Q&A: Organic PYO Apples in Western MA


Philip Korman writes, “For a listing of PYO where the farmer is encouraged to post growing practices: www.buylocalfood.org.”

Wanted: Organic PYO apples! Pilar Goldstein-Dea of Easthampton writes, “We’re wondering where we might pick organic apples locally. Where’s your favorite organic pick-your-own orchard?”

  • Erin Brainard writes, “Outlook Farm (Route 66, Westhampton). Can’t wait, the kids love it.”
  • Chip Konowitz writes, “Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield.”
  • Marissa Tenenbaum Potter writes, “Apex in Shelburne.”
  • Annie Bob DeCoteau writes, “If you don’t mind the pretty drive- Dwight Miller in Dummerston, VT or Green Mountain in Putney.”
  • Tish Serrani writes, “Outlook is not organic but they are a great local farm.”
  • Amy Wasserman writes, “There are no organic orchards in MA, unfortunately. But I know there are trees at the Yiddish Book Center and also at Eric Carle Museum, and I don’t think they are sprayed with anything. The surrounding grass might have chemicals. If you are REALLY concerned, call Hampshire College grounds dept. Many local orchards are IPM – you have to ask the farmers. Apex is low spray/IPM with great apples that we buy at Amherst Wednesday and Winter Markets…not sure if they are PYO but I know they are in the Shelburne area.”
  • Jenny Underdown writes, “There is an organic orchard in Ashfield: Bear Swamp Orchard…Just went there last weekend. Great place. Cider too!”
  • Maribeth Blankenburg Ritchie writes, “There is a certified organic pick your own in Ashfield on Hawley Rd. Bear Swamp Orchards, they make great cider.”
  • Chris Sanborn writes, “Apex is not organic. Dwight Miller in VT and Bear Swamp are the closest ones I know of that are open to the public. IPM constitutes most orchards in MA.”
  • Jaimee Roncone writes, “Bear Swamp, Ashfield.”
  • Jennifer ‘kippy’ York  writes, “Sentinel Farm on Cottage St. in Belchertown!”
  • Cheryl Svoboda Asher writes, “My 2 year old granddaughter went to Outlook last weekend and had the time of her life. She and my daughter picked 75 apples for about $20. I too, have always thought Outlook as an organic farm They are located in Westhampton for those that do not know. They will being gong again this time with me! Fun activity no matter where you go and we scrub the apples to be doubly sure.”
  • Jose Santiago writes, “Outlook Farm. We went last Saturday. $25 for a bag.”
  • Belle Rita Novak writes, “An orchardist from New Hampshire once told me that it is very difficult to grow organic apples; not impossible, but difficult. Don’t expect them to look pretty.”
  • April Pitroff Varellas writes, “Bear Swamp Orchard, Ashfield.”
  • Pilar Goldstein-Dea writes, “Hurrah! Thank You!”

10 Outdoor Summer Music Series in Western MA

In addition to lawn concert series, other places families can often times catch free live music is during the many farmers’ markets in the region. Markets like the Burgy Farmers’ Market in Williamsburg, Ashfield Farmers’ Market and Tuesday Market in Northampton, just to name a few. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield – On the lawn at the Burgy Farmers’ Market).

The summer months in Western MA are an excellent time to check out live music the whole family can enjoy together.  There are several of free lawn concerts that happen in the late afternoon and early evening during these warmer months where families can have evening picnic dinner together on the green while taking in live music.  Bring your own chairs, blankets, beverages and bubbles too, for a fun time during the setting sun.

Every Sunday, in the late afternoon, head to Stanley Park in Westfield where families can BYO picnic dinner and spread out while listing to family-friendly performers playing as part of the park’s free summer concert series.

On Tuesdays, The Clark in Williamstown also has dinners available during their free outdoor live concerts; and on Wednesdays families can BYO picnic to enjoy during the lawn concert series at Conant Park in Southampton.

