be entered in a random drawing to win the passes. Be sure to check back on Friday, Nov. 18, to see if you have won, with directions on how to get your family pass.


The Milne Library in Williamstown is known for its stellar array of children’s programming and this Saturday, Nov. 12, the children’s department will do it again. At 1 p.m. the library will present a program titled “Moxie: The Dachshund of Fallingwater” featuring curator of education at Fallingwater and visiting professor, Cara Armstrong. Fallingwater is the name of a very special house that is built over a waterfall located in southwest Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

Armstrong will be reading aloud and discussing her children’s book “Moxie: The Dachshund of Fallingwater.” In an earlier interview, Armstrong described her book this way: “”I wanted to make Fallingwater more accessible to kids and architecture more accessible to kids. Moxie embodies the four design themes of Fallingwater — the cantilever, the cascade, the circle (or semicircle), and the horizontal. I think kids of any age will enjoy this book, even grown-up kids.” – The library is located at 1095 Main St. in Williamstown.

Also on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Rudolf Steiner School in Great Barrington will host its 39th annual Holiday Handcraft Fair, featuring activities for children such as puppet shows, hayrides, candle-dipping, a country store, raffles and more. The school is located on West Plain Road in Great Barrington. For more information call 413-528-4015 or visit

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Berkshire Family Fun: Halloween in the Berkshires

Fall is “Boo”tiful in the Berkshires

Last weekend I broke out my gloves, hat and favorite cozy fleece, grabbed the travel mug filled to the rim with a delectable hazelnut blend, and prepared myself for a full day of football at Bill Laston Memorial Park in Lanesboro. The air was crisp and clean, the brilliant foliage filled the landscape and eased my mind, and the energy on the gridiron was contagious. Ahh, I love fall in the Berkshires.

Highlights in this week’s Berkshire Family Fun:

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Berkshire Family Fun: Berkshire County’s Hidden Treasures

Knowing Where to Look: Berkshire County’s Hidden Treasures

Using cardboard, sculptor James Grashow created a rainbow of fish swimming through Kidspace at MASS MoCA with their mermaid friend (Under the Corrugated Sea).

As the school year slowly revs into full gear, the number of family-friendly events seems to decline in the Berkshires, but that is only true if you don’t know where to look. Hidden behind the doors of local museum, barns, year-round theaters and historical venues, families can find a treasure trove of activities guaranteed to please even the most finicky of family members. From geckos to sea creatures, Martians and stories of the Ku Klux Klan, this month the region has some truly eclectic offerings:

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Berkshire Family Fun: Autumn Adventures in the Berkshires

Let the Fall Festivities Begin

Family-friendly adventure parks are a great way to spend an Autumn day in the Berkshires. (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

Everything happens for a reason: I am a firm believer in that. I don’t believe it is coincidence that I left a full-time editorial job to freelance because I wanted to be more available for my kids just months before my son, Max, suffered a major concussion that required my full-time attention. Since Labor Day I have spent time researching the affects of concussions in children, and shuttling Max to doctors offices for evaluations that have revealed his brain was jostled much more forcefully than we had originally thought. I have become well-acquainted with the school nurse, and have helped more with homework that I have had to in years. Most recently, my husband and I attended a meeting with Max’s teachers where a decision was made for him to attend school half-days, so know I will assume the role of nursemaid and part-time tutor. But it will all be worth it if it helps Max’s brain heal quicker, and if he finally stops walking around in circles trying to remember what it was he was doing.


