Lunar New Year Brings Opportunities for Cultural Studies

Ringing in the Year of the Earth Pig!

Chinese New Year (also referred to as the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival) takes place this year on February 5, 2019.  By exploring art, food, music, and traditions, families can gain background knowledge to support participation in regional celebrations of the lunar holiday. Getting curious about the associated zodiac can lead you to discover the mythology behind the calendar while learning how other cultures, like Vietnam and Thailand, adapted the zodiac to reflect the values and habitat of their communities.

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Start June Off on the Right Note at the Hilltown Spring Festival!

Hilltown Spring Festival

The Hilltown CDC’s 7th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will be on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 at the Cummington Fairgrounds from 10am-5pm! 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, kids-made craft bazaar, children’s activities and much more.

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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!

New Family Stage at the Hilltown Spring Festival

Hilltown Families Family Stage at the
5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds

On Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds, the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will celebrate the hilltowns and beyond.  Produced by the Hilltown CDC, the Hilltown Spring Festival will include everything from the quirky to the sublime (you decide which is which!).

This year the will be three music stages, including a new Family Music Stage which will present family-friendly music from 10:30am until 4:30pm, including local stars The Nields, Ben Rudnick and Friends, Mister G, Sarah Pirtle and Lui Collins. Here’s the line-up:

Lui Collins

In the Hilltowns, many kids have their introduction to music with Lui Collins in her Hilltown Music Together and Kids’ Jam Classes.  Families in the Hilltowns are blessed to have this contemporary folk singer-songwriter as their jumping off point to music and singing.  Hilltown Music Together and Kids’ Jam, along with Lui’s newest venture, Kids’ Jam Curriculum, combined to form Lui Collins’ Upside-Up Music. Kids’ Jam Curriculum makes Lui’s innovative and entertaining Kids’ Jam music available to homeschoolers and music and classroom teachers. — Lui currently lives in Ashfield, MA and as a professional musician she has been touring for over 30 years, playing the clawhammer banjo and inspired by traditional southern Appalachian music.

Sarah Pirtle

Sarah Pirtle is an award-winning author and musician who writes and sings for all ages.  Pocketful of Wonder, her ninth recording, received the Gold Award from Parents’ Choice, and in 2007 she received the Magic Penny Award for lifetime achievement in children’s music.  Sarah was invited to perform at the Hudson River Clearwater Folk Festival when her first recording, Two Hands Hold the Earth, became the favorite of Pete Seeger’s grandson. Later, as the principal founder of the Children’s Music Network, she got to know Pete and feel his encouragement for her songwriting for adults as well as children. Currently living in Shelburne Falls, Sarah helps to build supportive communities for young people. She is recognized as a national expert on teaching social skills. Her music and her chaplaincy training add compassion and depth to her work as she leads programs rooted in a basic trust of the innate caring available inside people.

Ben Rudnick & Friends

The acclaimed American roots Style family music band, Ben Rudnick & Friends (BRF) will join us this year on the Family Stage.  With a high level of adventurous musicianship, their award winning recordings contain a unique acoustic sound ranging from light folk to bluegrass, calypso and rock.  Five of their family music CDs (Emily Songs, Blast Off!, Fun and Games, Grace’s Bell and A Frog Name Sam) have received national acclaim, including awards from Parents’ Choice, NAPPA and the Children’s Music Web. Since BRF original songs aren’t overtly children’s music, and enthusiastic renditions of well known songs appeal to all, everyone in the audience from the oldest to the youngest gets involved with the excitement of their performances!

Mister G

Over the past year, Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) has performed with Dan Zanes in Northampton, and for kids in Europe and Latin America. He closed out 2010 with two shows at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Closer to home, Mister G played headlining sets at the Green River Festival and the WRSI Meltdown. Winner of the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music, Ben spent 20 years touring internationally as a bandleader and solo artist before getting his Masters in Elementary Education at Smith College in 2008. As Mister G, he has led innovative songwriting workshops in settings as varied as Sunnyside Preschool, Dana Farber Cancer Clinic, the 92nd St. Y, Horizons for Homeless Children, and the Smith College Campus School.