Then on Thursdays there are several lawn concert series worth checking out this summer: Angel Park celebrates their 4th year in Williamsburg, located across the street from the Burgy Thursday Farmers’ Market, a great place to grab dinner for a picnic on the lawn; and Energy Park in Greenfield has new acts each week and a nearby playground for kids while parents take in the show; live music happens on the porch of the Florence Civic Center, across the street from Cup & Top Cafe, a kid-friendly place to pick up a bagged dinner to enjoy with the kids on the lawn; in Russell the VFW hosts a family-friendly outdoor concert series too, but only for the month of July; and there’s a summer concert series at the gazebo in Huntington with a bake sale to purchase desserts.

And to end your week there are two lawn concerts that happen on Friday.  This year The Mount in Lenox hosts an evening of live outdoor music of traditional and modern music among the settings of their beautiful gardens, and Easthampton’s Arts in the Park continues their summer concert series this year with live music at Millside Park.

For more information and a complete list of live music happening all over Western MA to entertain families, be sure to check out our list of Weekly Suggested Events.

Rachel’s Table Gleaning Project

Community Service: Gleaning with Rachel’s Table

Rachel’s Table brings young volunteers into the fields where they can harvest surplus produce from local farms and bring it directly to our agencies. In addition to feeding the hungry, the Gleaning Project educates the community about hunger, food security, and agriculture.

When food is grown, often a significant amount is left behind in fields after the harvest.  Families can help to harvest food and contribute to local efforts to combat hunger by volunteering with Rachel’s Table Gleaning Project!  The project organizes community members to visit local farms and glean fields once farmers have finished their harvest.

Over the past five years, Rachel’s Table has offered over $100,000 worth of gleaned produce to local families dealing with food insecurity.  Gleaning trips include not only harvesting, but a session with an educator who helps the group to learn about the importance of their efforts, and how they are helping to care for their environment and their community.

To participate, volunteers must be at least 11 years old.  Gleaning events can be set up for homeschool groups, scout troops, classes, etc., or families can contact the project to find out about upcoming dates and locations for gleans.  For more information, contact Jessica Harwood at 617-599-7711, or by e-mail at jnanharwood@gmail.com.

5 Western MA Parks Go Organic!

5 Local Parks to Implement Organic Lawn Care Practices

Look Park in Florence offers recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, bikers, and other users. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Five municipal parks in the Hampshire and Hampden county areas will transition from using synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to using organic practices and materials. These parks attract thousands of visitors each year, creating an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and beauty of organic lawn care.  This is GREAT news for families, pets and our natural environment!

Participating Western MA parks include:

  • School Street Park in Agawamwithin walking distance of the Connecticut River, School Street Park features 50 acres of land with four multi-purpose athletic fields, a handicap accessible playscape, a basketball court, shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, walking trails, picnic tables, and a historic barn. The park has a high volume of adult and children using its facilities.
  • Look Park in Florence —Look Park offers recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, bikers, and other users. One of its focal points is a grass 2,200-person capacity outdoor concert theatre. Earlier this year, using a Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) grant, this outdoor theater transitioned to a petrochemical- and pesticide-free venue.
  • Greenwood Park in Longmeadow—the park abuts Greenwood Center, which houses the Council on Aging and the Longmeadow Park and Recreation Childcare Center. The Childcare Center uses Greenwood Park daily for its outdoor activities, as does the Council on Aging for certain seasonal events.
  • Town Center Park in Ludlow—the Town plans to use TURI funding to transition this park, which hosts a summer community concert series, into a pesticide- and petrochemical-free space. The park is located in a highly visible area in the center of Town and the concert series is well attended.
  • Wistariahurst Museum Grounds in Holyoke—in 1959, Wistariahurst was given to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes. The grounds contain extensive ornamental gardens and an expansive lawn. The museum is home to the Master Gardener’s Association and hosts weekly meetings and multiple plant sales and regional conferences throughout the year.

In addition to their actual lawn care programs, each park will participate in an extensive public awareness and promotion campaign including workshops and seminars, display banners, lawn signs, brochures, and promotions at local park events.

Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Share Your Love for Your Local CSA


(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Have you signed up for your local CSA yet? CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) are great ways to get fresh local fruits, vegetables and other farm products while supporting local farming. Tell us about your favorite CSA here in Western MA, and what you love about your local farm share.

