Summer Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA

Summer Bucket List & Reader Recommendations for Western MA

The Cummington Fair is a gem of an agricultural fair that happens every August in the heart of the Hilltowns. Mark Melhorn, Arjuna Greist and Piet Slaghekke all picked “The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country” for our Summer Bucket List! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With it’s natural beauty, local food, family attractions and community festivals and fairs, Western Massachusetts is a haven for family fun. Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, the region in the summer is an engaging place to vacation or staycation! We asked our readers to recommend their favorite attractions, day trips, must see or must do family activities, and we received 75 great tips. While not an exhaustive list (nor in any order) of the fun and adventure families can have in Western MA, it’s a great place to start.

If you have a recommendation to add to this list, please do! Post your suggestion below.

  1. “The (free!) spray park at the Beachgrounds Park in South Hadley.” — Sandra Dias (Holyoke, MA)
  2. “We love to go blueberry picking at [Sobieski’s] River Valley Farm in Whately!” — Laura Muller (Amherst, MA)
  3. “I like to pick up sandwiches and Polish treats from BBA Deli Market in South Deerfield, then hike up Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation for a picnic with a view.” — April Genung (Sunderland, MA)
  4. Musante Beach is a relaxing and inexpensive way to spend the afternoons reading, swimming and picnicking.” — Keith Lepine (Northampton, MA)
  5. “I love to take a picnic to Greenfield Energy Park with my daughter and enjoy the music. She loves the music, play structure, and trains. Buckland Recreation also has movies out by the pool at night during the summer. Next best thing to the old drive-ins! (Northfield Drive-In is also a great summer activity….)” — H Loomis
  6. “We love to go to Chapel Brook; a beautiful land near Ashfield protected by the Trustees of the Reservation. On one side of the road there’s is a lovely hike where beginning rock climbers can practice their skills. On the other side of the road is a series of cascading waterfalls, one even safe & gentle enough to slide down (with caution!). The water is deliciously icy-cold even on the warmest of summer days.” — Christy Winslow (Northampton, MA)
  7. Mass MoCA combined with Natural Bridge State Park (North Adams, MA) is always a good day trip. More locally, the Mill River offers countless great spots to bath–many of which are along our excellent bike paths.” — Ruth von Goeler (Northampton, MA)
  8. “Frisbee in Child’s Park in Northampton. This park seems to be the most under utilized resource in the area. This well manicured gem harkens back to another time.” — Glenn Sullivan (Holyoke, MA)
  9. “Walking on the Quabbin Dam (Belchertown, MA). It is a great place to take pictures of the kids.” — Matthew Galman (Shutesbury, MA)
  10. “The Eric Carle Museum (Amherst, MA) is a great place to spend some time.” — Eugenie Wu (Shutesbury, MA)
  11. “Any way you can float down the Deerfield River. It is sheer joy. It’s great 3 seasons, but late spring is very special – beautiful and exciting!” — Laurie Goddard
  12. “The Upper Valley Music Festival in Turners Falls. It’s a noon to midnight event that takes place at multiple venues (including Great Hall at Great Falls Discovery Center) in downtown Turners. Celtic music, singer-songwriters, rock n’ roll, contra dancing, you name it. The days events (including lots of opportunities to dance) are family friendly. And all proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society to boot. Check it out. ” — Chris Scanlon
  13. “Our favorite event is Yankee Doodle Days in Charlemont they have great fireworks and a demo Derby! Favorite everyday activities are the bike trails (i.e. Norwottuck and the Turners Falls one)” — Jen Knight (Bernardston, MA)
  14. “We always make sure to go to the 3 County Fairgrounds (Northampton, MA) to catch a horse show, preferably the sliders – it is truly amazing.” — Heather Polson (Northampton, MA)
  15. “Visit the Peace Pagoda in Leverett.” — Marion Hohn (Amherst, MA)
  16. Conway Station. Hike in and swim in that crystal clear water!” —Marissa Potter (Shelburne Falls, MA)
  17. “We love to go to the Heath Fair! It’s the perfect family day trip. Be sure to watch the herding dogs, eat lots of good food and jump into the cross cut saw competition!!” — Zoe Johnson (Ashfield, MA)
  18. “I second the Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out stage. Also weekends at Camp Norwich (Huntington, MA) for members of the Northampton YMCA.” — Amy Meltzer (Northamtpon, MA)
  19. “Summer isn’t complete without canoeing or kayaking (lots of places, but especially the DAR during blueberry season), blueberry picking at Fox Run, a summer hike at Graves Farms, soft serve from Village Green Greenhouse and Ice Cream (Williamsburg, MA) . . .” — Sara Barry (Haydenville, MA)
  20. “We would go to Puffer’s Pond (Amherst, MA) every day if we could!” — Karen Bayne (Northampton, MA)
  21. “On of our favorite summertime activities is playing Poohsticks on the bridge at the Mill River Recreation Area, and then walking on the trail to the Puffer’s waterfall.” —Melissa Miller (Amherst, MA)
  22. “Swimming at Ashfield Lake and then eating on the deck at the Ashfield Lake House!” — Rona Leventhal
  23. “Hot summer days mean heading to Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley for great ice cream and finding a spot to fish on a local river and if it has a rope swing~ bonus!” —Glenda Datsko (Greenfield, MA)
  24. “The Cummington Fair in late August is fun for the whole family.” — Arjuna Greist (Greenfield, MA)  Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry Contest Encourages Local Poets of All Ages

