Celebrating 250 Years in Chesterfield!

Chesterfield Celebrates 250 Years!

Celebrate the 4th of July, as well as Chesterfield’s 250th anniversary, at the town’s annual parade on Wednesday, July 4th at 10:30am!  Just one of many events happening between July 1st-7th to celebrate 250 years! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Hilltown of Chesterfield (population just over 1,200) is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year!  To celebrate, the town is hosting a full week of celebratory community events (from July 1st-7th).

The events begin with opening ceremonies at Russell Field at 9am on July 1st, followed by a 4 mile run/1 mile community walk.  Other events taking place throughout the week include opportunities to learn about local history, including bus tours through town, a community quilt display, and cemetery explorations; “Celebrate Youth Day,” which includes a big wheel race for youngest kiddos, a wiffle ball tournament, an ice cream social, and a world rhythms presentation with Tony Vacca; the premier of “Chesterfield – A Personal History,” a video created to share and archive narratives of local history; a presentation on Native American history and culture; a town picnic, and a family-friendly night of country dancing!

The anniversary events are an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the community, and also offer several of unique learning opportunities.  Kids can learn about the history of their community, and place this knowledge within what they have learned about the history of New England and America.  Learning about local history can also help kids to appreciate their community, as they will learn the significance of places they love.  For more information and a full schedule of events, visit 250th Chesterfield MA Anniversary Celebration.

Citizen Scientists Discover Effects of Hurricane Irene on Local River Ecology

As You’d Expect, Hurricane Irene Drastically Altered Local River Ecology

Kurt Heidinger, Executive Director of Biocitizen School of Westhampton, MA writes:

The past Wednesday afternoon, Biocitizen teamed up with Hilltown Families to do our annual rapid biotic assessment of the Westfield River downstream of the Route 143 bridge in West Chesterfield, MA. Thank you volunteer citizen scientists!

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Before we began, our hosts Sienna, Jim and Persephone described how scarily high the river rose during Hurricane Irene. Not only did beautiful farmland across the river crumble—old barn and antique garbage dump included—into the torrent; but they also heard giant boulders rolling, bumping, crashing below the surface. In fact, they could feel the vibrations of the boulders in the foundation of their house (Face it amigos; we’re all on jello.).

A first view revealed just how drastic the re-ordering of the river, and riparian corridor, was. Tree branches high on the bank held fist-sized clumps of leaves and debris, proof the flood crested around 15 feet above its present level, which is itself abnormally high. Down at the river, Persephone (9yo)—and Rowan (9yo), Owen (8yo) and Cyril (8y0)—showed me where her fort used to be (on a sedimentary sand bank). Then we saw all the flotsam she’s collecting to build a new one, on higher ground. I was relieved to see our sampling area was basically intact, and marveled with grim fascination at the look of the whole river course, which appears to have been bulldozed.

We did 6 invertebrate collections, 2 each at 3 sites that are within 20-30 feet of each other. Our first sampling shocked us, because we couldn’t find a single invertebrate; last year, each sample teemed with writhing, boisterous bugs. Below are RBA data sheets for 2011 and 2010 for your comparison. Look at the top row of each to get the basic idea: we didn’t find any large stoneflies this year, only tiny ones. (“The meek shall inherit the earth”…?) As we might expect, we found plenty of worms that build cases and glue themselves to large stones.

So: it was a “bad’ year, if we consider “good” to be finding lots of big juicy stoneflies. But for the purposes of cold-hearted science, the drastic alteration of the riverbed and reduction of the number of bugs is “great” because the bug population will definitely rebound (“no empty places in nature”). The biotic resurgence will be cyclical, though, and might take a year or more. The benthic invertebrates we collect live their short adult life next spring and summer (some live under water for more than one year); the reproductive cycle takes at least a year. There will probably be a lot of hungry trout next summer and perhaps less osprey 2 years from now, as a result.

We look forward to next year’s RBA with anticipation—it will show us how the river is a superorganism whose health changes in response to climatic influences.

And we are pleased to report that, notwithstanding the trauma it has endured, the Westfield @ Rt 143 is a river of “excellent quality” water!

Quintessential Small Town 4th of July Parade in the Hilltowns

Chesterfield 64th Annual Independence Day Parade

Chesterfield's 4th of July parade is the quintessential New England small town parade, with marching bands, floats, antique cars, fire trucks, government officials and much more! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Town of Chesterfield will host its 64th annual Independence Day Parade on Monday, July 4th, 2011. This year’s parade promises to be better than ever bringing fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hilltown tradition.  The parade will feature bands, floats, animals, clowns, antique and vintage automobiles and fire trucks and emergency vehicles.

Activities scheduled this year through out the day, including:

  • Pancake Breakfast at the Firehouse
  • Quilt Display at the Church
  • Historic Exhibit at the Town Hall
  • Parade down Main Street starting at 10:30am
  • Heritage Pops Concert at the Town Center
  • Classic Car Show in the Parking Field
  • Barbecue Chicken Lunch at the Church
  • Fireman’s Muster in the Playing Field
  • Petting Zoo
  • Magic Show and Face Painting
  • Family Softball in the Playing Field

Click HERE to download complete schedule.