  • Tinky Weisblat writes, “We go to Wilder Brook Farm in Charlemont. It feels like family—and you can pick your own food out so if you don’t really need four heads of lettuce that week you don’t take them!”
  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “We love Brookfield Farmin South Amherst. We love biking to pick up our share every week in the summer. We love seeing friends and neighbors there. We love the all-natural, no-sugar-added popsicles that they sell at the farm store. We love buying local milk and yogurt there too. We love pick-your-own strawberries, herbs, edamame, and more. We love visiting with the chickens and pigs. When my parents come visit, and we take them to Brookfield, they tell us that it feels like they are on vacation!”
  • Dan Finn writes, “If you are a member of UMass Five College Federal Credit Union they will give you a 0% loan for six months to help pay for a CSA. Pretty cool!”
  • Kathie Crivelli writes, “Riverland Farm in Sunderland, Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Next Barn Over in Hadley, Simple Giftsin North Amherst, Brookfield Farm in South Amherst, on and on and on it goes… Sign up!”
  • Melissa Adams writes, “We’re a member at Crabapple Farm (Chesterfield) for a veggie/produce share & will be getting a cheese share there from Cricket Creek Farm in the Berkshires (Williamstown)!”
  • Kara Kitchen writes,Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton!”

Volunteer as a Citizen Scientist this Holiday Season

National Audubon’s 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count

112 years ago, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count began when Frank Chapman, founder of the Audubon magazine, suggested an alternative to hunting birds and proposed that people “hunt” them only to count them. Now armed with binoculars, pad and pen, tens of thousands of volunteers head outside to count and record the winter resident population of birds in their region. This data helps with conservation efforts. (Courtesy photo)

National Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) takes place from December 14th through January 5th.  Add some outdoor adventure and wildlife observations to your family’s holiday traditions this year by participating in your local CBC Circle by counting and collecting data about the birds in your neighborhood to gauge the wellness of the nation’s bird populations.

The CBC offers families an annual opportunity to participate together as Citizen Scientists and beginning birders who can’t identify many bird species are warmly welcomed to join in too. Kids can learn about local avian wildlife habitats and bird populations by counting and collecting data with their parents. The data collected during the count is used by Audubon and other organizations to assess the health of bird populations.  The yearly count is the longest running ornithology census!

There are bird counts all over the country, including 33 organized count circles in the state of Massachusetts alone. According to Audubon, counts are often family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. CBC Circles ensure that even the most inexperienced birders can properly count and record data, as each circle is lead by an Audubon Count Compiler.  Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler.

To follow are Western MA events local compilers are leading, and/or their contact info to get involved. This list will be updated as event information filters in, so check back for updates: Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events 10/16/10-10/22/10

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


Slices of Apple Pie & Cheddar Cheese, a New England tradition, sold to raise funds for the South Ashfield Library during the Ashfield Fall Festival this past weekend. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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.


This Saturday, October 16th from 10am-3pm – DISCOVERY DAY: Arcadia Discovery Day invites you to come explore the sanctuary and its many habitats, take a net and investigate the small invertebrates in the pond and field, build a bluebird or American kestrel box, and see live birds up close with local wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi. www.massaudubon.org Easthampton, MA (FREE)

This Sunday, October 17th at 12:30pm – FALL FESTIVAL: Westhampton’s 5th Annual Fall Festival with the famous Great Pumpkin Roll (4:15pm). Demos, crafts, 5k, cookout, campfire sing-along. Westhampton, MA (FREE)


Next Saturday, October 23rd from 3-6pm – OPENING CELEBRATION: Opening Celebration of the Bullitt Reservation (322 Bullitt Rd.). Come see the ongoing green transformation of an old farmhouse into an energy efficient office and meeting space, hike our new scenic trail, stroll through the meadow, and enjoy the view while sharing a potluck dinner with friends and neighbors. Kid’s activities will be available too! 268.8219 http://www.highlandcommunities.org Ashfield, MA (FREE)

Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA

Also next Saturday, from 6-8pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT: Haunted Farm at Red Gate Farm. A festive Halloween Celebration complete with a “not-so-scary” haunted barn, games, food, treats, and a haunted hay ride! Put on your costume and come on over! The only scary part is how much our farm animals are looking forward to Halloween! Ages 3 – 12. No registration necessary. Please call the Farm Office for more information. 625-9503 www.redgatefarm.org Buckland, MA (>$)

And next Sunday, October 24th from 10am-4pm – CRAFT FAIR: 1st Annual Williamsburg Arts & Crafts Fall Festival at the Willambsurg Grange. Great opportunity to find holiday gifts made by local artisians. There will be many activities happening in the town of Williamsburg on this day, including a fundraiser for the Meekins Library and Hot Air Balloon tethering rides from 3-4:30pm. 268-0074 Williamsburg, MA (SALE)


Show Circus Studio in Easthampton, MA

Warm welcome to Hilltown Families newest sponsor, Show Circus Studio of Easthampton, MA - offering after-school classes, camps and workshops in the circus arts.

