New Year’s Day Morning Music Party with Hilltown Families, Flywheel Arts Collective, & Easthampton Family Center

Swedish Paper Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hilltown Families Valentine Social: A Look Back

(c) Hilltown Families - Making Swedish Paper Hearts

Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With classroom rosters in hand, several hilltown families set to work on making Valentines during a Hilltown Families Valentine Making Social on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007. Families from Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Plainfield, and West Chesterfield gathered together with red and pink construction paper, glitter glue, white doilies and an assortment of stickers to set forth on the venture of making Valentines for friends, family and classmates.

Making 20 Valentines can seem daunting. Making nearly 50 seems unreasonable. But when you have two children in school, that’s what the tally can add up to. Never mind having more than two children attending the same school! Some might say, “That’s what Hallmark’s for,” but we’re talking about hilltown families – motivated, creative and expressive folks who take on the task of Valentines with excitement and enthusiasm, letting the glitter fly!

Preceding the cutting, glueing and glittering, children were shown a five-minute video which demonstrated how construction paper was made. Narrated by Fred Rogers, children took a video tour through a construction paper factory, illustrating how red construction paper is made – from log to shrink wrapped product. This video tour can be found as an extra feature on the DVD Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?

As the Valentine social progressed, and the kids finished their little love-notes, running off to play, the parents settled into their own projects and conversations. Over discussions on education, winter sports and safety, parents made heart-shaped mobiles, steamers of doilies and Swedish Paper Hearts. And when the kids tummies started to rumble, muffins donated by Bread Euphoria were served with tea and fruit.


Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts can seem difficult at first, but once a rhythm is discovered, it is a pleasant activity to unwind with while relaxing with friends and community.  These paper hearts were traditionally made as ornaments filled with goodies that went on the Christmas Tree, but they also  make a wonderful Valentine’s craft. Learn how to make Swedish Paper Hearts for your loved ones.

(Originally posted: 2/13/07)

Buttery Brook Park: South Hadley’s Park for Families

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Butter Brook Park Summer Events Calendar is Full of Family Fun

The summer events calendar at Buttery Brook Park includes the regular weekly Friday Cruise Night car show and family cookout, a Summer Children’s Concert Series on Wednesday mornings in July, and Big Rig Day on July 15th. See the full schedule below.

The Friends and the South Hadley community supporters of Buttery Brook Park welcome families to an exciting summer of events. The season of family fun begins around 12noon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st, with a Picnic at the Park (following the parade in South Hadley), featuring free cake. Full calendar below.

According to Cathy Manly, a Friends of Buttery Brook Park volunteer, the picnic is a chance for families to see and play with the recent improvements to the Park. The improvements are mainly for younger children and include a giant sandbox with ride-on diggers, an outdoor drum set, a ride-on two-seater airplane, and a play structure for young children. The skate park is in the process of being moved to create a grassy picnic space that overlooks the new play equipment.

According to Manly, a Friends’ goal is to create a space where families with children can meet and play. “Some older members of the Friends remember the Park as a wonderful place to go when they had young families. Several more recent Friends volunteers have young families, and we’re striving to make this Park as accessible and exciting for local families as possible.”

Future improvements, which will be funded in part by proceeds from this season’s events, include improvements to the playground and the possibility of an exercise trail, with a wading pool and spray park being on the longer-term horizon, said Manly.

Besides funding, the Friends are also seeking volunteers to help with the season’s events. If you wish to volunteer, please contact

Buttery Brook Park is located on Route 33 in South Hadley, MA (on the right, just south of the Big Y, on Rte 33).

Summer 2010 Calendar of Friends’ Events

When: Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st, 2010, ~12:00pm (after the parade)

Come see the new playground! Bring a picnic lunch and join the Friends of Buttery Brook Park for free cake, to help us celebrate the opening of the season and our new playground, including a wonderful, huge new sandbox with ride-on diggers and a play structures for little and big kids. Festivities are planned to begin after the Memorial Day Parade. Information:

When: Every Friday evening now through September 10, 2010, 5:30pm to dusk

Cruise nights are free and open to the public. Stroll through the park and enjoy classic cars (weekly and monthly trophies awarded), DJ music (enjoy those oldies!), refreshments and the company of neighbors and friends. Plan to join us for supper—the menu includes hot dogs and hamburgers, along with a variety of beverages (including beer). Proceeds from food sales help to support park improvements such as the new playground at the center of the park. Kids will also enjoy the coloring corner and animal feeding area … make it a family night! Volunteers to assist with the food concession are always appreciated. Information:

When: Wednesdays, July 14, 21, 28, 2010, 10-11am

The Concert series provides free entertainment for children ages 10 and under on Wednesday mornings in July. Presented by the Friends of Buttery Brook Park and the South Hadley Family Center ( Information:

  • July 14th, 2010, 10am – Aric Bieganek is known locally as “The Jack Black of Kids’ Music.” A children’s music teacher in Northampton, he performs rockin’ music for families that gets everyone dancing!
  • July 21st, 2010, 10am – Jay Mankita is an internationally acclaimed songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist from Amherst. He tours his music for children and adults in a veggie oil-powered van.
  • July 28th, 2010, 10am – Miss Leticia brings us a high energy, multi-lingual music and movement performance. A regular Amherst performer and teacher, she has played music with children of all ages for over 10 years.

