Need Help Paying for Childcare?

FYI: Childcare Subsidies Are Available Now!

The Hilltown Community Development Corporation, funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development and the Town of Chesterfield, is now administering childcare subsidies for working families with children ages 0-5 residing in the towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, and Worthington. Parents must be working, or in a vocational or educational program during childcare hours to qualify.

If your gross household annual income is below the limits listed, you may be eligible for assistance in paying for your childcare costs:

  • Household of 2 – $51,200
  • Household of 3 – $57,600
  • Household of 4 – $64,000
  • Household of 5 – $69,150
  • Household of 6 – $74,250

Please contact Steve Herzberg for an application – 413.588.6693 or

Great Line Up Planned for the 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival in Cummington!

Local & Regional Musical Favorites will Perform at the
6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
on May 12th, 2012 at the Cummington Fairgrounds!

Hilltown CDC has a fabulous lineup of local and regional musical favorites to perform at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 12, 2012 at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  The music begins at 11am and continues until 5pm on two stages, followed by an all-ages contra-dance from 5 to 7pm.

MISTER G (Family Concert at 11:15am)

Mister G is Ben Gundersheimer, who was awarded the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music. Mister G has performed concerts and led workshops throughout the U.S., Euroope and Latin America. Thanks to his infectious songs and a dynamic live show, Mister G is one of the rising stars of the kids’ music world. Bill Childs of WRSI says, “Mister G’s music is insanely catchy, totally engaging, and a lot of fun for parents. He’s got that rare quality where kids are simply and fully connected.” – Mister G’s most recent CD, Bugs, was chosen by Parents’ Magazine as one of the top CDs of 2011. People Magazine called it “irresistible” and selected it as one of the “hottest and coolest” albums for children. –


Since they formed in 2009, The Boxcar Lilies have been wowing audiences with their standout marriage of superb songwriting and spine‐tingling, innovative harmonies. In a short time, they’ve garnered an exceptional amount of attention for their music and energetic stage presence, finding themselves playing renowned venues like The Iron Horse Music Hall and Philadelphia’s Tin Angel, or opening for legendary songwriters like Bill Staines and Lucy Kaplansky. – Sheryl Hunter of The Recorder wrote, in 2011, “There is nothing like great three part harmonies to send a shiver up your spine and create goose bumps on your skin. It is one of the loveliest musical sounds you can hear. The Boxcar Lilies has an appealing, rootsy take on music. But even more than their musicianship or strong songwriting, it’s the band’s stunning harmonies that are at the heart of its appeal.” –


At 3pm, singer and teacher Lui Collins will also lead a Family Music Jam! We'll sing together, play instruments, do a bit of movement, maybe even dance! All ages are welcome, from grownups down to babes in arms.

Folksinger/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording since the 1970’s, earning international recognition for her music and releasing several highly-acclaimed recordings on Philo, Green Linnet, her own Molly Gamblin Music, and Waterbug. After touring nationally for several decades, she founded the educational branch of her work, now called Lui Collins’ Upside-Up Music, in 2003. Collins now divides her time between concerts, teaching, and early elementary music curriculum development. – The Boston Globe has described Lui as “one of New England’s first and brightest stars,” and Sing Out! Magazine calls her “incomparable.” Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.” Michael Devlin of Music Matters Review wrote: “…there are relatively few artists who are bringing a traditional sensibility to modern songwriting, and in the process creating new traditional music. Lui Collins is among the barefoot royalty of this group…” –

RANI ARBO & DAISY MAYHEM (Family Concert at 2pm)

At 4PM, in a hands-on workshop, we’ll make a wooden “harmonica” and a wacky, found-object drum set with percussionist Scott Kessel from the band Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem. Along with cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, pencils, and rubber bands, we’ll recycle rhythms from around the world into beats of our own — and then we’ll strike up the whole, recycled band!

