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 »

Suggested Events for August 25th-31st, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The 144th annual Cummington Fair, a four-day agricultural celebration right in the heart of Western MA, begins this evening and runs through the weekend! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Bucket List

Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA this Summer!

Thursday-Sunday, August 23rd-26th in the Heart of Western MA – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The annual and beloved Cummington Fair takes place all weekend! Opens at 4pm on Thurs., 1pm on Fri. and 9am on Sat/Sun. Weekend highlights – along with the opportunity to learn about farming and farm animals, local industries, and agriculture – include antique tractor show, circus performances, kids pumpkin contest, magic shows, 4H sheep contest, along with midway rides, games. 97 Fairgrounds Road. Cummington, MA. ($)

Saturday, August 25th in the Hampden County – BACK TO SCHOOL CELEBRATION: School is starting soon! Celebrate the return of school bus rides, fun learning, and bag lunches at Springfield Public Schools’ back to school celebration from 10am-2pm. There will be performances and demonstrations, as well as free backpacks and school supplies for the first 5,000 students to visit. Takes place at Blunt Park. 413-787-7908. 2460 Roosevelt Avenue. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Find out what’s happening in Berkshire County through Sept. 7th.

Saturday, August 25th in the Hampshire County – LOCAL FOOD: How many different types of (delicious) tomatoes are there? And how many are being grown locally? Visit Red Fire Farm’s annual tomato festival to find out from 12noon-5pm! The event includes an all-afternoon tomato tasting, as well as many other fun activities, performances, etc. centered around local food and a locally-based lifestyle. There will be live music from local artists, goods on sale from local artists and artisans, presentations from notable chefs, workshops on utilizing local foods and resources, and, in the morning, a 5K race! 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (<$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Parents’ Night Out Tix Giveaway! Deadline to enter: Sept. 4th.

Friday, Aug. 31st – Monday, Sept. 3rd – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Visit the 145th annual Blandford Fair! There will be animals galore, many opportunities to learn about farming and agriculture, midway games and rides, performances, and more! 413-848-0995. 10 North Street. Blandford, MA. ($)

Friday, Aug. 31st – Monday, Sept. 3rd – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: The 195th edition of the Three County Fair takes place this weekend! Visit to learn about animals, local agriculture, local history, and local culture – and see magic shows, live music, and more! Fair Street. Northampton, MA. ($)

All are invited to join us on an organized field trip to the Food Bank of Western MA on Sat., Sept. 15th at 1:30pm. Sign up to join us!

Saturday, Sept. 1st COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Celebrate the end of summer at the great 2012 Holyoke Community Block Party from 12noon-9pm! There will be live music and food (featuring some particularly delicious treats and particularly entertaining acts) all day! Takes place at Heritage State Park. Dwight Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

SCHOOL OPENINGS: The Montessori School of Northampton currently has openings for fall 2012 in their Little Children’s House classroom. Meeting three mornings per week, this class is an introduction to Montessori for children age 2 years to 3 years 6 months by September 1. For more information, visit their website at www.northamptonmontessori.org or contact Laura, their Director of Admissions, at 413-586-4538 x103.

BENEFIT CONCERT: The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) proudly presents “Goodnight Irene”; a benefit concert for the annual Source to Sea Cleanup. This powerful event, with singers from throughout the watershed, will bring communities together to celebrate resilience in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Join CRWC on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA, 7:00pm Tickets $10, on sale at CRWC Greenfield office. For other ticket sales locations, about the music and singers, and other details go to www.ctriver.org.