Bobbie Knox of Williamsburg, MA writes: Friends of the Williamsburg Libraries is having a Move it for Meekins (Library) and Chili Fest on October 24th from 12noon-3pm during the Williamsburg Fall Festival. The Move it for Meekins has a Trick or Treat Walk (in costume) with cookies and cider served at the turn around point, among funny tomb stones, spooky music for families, and a Woodland Trails 2 hour walk for the more hardy walker. Right after the walks starts the chili fest with great chili and corn bread, drinks and desert. Dining is on straw bales on the library lawn. Register before walks at Meekins Library. www.meekins-library.org

FREE CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION CLASS: With funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Hilltown Community Health Center in Huntington, MA will offer a free childbirth education class on Saturday, October 30th from 10:00 to 3:00. This day-long format will prepare families for the childbirth experience in one session. Ann Buscemi, certified childbirth educator, will talk about what to expect in labor and delivery, as well as breathing and relaxation techniques. Call Lee at 238-5511 x155 for more information on location and to register. www.hchcweb.org

Deadline to enter to win: 10/20

KIDS COOKING: Future chefs, ages 9 to 14, are invited to join Katie Wilton, author of You’re the Cook!, for a hands-on cooking class at the Lenox Library Association on Saturday, October 23rd from 3-4:30pm. Students will make recipes from her cookbook, including Deviled Eggs, Pizza Wontons, Parmesan Pita Triangles, Yogurt Fruit Shakes and Cream Cheese Filled Strawberries. Participants will sample all of the food. This workshop is free. Copies of Katie’s cookbook will be for sale. Registration is required; participation is limited. To register, call 637-0197 ext. 105.

NEW EXHIBIT: Special exhibit at D’Amour Musium of Fine Arts in Springfield: Season of Joy: Celebrating Childhood in Currier & Ives Prints. Great opportunity for older students and homeschoolers. Now until January 23rd. Currier & Ives is known for its idealized images of life in 19th century America. The images in this exhibit presented an optimistic, romanticized vision of childhood. However, these renditions fell short of reality for many youngsters who worked in American factories and farms from dawn to dusk. These images illustrate the charming side of childhood and can be appreciated both historically and aesthetically as romantic and sentimental depictions of growing up in 19th-century America. For information, call 413-263-6800 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

Learn how to make Mexican Sugar Skulls

Learn how to make Mexican Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead. Click on banner for a studio visit with ArtStar Lounge in Williamsburg, MA.

NEW EXHIBIT: Oct 15 – Jan 23, Eric Carle Museum and Yiddish Book Center, Monsters and Miracles: A Journey through Jewish Picture Books. The exhibit shows the contributions that Jewish art and storytelling have made to children’s literature, tracing the development of the Jewish picture book from its early cultural roots to its contemporary innovations. The works represent an array of artistic media, including paintings, drawings, computer-generated images, paper cuts, collages, as well as lavishly illustrated Hebrew manuscripts. Texts are mainly in English, but there are also works in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Portuguese. See both the Carle website (www.carlemuseum.org) and the Yiddish Book Center website (www.yiddishbookcenter.org) for more info.

HOMEWORK HELP: Big Y’s Homework Helpline is a free service, available Monday through Thursday from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. by calling 1-800-866-BIGY or on-line by logging on to www.Bigy.com/homework

READING MENTOR PROGRAM: The Forbes Library Teen Department in Northampton, MA is looking for tween/teen volunteers to read to younger children once a week or about an hour for their Reading and Mentoring Program. Younger children who may not have older brothers/sisters who would like to spend time with an older friend are wanted too. Call to sign up: 587-1010.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!


Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

This week on the HFVS we’re featuring local music by The Gypsy Wranglers, The Primate Fiasco, and Swing Caravan, and new music by Elizabeth Mitchell, Music for Little People, The Real Tuesday Weld, The Leisure Society, Forest Sun and a couple of cuts off of the Many Hands CD.

Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org 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!


Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Markets | Listen Here

Events Happening in the Hilltowns | ♦ On-going Events

Saturday – 10/16

Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: 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 www.valleyfreeradio.org.

MUSIC FESTIVAL: The sixth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival is scheduled through October 21st. www.berkshiresjazz.org Pittsfield, MA

WOOL HARVEST: Shearing & What to do with Wool, fall wool harvest celebration will be at Winterberry Farm (21 Teawaddle Hill Road). Shearing, spinning, weaving and felting demos. Try your hand at spinning on a hook. 548-3940 www.winterberryfarm.org Leverett, MA

ART ADVENTURES: Open Studios. www.northadamsopenstudios.com North Adams, MA (FREE)

8am – HARVEST FESTIVAL: Leverett Harvest Festival happens at the Leverett Elementary School (Montague Rd.) with a pancake breakfast, crafts, games and the Leverett Family Museum will be open to the public. Leverett, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

8am-3pm – TAG SALE: The Children’s Museum will host a tag sale in the upper level of the museum’s building (444 Dwight St.) 536-KIDS Holyoke, MA (FUNDRAISER)

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: On the town green. Ashfield, MA (MARKET)

9am-1pm – FAMILY CLOTHING SALE: Trinitarian Congregational Church (147 Main St.) will have a huge clothing sale with a large variety for the entire family. Northfield, MA (SALE)

9am-2pm – TAG SALE: Tag sale fundraiser for the Russell Conwell Community Education Center. Worthington, MA (FUNDRAISER)

9:30am-4:30pm – FOOD HISTORY: What’s cooking? Open hearth cooking at the Historic Deerfield. Open hearth cooks will prepare select dishes that are on display as part of the exhibition Dinner is Served!: Dining and the Decorative Arts. Come see “what’s cooking” and learn how these dishes were prepared in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The history workshop: Pots, Pans and Porridge: Children in the Colonial Kitchen, will be offered too starting at 12Noon. 775-7127 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (MUSEUM ADMISSION)

9:30am-5pm – HARVEST DAYS: Talk with costumed interpreters about the harvest and learn about methods of food preservation. at the Old Sturbridge Village Harvest Days. Dig potatoes in the field, pull carrots in the garden, shell corn in the barn and thresh rye on the threshing floor! 800-733-1830 www.osv.org Sturbridge, MA ($)

9:45am – RAILWAY ADVENTURES: Take a field trip with the Gateway Family Center on the Berkshire Scenic Railway, located in Lenoxdale (a village in Lenox, 10 Willow Creek Rd.). The train goes from there to Stockbridge and back. For those that would like to spend more time in Stockbridge, it is possible to take a later train back (don’t lose your ticket!). Please dress for the weather. You may bring snacks for the Stockbridge station (there is often an ice cream truck there) and there is usually a hot dog vendor at the Lenoxdale station. Lenox, MA (>$)

10am – FAMILY FILM: A Town Called Panic will be at the International Family Film series at Images Cinema (50 Spring St.). Hilarious and frequently surreal, the stop-motion extravaganza A Town Called Panic has endless charms and raucous laughs for children from eight to eighty. Based on the Belgian animated cult TV series, Panic stars three plastic toys named Cowby, Indian and Horse who share a rambling house in a rural town that never fails to attract the weirdest events. www.imagescinema.org Williamstown, MA (>$)

10am-12Noon – PARENTING SOCIAL: Color Play is a monthly social and craft for families parenting children of color, supporting parents by addressing the cultural imbalances on their children’s community, encouraging self-acceptance and identity awareness. Providing parents with the opportunity to have open dialogue around the many concerns of parenting children of color, it will include a story hour, healthy snack and seasonal craft; as well as, fun interactive parent-child connecting in a diverse setting. Northampton, MA (FREE)

10am-5pm – CORN MAZE: Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm (25 South Main St.). 665-8331 www.mikesmaze.com Sunderland, MA ($)