Did you know that poetry may actually predate the written word? Today, in a world full of written prose, this can be hard to imagine. In a time of strictly oral communication, however, poetic forms had not only aesthetic but highly practical purposes. Due to the often rhythmic and rhyming nature of poems, poetry can be easier to remember than prose, and poetry can be used as a mnemonic device. Metered (rhythmic) and rhyming phrases were once recited, or sung, in order to remember and convey oral history, genealogy, and even law! (History of Poetry)

Poems don’t have to include rhyme or meter, though! This open-ended art includes highly specific and regimented forms such as sonnets, as well as free verse poems which do not have a set meter or rhyme scheme. Poetry has evolved over the centuries to include relatively new forms such as prose poetry. Prose poems are short poems, utilizing paragraphs and full sentences just like prose does, while also including poetic techniques such as imagery or repetition of phrases.  Read the rest of this entry »

Western MA Preschool Directory

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2016

Celebrate Freedom on Juneteenth

Community-Based Events & Resources Invite Families to Learn, Celebrate & Reflect on Freedom

These days, when a monumental government decision is made, technology allows the news to travel quickly and we are able to find out almost immediately. However, before the internet and telephones and even motorized vehicles were invented, information took a lot longer to travel. News could take days, weeks, even months to spread, and the further information had to travel, the longer it took for it to get there. In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, for example, word of Lincoln’s granting of freedom to slaves in Confederate states took nearly six months to reach some parts of the country! While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1st, 1863, word of emancipation took until June 19th to travel from Washington, DC to Galveston, Texas!

The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Originally celebrated only in Texas, the day has served as a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. Across the country – and even around the world – Juneteenth is celebrated in order to honor the struggles of those who endured slavery, and to remind us of the ways in which our country’s history has affected (and continues to affect) our current society. Find out about celebrations in Western MA!

A Library in Miniature: Tiny Book Show Brings Art Show and Book-Making

A Library in Miniature: Tiny Book Show Brings Art Show and Book-Making

A mobile library of miniature proportions is making its way toward western Massachusetts! The Tiny Book Show, a traveling library of handmade miniature books, will be visiting western Massachusetts on its country-wide tour to showcase a collection of handmade books – all no more than 3 inches tall or wide – created by amateur and expert artists alike from all around the world. A project of New Jersey-based community art organization The Creativity Caravan, The Tiny Book Show is housed and transported in a 1965 Covered Wagon camping trailer, the miniature books nestled together in a similarly miniature former living space.

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The Tiny Book Show will make appearances at three separate locations in Franklin County, offering local families the opportunity to peruse the beautiful handmade books filling the mobile library. Additionally, The Tiny Book Show will be partnering with local community organizations and educational institutions in order to offer book-making workshops, allowing those visiting the library to learn to make their very own original miniature books.  Read the rest of this entry »

It is Your Right to Remain Silent!

Celebrate Law Day in Franklin County at GCC
Law Day 2016 Explores the Right to Remain Silent

On May 1 the United States officially recognizes Law Day. It is meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society. Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared May 1 to be Law Day, U.S.A., the first day of May was known in some parts of the world as May Day: a day to remember the struggles of workers in their fight for better wages and working conditions. Celebrate on May 4th in Greenfield!

