Pie Contest at Hancock Shaker Village

Youth Invited to Participate in Hancock Shaker Village’s Annual Pie Contest
Deliver to Village on Sept 28th.

Hancock Shaker Village’s 15th annual Country Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Sept 29th-30th from 10am-5pm promises fun for the whole family with Shaker-inspired games in the Kids Tent, a farmers’ market with samples of heirloom vegetables to taste, vendors and demonstrations of handmade crafts, wagon and pony rides, antique engines and tractors, a pie contest, and a juried quilt exhibition.

Hancock Shaker Village’s annual Country Fair takes place on September 29th and 30th! The festival celebrates the fall harvest and all of the many food-related activities and traditions that the season brings. Especially exciting is the festival’s annual pie contest, which features an amateur division for young baker-extraordinaires! Entries in the contest must be baked at home from scratch, and delivered to the village between 3-5pm on Friday, September 28th. Bakers may use the crust recipe of their choice, and can choose their own filling or use one of the provided recipes from The Best of Shaker Cooking. By participating in the contest, kids can learn shaker history, practice chemistry and math skills in the kitchen, and begin to develop culinary independence and creativity! For more information on the fair, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org or call 413-443-0188.

Looking for pie baking books to inspire you or the youth baker in your home?  Here are some suggestions you might find at your local library:

[Photo credit: (ccl) Julie Falk]

Family Volunteering at the Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village Offers Volunteer Opportunities for Families

Assist young visitors in the Hancock Shaker Village hands-on Discovery Room.

There is a unique volunteer opportunity available for families with older children happening at one of our living museums! Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA offers families with children ages 13 and older the chance to volunteer at the village, and there are many different activities to help out with!

During the spring, volunteers are needed to help with Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm, an ongoing event featuring baby animals of all types that visitors can meet and interact with. In the summer, volunteers can teach visitors how to make butter, perform traditional Shaker music, assist in facilitating hands-on activities at the village’s Discovery Room, help care for gardens and orchards, and demonstrations of other ways of life from the 1800s. And in the fall, volunteers are needed for their Country Fair and Shaker Suppers.

There is training available for volunteer activities that require special skills (like making butter or blacksmithing). By volunteering, families with teens can learn about Shaker culture and local history, and will play an important role in visitors’ learning! Volunteering allows families to be a part of the village, a unique local resource, and is a great way to contribute to your community. For information on volunteer activities, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org.

Student Tours at Hancock Shaker Village

Student Tours at Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield is a fantastic resource for learning about local history and Shaker culture, and the village even offers educational group tours!  Designed specifically to fit within the state’s learning standards, the tours teach kids all about life during the 19th century.  Though the tours are designed for classes, homeschool groups, scout troops, and other groups of kids can do the tours, too!  During November, 90 minute guided tours of the village are available by appointment.  This is a great way to supplement learning about local pioneers!  To learn more, visit www.hancockshakervillage.org.

Hancock Shaker Village 50th Anniversary Country Fair

Hancock Shaker Village 50th Anniversary Country Fair

Celebrating the bounty of the harvest, the Country Fair will be held on September 25th and September 26th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in Pittsfield, MA. At the Kids Tent, Hancock Shaker Village interpreters will lead a host of fun activities, including crafts, old-fashioned games, and face painting. There will also be wagon rides through the scenic Village grounds and, of course, a hay pile to jump and play on.

Hancock Shaker Village’s 50th anniversary Country Fair promises fun for the whole family with Shaker-inspired games in the Kids Tent, a farmers’ market with samples of heirloom vegetables to taste, a juried fine craft show, wagon rides, antique engines and tractors, sustainable gardening tips, a pie contest, square dancing demonstration, quilt show, and more.

Celebrating the bounty of the harvest, the Country Fair will be held on September 25th and September 26th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in Pittsfield, MA. “For those who have told us they miss the Hancock Shaker Village Craft Fair, we’re delighted that we have more fine craft artists than ever lined up for this year’s Country Fair,” said Ellen Spear, president and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village “This event is always a festive highlight of the year and a great way for families to learn about our mission and its connection to sustainable, principled living.” Children 12 and under and Hancock Shaker Village members are admitted free of charge. Admission for adults is $17.00 and youth visitors aged 13 to 17 are $8. For more information, call 800.817.1137 or visit www.hancockshakervillage.org.

