Arts Festival Brings Music, Art & Community Together in the Hilltowns

First Annual Hilltown Arts Festival, 2011!

Plein Air Artists will be painting all day along Rt 112 during the first Annual Hilltown Arts Festival on Saturday, July 9th in Worthington, MA.

The Hilltowns come alive with art and music this weekend with the First Annual Hilltown Arts Festival, Saturday July 9th from 10am-5pm in Worthington, MA.  Enjoy a wonderful day in the heart of the Hilltowns with many free art and music activities throughout the town of Worthington:

  • Old Fashioned Country Fair: From 10am-2pm  there will be an Old Fashioned Country Fair at the Worthington Congregational Church.   There will be children’s activities, bake sale, frog jumping contest (10:30am), cake walk, raffle, crafts, tag sale and food.
  • Art Show/Sale: The Hilltown Artisans Guild will be host an Art Show and Sale at the Worthington Town Hall featuring paintings, photograph or other piece of artwork by local hilltown artists.
  • Farm Exhibit: On the lawn of the Worthington Historical Society there will be live music, demos, farmers’ market, and other activities.  Inside visitors can view the WHS ongoing Farm Exhibit.
  • Sheep to Shawl: The Worthington Library will have a “Sheep to Shawl” demo and themed gift basket Raffles.
  • Plein Air Artists: Plein Air Artists will be painting all day along Rt 112 with a Silent Auction of the paintings after 2:30pm at the  Russell Conwell School.
  • Flower Box Contest: The Worthington Gardeners Club is having a Flower Box Contest in front of the Church.
  • Open Houses: Blackburn Inn,  Worthington Fire Department and Horning Homestead open their doors for an open house.
  • Local Music: Live performances of local musicians on the lawn at the Town Hall begin at 11am, including Charles Neville and Jim Kaminski  (2pm), Laura Wetzler, Mariam Massero and the Blue Crystal Sisters with the Gaea Star Band,  James Kitchen and the Appliances, vocalists  Monique Rioux and Ron Jackson and Peter McLean and many others.   In the event of rain the program will shift to the Russell Conwell School.

For more information on this event contact Natalie Stafford at or call 413-238-0192.  The Arts Festival is sponsored by Arts Alive in the Hilltowns and The Hilltown Artisans Guild.

(Photo credit: (ccl) Cobalt123)

Wicked Wickets in Worthington

Worthington’s Halloween Celebration

"This is a chance for people to come down to see all the kids in their costumes," said Janine Modestow, Recreation Committee member.(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This year, the town of Worthington, MA will celebrate Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 30, and offer a new twist, Wicked Wickets, as well as scarecrow-making, a carved pumpkin walkway, a deejay, and an opportunity for residents to give out candy on the R.H. Conwell Community Education grounds. The event is sponsored by the Recreation Committee.

The fun begins on Friday, Oct. 29, with a free scarecrow-making class at 3 p.m. at the R.H.Conwell Community Education Center (147 Huntington Rd.). At that time, residents can also drop off scarecrows made at home to be judged at the school on Saturday.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, residents are invited to bring carved pumpkins to either the Town Hall at 160 Huntington Road or the center. The pumpkins will be used to mark a path between the two buildings, which are situated diagonally across from each other. Everyone is invited to participate in decorating the Town Hall, starting at 3 p.m.

Residents who wish to hand out candy at the center may arrive and set up at 4 p.m.

“This is a chance for people to come down to see all the kids in their costumes,” said Janine Modestow, Recreation Committee member. The candy handout will give residents who live on the outskirts of town and who are not often visited by trick-or-treaters the chance to join in the fun.

At 5 p.m., townwide trick-or-treating begins. Children can stop by the center and continue through town. Residents who wish to have trick-or-treaters stop at their home are asked to signal this by leaving their lights on.

Teenagers are invited to create a wicket, with a scary theme – or not – to play Wicked Wickets, a combination of haunted croquet and miniature golf that will be played on the Town Hall side lawn, weather permitting. Relying on imagination, the wicket can be carved out of pumpkin or a pile of wood with a space large enough for a croquet ball to roll through.

Then, at 6 p.m. residents will play Wicked Wickets to the sounds of a performing deejay. Prizes for scarecrows will be given out. The Boy Scouts will serve up free hot dogs and burgers, and the Recreation Committee will provide cider, doughnuts and coffee. The cleanup party for the day’s event begins at 8 p.m.

Community Education Center Forming in Worthington

RH Conwell Community Education Center
A Homeschooling Co-Op in Worthington

Parents of R.H Conwell Students are invited to learn more about an option to start a Community Education Center in the town of Worthington, MA this fall.  A group of parents and town members will be hosting a meeting to discuss their goal to provide a local, community directed educational experience for Worthington area elementary students (preschool-6th).

  • The meeting will be at the Worthington Town Hall on Saturday, February 27th at 10am.