When Max first got sacked and zigzagged with wobbly legs to the sideline we joked a little. “He sure got his bell rung good!” But as he began to realize that his headache wasn’t going away and he was having difficulty with simple math problems, couldn’t follow simple directions and couldn’t remember old teachers’ names or when my birthday was (not easy to forget — Feb. 29, Leap Year — and he couldn’t even remember what Leap Year was), we became more concerned, thus beginning our research. In my studies I learned that more than 400,000 kids a year are sent to emergency rooms each year for serious brain injuries, usually as a result of car accidents, playground falls or sports-related injuries. I also learned that practitioners have been doing a lot of work in recent years to figure out suggested protocol for school personnel, coaches, parents, etc. to follow after a child suffers from a concussion, because unlike most other injuries, the brain heals more slowly in children than in adults, and the long-term effects of repeated head trauma in children are pretty scary. I also learned that kids with concussions resemble those with ADHD and that those with ADHD who suffer from concussions have even more difficulty.

If you are interested in learning more about the latest research on concussion prevention, management and consequences of head injuries, with a particular focus on youth and collegiate sports, Dr. Robert Cantu and Christopher Nowinski will present “The Impact of Concussions in Youth and College Sports” at 8 p.m. tonight, Sept. 22, at the ’62 Center on the Williams College campus in Williamstown. The event is free, but reservations are required; call 413-597-2425 for details.

I highly recommend this event for anyone who has children involved in sports, especially those sports physical enough to require a helmet like football, hockey and lacrosse.


Courtesy Photo

Jim Henson’s Muppets have been entertaining children around the world for over 50 years through television and movie programs such as Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth and more. In celebration of the late Muppet creator’s 75th birthday (Sept. 24) Images Cinema in Williamstown has brought a weeklong Henson/Muppet-inspired festival to the area titled Muppets, Music, & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy. The festival began Monday but will continue to run through Sunday, Sept. 25. I missed one of my all-time favorites, the Muppet’s remaking of The Frog Prince, check out the schedule below so you don’t miss a favorite of yours.

On the schedule for the next few days:

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Berkshire Family Fun: Back-to-School in the Berkshires

Fall Into the Season with a BANG

2011-12 Football Season starts off with a BANG! (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

The 2011-12 football season started off with a BANG at our house this year — literally — after my son, Max, attended a Labor Day football jamboree and saw stars (or a least a bright flash of light as he describes it) after being tackled by a 7-foot, 200-pound mammoth of a player. OK, according to Max the kid was not much bigger than his 5-foot, 85-pound frame, but he looked big and as my son jumped to intercept a pass this kid laid him out. Max got up a little slow and unsteady on his feet after the hit and headed to the sideline where he stayed for the remainder of the jamboree. We spent Tuesday morning at the doctor’s office, and until we can get an appointment with a neurologist to further explore the extent of the concussion Max is grounded — again, literally. No jumping, running, skipping, sneezing, video-game playing, eye-rolling, head shaking, brother teasing … Nada! “How bad can that be?” you say. I’ll let you know. I’m thinking this very active, ADHD child who thrives on football and activity is not going to fair too well with these restrictions, but I’ve been wrong before. Let’s just hope we’ve kept the brain rattling to a minimum.


Hopkins Observatory (courtesy photo)

You don’t need to suffer a concussion to see stars up close and personal in the Berkshires this fall. I promised you I’d find out more about the Milham Planetarium’s fall schedule (located in the Old Hopkins Observatory on the Williams College campus in Williamstown), and I have. According to the college’s website astronomy students at the college will host free shows for the public on select Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 9. Dates are as follows: Sept. 16, 23 and 30; Oct. 14, 21 and 28; Nov. 4, 11 and 18; and Dec. 2 and 9.

During these evening shows audiences will be treated to shows from the high-precision Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3/B opto-mechanical planetarium projector, installed at the college in April 2005. The Zeiss Skymaster is capable of demonstrating phenomena including: retrograde motions of the planets, phases of the moon, the varying temperatures/colors of stars, locations of neighboring galaxies, the mythological figures and zodiacal signs ascribed to constellations, the Southern Hemisphere’s sky, comets, artificial satellites and much more. The Hopkins Observatory, built in 1836-1838 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins, is the oldest extant observatory in the United States. Shows will last about 50 minutes.

For reservations (recommended) contact Michele Rech at 413-597-2188 or send an e-mail to Others will be admitted as space permits. Large groups should call for special appointments.


