Early Spring Family Activities in the Berkshires

Early April in the Berkshires

Shoes  - Berkshire Family Fun

The snow is melting (finally) and if the predicted Nor’easter bypasses us this week then hopefully it will be smooth sailing through the rest of the spring. Besides the appearance of a little green (or brown as it is in my yard) another sign that spring is here is the abundance of family-friendly activities on the local calendars.


Our family took a trip to Washington, D.C., last May and if you’ve never been, it is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. The five of us squeezed as much into our four-day trip as humanly possible — we have the holes in our shoes to prove it — and the best part of all was that all of the attractions were free. All except one of my kids favorite, of course: The Spy Museum. We don’t have a spy museum in the Berkshires but Sunday, April 3, the Clark Art Institute is featuring a lecture “In Pursuit of the Priceless: Tales from the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.” I know a lecture may not sound like a family-friendly event, but the description has me intrigued and we may just be wandering to up North Berkshire County this weekend to check it out. The lecture will be given by former FBI special agent and best-selling author Robert K. Wittman, who will share the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities, including the 2,000-year-old golden armor that was looted from the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Peru, the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments and an original copy of the Bill of Rights that was stolen by a Union soldier in 1865. Seems like just the thing my kids might be interested in. The event begins at 3 p.m. and it is free. The Clark is located on South Street in Williamstown. For more information call 413-458-2303 or go online to clarkart.edu.


I don’t know if any of you have heard of StoryWalks, the family-friendly phenomenon that is sweeping the Northeast, but they are taking the Berkshires by storm and I can write from experience, they are so much fun. The StoryWalk Project, began in Montpelier, VT, and were created by Anne Ferguson (visit vtbikeped.org for more information). StoryWalks deconstruct well-known children’s storybooks (in very large sizes) and mount the individual pages along a familiar walking route. Some have hosted StoryWalks on the main streets of their town or village, while others host StoryWalks at a specific location with activities and treats to go along with the theme of the book. On Saturday, April 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. the Family Resource Center will host a Family Fun Time event featuring a StoryWalk with the book “Shoes” by Elizabeth Winthrop at the Haskins Center, Route 8, North Adams. The event is free. For more information call 413-664-4821.


The language of Shakespeare can be daunting, especially for me. Try as I might, it just confuses me, but there are two upcoming events at two opposite ends of the county that aim to make Shakespeare and his text a little less elusive to kids (and their grown-ups). First up, the annual Williamstown Elementary School Shakespeare Festival on April 8. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 8. Highlights of the event include potion-making, fencing and other Shakespeare-themed crafts and games. And get this, the WES fourth-graders will perform “Hamlet.” You go kids! The school is located on Church Street. For more information call 413-458-5707.

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Western Mass Students to Compete in Junior Solar Sprint

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Educational & Fun Competition for Students Promotes Awareness About Transportation, Technology and the Environment

The Junior Solar Sprint happens on June 5th in Pittsfield, MA and is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. A great opportunity for students to learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation.

On Saturday, June 5th, area middle school students will gather at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, MA to race their model solar-powered cars in the eleventh annual Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint (JSS). Participation is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. More than 80 students from Western Mass are expected to participate in the JSS this year.

The JSS is a fun and educational competition for students in grades 5-8 who work in teams to build model vehicles powered by the sun. In the process they learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation. Now in it’s 11th year, the Berkshire JSS is part of a national program that offers 5th through 8th grade students the opportunity to design, construct and test the performance of a model solar electric vehicle. It inspires teachers, students and their families to learn, teach and raise community awareness about transportation, technology and the environment.

Registration for students begins at 8:30am Judging of entries begins at 9:30am and races begin at 10am. The solar vehicles will be judged for speed, craftsmanship, innovation and technical merit, and the top three winners in each category will be eligible to compete in the regional JSS championship in Springfield, MA on June 13th.

If you are interested in registering a team, or are interested in volunteering for this event, contact Cynthia Grippaldi at 413-445-4556 ext. 25.

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One Great Way to Recycle Your Kids Tattered & Outgrown Clothes This Weekend

CET’s 15th Annual Earth Day Clothing and Textile Drive This Weekend

On Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25, the Center for Ecological Technology (CET) will hold its 15th annual Textile Drive to collect old clothing and household textiles for reuse and recycling. The event will be held in partnership with Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The collection is open to all Berkshire county residents as well as those living in southern Vermont and eastern New York State. CET is located at 112 Elm Street in Pittsfield, MA.

Materials will be accepted at CET in Pittsfield on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Last year’s drive resulted in CET collecting almost 22,000 pounds of materials!

All types of clothing are accepted—including sweaters, shirts, skirts, pants, jackets, overcoats and raincoats. Blankets, gloves, socks, paired shoes and winter boots, sheets, towels, and curtains are also acceptable. Clothing must be clean, dry and packed in strong plastic bags, such as garbage or lawn-leaf bags. Rugs, carpeting and pillows will not be accepted. Please do not bring clothes on hangers. During this year’s drive, CET will also collect donations of non-perishable food items in support of Goodwill’s Food Pantry program. These donations will only be accepted at CET’s Elm Street collection on April 24 and 25.

Goodwill resells the wearable clothing at its local stores and sends the remainder to the textile market. Additionally, Goodwill uses the collection, sorting and retail sales as job training for individuals with barriers to employment. Last year, Goodwill provided services to 122 individuals in eight different programs.

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Burgy’s First Annual Energy Fair – Stay Warm and Save Energy This Winter!

Andrew Webster of Williamsburg writes:

Burgy’s First Annual Energy Fair – Stay Warm and Save Energy This Winter!

The Town of Williamsburg will hold an Energy Fair at the Anne P. Dunphy School on Saturday morning, October 18, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Free admission.

View tables and talk with more than a dozen local professionals in the areas of energy, transportation, heating and safety who can offer tips for staying warm this winter while saving money on electricity, fuel and heat. Learn from experts about tuning up your heating system, and the Fire Department, Building Inspector, and the Board of Health will be there to provide resources on safety.

Other offerings will include a workshop on home weatherization by the Center for Ecological Technology (CET) at 10:30 a.m. Learn the “building science” of your home and discover no & low cost tips to “button up” for winter – and how to identify and invest in energy efficiency measures for your home through the MassSAVE statewide program.

The PVTA will be there with the trolley-style “Burgy Bullet” bus. Learn how you can “go easy” on your wallet and on the environment by taking the bus or starting a rideshare program with neighbors.

Bring kids to meet “Dr. Worm” and see how his wriggly friends turn garbage into compost. Kids can also view the Burgy PD’s new cruisers with their energy-saving interior flashing lights.

Blue House Cafe will be selling coffee and snacks. This will be a fun, family-friendly community education event!

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