Call for Youth PhotographersCALL FOR YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House during the month of September 2012. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Great summer learning opportunity! Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry: Aug 27, 2012. More info and entry forms here: Call for Youth Photographers.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your class, event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

YOUTH VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Westfield on Weekends is seeking volunteers ages 12 years old and older to help with the 8th annual Westfield Colonial Harvest Day, which will be taking place on Saturday, Sept 29 from 10am– 6:30pm on the grounds of the Westfield Athenaeum and on Court St. There will be a general meeting in the Whitney Study at the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday, Aug 28 at 6pm for all those who are interested in finding out more about Colonial Harvest Day and the many volunteer opportunities for this annual community event. For more info, call Colonial Harvest Day Co-Chair Chris Lindquist at 413-568-0638, or email at clindquist@westath.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
August 25th-31st, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets
Weekly eNewsletter | Summer Playgroups

Read the rest of this entry »

75 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 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 »

Asleep at the Cummington Fair

My Day at the Fair

I was very tired at the Cummington Fair because we had a booth where we sold pulled pork, spare ribs and BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. I decided to take a nap in my truck. So I did. I was deeply, deeply asleep when a trailer full of cows pulled up beside me. The cows were all looking at me. (I did not know it because I was asleep., but here is what I think happened.) The cows all looked at each other. They snickered and said, “Watch this.” Then one of them said, “One, two . .. three!” And then they all bellowed together at the same time. Right in the window of my truck. I jumped to the ceiling of my truck. Then I went back to work

As some of you know, Elmer’s has taken a break from dinner for now while we get our vision together. However, seeing as how it’s coming up on Labor Day and all, we did stock up on ribs, smoked ‘em in Brolin’s big old smoker and have them for sale in our to-go cooler. Come and get them; heat them up in the oven or on the grill (or eat them cold) and have yourself a fine send-off of summer!

Hey! We need your old, raggely dishtowels again! Remember how you used to save them for us and bring them to us? Well, we actually used them all up until they were just little threads held together by hems and labels and we need some more! For those of you who are new to my column, you can re-purpose all of your old coffee mugs,ink-pens (did people in the rest of the country call pens “ink-pens” or was that just in the south, where pen and pin were the same word?) and dishtowels at Elmer’s. We are glad to take them all and give them a good and useful life in our café!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

142nd Annual Cummington Fair (August 26th-29th, 2010)

The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country
Right in the Heart of the Hilltowns

The 142nd Cummington Fair, a four-day agricultural celebration right in the heart of Western MA, is this weekend!  The fair starts Thursday night (4-9pm) when families can buy a $10 wrist band for the kids to ride the midway unlimited all night long (or until they’re too dizzy to stand).  Added bonus, it’s Night for Trucks too.  Makes for a loud evening, but great for kids who love trucks!  There will also be a Circus Thrill Show and events in the Fun House Tent.

Friday is Cruise Night. It’s also Children’s Night where families can buy discounted tickets for the rides, which in the past meant 1/2 priced tickets for the rides on the midway. In years past we’ve been able to use any left over tickets for the rest of the weekend (so buy extra if you’re coming back with the kids!).  Other highlights on Friday night include the Circus Thrill Show, Demolition Derby, Bux The Balloon Man, Spaghetti Dinner, and youth Sheep & Cattle Show.

Saturday is Old Fashion Fair Day.  Families can come early and stroll around in the morning looking at the antique tractors, watch the 4H kids proudly share their animals, visit the petting barn, and check out the craft barn.   After 11am the shows begin.  This year Rick Adam, One Man Band, Hansen’s Spectacular Circus Thrill Show, Dux The Ballon Man, Jose’ Duddy and Allegheny String Band will be giving shows all weekend long.  As well as the Draft Oxen Pulls and the Ox Teamster Challenge.

The community Roast Beef Dinner’s first seating happens around lunch time and then again as an early dinner.  There are also an abundance of food vendors selling all sorts of culinary fair delights.  In the afternoon hours, in between shows and performances, families can check out the exhibitor hall and see all the glorious produce local gardeners have grown and crafts artisans have made.  After the dinner hour families can check out the Skid Steer Rodeo and join in square dancing with the Bob Willie & Friendship String Band. Then in the evening there will be fireworks, rain or shine!

Sundays are great days too!  It’s Senior Citizen’s Day, an excellent opportunity for grandparents to take their grandkids! The Western Mass Lumberjack Championship happens in the morning, and later in the day is the Draft Horse Competition, Firemen’s Muster, Antique Car Parade and the community turkey dinner.  Johnny Mystic Magical Entertainment happens throughout the day, and the midway and rides are open from 11am-8pm.

Admission to the fair for kids under 10 get is free, and their adult companions only pay $8. Kids ages 10-16 are $4. There is also the option of buying a 3-Day pass (save $4 per adult) or a 4-Day pass (save $7 per adult). You also have to pay for parking, anywhere between $3-$5 per car.  So carpool if you can to save a few extra dollars.

The Cummington Fair is held every year at the Cummington Fairgrounds (97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA).  It’s located one mile off of Route 9 from the center of Cummington, or 5 miles off of Route 143 from the center of West Chesterfield. Map/Direction.

AGRICULTURAL FAIR LESSON PLANS

I’ve linked to several state fair lesson plans below for families looking for curriculums they can use with the abundance of agricultural fairs that happen in and around Western MA:

Suggested Events 08/29/09-09/04/09

Click on image to see schedule.

Click on image to see schedule.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Click here to suggest an event.

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, location, age appropriateness and costs before attending

CUMMINGTON FAIR, AUGUST 27TH-30TH

The way I see it, there is only one thing happening this weekend, and that’s the 141st Annual Cummington Fair.  The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country!

A friend recently emailed me to see if I know about discount coupons for the fair.  I don’t (do you?).  But I did share with her our stratagies in years past to save a few pennies.  I’ll share them with you here, but I’m no expert on the Cummington Fair.  Just been going with my family and friends for the past six years.

First I should share that kids under 10 get in free and their adult companions only pay $8. Kids ages 10-16 are $4. There is also the option of buying a 3-Day pass (save $4 per adult) or a 4-Day pass (save $7 per adult). You also have to pay for parking, anywhere between $3-$5 per car.  So carpool if you can to save a few extra dollars.

The fair starts Thursday night and you can buy a $10 wrist band for the kids to ride the midway unlimited all night long (or until they’re too dizzy to stand).  It’s also Truck Night, which has always been a little too loud for us with a young child, so we’ve always tried to skip this night.  But I imagine if we had one of those kids that yelled and pointed, “Tuck!” every time one passed by, this would be an excellent night to go!

Half price tickets for rides on the Midway are sold on Friday night. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Friday is Demolition Derby Night. Crazy as it sounds, I know several dads that love to take their sons to this one, but I’m certain there are moms and girls that would enjoy it too.  What you need to know is that on Friday night you can buy discounted tickets for the rides, which in years past meant 1/2 priced tickets for the rides on the midway. This is where our penny saving strategy comes in.  We give friends who go on Friday night money to buy us a ream of tickets.  The secret … you can use these tickets all weekend long! Hopefully the same is true for this year.

Saturday is Old Fashion Fair Day.  Families can come early and stroll around in the morning looking at the antique tractors, watch the 4H kids proudly share their animals, visit the petting barn, and check out the craft barn.   After 11am the shows begin.  This year Pickles da Clown,  Youth Gymkhana Horse Show, Tommy James Magic Show, Rosaire’s Bears, Tommy Vee Hypnotist and Lucky Bob will be giving shows all weekend long.  As well as the Draft Oxen Pulls and the Ox Teamster Challenge.

The community Roast Beef Dinner’s first seating happens around lunch time and then again as an early dinner.  There are also loads of food vendors selling food.  In the afternoon hours, in between shows and performances, families can check out the exhibitor hall and see all the glorious produce local gardeners have grown and crafts artisans have made.  After the dinner hour families can listen to the Cottonwood Band or square dance with the Country Friendship Band.  Then in the evening, new this year, there will be FIREWORKS!

Red Bucket Sugar Shack sells maple syrup cotton candy at the Cummington Fair. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The bonus on Saturdays for us is we can let our kid and her friends ride the midway twice as much because we purchased our tickets for half the cost on Friday night.  We do end up shelling out extra money for games and simulated rock climbing. To save a little more money we often times pack sandwiches, fruit and water to hold us over … but who can resists Red Bucket’s Maple Syrup Cotton Candy (hope my dentist isn’t reading this!)?

Sundays are great days too!  It’s Senior Day, an excellent opportunity for grandparents to take their grandkids! The Lumerjack Championship happens in the morning, and later in the day is the Draft Horse Competition, Skid Steer Rodeo and the community turkey dinner.  New this year is the Firemen’s Muster at 1pm.  And Fireworks happen again in the evening!

The Cummington Fair is held every year at the Cummington Fairgrounds (97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA).  It’s located one mile off of Route 9 from the center of Cummington, or 5 miles off of Route 143 from the center of West Chesterfield.  Click here for Fair Schedule.

AGRICULTURAL FAIR LESSON PLANS

I’ve linked to several state fair lesson plans below for all our homeschooling and afterschooling families:

BULLETIN BOARD

  • Did you get a chance to take our poll?  As our 1,001 post we’ve posted a poll to help HF better serve our readers.  Please take a moment to answer a questions.  Pretty please with a cherry on top! Click here to go on.
  • Suggest an Afterschool or Homeschool Class Bulletin Board: Families are invited to post homeschool & afterschool classes they would like to recommend to other families. Please feel encourage to post your recommendations in the comment box on this page, and let other families looking for classes know about this community resource. If you instruct a class and would like to spread the word via Hilltown Families, contact us about becoming a local sponsor. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.
  • Kyra Anderson of Northampton, MA writes: I’m trying to put together a game club for kids in the 8-10 age range, either after-school or during the school day (for homeschoolers, like us) who love all games, especially especially Magic, The Gathering and D&D.  My vision for this class is that it would be free and meet weekly at our house here in Noho (time and day flexible).  Any interested parties, please feel free to email me kyra@davidmilgrim. or call 413 341-3689.
  • Brent Williams writes: Great coverage of Ann Cooper’s Lunch lesson. Whole Foods Market and Chef Ann Cooper, have just joined forces to transform lunch in schools across the country with the “School Lunch Revolution” campaign. This national effort, aims to enable schools to improve the way children eat. The free, first-of-its-kind Lunch Box Web site – thelunchbox.org – will provide the necessary resources for food service directors to make tangible changes in their cafeteria menus.  I thought you and your readers might find this a good follow up to your recent post + there are some great videos with Chef Ann which offer back to school food tips for parents. You can find these videos @ http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/schoollunchrevolution/videos.php
  • Seth Eisman of the HCDC in Chesterfield, MA writes: Website Marketing for Businesses of All Sizes Workshop begings on September 16th.  Click here for more info.

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)|Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

SATURDAY – 08/29

141st Annual Cummington Fair (August 27th-30th, 2009)

The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country!

Midway and Carnival Games (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

New this year: Fireworks and Firemen’s Muster! Go to CummingtonFair.org for vendor booth information, buy tickets online, entry forms, directions, contact information, and more.

2009 FAIR SCHEDULE:

Thursday, August 27
NIGHT FOR TRUCKS
Gillette Ride Special $10.00 Wristband

  • 4:00 PM Gates Open
    • Antique Engines & Tractors Show Opens
    • Midway and Rides Open
    • Petting Barn Opens
    • Tommy James Magic Show
  • 4:30 PM Rosaire’s Bears
  • 5:00 PM Exhibit halls Open
  • Carousel Rides By Moon Light ( (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield))

  • 6:00 PM
    • Youth Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off
    • Tommy James Magic Show
  • 6:30 PM Rosaire’s Bears
  • 7:00 PM  4X4 Truck Pull