Hilltown Hoot (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

The kids headed back to school last week without much pomp and circumstance and returned home with a mountain of homework — for me! Emergency cards, general information forms, questionnaires to fill out, school handbooks to read and sign ensuring that you actually read them … Ugh! While my kids chilled out watching television after a “taxing” first day (Yeah, right), I spent the majority of the evening with carpel tunnel and a giant migraine.

Among those forms were the first of the fundraisers peddling candles and wrapping paper, calendars and must-have seasonal decorations, all of which I do not need. But there is one fundraising flier that caught my eye and made me smile, and in my opinion, is the way a fundraiser should be done. For the past five years local Central Berkshire Regional School District parents Abe and Lisa Guthrie (Yes, they are related to THOSE Guthries famous Berkshire Guthries Woody and Arlo) have organized the annual Hilltown Hoot, a “fun-raiser” to benefit local schools. Originally the fundraiser was for the Becket/Washington Elementary School in the district, but last year the two decided the daylong music festival had been so successful in past years that they wanted to extend the benefits to all of the schools in the district, and this year is no different. On Sunday, Sept. 18, from noon to 7 p.m. local bands and performers, vendors, and more will converge on Washington Town Park (Route 8, Washington, MA) for an afternoon of fun, food, children’s activities, MUSIC and more. Some of the local (and world-renowned) talent includes students from the Becket Washington School Band, Terry a la Berry & Friends, Hilltown Zydeco String Band, Modest Me, Ryan Blessing, Annie Guthrie, Jordan Weller, Xavier (a band consisting of members Abe Guthrie, Tim Sears, Randy Cormier and Dan Teichert that started playing at our school dances went to school the district) and none other than Arlo Guthrie himself.

Tickets can be purchased in advanced for a discounted price or at the gate. For more information on where to purchase tickets and for a complete schedule of events visit


The Washington Town Park isn’t the only place Berkshirites can find music this fall, Central Berkshire Music Together, the internationally recognized music and movement program for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and the adults who love them, is offering free demonstration classes today, Sept. 8, and Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. at South Congregational Church located on South Street in Pittsfield, and on Friday, Sept. 9, at First Congregational Church on Main Street in Williamstown, to prepare for the upcoming 10-week fall semester.

My twins began going to these classes in preschool and Shea, who was still in an infant car seat at the time, attended, too, and I swear that is where he got his rhythm. To this day, he loves to dance and sing, and has more of that “groove thang” than anyone else in the house. Thank you Sandy! For more information visit or call 413-637-1265.

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Berkshire Family Fun: One Last Hurrah Before Back-to-School

End of August in the Berkshires

Music fills the air in the Berkshires this week ranging from free lawn concerts in North Adams and Lenox, to on stage in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington. (Photo source: Mass Moca; Roomful of Teeth)

The natives are getting restless. The war cries signaling that two brothers have had enough “together time” this summer resonates throughout the house. A drum beats slowly and methodically in my head as I reach for the bottle of ibuprofen to stave off yet another kid-induced migraine — peace drums here, not a chance — while I ready myself to intervene in the latest battle between these warrior brothers: “I will not bet you a dollar that I can be quiet all the way home because you didn’t pay me the dollar last time I won a bet” … “Well, I didn’t pay you because you cheated.” … “I didn’t cheat, a yawn doesn’t count as talking.” … “Well, two years ago when I yawned during the bet you counted that as talking.” … And on and on it goes. And then the smoke signals appear from my seething 12-year-old daughter’s ears (her summer has been spent either loving me or hating me, there seems to be no in between these days), and for the moment she does not like the fact that I have asked her to change out of the short-shorts that are slowly creeping up her backside because she has grown over two inches since they were purchased in May.

This can only mean one thing: TIME FOR THE KIDDOS TO HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL! You know what else signals the end of summer and the beginning of another school year? The fact that family-friendly activities that once filled our summer calendars are slowly coming to an end. But there’s still more year-round fun to be had in the Berkshires and I am on a mission to find it all. Here’s what I’ve found so far:


Start your weekend off right with a family-friendly outdoor barbecue where kids can play and parents can socialize. Berkshire South Regional Community Center on Crissey Road in Great Barrington is hosting a barbecue this Friday, Aug. 26, from 5:30-7 p.m., in their outdoor courtyard complete with hotdogs, hamburgers and more. For a small fee family members can grab a bite to eat, spend some time on the play structure or bounce around in the bouncy castle. All one has to do is sign up at the front desk or call 413-528-2810. For more information visit

Can’t make the barbecue? The community center will also host a Community Supper Mon, Aug. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lounge and meeting room. This supper, with seatings at 5 and 6:15 p.m. is free (monetary donations or donations of nonperishable foods are excepted) and features a fabulous meal prepared by some of the Berkshires’ finest chefs, including Naji Nejaime (Naji’s), chefs from the Route 7 Grill, Annie Dinan (Dinan with Annie), Jim Gop (Guido’s), Michael Ballon (Castle Street Café), the Berkshire CoOp, Tommy Lee, and the Masiero Brothers (Guido’s and Baba Louie’s). To reserve a seat call 413-528-2810, ext. 10.


If the increased wearing of sweatshirts and layers are any indication that the end of summer is near then so, too, are the last of the outdoor movies. Today, Thursday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 p.m. the Norman Rockwell Museum will screen “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” in Stockbridge. For more information go online to

Then on Friday, Aug. 26, the town of Adams will celebrate Christmas in August with activities and a visit from Santa beginning at 6 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. screening of “The Polar Express.” For more information visit

The last of the movies on the summer schedule is set for Sunday, Aug. 28, on the Dalton CRA lawn, Main Street, Dalton, where a screening of “The Incredibles” will help celebrate Back to School Movie Night. The movie will begin at 8 p.m. Visit for more details.


If you have read any of my previous columns you will know that I’ve had a little infatuation lately with teaching my children about local history and, surprisingly, I have found that a cemetery is a treasure trove of historical information. Apparently the members of VOICES Theatre Company have found another use for the area’s cemeteries: performance space. Tonight Aug. 25, and also on Sept. 1 and 8 the company will perform “Shades of the Revolution: A Ghostly Re-Enactment of People, Places and Scenes from Pittsfield’s Past,” with actors dramatizing key scenes from Pittsfield’s colorful early history at the Wahconah Street Cemetery at 7 p.m. There is a small fee, but it sounds intriguing, for lack of a better word. For more information 413-442-1793 or for more information.


I love the fact that there is so much to do around the Berkshires that will entertain the entire family while leaving your bank accounts virtually untouched. I’ve discussed various free hiking opportunities throughout the Berkshires, and let me tell you the small price of a $2 parking pass was definitely worth the trip we took to Natural Bridge Stage Park in North Adams last week.

From local parks, to free community days at local museums and venues, to a plethora of art galleries and historic sites throughout the area, there is never a lack of something to do at anytime of the year. And if I wasn’t heading to Boston today for a much-needed parental vacation with my husband I would definitely be capitalizing on one of these free opportunities, Friday, Aug. 26, with my family. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will offer free admission as part of the highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. With myriad opportunities to view a variety of geckos, create an invention of one’s own, partake in an archeological dig, journey under the sea (lake, stream or river) and more, this is definitely a free activity you won’t want to miss. For more information visit or call 413-443-7171.

Another free activity for families, besides a hike on any one of the trails leading up to Mount Greylock’s summit (I still haven’t gotten to the Cascades in the Greylock Reservation, but summers not over yet), is the Aug. 31 “Guide to Understanding the Stars” with Kevin Collins beginning at Bascom Lodge atop the mountain at 6 p.m. Sounds pretty interesting, if the forecast is for clear skies that night our family just might take a short vertical drive that evening. Call 413-743-1591 for more details.

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