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem will play from their award-winning family CD, Ranky Tanky!  The Boston Herald hails them as “One of America’s most inventive string bands,” and they deliver here with a rollicking ride through American musical history, from 200-year-old Georgia Sea Island tunes to Texas swing, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, and the Funky Meters. Armed with voices, hands, boxes and tin cans, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem prove that people have never needed fancy instruments to make music — and that when we do it all together, it’s magic. With bass, fiddle, guitar, ukulele, banjo and the 100% recycled “Drumship Enterprise,” this fun-loving band will have you & your kids dancing, shaking, clapping — and making more music than you knew was in your bones!  Ranky Tanky won a  Parents’ Choice Award in 2010. The citation said, “Forget the kids, you’ll want this album for yourself. The fact that your children will absolutely love it will be the icing on an already delicious cake.” –


By day, Gina Coleman works in the admissions office and as the coach of the women’s rugby team at Williams College. But at night, she goes into a phone booth, changes her outfit, and comes out as a blues singer in the tradition of classic blues divas like Big Mama Thornton, Dinah Washington, and Georgia White. For the last three years, Coleman has been the lead singer of Misty Blues. Coleman is an expressive vocalist with a big low end and colorful upper register. Working with Coleman are some of the Berkshires’ finest musicians, including guitarist/vocalist Jason Webster, bassist/vocalist Bill Patriquin, drummer Mike Basiliere, harmonica player Matthew Swanson and guitarist Jeff Dudziak. –


The Primate Fiasco uses the instrumentation of a New Orleans street band (sousaphone, banjo, brass, woodwinds, drums) but plays music that you wouldn’t expect. They can keep a dance party pumpin’ on a sidewalk or from a stage. From their Grammy nominated kids album to their cult following of hippies and hipsters to their indie and folk following, the Fiasco scene is open to all demographics. You may see them on stage or you may see them parading through a festival campground. Either way, you’ll be smiling and moving your feet.  Jeff Giles of Dadnabit writes, “Trust me: you’re a Primate Fiasco fan. You just don’t know it yet.” –


At 2pm, percussionist Tony Vacca will also lead a hands-on session. Learn to play a "World Music" percussion composition by listening and playing back what you hear. All ages and skill levels are welcome. The instruments usually include djembe drum, balafon, tuned bells, shekere, talking drum, gongs and drum set. Instruments will be provided, and you are welcome to bring your own as well.

Tony Vacca is an innovative American percussionist. Over the course of his career, he has made a habit of pushing the already adventurous conventions of World Music into new territory, both as a soloist and as the leader of his World Rhythms Ensemble. His solo performances are a nearly non-stop athletic spectacle of percussion music and spoken word, incorporating a world of percussion traditions that includes African, Caribbean, Asian and Middle-Eastern influences. He has recorded and/or performed with a wide range of musicians. These include pop icon Sting, Senegalese Afro-pop star Baaba Maal, jazz trumpeter and World Music legend Don Cherry, poet Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Senegalese hip-hop stars Gokh-bi System, and Massamba Diop, Senegalese master of the tama or talking drum. –

Other musical acts include the Northampton-based band AstroBeast (4pm) and the Amherst-based band Who’da Funkit (2pm). – See you there!!!

Mark Your Calendars for the 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival: May 12th!

6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds
May 12th, 2012

The Hilltown CDC’s 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will be on Saturday, May 12 at the Cummington Fairgrounds! 2,000 people are expected at the Hilltown Spring Festival this year and entertainment will include musical performances and workshops, exhibits by artists and craftspeople, displays by local businesses, food from local vendors, a family contra-dance, kids-made craft bazaar, children’s activities and much more.

Here’s a recap from the last two years at the festival:

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New this year is an Emerging Artists Stage for musicians who have had little public exposure and have made little income from their music.  Samples of their music will be juried by professional musicians, and up to eight emerging artists will be chosen to perform two songs at the festival.  The music played must be original, and must be family-friendly (no “metal”, no “thrash”).  There is a $5 fee for submissions and interested artist can email to or mail P.O. Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012 by March 23. Include names, instruments, and a brief biography.

Also new this year is a family contra-dance from 5 to 7 PM (beginners and children always welcome)!


Support for the Hilltown Spring Festival is provided by thirteen Local Cultural Councils; by local business sponsors; and by the exhibiting businesses.  All proceeds will contribute to the work of Hilltown CDC, including support for small businesses and support for low and moderate income Hilltown residents.  Interested in being a sponsor, vendor or volunteer? Contact Seth Isman at and join our team!

Morris Dancers, May Pole & Solar Powered Music on 3 Stages at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival!

Update: Joining the festival this year will be the Juggler Meadow Morris Men and the lovely ladies from the Wake Robin Morris Dancers!
Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Morris dancers, maypole, solar powered music on 3 stages, local food, family activities, and much more! Find it all at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Please join us on May 14th, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds for the Hilltown Spring Festival! There will be music on 3 stages, healthy local food, children’s activities all day long, displays by businesses and artists, a Focus on Sustainability, dancing around the Maypole at 12:30 with Morris dancers.

JOIN US! There are still opportunities to display your work, promote your business, or volunteer to help out. Some businesses are signing up to sponsor the event, others are signing up to display their products and services, and many are offering raffle prizes. And volunteers are signing up to help us build stages, direct vendor traffic during morning setup, and encourage recycling during the day. Last year, we reduced our waste stream by 30% by recycling paper, plastic, metal, and compost. This year, with your help, we can do even better.

Performers who are already scheduled include: The Nields (kids show), Tony Vacca (world music percussionist), Swing Caravan (alt-jazz quartet), Gaia Roots (vocals and percussion), string band Appalachian Still, singer/songwriter Laura Wetzler, Misty Blues (blues you can groove to), the Dave Bartley Trio, Pat and Tex LaMountain, Boxcar Lilies, and popular children’s performers Mister G, and Ben Rudnick & Friends. One of the three music stages will be devoted to family music all day long, but families and children will enjoy all the music being performed.

Local food highlights confirmed so far include: fresh wood-fired pizza from The Baker’s Oven of Colrain, fried rice, lo mein and spring rolls from the Goshen Snack Bar, bratwurst and hot dogs from Elke’s Catering of Worthington, and Bart’s Ice Cream.

For more information, or to participate, go to, email Seth Isman at, or call Seth at 413-296-4536 ext. 112. We look forward to seeing you at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th, 2011, at the Cummington Fairgrounds!

Suggested Events 05/15/10-05/21/10

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


Suggest an 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.


Saturday, May 15th, 10am-7pm. The family-friendly Hilltown Spring Festival happens at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  A daylong celebration of Hilltown music, arts, culture and community featuring 15 musical acts on two performance stages, including kids concert with The Primate Fiasco and headliner Charles Neville.  There will be children’s activities all-day, local food and local brews, arts and crafts and a sustainable living expo. (Listen to PSA)

Sunday, May 16th, 2pm. Matinee family concert with Brady Rymer at the Iron Horse in Northampton.  Part of Spare the Rock’s No Nap Happy Hour SeriesMore info here.


Friday, May 14th at  Elmer’s in Ashfield: Cream of Broccoli & Cheddar soup; Platter of Salad Nicoise with Grilled Ahi Tuna; Mixed greens, tomatoes, Nicoise olives, capers, hard boiled egg, baby potatoes, green beans, cannelloni beans, and red onions; Pan-seared Ahi tuna. BYOB 628-4003

Saturday, May 15th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Local Shredded Pork, Braised Greens, and Macaroni and Cheese.  Open mic! Beer & wine available. 268-7757


Saturday, May 22nd, 9am-4pm,Chester on Track 20th Anniversary in Chester, MA.  The annual Chester Railway Station celebration will include a parade, helicopter rides, train show, craft fair, live entertainment, a blacksmith, historic re-enactments, live steam and classic-car displays, and more! Dine in a wooden boxcar, ride on a wagon, tour the Keystone Arch Bridges. For more information, call 354-7878, or visit

Sunday, May 23rd, 2pm, Academy of Music, Northampton CARTOON-A-PALOOZA to benefit the renovation of the Forbes Library Childrens and Teens area. Enjoy a special screening of award-winning animation by Mo Willems, from Sesame Street and Nickelodeon shorts to Carnegie Award-winning adaptations of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny, and the world premiere of the adaptation of The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog! Mo Willems, a 3-time Caldecott honoree and Northampton resident, will be on hand to answer questions after the screening, and will be signing limited-edition Forbes Library posters featuring Elephant and Piggie.  To purchase tickets, visit the Forbes website or the Academy box office. (Listen to PSA)


SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events. – SPONSORSHIP: Interested in supporting the work of Hilltown Families?  Find out how to be a sponsor! Inquiries can email for details

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: On June 4th, Chris Smither will be performing a Friday night fund-raising concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School … and Hilltown Families has a 4-pack of free tickets along with a signed CD to offer one lucky person! Deadline to enter to win is 05/28/10. Click on banner to find out how you can enter to win.

LOCAL MAMAPRENUER  FEATURED NATIONALLY:  Congrats to Hilltown Families Listserv member and local mamapreneur Angie Gregory for having her business, Mother Herb Diaper Service, featured in Mothering Magazine this month!

KIDS & DRINKING: Does restricting R-rated movies really affect kids’ drinking? A new study from Dartmouth College shows that kids whose parents restrict R-rated movies drink less, and start drinking later.

WORST TOY: Nickelodeon’s Wins CCFC’s TOADY Award for Worst Toy of the Year

RECYCLING: There will be an Electronic Recycling Collection May 15th, 2010 from 9-12 at Smith Vocational High School. The location is 80, Locust Street, Northampton. The collection is open to the public- you do not need to be a Northampton resident. Recycling fees run between $2-$10 and benefit Northampton Public Schools. There is no charge to recycle printer cartridges or cell phones. we are unable to accept refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, or any appliances containing freon at this collection. Co-sponsored by the Northampton DPW, the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and WRSI. Special thanks to Duseau Trucking

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS: Want to buy a home but don’t know how or if you can afford it? Hilltown CDC, on behalf of the Town of Chesterfield, offers FREE, one-on-one, pre-purchase counseling and First-Time Homebuyer workshops. Many first-time homebuyers come into the process with a lot of questions and anxiety. People may worry that their credit isn’t good enough or that they don’t have enough savings, or they may just not know where to start. Both pre-purchase counseling and a First Time Homebuyer workshop can help dispel those concerns.  Contact Bea at 296-4536, ext 115 or for more information, or look on the Hilltown Families Community Bulletin Board for more details.

MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Uncle Rock has released a new family CD, The Big Picture, and we have a copy to giveaway to one luck family!  Click here to find out how you can win a copy of his newest release! Deadline to enter to win is May 17th by 7pm (EST).

ANTI-BULLYING STATE LAW PASSED: While many may already be aware that the Massachusetts legislature passed a law, you might not already know about this website. In addition to the new law, the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library contains additional legal resources on everything from cyberbullying, stalking, hazing and an “Eyes On Bullying” toolkit for caregivers and parents to use in child care programs, afterschool programs and camps.

WANTED: LOCAL/REGIONAL BULLYING PREVENTION RESOURCE: Strategic Planning Initiative  for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) is compiling a bullying prevention resource list for schools and community agencies, and they are looking for local experts who can offer technical assistance around bullying prevention using evidence-based strategies. They also are looking for groups who have successfully used evidence-based strategies/curriculum to create a positive and welcoming school climate.  Please send any recommendations to Sue Cairn at

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Congratulations to Amanda Saklad and Suzanne Holt of Belchertown, MA. Both families have won a family 4-pack of tickets to see Brady Rymer at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Sunday, May 16th at 2pm, along with a signed copy of Brady Rymer’s newest CD, “Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could.”

GREEN BURIAL: The Green Burial Committee of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Mass will be hosting an information session at Green Field Market on Sunday, May 16th from 2-4pm. Find out what a green or natural burial is, why you might like to have one, where the nearest green cemeteries are located, and how to help start a green cemetery here in Western Mass. Call Carol for more info 774-2320.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: The Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society needs animal care volunteers. Positions and available times vary. Call 548-9898 to discover volunteer opportunities.

SUBMIT A VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Looking for volunteers for your non-profit, service organization or not-for-profit event? Post your “call for volunteers” on our Community Bulletin Board for profile consideration.


Hilltown Family Variety ShowHFVS airs every Saturday from 9-10am, and encores air on Sundays from 7-8am, on 103.3FM WXOJ Northampton, MA.

Tune in on Saturdays from 9-10am, or listen to our podcasts HERE. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    • Amherst: 8:30-11am on the Town Common
    • Holyoke: 9am-1pm at the Wistariahurst Muuseum. 322-5660
    • Worthington: 9am at the Historical Society building


    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Market | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 5/15

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan on the HFVS! Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at

    10am-7pm – HILLTOWN SPRING FESTIVAL: The 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival, a daylong celebration of Hilltown music, arts, culture and community, will take place at the Cummington Fairgrounds, featuring 15 musical acts on two performance stages, including headliners Charles Neville, The Primate Fiasco and Swing Caravan, all-day children’s activities, local food and local brews, arts and crafts and a sustainable living expo. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    10am-12Noon – PARENTING SOCIAL: “Color Play,” a program for families parenting children of color, will take place at the Forbes Library Community Room. Color Play is a monthly social and craft for families raising children of color (all ages). Transracial adoptees and LGBTQ families are strongly encouraged to join. Come celebrate spring and make a Wild Flower Seed Ball. 658-5096 Northampton, MA (FREE)

    11am-2pm – DOG ADVENTURES: Join the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society’s Bark in the Park at Forest Park. Bring your dogs and join local celebrities for music, demos, parade, and more. 781-4000 x364 Springfield, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    11am – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Margaret Wise Brown Day at the Eric Carle Museum with special studio activity, readings in the library, family concert with Uncle Rock and films in the auditorium. 658-1100 Amherst, MA

    11:30am – FAMILY PERFORMANCE: Happy Dan the Music Man will perform a family music show at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    12Noon-3pm – OPEN HOUSE: Montague Farm Cafe at Montague Farm Zen House. 367-5275 Montague, MA

    12Noon-5pm – ART ADVENTURES: Canal Gallery’s Artists’ Market, between 2 canals next to the Childrens’ Museum. This Artist Market comes alive with music, food, and color. Inspired by markets of a 100 years ago; also those in warmer more colorful places and early Americana circuses & carnivals. 532-4141 Holyoke, MA

    12:15pm – SPRING DANCE: Dance around the Maypole at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Hosted by EarthSpirit of Worthington, the community maypole dance will be accompanied by traditional rhythmic stepping by multiple teams of Morris Dancers. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    1-4pm – BIKE ADVENTURES: Baystate Village Bike Bonanza happens with bike tune ups, decorating, safety clinics, games and prizes at Maines Field (570 Riverside Drive) Northampton, MA (FREE)

    2pm – FAMILY CONCERT: The Primate Fiasco will perform psychedelic dixieland for kids at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    2pm – UKULELE WORKSHOP: Bring your ukulele to the Hilltown Spring Festival and join in a community jam and workshop.  Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fees Applied)

    6pm – CONCERT: Charles Neville will be the final act at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds.   Click here to see all the great music to be heard during the festival, including Swing Caravan, The Primate Fiasco, Academy Freightshakers, Gaia Roots, The Shapeshifters, and more! Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    7:30pm – COMMUNITY DINNER: Burgy Bullets Annual Chicken BBQ with live music at 12 Laurel Road.  268-3226 Haydenville, MA ($)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Family Fun Festival to Celebrate Life in the Hilltowns

    Spring Festival to Celebrate Hilltown Community Through
    Music, Arts, Hands-on Learning and Family Fun

    The Hilltown Spring Festival, a daylong celebration of Hilltown music, arts, culture and community, will take place Saturday, May 15th, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  Produced by the Hilltown CDC, the fourth annual Festival will feature 15 musical acts on two performance stages, including headliners Charles Neville, The Primate Fiasco and Swing Caravan, all-day children’s activities, local food and local brews, arts and crafts and a sustainable living expo.

    Last year’s event drew 1,500 people from across the far-flung region and this year’s family-friendly Festival will be another opportunity to celebrate the distinctive culture of the Hilltowns. “The Spring Festival is a music festival, a food festival, a sustainable living expo and an arts and crafts fair–all rolled into one,” says Seth Isman, the CDC’s Economic Development Coordinator and festival organizer. “It’s a reflection of who we are in this region and the shared qualities of life that we value.”

    New this year:

    The Festival has added a Kids-Made Craft Bazaar, featuring homemade crafts and art for sale by children up to age 13. Also new this year is a maypole dance scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Hosted by EarthSpirit of Worthington, the community maypole dance will be accompanied by traditional rhythmic stepping by multiple teams of Morris Dancers. Another new feature is an all-day puppet-making workshop led by MOther Earth JOurney Puppets of Williamsburg. Families can create their own stick puppets, inspired by the giant marionettes on display.

    A focus on sustainable living:

    The Hilltown Spring Festival is a zero-waste event and will continue its focus on eco-friendly living with demonstrations of solar heat, hot water and electricity, and information about local agriculture and home energy solutions from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Among the vendors at the business expo: Hilltown Hybrids will display energy-efficient cars; Manda Organic Farm will be selling hormone-free meat products; and folks from the Washington, MA-based Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts will talk about unique woodworking crafts such as timber framing.

    A diverse musical lineup:

    Musical offerings at the Festival will range from the jazz saxophone of Charles Neville to the Scottish pipes of Dan Houghton. Also on the bill are the local psychedelic Dixieland band, The Primate Fiasco, alt-jazz from Swing Caravan, world music from Gaia Roots, Celtic fiddler Katherine First and student choirs and musical groups from Hilltown-area schools. Look for special musical jam sessions and hands-on demonstrations throughout the day.

    From dog sled demonstrations to a Triathlon of Unusual Games, the Festival will offer participants a day of rain-or-shine activity. Admission to the Spring Festival is free. Parking is $10 per carload. No dogs, please.