When: Thursday, July 15th, 11am-1pm (July 22nd Rain date if necessary)

Come see Big Rigs of all types (fire trucks, police cars, utility trucks, ambulances, and more)… climb into the cabs, ride the aerial ladder, and meet the people who operate these fascinating vehicles. This unique, free, kid-friendly event is co-sponsored by the South Hadley Electric Department. Information:


Buttery Brook Park was created over 25 years ago by Joseph Taylor, the then Parks Superintendent for the town of South Hadley. A new, centrally located playscape area began taking shape in 2008 thanks in part to fundraising activities by the Friends of Buttery Brook Park and many generous individual and business contributions. The park staff has made many improvements to the park in connection with this project, including a new volleyball area, and additional play equipment will continue to be added.

The Fox & Frog Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)


Folk Series: The Fox & Frog

Saturday from 9-10am
March 6th, 2010 (encore 03/13/10)
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: The National Film Board of Canada presents
Mr. Frog Went A-Courting.
Animated by Evelyn Lambart.  Sung by Derek Lamb.

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived podcasts request a song

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  • The Nields – “Oh, Mary, Don’t You Weep” [All Together Singing in the Kitchen ]
  • *Pete Seeger – “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
  • *The Byrds – “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
  • Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Krauss – “Simple Gifts” [Classic Yo-Yo ]
  • Little Mo’ McCoury – “The Fox” [Little Mo’ McCoury ]
  • Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family – “Fox and the Goose” [Go Waggaloo]
  • Station ID: Steve Weeks []
  • Bill Harley – “Fox’s Sack” [Come On Out & Play]
  • Peter Piper, Forty-Niners Quartet with Orchestra – “Frog Went A-Courtin'” [Animal Song Parade ] LP Recording
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket []
  • Enzo Garcia – “Frog Went A-Courtin'” [Field Trip with Enzo]
  • Uncle Rock – “Sneeky Snake” [The Big Picture]
  • Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem – “The Green Grass Grows All Around” [Ranky Tanky]

Oh, Mary, Don’t You Weep

“This song tells of the triumph of the Jewish people who were delivered from slavery under Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt in biblical times.  African-American spirituals often refer to this history because both Jews and African-Americans were once slaves. As with other spirituals, this song helps to unite people in the cause of freedom.  “O, mary” recalls the history of those who have suffered great injustice – and also reminds us that it is our responsibily to make sure that, one day, all people who are enslaved or deprived of their rights must be freed from such oppression.” (The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Favorite Folk Songs)

Turn! Turn! Turn!

For thousands of years Ecclesiastes’ beautiful words have inspired and given solace to people all over the world.  Pete Seeger was so moved by these words that he set the poem to music in 1961 and added a refrain and a line of his own.  The Byrds made history with it in 1965.

Simple Gifts

“Almost two centuries after the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony in the name of religious freedom, a woman named Ann Lee traveled to America from England to extablish an unorthodox Christian sect commonly called the Shakers.  Like the Pilgrims, the Shakers were able to worship freely and without interference from the government.  Baed on an English folk tune, this hymn celebrates the Shaker commitment to a simple, nonmaterialistic way of life.” (From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs)

The Fox

“Foxes used to be a great menace to farms, so they were sometimes hunted to stop them from killing small farm animals like ducks and geese.  But in this humorous song, we laugh at the farmers, John and Mrs. Flipper Flopper, and cheer for the fox instead.  Folk songs like this one teach us that we can see the same story from many points of view and that a sense of humor about ourselves can help make scary events – like the one in this song – a lot less frightening, and just another part of life.” (The Peter Yarrow Songbook: Favorite Folk Songs)

Frog Went A-Courtin’

“Nobody knows how or when this story really started.  We do know that it was written down in Scotland more than 400 years ago.  But it has always been the kind of story that was told and sund to children, instead of being read to them.  The grandfathers and grandmothers sang it to the mothers and fathers, adn the mothers and fathers sang it to their children, and finally it got to us.  Sometimes the grownups might forget some of the words, and the children would make up words they liked better, and put them in the song.  And so the ballad, or story, on down through all these hundreds of years, always changed a little bit as each new person tried to sing it.  Everyone oiked his way best. – When America was first discovered and the pople wcame from England and Scotland to live here, they bought this ballad along with them, and they kept on singing it to the children.  It spread all over the country with the poeple as they moved… The story of the “Frog and the Mouse” became a part of America, and belongs to all of us today.”