Why do the police “read citizens their rights” when arresting them? The practice of informing citizens of their right to remain silent stems from a U.S. Supreme court decision, the case Miranda vs. Arizona, in 1966. This court decision is in accordance with the idea that your rights are of no use to you if you don’t know what they are. Once informed of your right to remain silent, if you willingly choose to speak, you are waiving this right by choice. In doing so, you consent to the fact that your words may be used against you in court.

In the case of Ernesto Mirando’s arrest and interrogation, he provided a written confession without being informed of his right to counsel or the fact that the confession would be used against him in court. When prosecutors tried to use the confession in court, the defense argued that his confession was not truly “voluntary.” Miranda’s case was overturned and today, the recitation of rights which most of us are familiar with from the media, is known as a “Miranda warning.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Intergenerational Drawing Events Support Creative Free Play & Community Connections

Community Drawing Events Inspire Creative Free Play and Self Expression

Creative free play and artistic expression are the focus of two very unique upcoming community events. Using drawing as a central element, these events illuminate the versatility and expressive potential of the art form. Accessible to self-identified artists, reluctant creators, and everyone in between, spring’s artistic opportunities offer rich community-based learning opportunities relating to creativity and self-expression.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mindful Consumption at the Up Up Fair

Up Up Fair Promotes Locally Sourced Goods and Mindful Consumption

Sharing some similarities with a craft fair, the Up Up Fair (first of its kind!) promotes local goods created to serve a purpose. Connecting the community with local sources for useful goods, the fair promotes mindful consumption and buying local!

The Frontier Community Enrichment Partnership is bringing a new kind of event to western Massachusetts: an all-local Up Up Fair! The event is centered around the sharing of useful, practical, and/or upcycled goods (the event’s namesake) created by local crafters and artisans. Held on Saturday, March 19th, 10am-4pm in South Deerfield, the Up Up Fair offers a unique opportunity to access locally produced goods.

While the Up Up Fair is similar to a craft fair, it differs in that it emphasizes locally made everyday items that serve a clear purpose, rather than items that are beautifully crafted but serve as extras or add-ons in our everyday lives. In featuring such goods, the Up Up Fair caters to a wide audience: while some of us may not have the time or money to buy fancy extras, we all need certain useful items eventually. Additionally, the Up Up Fair’s emphasis on useful goods encourages the community to consider their own consumption of goods. Rather than shopping for extras and consuming more than is necessary, visitors to the Up Up Fair can consume mindfully, paying close attention to what is actually needed in their household.  Read the rest of this entry »

New Collaboration Empowers Community to Take Control of Media Consumption

Media Literacy Book Club to Start at the Sunderland Public Library

Monday, January 25th, 2016 at 6pm, and the club will be discussing the book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

The New England Literacy Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) and the Sunderland Public Library have partnered to create a new book club focusing on media literacy and gender based violence, facilitated by Charity O’Connor, Domestic Violence Intervention Project Advocate for NELCWIT.

The book club will meet the last Monday of every month from 6 – 7 pm in the Lane Reading Room of the Sunderland Public Library, and will discuss how popular media, such as books, portrays sexual/domestic violence and how those portrayals impact our culture.

It is hoped that the Media Literacy Book Club will become a safe space for people to discuss difficult issues that many people choose to avoid. “I would love to see this book club become a space for community members to engage in critical discussions about popular media and how popular media influences our beliefs, perpetuates harmful stereotypes about sexual and domestic violence, and romanticizes abusive behavior,” says Charity O’Connor. “If our media consumption goes unchecked, we internalize the harmful messages we receive from the media and those messages can negatively influence our personal relationships. This is why I think a book club such as this is so important – it’s our chance to take control of the media we consume and be active participants in breaking down those harmful messages.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events for Families in Western MA: 2015

Dino-Centric Studies in Western MA

Upcoming Events Highlight Local Paleontology Connections

Western Massachusetts’ natural history is one of epic proportions – dinosaurs loved our local landscape! In addition to the numerous year-round community-based opportunities to explore paleontology, families can take advantage of upcoming community events in order to further explore dino-centric studies, including Dinosaur Hunter, Paul Sereno!

Here in western Massachusetts, dinosaurs play a huge role in the history of our landscape.

A wealth of community-based educational resources help to support paleontological studies of all kinds, and the local connection to dinosaurs can help budding paleontologists put their dinosaur-centric knowledge into a local context.

To support locally based studies of all things dinosaurs, families can utilize learning opportunities offered by two upcoming events.

Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Historic Deerfield

 Visit Historic Deerfield this October for Fun Seasonal Activities with your Family

Explore archaeology, open hearth cooking, colonial life, and so much more at Historic Deerfield this October. Who knew there were so many fun (and tasty!) ways to get to know history?

October is a wonderful month to visit Historic Deerfield with your family. From the crisp, cool mornings and the first months of school, autumn brings its own sense of renewal as the long, hot days of summer ebb away. At Historic Deerfield, the Old Main Street comes alive with fall color. A robust schedule of historic trade demonstrations, educational programs and events await visitors of all ages.

Highlights this fall for families include the Archaeology Lab program, offered as a drop-in activity on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm through November 22, 2015. Visitors can explore the science behind historical archaeology; help clean, sort, and identify artifacts; and learn about soil during a “shoe box” dig. Make some clay marbles based on archaeological finds to take home.  Read the rest of this entry »

Family Day: Celebrating Parent Engagement & Healthy Happy Kids

Monday, September 28th is Family Day

Monday, September 28th, 2015, is Family Day, and the Communities That Care Coalition is encouraging families to celebrate by spending quality time together as a family.  Family Day is a national movement, launched by Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep kids substance-free, healthy and happy.  Read the rest of this entry »

3 Support Groups for Grandfamilies

Grandfamilies Offers Unique Support to Families

A support group for families in which a relative parents another relative’s children, Grandfamilies offers support for adults navigating both the joy and challenges of such a family structure.

Communities are made up of families of all kinds, and the United Arc is offering local families a new resource for support. Located in the Hilltowns and Franklin County, Grandfamilies is a support group for families in which a relative cares for another relative’s children. This type of family structure is not uncommon, and can happen for a multitude of reasons. Grandfamilies offers folks who have such a family structure with a space in which to share the joy and satisfaction of raising children, and also serves as a source of support for the grief, financial strain, loss of independence, and other challenges that can accompany this type of family situation.

Grandfamilies groups provide families with the opportunity to learn about other useful community resources, share stories, and connect with other community members who are also raising a relative’s children. Grandfamilies group meetings are relaxed, and offer a friendly and supportive atmosphere within which participants can engage in essential and meaningful self-care.  Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Latino American History through Community-Based Educational Events & Celebrations

Herencia Latina Brings Exploration of Latino History and Culture to the Pioneer Valley

Held over the course of nine months, Herencia Latina brings a host of educational opportunities and cultural celebrations to the Pioneer Valley.

For over a century, Latino Americans have been a part of communities within the Pioneer Valley. With over 50 million people making up Latino communities across the country, the group is the largest minority group in the country.

In order to celebrate and educate about Latino American history and culture, the Pioneer Valley History Network – in conjunction with local museums, libraries, colleges, and community organizations – brings Herencia Latina to western Massachusetts.

Offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore the history of Latino Americans in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, Herencia Latina brings educational opportunities to western Massachusetts through May of 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Smith College Museum of Art

Surprise your Eyes at the Smith College Museum of Art

Where do you begin your Museum adventure? For many visitors to the Smith College Museum of Art, their first stop is to check out the artist-designed restrooms! Designed by artists Ellen Driscoll and Sandy Skoglund as functional—and permanent—works of art, each is unique and beautiful. A popular spot for selfies, the women’s restroom features works from the Museum’s collection reproduced in a blue underwater world through etched glass panels. In contrast to the cool hues and mermaid paradise of Driscoll’s women’s restroom, across the way Skoglund intended to create a space that would incorporate “patterning and visual sizzle.”  The men’s room is black and white from floor to ceiling, creating the sensory experience of stepping into an optical illusion. For the wall tiles, Skoglund used imagery based on global creation stories with the common theme of liquid origins. From the fixtures to the floors and even the toilet bowls and urinals, visitors are invited to be part of the art themselves through the use of these unforgettable spaces.

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The artist-designed restrooms are located on the lower level of the Museum, which has been a hub of activity this summer.  While the restrooms will remain untouched, extensive renovations to the rest of the floor are underway. When completed in October, the Museum’s gallery updates and improvements will offer new ways to experience and interact with SCMA’s treasured collection of exceptional art.