RH Conwell Community Education Center

Our goal is to provide a local, community directed educational experience for Worthington area elementary students. We will focus on elementary education in the tradition of the school that just closed. To make next year feel as comfortable to parents and students as they feel this year is a primary goal. Community members and parents will be directly involved in the educational process. This could be a transition program to a new public school or a program we wish to continue for the foreseeable future.

We will follow the education laws of Massachusetts by organizing as a homeschooling cooperative. This means that before the school year starts, each parent and child meets with Conwell’s education specialist and develops an education plan. The plan can be a standard grade level plan or individualized for each student. Families send the plans to the child’s local school district which will then certify the child as a homeschooler. School districts can ask for more information, but have very little right to deny the homeschooling plans.

Depending on the number of families involved, there will be at least two paid staff members; one coordinator and one educational specialist who will have a teaching degree. We envision serving children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Volunteers will work under the direction of the educational specialist to allow for small groups and individual attention. We are assuming that the center would be open during the traditional school day. Based on families needs, children could attend part time or full time.

Daily Structure
Mornings will be spent on subjects such as math and language arts, either individually or in small groups. Afternoons will be spent applying skills to in depth projects or field trips. We plan to collaborate with local organizations and individuals to offer a variety of courses. Meals could provide an opportunity to apply math skills to planning and preparation.

This program will have costs that are not yet known. There will be expenses for the use of the school, material costs, salaries, insurance etc. We are planning to raise funds and apply for grants to lower costs. We also will be working with the Lewis’s It Takes a Community Foundation. Volunteer services could be traded for some expenses.

Other Programs
We are hoping to use the school as a hub for other community activities such as before and after school childcare and preschool. This would also allow local children who attend other schools to remain connected with the community. We envision the school as a place where intergenerational groups could collaborate.


  • Leona Arthen – Worthington library director
  • Debbie Carnes – longtime school aide and volunteer, certified guidance councilor
  • Valerie Casterline- lifelong Worthington resident, professional working parent
  • Vanessa Lewis – school volunteer and fundraising coordinator
  • Kathy MacLean- retired fourth grade teacher at RH Conwell
  • Richard Mansfield –former school board member
  • Michele Sawyer- parent and school volunteer
  • Susan Warner- child care provider
  • Judith Williams- retired fourth grade teacher and principle at RH Conwell

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

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:

Thanks for your help!

Hilltown Artisans Guild Holiday Show

Members of the Hilltown Artisans Guild Will Host
A Holiday Show in Worthington, MA

On Saturday & Sunday, December 5th & 6th, the Hilltown Artisans Guild will have their Holiday Show from 10am to 4pm in Worthington, MA at the Town Hall (Rt. 112 Worthington). Bring the family to meet local artisans while supporting local economy! Offering hundreds of handsome handmade items appropriate for gift giving created by the area’s finest artists and craftspeople. Refreshments served. For more info call 413-238-4418 (days of the show: 413-238-0173).


The Hilltown Artisans Guild is a network of diverse professional craftspeople and artists who reside in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts. Members benefit from shared market strategy and opportunities to exhibit and sell their work. Annual events include a juried summer show and a holiday celebration with demonstrations, entertainment and sale of handcrafted items appropriate for gift-giving.

To see a list of members of the guild and links to their web sites, go to

Hilltown Arts Alliance Now Forming

Worthington Cultural Council writes:

The Worthington Cultural Council (WCC) invites you to a meeting on Nov. 11, 7pm to discuss the formation of a comprehensive Hilltown arts alliance. Worthington Historical Society building (looks like a church), corner of 143 and 112.

Explanation: the WCC members began a process that we hope will ultimately result in a coalition of HIlltown artists…we sent out a questionnaire and received 30 replies…

Our current goal is to create a website that will contain a calendar of events, classes, concerts, shows, etc. We plan an “artist of the month”, list classes, open studios, venues available for performances, shows, lectures, and readings. We are in the beginning stage and would appreciate input from you about content and local artists’ needs. We believe that such a website could bring more people to Hilltown events and more revenue to the local, often underserved Hilltown artists working in all disciplines.

We are looking for people from all Hilltowns who would like to be involved in the planning and implementation of this project. We hope you will be among them. Your input and participation is important to us.

If you would like to participate, please let us know. If you want to bring a friend who is interested in the arts, please do.

Thank you ,
Jan Roby, 238-5593
Mary Pulley, 238-7747
Kate Ewald, 238-5556

If you are interested in this event, please reply to the contact people above; they need to ensure they’ll be enough folks attending in order to have it at the Worthington Historical Society building. (They will have it at someone’s house if there is only a small group).

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 »

Hilltown Community Chorus Group Welcomes Families to Join

New Singers Of All Ages Are Welcome to Join the Hilltown Choral Society!

According to a new study by Chorus America, children who sing in choruses have greater academic success and more advanced social skills than children who don’t sing. Click on the link below to read more about their findings.

Do you have children that love to sing? Are you looking for ways you or your family can be more involved with your community? Did you know there was a Hilltown community chorus group, the Hilltown Choral Society, and they are welcoming new singers of all ages?