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Hancock Shaker Village Celebrates 50 Years as a Living History Museum

Hancock Shaker Village 50th Anniversary Charter Day

Hancock Shaker Village Charter Day is a family-friendly event featuring children’s music, plays, storytelling, lawn games, wagon rides, free ice cream, and more!

It’s the Hancock Shaker Village’s 50th anniversary and they are celebrating with Charter Day, a family-friendly celebration of Hancock Shaker Village’s official “birthday” as living history museum on August 21st, 10:00am to 5:00pm in Pittsfield, MA. This fun-filled day will include:

  • Lawn games
  • Wagon rides
  • Shaker story time
  • Kids concert with Mister G
  • Clara and Claire, a short play for young audiences
  • Free ice cream
  • Demonstrations
  • Exhibits
  • Community slideshow

Mister G. will perform children’s music concerts at 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 2:30pm. His career spans twenty years as a performing musician and recording artist. He began blending his love of music and education in the late 1990s, and specializes in promoting literacy through song creation. He has toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, and his songs have been featured in television programs around the world.

Clara and Claire, a short play for young audiences written and directed by Berkshire resident Juliane Hiam and conceived by Sharon Smullen, will be performed at 12:00pm and 3:30pm. The play tells the story of two girls from different periods of history who have a magical, accidental meeting at Hancock Shaker Village. One is Clara Sperle, who was the last child to be raised by the Hancock Shakers. Clara went to live with the Shakers at age eight and remained there until she was a young woman. The other is a fictionalized modern day child who is visiting Hancock Shaker Village on a class field trip. Their encounter will bring the audience on a journey that reveals the wonders of simplicity. The production will feature two local 12-year-old actresses, Rebecca van der Meulen and Harper Glantz.

Charter Day will also include children’s lawn games, wagon rides, free ice cream by Crescent Creamery, Shaker Story Time, plus the full schedule of Village daily tours and demonstrations. Admission will be half-price and free for members and children 12 and under.  For more information, call 800.817.1137 or go to www.hancockshakervillage.org.

The Family Friendly Berkshires

The Family Friendly Berkshires: A Place to Dig Culture—and Dinosaurs

Dipping your feet in a rushing stream, flying kites on a spectacular open hillside, picnicking amid a lush mountain landscape: Images of summer in the country conjure up powerful memories—and are why many of us have to visit a pastoral spot to vacation. Our children love rural adventures, too, but youngsters today need more than simple pleasures. Berkshire County’s year round mix of breathtaking natural scenery, kid-friendly cultural attractions—many with children’s programming and discounts—and exciting outdoor activities is one big reason so many families come to visit.

Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA

Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, is one of the nation’s finest small museums and one of the few where art, history and the natural world are displayed in one place. Best of all, it is certifiably “unstuffy.” “Wally,” an imposing 10-foot high, 26-foot long Stegosaurus, graces the front lawn, capturing kids’ attention at once. Inside, marvel at the diverse permanent collection in 18 galleries on three floors. The museum’s magnificent 26-tank aquarium includes an Atlantic Tidal Pool “Touch Tank” for kids. Natural Science comprises the museum’s largest collection, where the biggest attraction is a “Dinosaurs and Paleontology” gallery that shows how paleontologists use fossils and other evidence to understand the prehistoric world. Here the “Dino Dig” lets everyone get in the act—actually digging down to touchable replicas of dinosaur bones. The art collection includes ancient art from around the world and 14th-19th century European art, but don’t overlook the Refrigerator Art Gallery, featuring children’s artwork in (or “on”) a familiar setting. Kid’s programs run all summer, with a variety of day- and week-long camps, from “Art & Crafts Camp” to “Native American Day Camp.”

Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA. (Photo credit: Gardner)

The Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, presents “family days” year round, while Kidspace at MASS MoCA is a collaborative project between the Williams College Museum of Art, The Clark and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). This art gallery and studio space in the heart of North Adams’ MoCA complex is designed especially for students, teachers, and families.

Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. (Photo credit: rwjensen)

Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, admits children 12 and under free. Youngsters delight in meeting the Village’s historic breeds of livestock in the farmyard and pastures. The Discovery Room offers hands on activities such as trying on Shaker-style clothing, spinning wool and weaving, and milking Mary Jane, a life-sized Holstein cow replica. Sheep Hill, Williamstown, owned by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, offers picnicking, hiking and birdwatching and seasonal events including snowshoe, full moon and firefly hikes; star gazing; kids nature programs; and tracking workshops.

Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, MA.

In North Adams, admission is free to the Visitors Center at Western Gateway Heritage State Park, where imaginative exhibits unveil the story behind the Hoosac Tunnel. Two hundred men lost their lives as the tunnel, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century, was dug nearly five miles through Hoosac Mountain, linking Massachusetts to Albany, NY. Rail aficionados young and old will also enjoy the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, Lenox. There they can ride along the River between Lenox and Stockbridge as they enjoy a narrated diesel hauled 20 mile trip in vintage coaches.

Jiminy Peak Mountain Adventure Park in Hancock, MA.

At summer camps throughout Berkshire County youngsters can choose traditional programs or specialize in art, dance, music, theater and sports, and even character building and leadership development. Local ski areas also offer exciting family activities in summer. These include waterslides and go carts at Bousquet Ski Resort & Summer Family Fun Center, Pittsfield, and a Mountain Coaster, rock climbing wall and Euro-Bungee Trampoline, among other attractions, at Jiminy Peak Mountain Adventure Park, Hancock.

Agriculture is clearly a vital part of county life, and several Berkshire farms offer families an up-close look. In Hancock, the 600-acre Ioka Valley Farm and Uncle Don’s Barnyard provide “agri-entertainment,” including a hay maze, hayrides, pedal tractors and petting animals. A riding day camp, trail riding and hunt seat and dressage instruction are among the offerings for horse-loving families at Undermountain Farm, Lenox.

Spring Festival at HSV: Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm

Hancock Shaker Village
8th Annual Spring Celebration
April 3rd through April 25th, 2010 in Pittsfield, MA

Hancock Shaker Village (HSV) kicks off its 50th anniversary as a living history museum with Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm, running April 3rd through April 25th, 2010. This annual spring celebration is one of the most exciting times of the year at the Village, when scores of baby lambs, piglets, calves, goats, ducklings, and chicks arrive at the historic Round Stone Barn. Constructed in 1826, the Round Stone Barn is the only circular barn ever built by the Shakers and originally stabled 52 milk cows.

The animals represent livestock once kept by the Shakers, beginning in the 1700s and continuing into the 1960s. In addition to the heritage breed animals raised by HSV year round, this event includes “guest” livestock raised by local farms and 4-H clubs. Visitors get to meet and greet the baby animals and participate in farm chores, such as helping to feed the animals and to save seeds. They may also participate in fun Shaker-themed craft activities, such as basket weaving, making and decorating seed packets, and weaving on a small loom.

The weekend of April 17th – 18th is Sheep Shearing Weekend. In addition to the regular farm activities, Sheep Shearing Weekend will feature shearing of the Village’s Merino sheep and special hands-on textile demonstrations and activities that will be conducted by volunteers from three local spinning and weaving guilds. On Saturday, April 17th, there will also be live, family-friendly music and children’s crafts. ($)

Another event happening during the HSV Spring Festival happens on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22nd at 2:00pm. There will be family-friendly event to tour the Hancock Shaker Village’s historic-to-modern green and environmentally-friendly features. Included will be information on sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, architectural design and construction, smart growth town planning, and more. There will be a demonstration of the 1858 water power turbine in Laundry and Machine Shop and up-close investigation of the historic passive solar features of Shaker buildings, compared with Hancock Shaker Village’s new solar photovoltaic array. Free with general admission.

Daily during the Spring Festival, Behind-the-Scenes Farm Tours will be available at 2 pm. Families can get up close and personal with the animals on these private guided tours, which include special access to the newborns, helping at feeding time, gift bags with a variety of toys and games from the Village Store, and a group photo to commemorate the visit. Reservations may be made for this tour by calling 413.443.0188 x213. ($$)

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Get the Kids Baking and Sewing for the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair

Call for Pie Bakers and Quilters to Compete at the
12th Annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair

Young bakers can use some of the regions local bounty of peaches, apricots, raspberries, apples or pears to bake a pie while having fun and learning about Shaker history and the culinary arts!

Warm up your rolling pins and get stitchin’! Hancock Shaker Village seeks entrants to the pie contest and juried quilt exhibition at the 12th annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair on September 26th & 27th in Pittsfield, MA.


The pie contest will include both professional and amateur categories (get the kids baking!), with judging held on Saturday afternoon, September 26th. Registration deadline is Sept. 18th. This year’s all-star pie judge team includes:

  • New Yorker writer, Susan Orlean
  • Berkshire Eagle executive editor, Tim Farkas
  • Berkshire Living senior editor, Lesley Ann Beck
  • RuralIntelligence.com co-editor, Marilyn Bethany


The juried quilt exhibition titled “A Harvest of Quilts” will feature approximately 30 antique and newly-made quilts. The exhibit will be on display in the Round Stone Barn during the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair on September 26 and 27. Quilt ribbons will be awarded on Sunday, September 27 at 4:30pm. Quilts must not have been previously exhibited at the Village and can be either the entrant’s own handiwork or antique quilts that they have inherited or collected. Examples with fine quilting or interesting stories are particularly desired. Quilts of all sizes – wall hanging to bed size – done by quilters of all ages are welcome.


In addition to the pie contest and quilts exhibition, the 12th annual Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair will feature a kid’s tent filled with

  • Shaker-inspired games
  • farmers’ market with samples of heirloom vegetables to tast
  • vendors and demonstrations of old-time farm-related crafts and trades
  • wagon rides
  • and more!

This event is free with regular admission.  For contest rules and to download registration forms, see the Programs & Events section of hancockshakervillage.org or call 413.443.0188.
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Families Invited to Learn About the Art of Blacksmithing

Blacksmiths Converge on Hancock Shaker Village for Age of Iron Weekend: An opportunity to get the whole family involved in the art of blacksmithing

Blacksmiths from all over the northeast will converge on Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA for the Age of Iron Weekend on Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 2009. The two-­day family event features demonstrations of blacksmithing and metal work. Forges and workshops will also be set up on the grounds throughout the historic Village with

  • demonstrations
  • activities for the whole family
  • opportunities for visitors to try their hand at being the Village “smithy”

Blacksmiths, representing Berkshire, Connecticut, Capital District, and New England Blacksmith Guilds, will showcase their art and artisanship with both historical and contemporary demonstrations. Ironwork craftsmanship dating from the 17th to the 21st century, Japanese hardware, tool making, engraving, and Viking and Shaker forging are just a few of the techniques and styles that will be showcased. Beautiful hand­-wrought items from the participating blacksmiths will also be available for purchase. Participants who make custom ironwork for the home will be available to discuss specific commissions. Many exhibitors will be dressed in period costume as they demonstrate using tools and equipment of the same time period.

Hancock Shaker Village ironwork will be highlighted with a special scavenger hunt for children, and interpretive talks pointing out Shaker metal work throughout the Village. Hancock Shaker Village’s blacksmith shop, which is staffed by skilled volunteer blacksmiths, will be open for tours and demonstrations.

Hancock Shaker Village President and CEO Ellen Spear comments, “Blacksmithing is an integral part of the Shaker history, especially here at Hancock Shaker Village. The Age of Iron Weekend is wonderfully fun and an excellent educational experience for the whole family.

Check out this video on blacksmithing by the Museum of America where Mannie Gentile gets down and dirty in this exploration of the world of Blacksmithing:

Click here to see Part 2 and Part 3 from this video series. Read the rest of this entry »

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