Don’t miss these highlights on a visit this fall:  Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Mead Art Museum

From Mead to You: Making Learning Connections at the Mead Art Museum

Experience, investigate, and explore world-class art and hidden treasures at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum. In July, families can travel the world without ever leaving the area through the Mead’s family workshops and open house days. Enjoy art-making, guest performances, tours, and more—all of it free and open to all.

Search for secret doors in a seventeenth-century paneled room. Puzzle over a cuneiform inscription that praises a powerful Assyrian king. Marvel at a hanging sculpture spinning in a still gallery.

Visitors to the Mead Art Museum do so much more than see objects—at the Mead, art is experienced, investigated, and explored. Set on Amherst College’s beautiful main quadrangle and flanked by a fascinating, stand-alone stone steeple, the Mead offers a world of resources for connecting art across countless cultures, mediums, and eras.

Just as its south-up, equal-area map (on permanent display in the Kunian gallery) turns traditional worldviews “upside-down,” the Mead provides learning opportunities that encourage creative thinking and a global, culturally-aware approach to art history.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltowns Celebrate their History & the Season this Weekend

3 Hilltown Celebrations

As part of Ashfield’s 250 celebration, 396 rockets will light up the sky over Ashfield Lake on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9pm! Preceded by a free potluck community supper at Town Fall and an afterparty at The Lakehouse. Other places to wine and dine include Elmer’s and Country Pie! Ashfield, MA (FREE)

This Father’s Day weekend in the Hilltowns, three communities celebrate the season and their history!


Ashfield is celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend! On Saturday, June 20, a fun-filled parade will traverse the streets with unicycles, antique vehicles, costumes, and many, many community organizations taking part, beginning at 10am.. Starts at the intersection of Emmett Rd & 116 in South Ashfield, goes through the center of town, and ends at Belding Park. Make a day of it by visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying food and music on the Common, and participating in a community and history scavenger hunt at 12:30pm. Folks can dance or clap along at a 2pm contra dance or visit the Ashfield Historical Society’s textile window displays. (FREE) Then from 6pm – 9pm is the Party Under the Stars, a great and festive community event where you can mingle with your friends and neighbors! There will be live music, food, and beverages. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-628-4441. Curtis House, 14 South Street. ($)


Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of Charlemont at this daylong event filled with fascinating local stories, songs, food, games, a scavenger hunt and entertainment on Saturday, June 20 from 9:30am – 8:30pm. 413-339-0117. Downtown. (FREE) Then on Sunday morning from 8-10am, there will be a a community pancake breakfast sponsored by the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds. 413-625-2623. Town Fairgrounds ($)


The summer solstice (June 21, 2015) marks the start of summer, the day on which the sun looks highest in the sky and the longest stretch of daylight of the year. Mark this special day at the Becket Arts Center‘s Summer Solstice Community Celebration, where visitors will enjoy an opening reception for a new art exhibit, children’s activities, a silent auction, food, and live music from Becket native, Bobby Sweet. 4pm – 9pm. 413-623-6635. 7 Brooker Hill Road (< $)

Ticket Giveaway: 2015 Green River Festival!

Take the Family to the
Happening July 10th-13th, 2015
Greenfield, MA

Enter for a chance to win a pair of weekend tickets to the Green River Festival happening July 10th-13th in Greenfield, MA. Kids 10 and under get in free. Win tickets and take the family! Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 6/30/15.

The 29th annual Green River Festival happens again this year on July 10th-13th, 2015… and Hilltown Families has two pairs of weekend tickets to giveaway! With a pair of tickets, and free admittance for children ten and under, two adults can take a gaggle of kids and plan on spending the day at this great western Massachusetts music festival! Tickets do not including parking or food.

Click here to find out how you can enter for a chance to win!

Museum Adventures: Yiddish Book Center

Yiddish Book Center: Something for Everyone (and You Don’t Need to Speak Yiddish)

Learning about Jewish culture and history often leads parents and children to conversations about their own family’s history, culture, and traditions.

In the Yiddish Book Center’s kindervinkl (children’s corner), three-year-old Eli dons a white apron and begins whipping up an (imaginary) meal of brisket and, for dessert, homentashn. When he’s done, he and his mother settle on a red bench nearby and begin reading picture books.

In the welcome gallery, a dad and two preteen girls enjoy a short film about the history of the Center. When the film ends, they head over to a reproduction Yiddish print shop with vintage printing equipment, including a Yiddish Linotype, a hot-lead typesetting machine used for decades at the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forverts.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Fabric of History in Western Mass Weaves a Tale

Historic Deerfield Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Their Textile Collection

Early 19th-century tartan wool cloak.