The Hilltown Choral Society welcomes new singers and will hold rehearsals for their Holiday Concerts and Winter Concert on Monday evenings beginning September 14th, 2009 from 7:30 to 9:00pm in the Worthington Historical Society Building (intersection of Routes 143 and 112) in the center of Worthington, MA.

The  Holiday Concerts are to be held on Saturday December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, 2009, and a Winter Concert will also be held on Sunday January 3rd, 2010.

With nearly 10 million children and 32 million adults singing in choruses, choral singing is the most popular form of participation in the performing arts*.

“The prototype of a choral singer is how Americans aspire to see themselves today: as active, involved citizens with a broad range of creative interests and concerns for their communities,” says Ann Meier Baker, the President and CEO of Chorus America.

According to a *new study conducted by Chorus America, choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.  Read their findings here: How Children, Adults and Communities Benefit from Choruses: The Chorus Impact Study.

For more information about the Hilltown Choral Society, or to reserve a place in the group, please contact Chorus Director, Jeff Hunt, at 413-499-7320 or  Jeff Hunt, is also organist at St. Mark’s Church in Pittsfield, MA.

Updates for Worthington Families

Updates for Worthington Families

Fight for R. H. Conwell School (Worthington, MA)

Public hearing on Thursday, August 27th in Worthington, MA at the school. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Playgroup Volunteer Coordinator Wanted

The Rec Department in Worthington, Ma is looking for a volunteer coordinator to oversee playgroups at the Town Hall starting this fall. Playgroups schedule will depend on the schedules of both the volunteer coordinator and the Town Hall schedule. Playing resources are provided. For more information call Susan Warner at 413-238-0047

Junior-Senior Croquet Tournament this Sunday

In an effort to encourage intergenerational interactions, the Rec Department is sponsoring their 2nd Annual Junior-Senior Croquet Tournament this Sunday (August 23rd) at the Historical Society Building starting at 4pm.  This is a free event and prizes will be awarded.  For more information call 413-238-0296.

Public Hearing

Fight for R. H Conwell School in Worthington, MA. Public hearing on Thursday, August 27th in Worthington, MA at the school.

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 »

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.

The Bear Missed the Train

Penny Schultz: Music Diva

Penny Schultz at the Worthington Library (c) Hilltown FamiliesIf you’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of Penny Schultz’s community sings, tomorrow (08/21/07) is your chance. She will be leading a community sing at Earthdance in Plainfield, MA, at 6:30pm.

Penny is a dynamic and energetic teacher whose love of music is infectious. I first took my daughter to one of Penny’s community sings when she was a baby back in ’04. On a couple of occassions we’ve seen her lead songs at the Hilltown Charter Cooperative School during their winter fair and recently stopped in to see her at the Worthington Library. Penny views herself as a teacher, not a performer, and this came through clearly as she led the kids through rounds and choruses of traditional songs, including “The Bear Missed The Train,” a song inspired by the Yiddish song, “Bei Mir Bist Du Shain.”

The Bear Missed The Train

The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train, and now he’s walking. (repeat)

He’s walking here and there,
He’s walking everywhere.
He;s walking up and down,
He’s walking through the town!

The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train,
The bear missed the train, and now he’s walking.

For different verses, choose a different animal and a different mode of transportation, then complete the phrase: for example, the mouse missed the boat, and now she’s swimming. Check out the video for middle stanza movements.

Q&A: Is there a community swimming pool in the hilltowns?

A: YES! The Worthington Swim Club!

Worthington Swim Club

Worthington Swim Club - (c) Sienna Wildfield

In addition to all the swimming holes found in the Hilltowns, the Worthington Swim Club adds a swimming pool to our swimming options. It does cost a few clams along with a few community hours, but for many, a swimming pool is their preference. Read the rest of this entry »

Beanie Baby Drop off in Hilltowns

Beanies for Balad project

Beanie Babies are being collected for distribution to wounded children at the hospital at Balad Air Base in Iraq. Drop off locations in the hilltowns include:

  • Chesterfield – New Hingham School
  • Huntington – Huntington Library and the Trolley Shop
  • Williamsburg – Williamsburg Pharmacy
  • Worthington – Russell Conwell School, Worthington Library, Worthington Health Center
  • To find additional drop-off locations and to discover more about this project, read Sandra Contantine’s article, Beanie Babies Project.

Consolidating Hilltown Elementary Schools

Sledding in Worthington

Food For Fines

Northampton Survival CenterNext week there will be a great opprotunity for families to support their community while paying their overdue fines at the library. The Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, will be holding a Food for Fines week from Sunday, January 7th to Saturday, January 13th, 2007. During this week, families may pay any overdue fines on their account with a donation of canned goods (please check your expiration dates) or healthy non-perishable food items. All food collected will be given to The Northampton Survival Center for distribution.

The Northampton Survival Center is an emergency food pantry which provides low-income individuals and families in 16 communities in Hampshire County with free food, clothing, household goods, and referrals for emergency assistance. The center serves 16 communities, including Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, and Worthington. Read the rest of this entry »

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