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.

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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

Suggested Events 05/31/08-06/06/08

Spring Festivals Are Blooming!

Spring festivals bloom this time of year and are always great fun to take the family to. A couple of weeks ago the Hilltown Spring Festival celebrated life in the Hilltowns, and this past weekend the Sheep & Woolcraft Festival celebrated its 33rd year at the Cummington Fair Grounds. And this weekend there are a couple of fairs and festivals worth checking out too:


On Saturday (05/31/08) in Ashfield, MA, the Ashfield Community Preschool will be celebrating spring with a May Fair and Family Concert. The fair begins at 10am with Maypole dancing, a fairy forest, baby animals barnyard, crafts, food and music! The Nields will be performing an outdoor family concert beginning at 1:30pm (>$) and Lady May will be roaming the grounds to greet visitors in her magic cloak. HF Listerv members Geri & Mark Pollard of Bread Euphoria will be serving up pizza and their organic baked goods. (POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER & ILLNESS)


Earlier on Saturday, HF Listerv members Helen Kahn (Cup & Top) & Bill Childs (Spare the Rock) will be hosting/presenting Dog on Fleas at Cup and Top in Florence. And it’s FREE! Dog on Fleas is a great band. So between The Nields at 1:30pm and DOF at 10am, and The Nields AGAIN on Sunday (see below), families are RICH with great family music events.


Another Spring Festival happening this weekend worth mentioning is the Cultural Survival Bazaar happening all weekend long on the Amherst Commons. We went last year and loved it (plus, it’s free!). Great music, food and crafts! Here are some photos we took at last year’s festival:

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If 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.

Suggest an Event | Local forecast | Get directions | Museum Passes | Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns
The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:(>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

Saturday – 05/31

7am – 9am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) Are you prepared to rock?! Join Bill & Ella on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child every Saturday on The River 93.9FM (101.5FM in Brattleboro), or 103.3 FM WXOJ-LP to hear two hours of quality family-friendly music. [All ages] (Free) LINK

9am-10am – FAMILY RADIO & STORYTELLING – (Air Waves) Join our Hilltown Family! Spend a little time with The Hilltown Family Variety Show every Saturday on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM to hear a full hour of commercial-free, quality family-friendly music and storytelling. [Families] (Free) LINK

9:30am-4:30pm – HISTORIC COOKING – (Deerfield) Open Hearth Cooking Demonstrations at the Historic Deerfield Hall Tavern Kitchen. All are invited to experience the sights, sounds, and aromas of hearth cooking while learning about colonial foods and diet. Visitors can also see what’s growing when they visit the Cooks’ Garden dedicated to the memory of Margaret Quinn Orloske. Demonstrations are included with general admission. 413.775.7214 [All Ages] (Free with museum pass. Borrow a museum pass from your local library.) LINK

10am – FAMILY CONCERT – (Florence) Dog on Fleas will be at Cup and Top. [Families] (Free) MORE INFO

10am – MAY FAIR & FAMILY CONCERT – (Ashfield) At the Ashfield Community Preschool. Maypole dancing, fairy forest, barnyard, crafts, music, food, and more. The Nields will be doing a family concert at 1:30pm. [Families] (Fundraiser) (POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER & ILLNESS)

10am-6am – CULTURAL FESTIVAL – (Amherst) Cultural Survival’s 3rd Annual Amherst Common Bazaar [All Ages] MORE INFO

10:30am-11:30pm – SIGN LANGUAGE – (Greenfield) REACH Program will be offering sign language classes at the Greenfield YMCA. [Adults] (Free) MORE INFO

Noon-4pm – HISTORIC FLOWERS – (Deerfield) May Flowers at the Historic Deerfield Museum. In this family friendly history workshop visitors can learn about the many meanings and uses of flowers in the past. A printed “flower expedition” will have guests seeking blossoms hidden in wallpaper designs, clothing, ceramics, and more in our historic houses and in the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. Children and adults alike can make a nosegay of decorative paper flowers to take home. Workshop is included with general admission. 413.775.7214 [All Ages] (Free with museum pass. Borrow a museum pass from your local library.) LINK

3pm – BACKYARD BARNYARD – (Northampton) Learn how your family can keep chickens at the Forbes Library. [Adults] (Free) MORE INFO

4pm – 5:50pm – ICE SKATING – (Amherst) There will be a public skate at the Mullins Center Ice Rink. Skate rentals available. 413.545.3990 [Families] ($) LINK

6pm – DANCING & ART – (Shelburne) Art Bridge will be hosting a spring dance and art-making party. It’s a potluck. Bring the family. [Families] ($) MORE INFO

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