On June 4, 1965, the brand new Fabric Hall was opened to the public at Historic Deerfield (then known as The Heritage Foundation).  Situated behind the Silver Museum in a renovated 1870s barn (now Historic Deerfield’s History Workshop), Fabric Hall showcased the museum’s growing collection of clothing, needlework and domestic textiles.  The gallery, which included innovative ambient lighting, air conditioning, and radiant floor heat, conveyed an early awareness of the need to monitor environmental conditions to protect fragile items.  Fabric Hall was the dream of Helen Geier Flynt (1895-1986) who, along with her husband, Henry N. Flynt (1893-1970), founded Historic Deerfield. No longer limited to the small spaces of the historic house museums, Fabric Hall allowed Mrs. Flynt free reign to display a range of items in the collection, from more exotic and opulent textiles to historic fashions and textiles demonstrating aesthetic or technical excellence. Read the rest of this entry »

Take Me to the River: Honor Your Watershed at Shelburne Falls RiverFest

Local Celebration Inspires Community-Based Education

Celebrate the role of water in our local landscape at Shelburne Falls’ RiverFest, an annual community event celebrating local culture and local water. Families can learn about the local landscape, celebrate local history, and participate in the annual Frog and Flower Parade, which showcases community spirit and beautiful (and funky) handmade representations of familiar river creatures.

The rivers of western Massachusetts run like veins through our local landscape, each one giving life to the valleys through which it flows. Families can celebrate the life-giving nature of our local waterways at the Deerfield River Watershed Association’s annual RiverFest, a community celebration of the river’s role in local life. While RiverFest specifically celebrates the village of Shelburne Falls’ relationship with the Deerfield River, the Deerfield’s watershed feeds directly into the Connecticut River, a body of water whose currents have helped to define much of life in our part of the state. So no matter how near or far from the river your home may be, it’s still important to honor the river!

Held primarily on Saturday, June 6th, RiverFest offers a wide variety of events, including opportunities for both celebration and community-based learning. With the bulk of the festival’s excitement taking place on (and very close to) Shelburne Falls’ Main Street, it’s easy for families to explore and learn on foot. Main Street highlights will include live music and dancing throughout the day, fly-casting, river rafting, Native American storytelling, birds of prey demonstrations, various kids’ games and activities, as well as vendor tents and tables. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Museums10 Turns 10 & Continues to Think Smart

Museums10 Deepens Western Mass Cultural Life Through Creative Collaboration

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA.

Western Massachusetts is rich with opportunities for families to get out into their community to explore, to get to know the world better, and gain a deeper understanding of history. The museums in our region embody that richness to the fullest! Now in its 10th year, Museums10 can point to the fact that they host more exhibitions annually than at the Met, Lourve, and Guggenheim combined and house 1.3 million collection objects (equal to what you’d find at the Harvard Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Art Museum put together!).

Who is Museums10? Ten years ago, 10 local museums came together to build a collaborative to foster greater cooperation. The hope was that by working together they could accomplish more than any could solo. During the past decade, they’ve hosted large joint exhibitions, worked with local organizations to create events, and built relationships with area schools to help make the museums part of children’s educational lives during the school day.  Read the rest of this entry »

The River’s Song Blends Art & Science While Supporting Community-Based Learning

The River’s Song Celebrates Connecticut River with
Wonderful Range of Events

What does drumming, spoken word, hands-on art making, environmentally-themed storytime, and a parade have to do with the Connecticut River? It’s all a part of The River’s Song, a community celebration that combines art, local history, and community-based learning opportunities to create an event that honors and celebrates the Connecticut River, the Pioneer Valley’s natural artery.

Held on Saturday, May 16th at locations throughout downtown Turners Falls, The River’s Song is a unique community celebration in that its offerings are quite diverse, yet are all still directly related to the Connecticut River and its role both in the local landscape and in our lives. With events beginning at 9am and running past 9pm, The River’s Song offers over 12 hours of river-themed play and learning.  Read the rest of this entry »

Young Shakespeare Players East Integrates Lessons in History & Government with Theatre

Lend Us Your Ears!
Young Shakespeare Players East Performs
Julius Caesar at The Shea Theater In Turners Falls

Young Shakespeare Players East actors in early rehearsals for Julius Caesar. — For the YSP East actors, participating as an ensemble member in Julius Caesar is an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the play as they learn not only about Shakespeare and ancient Rome, but also about the role of politics, history, and government. For audiences this is an opportunity to experience the beauty of Shakespeare’s language and the tragedy and intrigue of ancient Rome as staged by a group of dedicated and talented young actors.