Families as Biocitizens on the Westfield River

Kurt Heidinger, Executive Director of Biocitizen School of Westhampton, MA writes:

Identifying a sample of benthic macro invertebrates (water bugs) taken from the Westfield River in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

How many times have you looked at a river thinking, how beautiful—and pulled out your camera to capture the swells of whitewater, a striking blue heron, or blazing maple tree in the autumn overhanging its banks?

A river is not just beautiful, though; it’s alive, and those who witness this life, this bios, never look at or appreciate a river the same way again. Based out of Westhampton, MA, the Biocitizen School has been training volunteers to see and understand the bios that a river is, by teaching them how to do Rapid Bioassessments. We net the benthic macro invertebrates (underwater bugs) and, by inventorying them, we can quickly assess how alive the river is.

Kurt helps kids sort through a sample that included stonefly nymphs. Stoneflies give an abundance of food to trout, feeding the Bald Eagles on the river. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Stonefly nymphs are a bug we want to catch. They are a primary food source for brook trout and, like trout, require clear, clean, cold oxygen-rich water. If there is too much nitrogen or potassium (from fertilizer run off) in the water, algae will bloom and suck the oxygen out of the river. You won’t find many stonefly nymphs—and therefore trout.

By doing a Rapid Bioassessment, you can monitor a river that is dear to you, year after year, to ensure that it’s healthy—and stays that way. Once you have been trained (this year), you can conduct the assessment yourself (next year); Biocitizen collects and sends your bug inventory to DEP, where it is checked and logged, becoming part of the public historical record. Such records are invaluable for scientific research and land-use decision-making.

Families inventoried their samples, giving proof that the oxygen-rich water was of exceptional quality! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

I had the pleasure of training a few families on the Westfield river this past weekend, just downstream from the RT 143 bridge in West Chesterfield, MA. One of my favorite moments occurred at the end, after we had identified our last worm species and had the proof we needed to judge the water of “exceptional quality.” “We have bald eagles on the Westfield,” I was told; “They fly up and down the river: must have a five foot wingspans, seem almost as big as a person!” Yes. All of us lucky families have big beautiful eagles living near us. Because the water is oxygen rich, there’s an abundance of stoneflies, which gives us an abundance of trout which the eagles find yummy: enough fish so they can nest and raise their families here too!

Find out more about Biocitizens and how your family can get involved with Rapid Bioassessment, visit www.biocitizen.org.

63rd Annual Independence Day Parade in the Hilltowns

63rd Annual Independence Day Parade 2010
Chesterfield, MA

Click here to see larger image

The Town of Chesterfield will host its 63rd annual Independence Day Parade on Sunday July 4th. This year’s parade promises to be better than ever bringing fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hilltown tradition.  See photos from last year’s parade here.

The parade will feature bands, floats, animals, clowns, antique and collectable cars and fire and emergency vehicles.

Activity Schedule:

  • 7:00 – 10:00 Pancake Breakfast (Firehouse)
  • 8:00 –   3:00 Food / Vendor Booths
  • 9:00 –   1:30 Quilt Display (Church)
  • 9:00 –   1:30 Historic Exhibit (Town Hall)
  • 10:30   PARADE
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Heritage Pops Concert (Town Center)
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Barbeque Chicken Lunch (Church)
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Petting Zoo
  • 11:30 – 1:30 Kid’s Fun (Magic Show, Face Painting)
  • 12:00 – 1:30 Fireman’s Muster (Playing Field)
  • 1:30 – 3:00 Family Softball (Playing Field)

There is plenty of on-site parking

4th of July 2010: Western MA is Alive with Fireworks & Celebrations

2013 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks

Celebrating 4th of July in Western Massachusetts with the Family in 2010

There’s no better destination to celebrate the Fourth of July than Massachusetts,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel + Tourism. “From the world renowned Boston Pops concert on the Charles river to the many parades, fireworks, festivals and attractions, there are so many ways to experience the independent spirit and pride that makes Massachusetts unique.”(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of Fourth of July celebrations happening in Western MA. Only in Massachusetts can you travel the freedom trail, tour the home of Paul Revere and be a part of where America’s independence began. In Western MA, families and visitors can witness the historical reenactments in the hills of the Berkshires and Greater Springfield area, participate in the parades, music programs and dance performances, and take the families to see one of the many firework displays that happen throughout the region.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Eve Service for Children in the Hilltowns

Paul Catanzaro of Chesterfield, MA writes:

The Chesterfield Congregational Church, at the corner of Main Street and North Road in the center of Chesterfield, is offering a children’s Christmas Eve service on Thursday, December 24th at 4:00 P.M. The service will include a reading of the Christmas story, carols, and will conclude with candle lighting. You don’t need to be a member of the church. Everyone is welcome. The service is for both the young and young at heart. For more information about the children’s service, contact Paul Catanzaro 296-0303 or catanzaropaul@gmail.com.

December Public Hearings in the Hilltowns: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Offer your input at the Hilltown CDBG Public Hearings in December

You can help your Town compete for the Federal CDBG grants that are needed to fund local community services by attending  one of these Public Hearing in December, and/or fill out the brief Survey below:

Public Hearing Notice

Thursday, December 10, 2009 7:00 pm
Cummington Town Hall (Community House)
Main Street, Cummington

At this Public Hearing you will have the opportunity to discuss projects and services proposed for an FY10 regional CDBG funding application for the towns of Cummington, Peru, Plainfield and Worthington.