Frida y, August 28
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Cruise Night * demolition derby * Rides for Less

  • 4:00 PM Gates Open
    • Exhibit halls Open
    • Antique Engines & Tractors Show Opens
    • Midway & Rides Open * Reduced Rates on Gillette Rides!
    • Petting Barn Opens
    • 4-h Sheep Show Sheep Show Ring
  • Home Canning and Preserves in the Exhibitor Hall (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

  • 4:30 PM 
    • Craft Barn Opens
    • Tommy James Magic Show
  • 5-7 PM Spaghetti dinner
  • 5:30 PM
    • Dynamometer Horse Pull
    • Rain Backup Pull – 15’ horse Pull
    • Classic Cars on display
    • Rosaire’s Bears
  • 6:30 PM Tommy James Magic Show
  • 7:00 PM
    • Youth dairy Judging Contest
    • Cattle Show
    • Sheep Obstacle Course
    • Sheep Show
  • Caramel Apples (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

  • 7:30 PM
    • Demolition Derby
    • Rosaire’s Bears
  • 8:00 PM Bicycle drawing: 4 Bicycles to be Given Away Stage
  • 9:00 PM Rosaire’s Bears
  • 9:30 PM Exhibit halls Close

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Suggested Events 08/23/08 – 08/29/08

Cummington Fair 2007 - (c) Sienna Wildfield

Cummington Fair 2007 (www.cummingtonfair.com) - (c) Sienna Wildfield

SUGGEST AN EVENT

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page.

Suggest an Event | Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes
Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

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

Saturday – 08/23

All Day – LOCAL AGRICULTURE FAIRS – Cummington Fair, Middlesex County 4-H Fair, Deerfield Farm & Music Festival and the Shelburne Grange Fair [All Ages] (>$-$$$) LINK

7am – 9am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) Are you prepared to rock?! Join Bill & Ella on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child every Saturday on The River 93.9FM (101.5FM in Brattleboro), or 103.3 FM WXOJ-LP to hear two hours of quality family-friendly music. [All ages] (Free) LINK

9am-10am – FAMILY RADIO & STORYTELLING – (Air Waves) Join our Hilltown Family! Spend a little time with The Hilltown Family Variety Show every Saturday on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM to hear a full hour of commercial-free, quality family-friendly music and storytelling. [Families] (Free) LINK

10am-4pm – COUNTRY FAIR – (North Adams) Storey Publishing invites eceryone to a free celebration in the MASS MoCA’s Courtyard for activities and demonstrations all day, including: raising sheep, spinning wool, growing organic produce, making cheese, and much more. [All Ages] (Free)

11am – MUSEUM ADVENTURES – (North Adams) Gallery Scavenger Hunt at MASS MoCA. Kids can explore the art on display in this guided hunt through the exhibitions. [All Ages] (Free) LINK

Noon-5pm – AGRICULTURE FAIR – (Granby) Tomato Festival at Red Fire Farm. Sample over 60 varieties of delicious tomatoes, tour the fields, participate in a 5k race and much more. Red Fire Farm’s annual Tomato Festival will be on the farm in Granby, [All Ages] (>$) LINK

2pm-10pm – AGRICULTURE FAIR & MUSIC FESTIVAL – (Deerfield) Deerfield Farm and Music Festival. The fun-filled, family festival is a celebration of local agriculture, and includes a farmers market, vendor booths with food, ice cream and other products, sheep-herding, a barbecue dinner, children’s activities, music, and other activities. [All Ages] ($) LINK

1pm – PERFORMANCE – (Amherst) Roxaboxen, an interactive performance, will be at the auditorium at the Eric Carle Museum. 658-1155 [All Ages] (Free with museum admission) LINK

7pm – CONCERT – (Northampton) Roger Salloom will be in concert with special guests at the Academy of Music. 584-8435 [All Ages] (Free) MORE INFO

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