The Young Shakespeare Players (YSP) East, a non-profit youth theater program located in Turners Falls, MA, will present its production of the full length version of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on Saturday May 9 & Sunday May 10, 2015 at 12noon and 6pm at The Shea Theater (71 Avenue A) in Turners Falls, MA. All performances are free and open to the public. YSP East encourages people of all ages to attend.

Young Shakespeare Players (YSP) was founded in 1980 by Richard DiPrima in Madison, Wisconsin, and YSP East is proud to be the first ‘chapter’ of YSP outside of Madison and to make Turners Falls and the Shea Theater its new home. The program gives young people ages 7-18 the opportunity to perform full-length, original works of Shakespeare.  There are no auditions or rejections. Every young person who participates receives one or more substantial speaking roles.

YSP East is excited to present its production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on May 9 & 10, 2015, at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. Julius Caesar addresses timeless themes such as conspiracy, democracy, liberty, corruption, ambition and tyranny. The actors of Young Shakespeare Players East will re-create one of the most famous and important moments in world history — by performing, uncut, one of the most famous and important plays in world history.

Shakespeare created many memorable scenes and lines in Julius Caesar, and audiences will recognize them as the YSP East players perform such dramatic scenes as the assassination of Caesar on the steps of the Roman Senate, and Antony’s famous speech, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;…”  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Draw-Around Unleashes Creative Free-Play!

Interactive Event & Workshops Invites Community to Make its Mark

Draw all over the walls (and the floor and the tables) at the Art Garden’s first annual 12-hour Hilltown Draw Around! Creative types of all ages are invited to participate in art making, community-building, and creative free play all day long!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to draw all over a room? The Art Garden is offering families exactly that opportunity! The first annual Hilltown Draw Around is a 12-hour interactive community art-making extravaganza held in a paper-covered gymnasium. Families can drop by between 12noon and midnight on Saturday, April 11th for a day filled with drawing workshops, community building, creative free play, and endless opportunities to draw anything and everything. And it’s not just for self-proclaimed artists – anyone and everyone is welcome to come and explore the creative materials available and make their own mark on the event.

A variety of volunteer-lead workshops throughout the day offer participants opportunities to learn new drawing-related skills or to participate in special projects – and many workshops use drawing as an entry point for interdisciplinary learning. A mathematical drawing workshop will teach participants about fractals, geometry, and the Golden Ratio, while a synesthesia-based drawing experience will help participants make connections between spoken language, color, and art, as well as teaching about the cognitive phenomenon that is synesthesia. Read the rest of this entry »

RiverCulture: Another Success Story in the Western MA Arts Scene

Turners Falls Artscape Promotes A Diversity of Artistic Disciplines

Last month in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+, which supports the community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we highlight the work of Turners Falls RiverCulture, an organization combining art, history, and recreation to build connections between community members and the cultural learning opportunities that exist within Turners Falls. RiverCulture both creates community-based learning opportunities and serves as a vehicle for connecting the community with preexisting opportunities to access resources for learning about local arts and culture.  Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Events in Western MA, 2015

Easter Events in Western MA 2015

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Community events that celebrate Easter take place over the next few week.

We’ll be adding to this list as events come in, so be sure to check back: Easter Events in Western MA 2015.

Performing Arts Festival Comes to the Hilltowns

Sugar season is upon us, and coming with it is Piti Theater Company’s sweetest performances this weekend, co-sponsored by Hilltown Families! SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival brings locally created original theater and exciting performances from special guests to Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for two days of performances, workshops, and sweet entertainment all around!

This year, Piti Theater Company will use the festival to launch a local tour of their new show, Innocenzo, which addresses concerns about electromagnetic pollution. Designed to be watched, appreciated, and understood by children, the show tells the story of a clown who falls sick with a mysterious illness, only to find out that he is being affected by electromagnetic pollution. The show does have a happy ending, but shares important information about the affects of a somewhat new (and rarely publicly addressed) concern. True to Piti’s theatrical style, the show is both educational and eye-opening, yet blends this with original music and clowning for a well-rounded and captivating show. Read the rest of this entry »

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