10am-12Noon – PARENTING WORKSHOP: Breastfeeding Workshop with Melanie Serman. Basics of breastfeeding w a certified lactation consultant. CHP Family Services Building (442 Stockbrige Rd.). 644-0104 www.communityhealthprograms.org Great Barrington, MA (FREE)

10am-12Noon – PARENTING WORKSHOP: Breastfeeding Workshop with Melanie Serman. Basics of breastfeeding w a certified lactation consultant. CHP Family Services Building (442 Stockbrige Rd.). 644-0104 www.communityhealthprograms.org Great Barrington, MA (FREE)

10am-12:30pm – ARCHAEOLOGY: At Historic Deerfield, Bob Paynter, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts will lead an Archaeological Walking Tour that families with older students might enjoy. A guided tour of the Old Burying Ground with a guide from Historic Deerfield will be at 11:30 a.m. 775-7127 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (FREE)

10am-3pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT: Halloween Tricks and Treats at Look Park with arts, crafts, pony rides, entertainment, pumpkin painting, costumes, games, cider, hayrides. www.lookpark.org Florence, MA (>$)

10am-3pm – DISCOVERY DAY: Arcadia Discovery Day invites you to come explore the sanctuary and its many habitats, take a net and investigate the small invertebrates in the pond and field, build a bluebird or American kestrel box, and see live birds up close with local wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi. www.massaudubon.org Easthampton, MA (FREE)

10am-3pm – ARCHITECTURE: Harvest Home tour. Explore the architecture and interior design of six of Westhampton’s loveliest homes. 529-2373 Westhampton, MA ($)

10am-4pm – HARVEST FESTIVAL: 6th Annual Littleville Harvest Festival at the Littleville Fairgrounds (15 Kinne Brook Rd.). Kids Games & Craft Activities, Pumpkin Painting, Farmers Market, Huge Indoor Tag Sale, Bounce House, Pie Eating Contests, Kids Haunted House… 667-3987 Chester, MA (FREE ADMISSION)

10am-4pm – SCIENCE ADVENTURES: Radical Robots at the Springfield Science Museum with robotics demonstrations. Teams from Agawam, Springfield, and West Springfield will show off their award-winning machines, and meet The Aexeous Robot, an intelligent, heavy-duty robot that walks, talks and interacts with the audience. 263-6800 www.springfieldmuseums.org Springfield, MA (MUSEUM ADMISSION)

10am-4pm – FALL FESTIVAL: Annual Sunderland Fall Festival with the Taste of Sunderland Food Court, music, demos, crafts, kid activities, Cow Chip Bingo… Town Ball Fields. Sunderland, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

10am-6pm – FALL FESTIVAL: Huntington Fall Festival on the town green with food, crafts, family entertainment. 667-5269 Huntington, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

10:30am-4pm – HISTORIC ADVENTURES: Made-by-Hand-Trades of the Past: English Factory-Made Ceramics & Broom making at Historic Deerfield. See historic trades demonstrations of English factory-made ceramics with Don Carpentier, and broom making with Bob Aborn. 775-7127 www.historic-deerfield.org Deerfield, MA (INCLUDED W/ADMISSION)

11am – FRENCH ADVENTURES: Pétanque Day at The Mount (2 Plunkett St.).  Played in pairs or small groups, Pétanque is a popular, fun, easy-to-learn French game and is cousin to both horseshoes and bocce.  Other French-themed activities including readings of popular French children’s stories, art creation, and scavenger hunts.  Light bistro fare will be available for purchase.   5511-5111 www.edithwharton.org Lenox, MA ($)

11am – LITERARY ADVENTURES: With Norton Juster at the Odyssey Bookshop (9 College St.). Norton will read The Odious Orge, his first collaobration with Jules Feiffer since The Phantom Tollbooth. 534-7307 South Hadley, MA (FREE)

11am, 1:15 & 3pm – FOLIAGE CRUISE: Quinnetukut II Riverboat cruises. Join Captain Steve Larivee and first mate Sarah Doyle for this 12 mile cruise along the scenic Connecticut River. Cruises depart from Barton Cove. Make a reservations: (800) 859-2960 Northfield, MA ($)

Read the rest of this entry »

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park

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Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park
Holyoke, MA
Sunday, August 8th, 2010 @ 7pm

Deadline to enter to win: August 4th

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This month we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Willie Nelson & Family at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA on Sunday, August 8th, 2010.

Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 08/04/10 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.


Following its opening in 1894 as a picturesque retreat on the side of Mount Tom, Mountain Park expanded and evolved into one of the most beloved amusement parks in New England. At the beginning of the 20th century, Holyoke was the most prosperous community in the state and the first planned industrial city in the United States. The city’s progress drew crowds of visitors to Mountain Park, and the park gradually developed into a bustling destination. Although the park closed its gates in 1987, the echoes of laughter from generations of visitors still reverberate throughout the Pioneer Valley. Today, Mountain Park evolves into the next millennium as a new host for music, entertainment and outdoor family fun.


Willie Nelson played a vital role in post-rock & roll country music. Although he didn’t become a star until the mid-’70s, Nelson spent the ’60s writing songs that became hits for stars like Ray Price (“Night Life”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”), and Billy Walker (“Funny How Time Slips Away”) as well as releasing a series of records that earned him a small, but devoted, cult following. During the early ’70s, Willie aligned himself with Waylon Jennings and the burgeoning outlaw country movement that made him into a star in 1975, as recognizable in pop circles as he was to the country audience. In addition to recording, he also launched an acting career in the early ’80s. Willie has never played it safe musically. Instead, he borrowed from a wide variety of styles, including traditional pop, Western swing, jazz, traditional country, cowboy songs, honky tonk, rock & roll, folk, and the blues, creating a distinctive, elastic hybrid. Nelson has gone back to his roots for his new album Country Music, produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring a collection of vintage country standards played by Nashville’s top flight bluegrass musicians.


Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Wilie Nelson and Family at Mountain Park on Sunday, August 8th at 7pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. SHARE YOUR FAVORITE COUNTRY OR BLUEGRASS SONG BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/04/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Check out the Mountain Park music line-up here. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Jill and Julia Show at the Iron Horse

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The Jill and Julia Show at the Iron Horse
Northampton, MA
Saturday, July 10th, 2010 @ 7pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in Northampton, MA for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT!  You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This month we are pleased to offer a chance  to win a pairs of tickets to see The Jill and Julia Show.

Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend out for a night on the town. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 07/07/10 @ 7pm (EST).  More details below.


The Jill and Julia Show is a delightful, poignant yet wildly entertaining mash-up of music, comedy, improvisation and monologues. This one-of-a-kind performance revolves around embedding Julia’s stories into songs of Jill’s that share a common theme creating a sum greater than the individual parts. The debut at the world renowned TED conference in 2007 has grown to a monthly residency in and around Chicago and will be touring nationwide in 2010 and beyond.

Known for her four-year run on Saturday Night Live and her powerful solo shows, Julia Sweeney continues to carve out her own territory in entertainment, one that moves between the personal and the political, the controversial and the comical.

Jill Sobule’s work is at once deeply personal and socially conscious, seriously funny and derisively tragic. Over seven albums and a decade of recording, Jill has mused on topics such as the death penalty, anorexia, shoplifting, reproduction, the French resistance movement, adolescence, and the Christian right. The NY Times called her “…topical, funny and more than a little poignant …grown-up music for an adolescent age.”

From The Huffington Post: Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney might not at first seem an ideal show-business team; the experiential divide between comics and musicians is sufficiently wide that you rarely find them even attempting to forge a bond. (That Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis remain the most successful such duo isn’t exactly inspirational.)

But when you give the matter a moment’s thought, you begin to see some common ground between the two performers: Sweeney, remember, glanced the Zeitgeist with her portrayal of a sexually ambiguous character named Pat; and Sobule scored a hit with her sexually ambiguous single, “I Kissed a Girl.”

More substantively, now both are forty-something women in an industry largely blind to anyone over thirty, and while each retains a certain girlishness–Sweeney’s breathy, often giggling line delivery, and Sobule’s bright, insouciant vocals–beneath the surface there’s nothing gamine about them.


Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see The Jill and Julia Show at the Iron Horse on Saturday, July 10th at 7pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 07/07/10 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

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