Cookin’ Up a Rock ‘n’ Roll Casserole with Brady Rymer!

Hilltown Families & Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child Present …


Friday, April 25th @ 5:00pm in Northampton

Brady RymerBrady Rymer and the Little Band that Could are cookin’ up a rock ‘n’ roll casserole for their Northampton debut: a musical potluck supper!

Might just be the best-sounding band in children’s music.Stefan Shepherd of, heard on NPR’s All Things Considered

Multi-award-winning indie musician and From Good Homes founding member Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could invite families to share a meal and share the music at a high-spirited musical potluck supper at:

  • 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 25
  • Lyman Hall at First Churches of Northampton
  • 129 Main Street, Northampton, MA,
  • Potluck contributions are welcome but not required.
  • Tickets are $7 per person. Infants free.

Co-presented by the local kids’ radio show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child (93.9 The River, Saturday mornings from 7 – 9) and Hilltown Families (

Brady Rymer toured and recorded with the RCA roots/rock band From Good Homes for thirteen years — sharing the stage with the likes of Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir — before parenthood broadened the scope of his music. Five albums and countless live shows later, this veteran performer has established himself as one of the country’s most captivating creators of music for kids and families. Combining a feel-good R&B foundation with traditional acoustic arrangements and a scoop of sunny 70’s optimism, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could have created a distinctive, modern American roots sound for families raised on rock ‘n’ roll. Every generation connects to this band’s strong, straight-ahead grooves, catchy choruses and irresistibly down-home, hip-shakin’ vibe.

Brady RymerPresenting music with the whole family in mind, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could are sure to play some of their songs about the joys of eating (“Cookin’ Saturday,” “Look at My Belly,” “Eatin’ Animal Crackers,” and more). They’ll also showcase rollicking, roots-y new tunes like “Road Trip,” a boogie-woogie piano-driven rocker about piling into the car and driving through the heartland on a family adventure, and “Jump Up (It’s A Good Day),” whose percolating groove and rich harmonies are as uplifting as they are infectious, bringing audiences to their feet – and some into the air!

Brady Rymer draws on his folk, country, pop and blues roots in songs for pint-size fans and their parents. Rymer and his Little Band That Could get the whole family groovin’. – The NY Daily News

In an era of character-driven entertainment for children, Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could are the real deal, a soulful and spirited band bringing great musicianship, superb songwriting and pure joy to their performances for kids and all generations.

Lest anyone think this is musical Pablum, think again. His music has a rock ‘n’ roll heart. – The New York Times

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June 25th – Family Day in Ashfield


June 25thIt’s the first Monday of summer! Hilltown Families invites friends and families to hang out in Ashfield for the day. Come together around 10am for swimming and playing at Ashfield Pond. At noon, walk over to Country Pie on Main Street and treat your kids to a pizza pie on the porch. At1pm there will be a free Bicycle Safety Rodeo at Sanderson Elementary School for kids of all ages.

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Hilltown Families Celebrate Mother’s Day Together in West Chesterfield

The Price of Missing Marbles

(c) Hilltown Families - 3rd Annual Mother's Day Pancake Breakfast (2007 - West Chesterfield)On Sunday we hosted our 3rd Annual Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast and spent a beautiful spring morning with other Hilltown families. The pancake breakfast is one of our signature community celebrations, and for several families this was their first pancake breakfast encounter. I’d say we’ve hosted around 20 community pancake breakfasts over the past several years, and between the changing seasons, growing kids and new families joining us, each one has offered its own unique experience.

While each breakfast might be unique, there remain a few constants. The smoke detectors go off, the floor in the living room becomes a sea of toys, Jim juices the oranges and some things inevitably break. Coffee mugs and old china have hit the floor. Art work has come crashing off the walls. Favorite toys have been dismembered. And somehow the preschoolers end up stripping down and running around in their underwear. Read the rest of this entry »

Fireworks, Lobster Dinners & Pancake Breakfasts in Sandison

Hilltown Community Events at Yanner Park in Sandison

Friends of Yanner Park will hold a series of community events to raise money for its ongoing park development project. The all-volunteer organization plans to put a ball field, pavilion, playground, gardens and walking trails on 250 acres of land bequeathed to the town of Sandisfield by the late Jack Yanner.

This year’s events include:  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families Spring Social & House Concert

Sassy Mamas & Papas Sing Out
at HF Spring Social & House Concert

Marla BB & Michael Dunning - Hilltown Families House ConcertSeeing Marla BB perform at the Iron Horse last year in Northampton was great. Having her perform in her hometown of West Chesterfield, at the base of Smith Mountain with the Westfield River rushing by … now that rocked! Performing with the talented accoustic Jazz bass player, Michael Dunning, this Blues & Jazz duo brought style and class to an intimate family community social.

Families gathered for home cooked food & dessert beforehand, cooking salmon on the grill, sampling one another’s potluck dishes and sharing organic gourmet pizza donated by Bread Euphoria.

As the music began, children snuggled up under wool blankets, joining their parents on the lawn for a sunset performance. The sky turned pink and orange as the sun set behind Smith Mountain on a cool spring evening, and Marla called out to all the “Sassy Mamas” and “Sassy Papas” to join in and sing. Click here to see video.

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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, or call 413-296-0187 for directions.
  • Presented by Hilltown Families & eAglebird Records.

Hilltown Community Celebration for Earth Day

2007 Earth Day Celebration in the Hilltowns

Illustration (c) Sienna Wildfield

On Sunday, April 22nd, hilltown families are invited to gather at the Community House in Cummington for a day full of fun activities to celebrate Earth Day:


  • Pedal powered grain mill
  • Bike Maintenance and Repair Clinic
  • Music and speakers.
  • Electric bike demonstration
  • Seed and Perennial Exchange
  • Children’s activities with Holiday Farm and the CFC
  • Local, organic lunch for sale. Bring plates & utensils.
  • Lots & loads & heaps of information from area groups and resources.

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May Spring Festival in the Hills

Hilltown Spring Festival – May 19th, 2007

Marking its 25th year of service to the region, Hilltown CDC will present its first-ever Hilltown Spring Festival on May 19 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Planned activities include live performances by area musicians and community groups, a crafts show, business expo, children’s entertainment, and, of course, an abundance of food and drink offered by local restaurants and businesses.

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Sledding in Worthington

Valentine Contra Dance Fundraiser in Ashfield

(c) Hilltown Families - Valentine Contra Dance

A Heart-felt Dance Party

by Victoria Worth
for Hilltown Families

The songs are still humming in my head, and when I look down, my feet are still moving to a recent rhythm. Long after Saturday night’s Valentine’s Family Contra Dance has ended, the joyous gathering lingers on in my mind. At the Town Hall, good food filled our tummies downstairs, and when dinner was over, we joined a crowd of children and adults already moving to the beat of the music.

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Hilltown Families Tune into Radio Free Earth

Valentine’s Day ’07

Whoopin’ it Up with Wild Asparagus!

Greenfield Center School
Family Contra Dance 2007

Wild Asparagus whoops it up at the Greenfield Center School Family Contra Dance. (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Sunday afternoon, Wild Asparagus whooped it up at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, MA. The Greenfield Center School held their annual Family Contra Benefit Dance and the dance hall was filled with families from all over Western Mass. This festive social dance was for families with kids of all ages.

Families learned easy contras, square dancing, and movements to Jump-Jim Joe, Ride Sally Ride and Sasha. Ann Percival of Wild Asparagus lead the crowd along with her five-person band. The band uses a unique blend of talents to pack a punch of a performance, presenting traditional dances and music of New England folk heritage.

The proceeds went to benefit the Greenfield Center School, an independent day school for students K-8th grade. GSC is known for integrating social and academic learning in every aspect of the school day, while emphasizing the building of community and celebration of the individual. This benefit dance let that spirit of the GSC really shine through by warmly welcoming the larger community to celebrate with them, and empowering the older students who ran the bake sale and silent auction during the dance.

Old students from the GCS ran a bake sale and silent auction downstairs while families jumps and swung around upstairs. (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

If you’ve been to a contra dance you know how much fun they can be for the whole family. If you’ve been missing out, not to worry, there are a plethora of contra dances to fill your calendar, including:

A good way to keep up with contra dances happening in our area is the Pioneer Valley Contra Dance e-mail group.

Other interesting links to visit on Contra Dances:

Hilltown Families Gather at Big Elmer’s Fine Time Emporium


Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, is the most recent culinary gem to shine in the hills. Every Friday evening they open their doors and invite families and friends in to enjoy a simple and delicious menu.

It’s a treasure to have a place to enjoy a sit-down dinner of free-range chicken, local beef or goat cheese, organic greens from area farms, or fresh organic bread baked down the road?

“I really enjoy bringing my family here for dinner and seeing my community,” commented one of Elmer’s guests. “The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and I love seeing the art of local artists while sharing dinner made with locally grown, clean food.”

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New Year’s Day Brings Hilltown Families and Friends Together

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