The Nields

Nerissa and Katryna Nields grew up singing folk songs in the kitchen and in the back seat of the family car. Katryna learned to sing melody with their father, eventually making her an ideal front person for the band. Nerissa, on the other hand, tackled the harmonies; with that skill, she provided a natural counterpoint to her sister’s vibrant lead. As a duo, the sisters have toured nationally for years and been the darlings of the coffeehouse/festival scene, with tunes ranging from off-the-hook idiosyncratic to kicking to heartbreaking. They were a part of Lillith Fair, and have shared the stage with Natalie Merchant, Suzanne Vega, Sarah McLaughlin, Dar Williams, The Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Joan Baez, the Band, 10,000 Maniacs, Billy Bragg, Dan Zanes and countless others, all of whom informed and enhanced their musical repertoire.

A most recent influence on their music is children. “Having children has brought us back to our roots in a powerful way,” says Nerissa. “I’m much more drawn to the honesty of folk music, the simplicity of it. My kids love singing songs from Sister Holler. And I love how, when we sing these ‘Nerissa’ songs in concerts, everybody sings along, even though it’s the first time they’ve heard them. They’re songs that really invite the listener into the music making process.”


Two other Music Stages will present another dozen local performers, ranging from rock to jazz to folk to blues to bluegrass to African drumming, and one of the stages will be completely solar-powered, thanks to the Solar Store of Greenfield (more details to come). — So on May 14th from 10am-7pm, bring the family and come enjoy local music, local food, local artisans and local businesses, with  kids’ activities all day!  Admission is only $5 per person, children 12 and under are admitted free. Parking is free, too!

The Hilltown Spring Festival is sponsored by Hilltown Families, Maude’s Music, and 11 local cultural councils supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.  Additional sponsorship dollars were provided by 32 generous local businesses.  The full list of supporters is at

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!

Hilltown Spring Festival Offers Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs

Middle and High School Students Invited to Create and Operate Games at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Entrepreneur opportunity in the hilltowns for middle and high school students at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Middle school and high school students are invited to participate in the fifth annual Hilltown Spring Festival, which will take place this year on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Students are encouraged to create games which can be played by younger children. The youthful game creators may charge a fee to each player who chooses to play their game. Proposals for all kinds of games are welcome. A description of the game, and the proposed fee, should be submitted in advance to Hilltown CDC. Email for more information.

These games will be in addition to the Kids-Made Craft Bazaar, which was very successful last year. More than a dozen children of all ages offered their handmade crafts for sale.

The Hilltown Spring Festival was visited by 2,000 people last year. It features music all day on three stages, food from local vendors, children’s activities all day long, a Sustainable Living Expo, and displays by area businesses, non-profits, and artists and craftspeople. Admission is $5 per person; children 12 and under are admitted free. For more information visit the Hilltown CDC.

Artisans, Vendors & Volunteers Wanted for 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Hilltown Spring Festival will Celebrate Hilltown Life on May 14th!

The Old Creamery cooks up shrimp shish kebabs on an open grill during the 2010 Hilltown Spring Festival - just one of the many delicious food options offered by local food vendors last year. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) is signing up local artisans, businesses, non-profit organizations and volunteers for the 5th annual Hilltown Spring Festival, to be held Saturday, May 14th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cummington Fairgrounds.

Last year’s Festival drew 2,000 people for an all-day celebration of regional arts, culture and sustainability. This year’s Festival will feature 20 performances by area musicians on three stages (including the Hilltown Families Family Stage!), specialty food and drink from hilltown vendors, children’s activities all day long, and a “sustainable living” exposition.

The Festival is looking for:

  • Vendors of products and services that make our lives more energy-efficient and our communities more sustainable;
  • Artists and craftspeople who want to display and sell their work;
  • Other businesses who want to reach 2,000 prospective customers in one day;
  • Local food vendors;
  • And volunteer captains to help the Festival succeed.

