Suggested Events 10/27/07 – 11/02/07


Ashfield Halloween Haunted House 2007 (c) Sienna WildfieldHere’s a challenge for our readers, what are the origins of the “rag shag parade?” I had never heard of a rag shag parade until I moved to Western Mass. And as far I can tell, this style of parade is a local phenomenon. You don’t hear about rag shag parades happening in Minnesota or Louisiana. Not even Boston! Correct me if I’ve overlooked something, but they seem to take place largely in Western Mass, with at least eight ELEVEN happening this week. So what gives? How did they originate, and why Western Mass? I’ll throw in a free HFVS T-Shirt Review T-Shirt for the person that can come up with an answer, or at the very least a clever response.


Judging from my limited experience, rag shag parades are free-for-all community events where families dress-up in costume and loosely parade down their local town’s main drag. Sometimes fire engines lead the way, sometimes fire engines close up behind. At at the end of the parade there are typically refreshments, activities and/or a bonfire. The kids run around, the adults hide behind masks, and often times trick-or-treating begins. I’m certain there are variations to this format. We’ve been to four rag shag parades since our daughter was born. All in Western Mass and all followed a similar pattern. Share with us your favorite rag shag parade stories below in the comment box.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed!

Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | Printable Format (pdf)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

SATURDAY – 10/27

8am – FAMILY RADIO – While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. [All ages] (Free)

11am-3pm – FALL FESTIVAL – The Community SOL 4-H is holding a fall festival craft fair with bake sale and free activities for kids. Join families, including members from the Hilltown Families Listserv, to make straw dolls, wands and witch hats, or play dress up in the costume corner. Being held at the North Hall (40 Searle Road) in Huntington, MA. [Families] (Free/$)

11am-4pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Hairy Scary Halloween at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA. 413.263.6800 x420 [Families] ($, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

Noon-4pm – HISTORY WORKSHOP – Learn about the kinds of things that people made by hand every day in early New England at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA. Practice sewing or have fun making a hand-made toy out of clay to take home. Included with general admission. At History Workshop. 413.775.7214 [Families] ($/Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni2pm & 3pm – FAMILY THEATER – Picture Book Theater performs Tico and the Golden Wings at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst, MA. [Families](>$, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

2pm-4pm- FAMILY CONCERT & HALLOWEEN EVENT – Join the Pop Rocket’s for some extra Halloween fun at Bart’s Ice Cream in Greenfield, MA. Live music and dancing, along with ice cream. Come in costume. [Families] (Free)

5pm-8pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade (6:30pm at the Fire Station), talent/variety show, candy swap, and trick-or-treating in Worthington, MA. 413.238.0047 [Families] (Free)

5pm-8pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade and trick-or-treating down Main Street in Cummington, MA. Activities at the Community House. [Families] (Free)

6:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Haunted Farm at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. A festive Halloween celebration, with “not-so-scary” haunted hayride, games and treats. Come in costume. [Ages 3-12]

SUNDAY – 10/28

10am-4pm – FAMILY FUNFEST – Enjoy a day full of family fun events at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA. There will be Halloween events, along with storybook characters. 413.774.5581 [Ages 6 and up] ($)

1:30pm-3:30pm – FAMILY CRAFTS – The Children’s Art Museum in Shelburne Falls, MA, is offering a workshop, “Crafting with Kids.” Click here for details. [All ages] ($$)

6:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Halloween Storytime at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA, with author/illustrator David Costello. 413.658.1100 [Families] (Free with admission, Borrow a museum pass from your local library)

MONDAY- 10/29

11:30am – SIGNING STORYTIMES – Discover ALS (sign language) with your child at the Toy Box in Amherst, MA. Students from Hampshire College will read a story out-loud and in sign language (ASL) for the audience. 413.256.8697 [All ages] (Free)

3:30pm – GIRLS SOCCER – Take your kids to see the big girls play soccer at Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton, MA. [Families] (Free)

5:30pm- HALLOWEEN EVENT – Easthampton Family Center’s 3rd Annual Rag Shag Tail-Gating Party at St. Phillips Church Parking Lot in Easthampton, MA. Join them at the “Halfway Point” of the Rag Shag Parade. Little feet don’t always make the whole parade route! Come party and join the parade as it passes by. Halloween Fun to be had. Not So Spooky Halloween Music. (Town Parade Starts at 6pm @ the Maple St School and Parades to Williston school where goodies bags are given out.) 413.563.7672 [Families] (Free)

TUESDAY – 10/30

1pm & 2pm – PARENT EXERCISE – Community Walking Program in the Hilltowns, organized by the Hilltown Community Health Centers. Every Tuesday (weather permitting) meet at Russell Conway School Parking lot in Worthington, MA. Beginner start at 1pm & experienced walkers start at 2pm. Call to register. 413.667.2204 [Parents] (Free)

4pm & 5:30pm- READING & WRITING – Readers & Writers club at the Lilly Library in Florence, MA. Click here for more info. [Kids must be able to read & write] (Free)

4pm – KIDS’ JAM – Join Hilltown Music Together director Lui Collins in a new music and movement for “big kids” at the Belding Memorial Library in Ashfield, MA. Two different time slots are available. Classes run through 12/11. Scholarship aid is available. Open to home schoolers and other family groups. 413.628.0197 [Ages 5-6+] ($$)

5pm – HILLTOWN FAMILIES PIZZA NIGHT – Treat your kids to pizza at Country Pie in Ashfield, MA, with other families from the Hilltown Families Listserv. 413.296.0096 [Families] ($)

7pm – FAMILY RADIO – Tune-in between bath and bedtime to the Hilltown Families very own radio show, the Hilltown Family Variety Show, on WXOJ LP 103.3 FM, Valley Free Radio out of Northampton, MA. This week’s episode is a special HALLOWEEN EPISODE. [Families] (Free)



9pm – PARENT COFFEE BREAK – After dropping the kids off at school or their homeschool program, drop into Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA. Not only do they have great coffee, they have a fantastic breakfast menu too. Connect with other parents. If you’d rather do some work, bring your laptop (they have wireless!) and let them bring you coffee! To find out what’s happen over at Elmer’s, read Notes from Nan, a weekly update posted here on Hilltown Families. [Parents] ($/Free)

4:30pm-7pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Mrs. Claus will host a Witches Ball at Chandler’s Restaurant in South Deerfield, MA. Food and activities. Call to RSVP. 413.665.1277 [Families] ($)

4pm-5:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Trick-or-treating and a rag shag parade happen down Main Street in Greenfield, MA, followed by a free screening of It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown at the Garden Cinemas. [Families] (Free)

5:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT- Rag Shag parade, costume contest, treats in Florence, MA. Line up at Trinity Row Park and parade to the Florence Civic Center. [Families] (Free)

6pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Trick-or-treating, spook house, costume parade in Ashfield, MA. [Families] (Free)

6:15pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade from Hampshire Regional HS to center of town in Westhampton, MA. [Families] (Free)

6:30pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Rag shag parade in Plainfield, MA, from the Mr. