Hula Hoops & Fire Poi in the Berkshires

Pittsfield City Hoopla Comes Spinning Back into Town!

Photo credit: Luther Lotz

Pittsfield City Hoopla returns for its second annual all day hoop-fest this summer on July 24th, 2010. This year it boasts all-day programming in Springside Park (874 North Street), in the public gardens behind Springside House from 12Noon to 5 p.m. and returns in the same location with live drumming and more from 8 to 10 p.m. As always, it is a free event that is open to all ages.

Founded in 2009 by dance artist Stefanie Weber, a Pittsfield native, Pittsfield City Hoopla strives to continue celebrating “the craft, craze and creativity of the hula hoop” this year. The popularity of hooping hasn’t declined one bit since the last Hoopla festival in Pittsfield., a comprehensive website for all things hoop, sees 40,000 visitors weekly. At music festivals nation wide there are more hoopers hooping around than ever.

As a prelude to the festival there is a hoop-making workshop on Thursday, July 22nd from 6 to 8 P.M. at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts (28 Renne Ave.). The workshop will teach the basics of hoop construction and offer supplies to decorate and customize your new creation. Preregistration is required for the workshop, please contact or call 413-281-6734 to register.

Hula Hoop with LED lights (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Warm ups and a welcome by Stefanie Weber kick off the official programming for Pittsfield City Hoopla at 12noon on Saturday, July 24th. The greeting is promptly followed by Join the Circle: Hooping 101, a workshop directed by Arian Shelton and Laura Marie of Hooping Harmony in Greenfield, a mother-daughter hooping team. These hula hoop veterans will coach beginners and new comers the basics of hooping for fitness, fun health and healing. If you don’t have your own hoop, don’t fret, there will be hoops to borrow and hoops for sale through out the day. By the end of this session you will be able to perform some hoop tricks and string them together with ease!

After Join the Circle: Hooping 101, Lolli Hoops of Boston Hoop Troop returns with fellow member Little L. Tosses and Jumps will be the focus of the showcase by these hoop dance pros. Lolli Hoops has presented at various venues in the Greater Boston area and beyond including the Somerville Theater, Middle East Downstairs and the Foundation Lounge at the House of Blues.

Hula hoops (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The festivities continue with Lita Lundeen-Setchfield of One with Fire who will be performing poi, the art of spinning fire. Contemporary poi is a blend of a traditional dance from the Maori culture in New Zealand and Hawaiian men’s rituals from the early 20th century. Fire poi became a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii during the 1960’s and has since gathered much popularity. 

3:30pm marks the beginning of “Open Circle” where everyone is invited to participate in freestyle hooping, jams, sharing, shopping, eating, chair massage and face painting. At 4:30pm all are welcome to exhibit their skills, experiment, try something new, show off to a watchful audience and watch the pros strut their spins for the “Showcases and Performances” portion of the event. In addition to the scheduled activities, the staff of The Vincent Herbert Arboretum will be giving guided tours of the Springside Public Gardens and the surrounding forest eco-system.


Fire poi spinning (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The evening schedule begins at 8pm after a short break. This enchanted illuminated spin extravaganza features live drumming conducted by Aimee Gelinas of Gaia Roots. The drumming is accompanied by LED hula hooping and fire poi spinning, along with an all out fire hoop jam session until 10pm.

Pittsfield City Hoopla 2010 receives funding support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development, Greylock Federal Credit Union and The Earthe Shoppe. For more information, to volunteer, showcase your hooping self, or to make a donation to the event contact 413-281-6734 or

Notes From Nan: Hoola Hoop Update

Notes from Nan
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parat

On Saturday I went to the Heath Fair and the girl with all the hoola hoops was there. I had seen her at the Green River Festival, as well, but my hooping failure back in New Orleans (when I tried every day to hoop) made me a little uncomfortable about trying it in front of that many people. Also, I work at the Green River Festival and I didn’t want to try it while wearing a “staff” shirt. Just too many people there to look at me and say, “Oh yes—you can make signs but you can’t hoop. Not so important now, are you?”

But at the Heath Fair I was just a regular person, free to fail as easily as anyone else.

So I hooped. And I did it! For a respectable amount of time!

I now know that my hooping failure was indeed because (as Tracy suggested) I was trying to hoop with a four year-old’s hoop. I’m fifty one! I can’t hoop with a four year-old’s hoop! I need a fifty-one year old’s hoop and then, I’m a hooping success!

For a moment I have to talk about last Friday’s dinner.

Jim made this fish dish and, my good ness was it good! People (nearly everyone who had it) asked for spoons to eat the sauce Normandie as if it were soup. He made these little puff pastry things to go on top of the fish and they were so light and crispy and good . . .

Why am I talking about last Friday’s dinner? Because every week Jim makes something we’ve never had before and I don’t know what it’s going to be like. And every week it’s the best thing I ever had in my life! So I can only look out the back window away from last week’s meal and tell you how good that was. And with last week’s meal as a sign post, I can tell you that, even though I’ve never tried what we’re about to have this week, it’s going to be the new best thing I ever had in my life.

Friday night diners usually rate the dishes: “This is the best ever.”

“No, I would say this is excellent, but I would say that the gumbo was better.”

“You would? I would say that this is better than the gumbo, but that that Asian Chicken thing was the best thing ever.”

I overhear discussions like that every Friday night as I clear the tables.

So THIS week he’s making something else I’ve never heard of: Read the rest of this entry »

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