Public Hearing Notice

Monday, December 14, 2009 5:00 pm
Chesterfield Town Offices
(Davenport School Building)
422 Main Road, Chesterfield

At this public hearing you will have the opportunity to discuss projects and services proposed for an FY10 regional CDBG funding application for the towns of Chesterfield, Goshen, Westhampton and Williamsburg. The Town of Chesterfield will also review implementation of the FY08 and FY09 Northern Hilltowns regional CDBG grants that also include the towns of Cummington, Plainfield, and Worthington.

If you have questions about either of these hearings or would like special accommodations to help you participate, please contact Andrew Baker at Hilltown Community Development Corp: (413) 296-4536 ext. 18 or andrewb@hilltowncdc.org

Not able to attend? You can also help by filling out the very brief Survey below and/or forwarding this email to a friend or colleague who may need these community services. Click HERE to begin the Hilltown Program Assessment Survey. (There are 16 Yes/No statements you can respond to.)

You can also find this survey and a survey on Housing Needs at the Hilltown CDC web site: www.hilltowncdc.org

Thanks for your help!

Learn How to Manage Your Family Finances (Free Workshop)

Andrew Baker, Executive Director of the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Does your money seem to disappear without you knowing where it is going? Do you have trouble budgeting and/or saving money? Would you like to be more in control of your finances? Here is your chance:

The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (HIlltown CDC) is offering a FREE workshop titled, “Money Management for YOU”. The two-session workshop takes place on Monday, November 2 and November 9 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at the Hilltown CDC offices at 387 Main Road in Chesterfield. Pre-registration is required. Contact Paul Lischetti at paull@hilltowncdc.org or (413) 296-4536 ext. 34 to pre-register. Be among the first to register and earn a chance to win fantastic Hilltown door prizes!

Whether you have $10 or $10,000 in the bank, this workshop will open your eyes to a new financial lifestyle. You will learn about budgeting, credit, investments and more! Sign up today and make the first step toward taking charge of your finances. Can’t make these dates? Call now to get on the early-bird list to sign up for the next workshop.

Northern Hilltowns Invite Residents to Update Community Development Strategies

Andrew Baker, Executive Director of the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Each year, residents of the seven Northern Hilltowns gather in public community meetings to dust off their community’s “to do” list, note what they have accomplished, and gather ideas for future community improvement projects. The Northern Hilltowns are Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington. Their “to do” lists are also known as the town Community Development Strategy (CDS). And the annual review is a necessary part of each town’s participation in the Northern Hilltowns Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. This year a successful CDBG application secured over $1 million in federal funding to support programs and projects serving elders and families in the seven towns.

To follow is the schedule of public meetings, which take place in the Select Board meeting room of each town: Read the rest of this entry »

Chesterfield Cultural Council Seeks Proposals From Schools & Youth Groups

Chesterfield Cultural Council Seeks Funding Proposals
Proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science projects due October 15th.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council has set October 15th, 2009 as the deadline for organizations, schools and individuals to apply for grants that support cultural activities in the community. The Chesterfield Cultural Council in Chesterfield, MA is encouraging area groups to take advantage of this opportunity.

According to Council spokesperson Leslie Charles, these grants can support a variety of artistic projects and activities in Chesterfield — including exhibits, festivals, short-term artist residencies or performances in schools, workshops and lectures.

The Chesterfield Cultural Council will also entertain funding proposals from schools and youth groups through the PASS Program, a ticket subsidy program for school-aged children.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kids In Cyber Space: Free Parent Workshop in Chesterfield

Kids in Cyber Space
Free Computer Workshop for Parents

Kids in Cyber Space - Free Computer Workshop for Parents (October 1st, 2009)

  • Do You Understand What Your Child Does On-line?
  • Are You Worried that S/he Spends Too Much Time on the Computer?
  • What are Reasonable Limits on Internet Behavior?

Come discuss these and other questions with:

  • Amanda Wight, Information Technology Analyst
  • Lee MacKinnon, Parent Educator

WHEN: Thursday, October 1st 2009

TIME: 7:00-8:30 PM

WHERE: Hilltown Community Development Corporation Office

ADDRESS: 387 Main Road (Rte 143), Chesterfield

COST: Free

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Worthington Health Center, 238-5511 x155

Funded by the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development

Good News For Hampshire County Hilltown Families!

Northern Hilltowns Awarded $1.073 Million in Federal Block Grants

On August 13, 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) awarded $1,073,340 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to support affordable housing, social services, and community facilities projects in five Hampshire County hilltown communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Keep it Local: 2010 Hilltown Business Directory

Hilltown Business Directory to List 350 Local Businesses

The annual Hilltown Business Directory, published both in print and online by the Hilltown Community Development Corporation (HCDC), a community non-profit in Chesterfield, MA, is preparing its expanded 2010 edition.

The Hilltown Business Directory will list 350 local businesses in 20 towns, by category, by name, and by town. This 160 page reference book will be used all year by local residents. The Directory makes it easy for residents to support their neighbors by using locally available products and services, thereby strengthening the hilltown economy and preserving and creating local jobs.

The 2010 Directory will be mailed in early January to every one of the 13,000 households in 20 towns, including

  • Ashfield in Franklin County;
  • Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington in Hampshire County;
  • Blandford, Chester, Montgomery and Russell in Hampden County;
  • Becket, Hinsdale, Otis, Peru, Washington and Windsor in Berkshire County.

The online version of the Hilltown Business Directory is available all year at www.hilltowncdc.org.

Listings and ads must be received by September 25. More information, and space reservation forms, are available at www.hilltowncdc.org, or by calling 413-296-4536.  Read the rest of this entry »

Wind Power Site in the Hilltowns

Downing & Kulik Announce Funding for a Renewable Energy Site Survey at New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield, MA

State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust (RET) has awarded up to $5,600 in funding for a Municipal Site Survey of a proposed wind site at the New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield, MA.

“By exploring and identifying appropriate sites in western Massachusetts for renewable energy generation we ensure clean energy availability and future costs savings for our region,” said Downing. “We also have a responsibility to make sure our site selection is deliberate and that we strategically site wind projects in locations with minimal environmental impacts. This RET grant will help the New Hingham School community take the necessary preliminary steps to do just that.”

The site survey will provide valuable information used for identifying advantages and disadvantages of wind generation on the school’s property and whether the proposed site is of sufficient size and wind resource to warrant a detailed site survey. This preliminary survey will help the New Hingham Regional Elementary School Committee determine whether it is reasonable to conduct a more comprehensive feasibility study for a wind project on the site.

Representative Kulik said, “The high elevation and remote location of the New Hingham School presents a great opportunity to study the feasibility of wind power to provide greater energy independence and cost savings for the people of Chesterfield and Goshen. A successful wind project at the school will also be a great and inspiring educational tool for the children.”

The Renewable Energy Trust is an arm of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative which provides financial assistance to individuals and businesses to support renewable energy projects that maximize environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth. To learn more about the organization click HERE.

4th of July Fireworks & Parade Schedule 2009

Click HERE for the 2010 4th of July Schedule

2009 Fireworks & More in Western Massachusetts

4th of July Parade in Chesterfield, MA

Chesterfield 4th of July Parade Schedule. Click on flyer to see larger image.

Here is a schedule of firework displays and parades happening in Western Massachusetts.  Click on the listing to find out more information. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening.

Looking for family events during the day on the 4th of July?

  • Check the comment box below for 4th of July events.
  • And be sure to click on the links below.  Many of the firework displays are part of an all-day community celebration.
  • If you know of a 4th of July event, please post it below.


Right here in the hilltowns will be a great old fashion parade that the whole family can participate in beginning at 10:30am at the CHESTERFIELD 4TH OF JULY PARADE.  Click HERE to read our post, Hilltown Families’ Kids Invited to March in Chesterfield’s 4th of July Parade.

Other parades happening in Western Massachusetts on the 4th of July include the towns of


July 3rd, 2009

July 4th, 2009

July 5th, 2009

July 11th, 2009


Take Charge! – Hilltowns Raffle to Be Drawn July 4th, 2009

Take Charge!
Hilltowns Raffle to Be Drawn July 4th, 2009

Take Charge! (April 25th, 2009)

The community wide campaign Take Charge! by Cummington, Worthington, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Chesterfield wraps up on July 4! To take the pledge, fill out a Take Charge! brochure and pledge to take 1 or all 5 home energy savings steps, such as scheduling a home energy audit, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, turning down your water heater, and using a clothesline. Everyone who drops off a pledge form will be entered into a raffle for one of 19 prizes donated by Hilltown businesses. Winners will be announced on July 4. For more information, contact Tomasin Whitaker at 413-586-7350 ext. 25.

Hilltown Families’ Kids Invited to March in Chesterfield’s 4th of July Parade

Kathy McMahon of Cummington, MA writes:

(Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Not only is eating fresh veggies & fruit fun, but so is dressing up as your favorite garden delicacy! Join Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange (HHuGE) in Chesterfield's 4th of July Parade! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We are going to be in the CHESTERFIELD 4TH OF JULY PARADE!

We invite all the little vegetables and fruits in our Hilltowns to show up to announce (and not to squash!) the opening of HHuGE! (Hilltown Home (united) Garden Exchange! Don’t ‘veg out!’

Don’t find yourself in a pickle, dress like one!

March and wave with us as we parade along handing out baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cards cheering the soil, our towns and our community spirit!

Perhaps some Hilltown Families’ kids have a few veggie costumes of their own to join us? A fancy zucchini hat someone wants to show off? Edible flower bonnet?

Contact: Kathy McMahon at 634-0002, peakshrink@peakoilblues.com

More information at:

62nd Annual Independence Day Parade in Chesterfield Seeks Participants (2009)

Nicolas Frischer of Chesterfield, MA writes:

4th of July Parade in Chesterfield, MA (Photo credit: (ccl) salomedance06)

“Let Freedom Ring” will be the theme of this year’s (2009) July 4th parade in Chesterfield, MA, and promises all the fun and family attractions that have made this event a Hill town tradition since 1947.

To help make this parade better than ever, we would like to extend an invitation to groups and organizations that would like to enter a float and to marching bands and other attractions that would enjoy participating.

We are also seeking nominations for Chesterfield’s annual presentation of “Volunteer of the Year” and “Lifetime Achievement” awards.

While plans are developing to make this year’s event better than ever, we do face significant reductions in state and Cultural Arts funds that we have received in the past. We would genuinely appreciate small donations from individuals and offer area businesses sponsorship recognition for their support.

Please send award nominations and donations to:

Chesterfield 4th of July Association
P.O. Box 502
Chesterfield, MA 01012

Or contact Mary Ann Coleman at 413-296-4787.

Emergency Shelter in Williamsburg

Yesterday the Town of Chesterfield sent out the following message that might apply for tonight too. Call 296-4247 to confirm, and please pass along this info/number to your hilltown neighbors without electricity so they too may know about this resource:

Message sent – 12/12/2008
Sheltering 12-12-08

This is the Emergency Management Director. We currently expect power to be out for several days. With temperatures dropping, an emergency Shelter has been set up at the Dunphy School in Williamsburg. If you need a ride to the shelter please call me at 296-4247. Additionally, the transfer station will be closed tomorrow and the children’s Christmas Party has been postponed to December 20. New information will be passed on as it becomes available.

Support Hilltown Communities

Andrew Baker of the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Dear Friends,

You’ve seen headlines like these: “Worst financial meltdown since Great Depression” Can we find the opportunity in this crisis?

Our small Hilltowns face big challenges as the state economy tips into recession, as do Hilltown CDC and your neighbors – the lower income elders and families we serve. Our opportunity is to find new ways of working together locally, and new resources to strengthen our communities. To do that we need your help.

We need your support to keep providing programs that strengthen our communities (scroll down to see what the HCDC does). Yet as much as we need your financial gifts, we need your grassroots endorsement even more. Your Hilltown CDC membership says,“count me in.”

Add your voice to those of your friends and neighbors who also back Hilltown CDC! Together, we can help our towns compete successfully for grants that help:

  • support food pantry and elder health services
  • improve community facilities
  • build affordable housing for seniors and first time homebuyers
  • support local small businesses with training, consulting and marketing help.

Together we can build strong communities.

Read the rest of this entry »

West Chesterfield Post Office

Jim Maraniss & Gigi Kaeser of West Chesterfield, MA write:

West Chesterfield Post Office

West Chesterfield Post Office

The West Chesterfield Post Office (zip code 01084), which was recently repainted at some expense, is now in danger of being closed. This office has 45 boxes, and it also serves 23 families on a delivery route. The service there is enough to bolster one’s faith in government although in fact it’s only a satellite, not truly a federal operation-maintained by the town and funded by the U.S.Postal Service at $9000 per year. The federal funding is no longer enough to keep the office open, thanks to a hike in the wage (minimum wage) now to be paid to the two women who keep the office open.

From the angle of a citizen of West Chesterfield, it’s not hard to reason the need, which is not a matter of mere convenience. The post office is the nearest thing we have to a community center, where neighbors meet each other, where practical information is exchanged (Who will brush-hog your field? Did Sam’s mother really have a mountain lion on her roof?).   It is, for some of the town’s citizens, and especially for people who are alone, who don’t drive, or are just coming home from work, the most tangible benefit of small-town life. It would be terrible to have it disappear, and a loss to future generations.

When we first moved to West Chesterfield, we found two hand-written signs taped to the post office door. Their messages tell what we don’t want to lose: “Turn off the lights.” and “Don’t lock this door.”

Send Hilltown Families your letters.

Community Walk/Run in West Chesterfield

Gorge aprés Gorge at the Chesterfield Gorge

This is the time of year families are cooking and traveling and getting ready for their big Thanksgiving feast (= gorge #1). Following a Thanksgiving gorge, this is the time of the year area families are getting ready for the 5th Annual Gorge aprés Gorge at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield (= gorge #2)! The GaG is a 3 mile walk/run (out & back) morning event for families to come together for exercise and a fun time, held on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. Go as long or as little as you want.


  • Sunday, Nov. 30 @ 10am
    Chesterfield Gorge parking lot
    West Chesterfield, MA
    All are welcomed! It’s a family affair


  • It’s FREE.
  • If there is snow, bring your skies, snow shoes, or sleds. Or you can run and walk to make the 1.5 mile trek out to the first gate on a dirt fire road.
  • If there is sun, come run, bike, and/or walk.
  • Water will be available about 3/4 miles out.
  • Hot drinks will be served back at the parking lot, including coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and apple cider (bring mugs, if you want).

The Gorge aprés Gorge is organized by local resident (and mother of two) Leslie Charles and is supported by a Cultural Council Grant issued by the Chesterfield Cultural Council. Email: leslie@lacdesign.com
(Poster design by LAC Design, www.lacdesign.com)

Old Fashion 4th of July Parade in the Hilltowns (2008)

61st Annual Independence Day Parade

The Spirit of Chesterfield will be the theme for the 61st annual Independence Day parade. Since 1947, the town has hosted this event that has grown in popularity to be a Hilltown tradition and favorite.

  • The Parade kicks off at 10:30 and will feature floats, bands, clowns, live animals and antique cars.
  • The Heritage Pops Orchestra will provide musical entertainment beginning at 11:30.
  • Visitors can begin the day with a Pancake Breakfast at 7 a.m. and then enjoy numerous displays on exhibit in town center including quilts and artwork.
  • Following the parade there will be a chicken barbecue, magic show, petting zoo, Firemen’s Muster, and continued opportunities to view the displays. The Bisbee Mill Museum and Historic Society will also be open to the public.

There will be plenty of parking (nominal fee to support the area Boy Scouts) near the parade route, and except for the food, all the other activities are free.

The Parade can always use more participants. Bands, horses and buggies, antique cars, floats, and kids with costumes are welcome to be a part of the festivities. Please contact Mary Ann Coleman at 413-296-4787.

Suggested Events 04/05/08-04/11/08


This past Monday was the last day of the Outdoor Adventure Program winter session in Chesterfield (see photos). We ended the program with a tin-can ice cream social. Kids got to make their very own ice cream concoctions by adding ingredients to a small coffee can, nestling it into a larger can, surrounded by rock salt and ice, and rolling the cans (both duct-taped shut) around for about twenty minutes. And in the end we all had ice cream!

The recipe we were given was good for packing in your backpack when camping or hiking. It included evaporated milk, instant pudding and any additional goodies (M&M’s, chocolate chips, etc.). But after reading the ingredients on the back of the Jell-O Instant Pudding box, I picked up a box of instant tapioca instead. Equally easy to transport. And it turned out pretty well too.

That evening, I did a little poking around on the internet looking for other recipes people have used. The one I think I’ll try next with my daughter is a little more “gourmet,” using fresh ingredients. It calls for 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and any additional ingredients (peppermint candies, candied ginger, raspberries). Not so easy for transporting when camping or hiking, but fun to do at home with the kids, and delicious sounding too! Espcially this summer when those raspberries are fresh picked!

This Monday (04/07/08) the spring session of the Outdoor Adventure Program begins. Last I heard there was still room. So if you’re thinking of participating in the next session (which includes canoeing, fishing, hiking and more!) give a call: 413.296.4249.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our community bulletin board.

Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns
The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:(>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

Saturday – 04/05

7am – 10am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) While traveling around town, tune-in to The River from 7-9am or 103.3 FM from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child . [All ages] (Free)

10am-Noon – WEEK OF THE YOUNG CHILD – (Northampton) Northampton’s Week of the Young Child Children’s festival happens at the Jackson Street School. Click here for details. [Families] (Free)

10:30am – KIDS CONCERT: POP ROCKETS – (Amherst) The Pop Rockets will be performing at the Jones Library as part of the Be Noisy in the Library Show. This is rescheduled from this winter, canceled due to a snow storm. 413.259.3090 [Families] (TBA)

11am-2pm – KIDS CRAFT PROJECT – (Easthampton) Bring the kids to come make decorative flower pots at Create Art Studio. One hour session. RSVP 413.455.4707 [Ages 5-13] ($$)

Noon-4pm – BASKET HISTORY – (Deerfield) The Historic Deerfield Museum will be hosting a workshop, Baskets and More. Learn about the many types and uses of baskets for 18th-century Native and English people of New England. Make a basket to take home using recycled materials. Try your hand at making cordage from natural materials. [All Ages] ($, under 6 is free)

4pm – 6:50pm – ICE SKATING – (Amherst) There will be a public skate at the Mullins Center Ice Rink. Skate rentals available. 413.545.3990 [Families] ($)

5pm-8pm – SCHOOL FUNDRAISER – (Williamsburg) Silent Auction for Bonnie’s Program to benefit the after school programs at New Hingham, Westhampton and Anne T. Dunphy Elementary Schools. 413.296.0182 [All Ages] (Free, >$-$$$)

6pm – SCHOOL FUNDRAISER – (Hadley) Spring Auction World Fusion/Carnivale at the Hartsbrook School. Live music, food from many ethnic traditions, performances and auction items. 413.584.3198 [All Ages] (>$-$$$)

6:30pm – SCHOOL FUNDRAISER – (Northampton) Green Gala 2008, sponsored by the Budget Crisis Response Committee of the Jackson Street School PTO. This event will include a silent auction, desserts, cash bar and live music and dancing with DJ Tom McCusker. At 7 p.m., Appalachian Still will perform. Proceed go to supporting Jackson Street School. 413.584.7327 [All Ages] (Donation >$-$$$)

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Spring Time Outdoor Adventures for Kids: Monday Afternoon’s in the Hilltowns

Registration Form

Outdoor Adventures for Kids in the Hilltowns
Spring 08 Afternoon Program

A nine week Monday afternoon (4pm-5pm) adventure program for kids ages 5-7 at the TMO Base Camp in Chesterfield, MA, starting April 7th and ending June 16th, 2008. Led by Program Coordinator, Timothy Vogel of Tekoa Mountain Outdoors.


Through age appropriate activities, young kids will explore their surrounding environment on foot and in a canoe while learning about ecology through outdoor adventures and activities. This nine week program will lead young Adventurers into the discoveries of spring while experiencing hikes, fishing and canoeing around the scenic 500 acre Base Camp in Chesterfield, MA. As spring arrives, bringing us April Showers, our young Adventures will explore vernal pools as the peepers emerge, make rain sticks to celebrate the season and hunt for insects. In May our young Adventures will go fishing while learning about fish habitat and local wildflowers and plants. And as we approach the summer months we’ll bring out the canoes and learn the basics of paddling and canoe safety. Our last day will conclude with a make-your-own ice cream social by using a tin can! Participants are asked to dress for the weather.


April 7th, 14th & 28th

Week 1 – Monday (04/07/08 )

We will be starting off our spring session by making Rain Sticks and sharing their origins. Our young Adventurers will make a traditional Rain Stick out of materials found in their environment, and like people of other cultures, imitate the sound of rain. Having originated in South America and attributed to many cultures, the Rain Stick is a tubular rattle that has been used by many diverse cultures in various ways and played by children throughout the world.

Week 2 – Monday (04/14/08 )

As spring slowly arrives, our young Adventurers will trek down to the stream to explore our streams and surrounding areas. And there’s more than meets the eye! Upon closer look, we’ll identify different aquatic insects, animals and plants while discussing their importance to our ecosystem. Please bring shoes that can get wet and a change of clothes. Magnifying glass and reptile/insect ID books would be handy too.

Week 3 – Monday (04/28/08 )

As their environment warms up, insects begin to emerge. We’ll identify bugs that fly, swim, crawl and even slither near our watershed while learning their value to our environment. Our young Adventurers will explore under logs and rocks while discovering which insects are useful and which ones we should avoid. We’ll also discuss how to keep ourselves safe from tick and mosquito bites while being adventurous outdoors. Please bring shoes that can get wet and a change of clothes. Magnifying glass and insect ID books would be handy too.

May 5th, 12th, & 19th

Week 4 – Monday (05/05/08 )

We are fortunate to have a rich resource of fish habitat in Western Massachusetts. For the next two weeks our young Adventurers will discover respectful fishing practices. We will learn about tying knots and casting a line while taking a look at different types of bait. We’ll also be discussing hook safety and fish habitat. Fishing poles and gear will be provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own poles too.

Week 5 – Monday (05/12/08 )

We’ll continue our fish explorations as our young Adventurers are introduced to the TMO/MA Angler Education Program. We will continue with learning the basics of fishing, simple biology, fish habitat, fishing gear safety, and courteous fishing habits while instilling respect for fish and their environment. Fishing poles and gear will be provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own poles too.

Week 6 – Monday (05/19/08 )

April shower’s bring May flowers, including Dutchman’s Britches, Trillium, Yellow Violets, and Trout Lilly’s. May is an excellent time to identify wildflowers, plants and trees while discussing how we can avoid poisonous plants while being adventurous outdoors. We will hike around the 500 acre Base camp, and see what April showers have helped to bring to life while discussing their importance to our ecosystem. Participants are welcome to bring along a plant press and ID books.

June 2nd, 9th, & 16th

Week 7 – Monday (06/02/08 )

Our young Adventurers will take to the water for the next two weeks. We will access the waters here at the Base Camp and learn safety skills around the water and canoes. Wearing provided personal flotation devices (PFD), we’ll learn all the different paddle strokes and proper techniques while paddling around our beautiful 60 acre wild and scenic Scout Pond. Please bring shoes that can get wet and a change of clothes.

Week 8 – Monday (06/09/08 )

Our young Adventurers will conclude their canoeing experience, beginning where we left off last week. Wearing provided personal flotation devices (PFD), we’ll continue to practice our canoeing techniques and safety skills as we explore our watershed on canoe. Please bring shoes that can get wet and a change of clothes.

Week 9 – (06/16/08 )

Our last day will conclude our Hilltown Families Spring 08 Program with our young Adventurers playing outdoor games and making their own ice cream by using a tin can! They will learn how to construct their homemade ice cream maker from materials brought from home and follow through by making their very own to enjoy. And ice cream social will follow.


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Outdoor Adventures for Kids: Monday Afternoon’s in the Hilltowns

Outdoor Adventures for Kids in the Hilltowns

A ten week Monday afternoon (4pm-5pm) adventure program for kids ages 5-7 at the TMO Base Camp in Chesterfield, MA, starting January 7th and ending March 31st, 2008. Led by Program Coordinator, Timothy Vogel of Tekoa Mountain Outdoors.


Photo of the Base CampThrough age appropriate activities, young kids can explore their surrounding environment and learn about our ecology through indoor and outdoor activities and games. This ten week program will led young Adventurers through the exploration of their environment by learning how to use their senses, compasses and maps while hiking and snow shoeing around the Base Camp in Chesterfield, MA. As the weather turns towards spring, they will learn about the relationship between the Eastern Bluebird and our local environment, build their very own Bluebird nesting box, and continue their educational flight with kites and discoveries of spring. Our last day will conclude with a make-your-own ice cream social by using a tin can!



JANUARY 7th, 14th & 28th

WEEK 1 – Monday (01/07/08)
Introduction & Games

As an introduction to the winter program, indoor and outdoor games will be played and participants will learn about exciting activities and projects we will be exploring through the winter session. Our young Adventurers will be introduced to all the outdoor gear and materials they will be using throughout the course.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 2 – Monday (01/14/07)
The Shape of Things

As humans we depend on all of our senses to gather impressions of our environment. Through touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing, our brains sort out the diversity of sizes, colors, and shapes that we see. In this activity our young Adventurers will explore this diversity that appears in both nature and in man-made environments by using their senses.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 3 – Monday (01/28/08)
Getting In Touch With Trees

Throughout the camp and with a Mystery Box, our Adventurers will explore the shapes and texture of trees by using their sense of touch, while learning how to identify different species and their importance to our watershed.
Hot drinks will be provided.

FEBRUARY 4th, 11th & 25th

WEEK 4 – Monday (02/04/08)
Discovering the Compass

We begin our Map & Compass exploration as our young Adventures will learn about a compass. Through both indoor and outdoor games they will discover what a compass does and how it works.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 5 – Monday (02/11/08)
Using a Map & Compass

Off our Adventures will go right out into the woods, using what we learned about compasses the week before. With a TMO local Base Camp map, we will learn how to navigate around the Base Camp using things called Bearings. We are also going to learn how to orient our maps, count paces and steps to measure distance to reach our goals and objectives.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 6 – Monday (02/25/08)
Snow Shoeing

With provided snow shoes, our young Adventures will explore the outdoors with snow shoes. We will be incorporating our map and compass skills while we will identify tracks and talk about why the tracks are there.
Snow shoes (for kids) and hot drinks will be provided.

MARCH 3rd, 10th, 24th

WEEK 7 – Monday (03/03/08)
Learning About the Eastern Bluebird

Our Eastern Bluebird nesting box building project starts off with a discussion about the Bluebird, why they left New England, and why it’s important to help them return to our Watershed. Our young Adventures will build their very own Bluebird nesting boxes* and then decorate them with natural objects found right here at the Base camp to take home. If necessary, this activity will be concluded the following week. Parent participation is required and parents are encouraged to bring a hammer and safety glasses. Limited supplies will be available.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 8 – Monday (03/10/08)
Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

The March wind is here, so let’s talk about kites! After finishing up with our Bluebird nesting boxes, we will discuss kite safety, styles, maneuvers and make a
Wind Sock to see which direction wind is coming from. Together we will assemble our kites, add the string and tails and then set off to our giant ball field to try out this fun and breezy activity. Parents participation may be required.
*Please bring a pre-made kite purchased from your local merchant to assemble.
Hot drinks will be provided.

WEEK 9 – Monday (03/24/08)
Signs of Spring

Spring has sprung and our young Adventurers will spend this afternoon discovering the signs of spring in the wetlands of our watershed. We’ll look for who’s out and about, and go on a hunt for Fiddle-heads and Trillum around the Base Camp pond and streams. Bring
a bug /fish net and we will make a hand lens to examine them.

WEEK 10 – Monday (03/31/08)
Tin Can Ice Cream

Our last day will conclude with our young Adventurers making their own ice cream by using a tin can! They will learn how to construct their homemade ice cream maker from materials brought from home and follow through by making their very own to enjoy. And ice cream social will follow to conclude our Winter Session. The Spring Session will beginning the following Monday.


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Hilltown Old Fashion 4th of July Parade (2007)

Chesterfield 4th of July Parade

//www.flickr.com/people/darwinbell/This year will mark the 60th annual 4th of July Parade in Chesterfield, MA! To recognize this milestone, this year’s parade will reflect the theme of “An Old Fashioned 4th.” All Hilltown Families are invited to join the Hilltown Coalition To End Domestic Violence and march in the parade. They are marching to promote peace in the home.

With the theme of “An Old Fashioned 4th,” the parade will feature bands, floats, the clown Peppermint Patty, costumed children, antique cars, and horses and buggies. There will be plenty of food, with a Pancake Breakfast preceding the parade and a chicken barbecue right afterwards. A variety of snacks will also be available throughout the day. For kids (of all ages), in addition to the clown, there will be a magic show, petting zoo, climbing wall and “sticky wall.” After the parade, visitors will be entertained by the Heritage Pops Orchestra and will be able to watch the traditional Firemen’s Mini-Muster, an art show and a quilt display. Except for the food, everything is free of charge, and of course everyone is welcome.

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Old Fashion 4th of July Parade in the Hilltowns (2007)

House Concert & Potluck Social for Hilltown Families

A Saturday Early Evening
Blues & Jazz House Concert & Potluck Social
for Hilltown Families & Friends

Hilltown Families are invited to join Blues Singer, Marla BB & acoustic Jazz Bass Player, Michael Dunning for a House Concert and potluck social in West Chesterfield on Saturday, May 5th @ 5:30pm. Come celebrate Cinco de Mayo & get to know other HF families & friends.

  • Potluck social @ 5:30pm.
  • Live music @ 7pm.
  • Coffee, tea & dessert will be offered. BYOB.
  • The hat will be passed for donations to the musicians.
  • To RSVP, email Sienna at swildfield@juno.com, or call 413-296-0187 for directions.
  • Presented by Hilltown Families & eAglebird Records.

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