Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: River Walks & Nature Centers

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: June Segment
Nature-Based Learning through River Walks & Nature Centers

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, June 20, 2016. This month Sienna and Lauren talked about intergenerational ways to engage in natural resources to support interests and education, including River Walks and Nature Centers:

Click here to view video.

Learn more about River Walks and Nature Centers in Western MA:


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be July 18th, 2016!

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Urban And Rural River Walks and Trails Highlight Natural and Human History

Urban And Rural River Walks & Trails Highlight Natural and Human History

Housatonic River in Great Barrington, MA.

Western Massachusetts’ landscape is filled with rivers. They run like veins between our ancient hills, and give life to human and non-human communities alike as they flow constantly onward. The warm months of the year are the best time to engage in experiential learning about local rivers, a task made more inviting through a handful of riverwalks and river-following paths found locally. Through explorations of a variety of local rivers, families can explore local ecology, connect with local history, and deepen their sense of place. In particular, comparisons of urban rivers and rural rivers can illuminate the ways in which humans past and present have depended upon our rivers.  Read the rest of this entry »

We (heart) the Deerfield River: A Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night

Art Garden Event: River Fest Parade

Hilltown Families and The Art Garden partner for a final community-service art-making event for the season

Our watersheds are vital and important ecosystems for animal and plant species. Celebrate the Deerfield River Watershed with friends, family, Hilltown Families and The Art Garden on Friday, June 6th, from 4-7pm in Shelburne Falls for our final community-service art-making event for the season.

At this event we will be focusing on what we love about the Deerfield River Watershed and preparing for the annual Deerfield RiverFest’s Frog and Flower parade on June 7. Be a part of creating large cardboard fish, frogs and flowers for the parade, as well as individual processional artworks. All ages can participate! Materials provided. Takes place at The Art Garden.

Engaging your family in community service teaches kids positive values while opening up channels of communication between parent and child, and can increase their participation as future volunteers. Join us for an evening of community service art-making on Friday, June 6th from 4-7pm at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls, MA, for We (heart) the Deerfield River, the final event in a series of five free family community service nights!

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum building.) SEE MAP. Questions? Email Sienna at swildfield@hilltownfamilies.org.

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RiverFest: What Makes the Deerfield River Amazing?

RiverFest in Shelburne Falls
Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Youngsters, and the young at heart, are invited to dress up as fish, frogs or any other favorite river creatures or simply have their faces painted—and then join performance artist Maya Apfelbaum and friends in the traditional “Frog & Flower Parade,” which steps off at 1 p.m. on the Buckland side of the river, joyously “flows” across the Iron Bridge and up Bridge Street to a lively finale. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Celebrate the Deerfield River and its role within the community at Shelburne Falls’ annual Riverfest!  The event takes place this Saturday, June 9th, from 10am-4pm and includes performances, activities, and adventures (plus a parade!) for families throughout the day.  This year’s celebration, “The Amazing River,” will focus on the specific things that make the Deerfield River particularly amazing – including its history, resources it provides, etc.

Beloved local musician Sarah Pirtle will give a morning concert on the deck by the potholes right by the river (where Mole Hollow Candle Shop was once located) from 10-10:30am with music to celebrate the river, and many special events will take place throughout the day, with opportunities for both fun and learning.

Visitors can create their own costumes and/or masks and participate in the community parade, which begins at 1pm on the Buckland side of the river.  The parade’s theme is frogs and flowers – participants can design their own creative wearable expressions of the theme.  Create an outfit that represents a species of frog that lives near the river, or design a wildflower mask!

Memorial Hall will host two family-friendly shows: the “Watershed Waltz” puppet show at 11am; and Piti Theater Company’s “To Bee or Not to Bee,” at 2pm.

Other activities include a documentary screening from Pothole Pictures, a chance to explore the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum and learn about local transportation history, fly tying workshops where kids can learn about the best flies to use on the Deerfield, art shows at local galleries, and more.  Riverfest also brings Nickel Days – a celebration of the days when ice cream cost just a nickel!  Families can buy ice cream from the Snows Ice Cream truck for a nickel, then visit the trolley museum.

Visit www.shelburnefalls.com for more schedule information.  Before attending Riverfest, learn as a family about the natural history of the Deerfield River and its significance within the community. Visit the Deerfield River Watershed Association for great resources to learn more.  Studies of the river pair well with studies of geology, ecology, and marine biology.

RiverFest Returns to Shelburne Falls

RiverFest returns to Shelburne Falls

A RiverFest tradition continues as the colorful “Frog & Flower Parade,” once again coordinated and led by performance artist Maya Apfelbaum, brings together giant puppets, stilt walkers, river angels, drummers and children and adults who want to march along wearing vibrant masks they create in a free pre-parade workshop. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Saturday, June 11, rain or shine, visitors to the scenic village of Shelburne Falls, MA, will find themselves “going with the flow” of RiverFest, the Deerfield River Watershed Association’s 23rd annual celebration of a beautiful river and the countryside through which it flows.

New this year, Jim Dowd Fly Fishing pros will present a morning fly-casting demonstration followed by a clinic for anglers who want to learn fly-fishing techniques or polish their skills (bring your own rod or use one of Jim’s). There will also be an opportunity to watch a master fly-tyer create lures that fish find hard to resist. These events will take place on the Trinity Church-owned Baptist lot at the corner of Main and Water streets; no need to wear waders!

For adventurers of all ages, there will be chances to try out the latest craze in paddlesports, Stand-Up Paddling, courtesy of Zoar Outdoor, who will also offer quiet-water raft rides throughout the day.

Going with the flow, Lui Collins will delight youngsters and the young at heart with her river-inspired songs and stories, and the celebrated Piti Theatre Company will weave together music, dance and poetry into an innovative performance highlighted by the gleeful participation of audience members. And for those who enjoy a trek through friendly woods, there will be a special riverside walk led by local artist and drummer Philippe Simone.

Kids love discovering the local insect life in our rivers at the Aquatic Bug Table. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Visitors can browse an exciting variety of vendors’ booths as well as used-book and tag sales…tune in to the many fine musicians appearing on the main stage and talented troubadors throughout the village…enjoy original poetry written and spoken aloud in homage to the river and the surrounding countryside…experience the grace and artistry of a Ballet Renversé dance performance…meet some of the magnificent birds of prey native to the region during Julie Collins’ thrilling Wing Masters program and discover the wonders of local insect life at the Aquatic Bug Table—two of many entertaining, educational displays for nature lovers.

Stroll along the famous Bridge of Flowers; take a ride on a historic Trolley; catch a double feature at Pothole Pictures; hike local trails; or simply treat yourself to something special in Shelburne Falls’ many distinctive shops and restaurants. Just go with the flow of RiverFest, and have a wonderful time!

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RiverFest 2010: Celebrating the Deerfield River

RiverFest in Shelburne Falls
Saturday, June 12th

RiverFest is an annual celebration in the village of Shelburne Falls with children's games, educational opportunities, parade, singing, storytelling and much more. Click collage to see larger image. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The village of Shelburne Falls will once again celebrate the Deerfield River and the surrounding countryside with RiverFest next Saturday, June 12th. RiverFest is an annual tribute to the Deerfield River, and the role it plays in people’s lives and the ecosystem of western Massachusetts. Through entertaining, educational displays and demonstrations, a unique “Frog & Flower Parade” of schoolchildren (and adults), art, crafts, tag, book and plant sales, RiverFest helps people of all ages-area residents as well as visitors-gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for a rich natural resource.

There will be musicians and vendors throughout the village, children’s games, singing and storytelling, creative workshops leading up to the colorful “Frog & Flower Parade,” and much more, including:

  • Meet many of the birds of prey that soar through local skies
  • Learn how to identify edible wild plants
  • See specially chosen movies at Pothole Pictures (the fly-fishing film Rivers of a Lost Coast on Friday night and The Deerfield: A Working River on Saturday)
  • Participate in guided tours of the Gardner Falls power plant to gain a better understanding of how our river helps generate electricity
  • Try quiet-water rafting
  • Join a guided hike on one of the watershed’s scenic trails on Sunday
  • Ride an 1896 trolley car at the Trolly Museum
  • Enjoy Shelburne Falls’ many attractions, galleries and restaurants

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