    Check out the event page for the Hilltown Spring Festival on to coordinate carpooling.

    A program schedule, details and directions are available at 413-296-4536 or Interested in being a vendor at the festival? Click here for registration forms.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Highland Unusual Games Triathlon at the Hilltown Spring Festival

    Hosts Needed for the Highland Unusual Games Triathlon
    at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 15th, 2010

    For the past two years, competitors from across the Hilltowns – ranging in age thus far from two to seventy-two – have flocked to the Hilltown Spring Festival for the annual “Highland Unusual Games Triathlon.” The Triathlon is a grueling test of accuracy, balance and speed (strength and endurance are not required) featuring a 40-yard egg race, horseshoes and a scaled down version of frisbee golf. Teams of two, three and four persons have competed successfully for various and sundry special prizes.

    According to Triathlon organizer, Andrew Baker, who serves as Executive Director of the Hilltown CDC (creator of the Hilltown Spring Festival) during the few moments when he is not entirely dedicated to planning the next annual Triathlon, “We are always on the lookout people to help host the Triathlon and to suggest new games, provided they are willing to host them on Festival day for a few hours and teach them to eager young competitors. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Triathlon grow into a Quad or Quintathlon this year!”

    Key criteria for successful festival games are their ability to be learned quickly and played by contestants of all ages. They should require minimal equipment (supplied by the host) and be able to be played in a fairly small area. And they need hosts!

    Baker concludes, “I’ve just thought of a new one! I’m calling it ‘Croak-aye.’ It’s a cousin of shuffleboard played on grass with croquet balls hit into a hole in the ground. Come try it out.”

    If you would like to suggest/host a new game for the Hilltown Spring Festival, volunteer to help host the Triathlon, and/or donate an unusual winner’s prize, contact Andrew at the Hilltown CDC: or 413-296-4536 ext. 118. See you at the Triathlon!

    Photo credit: (ccl) Jason Stare

    Volunteers Help Make the Hilltown Spring Festival a Zero-Waste Event

    Featured Hilltown Spring Festival Volunteer:
    Megan Thompson-Munson of Hampshire Regional H.S.

    Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

    Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

    Hampshire Regional High School student Megan Thompson-Munson says she’s always been interested in science. That’s one reason she signed up to be a recycling volunteer at the Hilltown CDC’s Spring Festival, coming up on Saturday, May 15th, 2010 at the Cummington Fairgrounds.

    Volunteers will help direct festival goers to recycling bins to help the Hilltown CDC reach its goal of hosting a zero-waste event.

    Megan will also be exhibiting a trail-mapping project she’s completed for her Earth Sciences class. She used a hand-held GPS system to map parts of the Tilton Town Farm Trail in her hometown of Goshen, MA. “I’m good with technology,” says Megan, who also runs track and plays piano. “The trail used to have a lot of signage but it’s mostly gone now. I’ve been working with a group that will clean up the trail so more of the public can come.”

    The Hilltown CDC is looking for more volunteers to help with recycling and other Festival activities. If you’re interested, contact Seth Isman: 413-296-4536 X112,

    Hilltown CDC Offer Free First Time Homebuyer Workshop

    Buying Your First Home?

    The Hilltown CDC’s First Time Homebuyer workshops are a great place to start if you’re family is thinking of buying their first home. This multi-session free workshop will help potential homebuyers learn the ins and outs of buying a home, easing the transition to homeownhership.

    This informative workshop will introduce you to all of the steps of home buying and the “team members” who will be working for you. Speakers include a lender, realtor, home inspector, attorney, insurance broker and more!

    The next series of workshops will be held in

    • Williamsburg, MA at the Meekins Library
    • Wednesdays and Thursdays March 31st, April 1st, 7th & 8th, 2010
    • 6:00 pm -8:30 pm

    The workshop is FREE but pre-registration is required. Contact or call 296-4536, ext 15 to pre-register.

    Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting: Spotlight on Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times

    Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting at Goshen Town Hall on March 18th, 2010
    Spotlight on Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times

    The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) is holding its annual membership meeting on Thursday, March 18 at 6:00 pm in the Goshen Town Hall, located on Route 9 in the center of town.  Admission to the meeting is free and open to the public, with advance RSVP’s requested.  The Goshen Town Hall is handicapped accessible. There will be local business displays and door prizes.

    The theme of the Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting is: “Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times.”   Read the rest of this entry »

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