Recycling Captains from Wahconah Regional High School joined the HSF team of Volunteer Captains, helping to make the 2010 festival a great success! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

“The Hilltown Spring Festival is a chance to connect with 2,000 people who care about the quality of life in the Hilltowns,” said Seth Isman, Hilltown CDC’s Economic Development Director and Festival coordinator. “The Festival will highlight regional businesses involved in alternative energy, organic farming and other kinds of sustainable living.”

Registration forms are available from Hilltown CDC; email or call 413-296-4536 ext. 112. The deadline for reserving a space is April 22.


Hilltown CDC is a 30-year-old community development agency working to improve the quality of life of hilltown residents by addressing economic, housing, educational, social and community needs while preserving the rural character of the area.

The Hilltown Spring Festival is supported in part by grants from the Local Cultural Councils of the towns of Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Middlefield, Plainfield, Washington, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Windsor and Worthington—local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Save the Date for the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Save the Date for the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
May 14th, 2011

Save the Date: May 14th, 2011. Volunteer and business opportunities are available. Call the Hilltown CDC at 296-4536 for more info.

The Hilltown CDC’s 5th annual Hilltown Spring Festival, a celebration of Hilltown life, will take place on May 14, 2011, at the Cummington Fairground. Mark the date on your calendar, and tell your friends. Two thousand visitors came through the gates last year.

This year the Hilltown CDC celebrates its 30th Anniversary! Festivities will include music, dance and children’s activities all day; food and drink provided by Hilltown restaurants; sales and displays by Hilltown artists and crafters; the Kids’ Craft Bazaar; and Hilltown businesses showing their products and services. The emphasis will be on sustainable living, with demonstrations, information, and festival-wide recycling. (Last year we recycled 30% of all trash; we can double that this year!)


The Hilltown CDC is looking for volunteers to help with set-up and recycling at the fairground on May 13 & 14th. If you can help, or if you would like to highlight your business at the festival, call Seth Isman at 413-296-4536, x112, or email Ask your friends how much fun they had at last year’s festival!

Support is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and many Local Cultural Councils; by local banks and other sponsors; and by the exhibiting businesses. Admission price helps support the work of Hilltown CDC, including business development, housing rehabilitation, support programs for low income local elders and families, and the Hilltown Food Pantry.

Sheep to Shawl Festival on May Day to Celebrate New England Heritage

Celebration of New England in the Spring

Sheep to Shawl Festival in Wlliamstown this weekend will focus on historic fleece & fiber. Demos of shearing with traditional tools, carding, pinning and weaving. Sheep herding with boarder collies. Old-time toys and games for the kids. And much more! (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation (WRLF) will host its annual Sheep to Shawl Festival at its Sheep Hill headquarters in Williamstown Saturday, May 1st from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The festival is a celebration of spring and our New England heritage, with time-honored crafts and artisans, farm animals, and a focus on the region’s historic fleece and fiber industry. For the 7th year, sheep return to Sheep Hill, and the legendary Fred DePaul will spin stories while shearing with traditional tools. Denise Leonard and Kristen Whittle will demonstrate sheep herding with border collies. These amazing dogs will delight visitors as they herd not only sheep but Indian Runner Ducks up the steep meadows of Sheep Hill. Area farms will bring llamas, alpacas and other livestock for viewing and petting, and local farm products for sale. Barnwright Shaun Garvey will demonstrate the traditional building techniques he used to restore the barns at Sheep Hill.

The Green Mountain Weavers & Spinners Guild will demonstrate carding, spinning, and weaving throughout the day. Fiber artists and other local artisans will show and sell their wares. Local artists will be painting En Plein Air and demonstrating their skills at capturing the Sheep Hill landscape.

Volunteers are busy installing a wood floor in the newly renovated Horse Barn in time to open the traditional Soup Kitchen. Children’s activities sponsored by the Williamstown House of Local History will include period costumes for children to try on, and old-time toys and games. There will be fiber-arts crafts and other activities for children and enthusiastic adults.

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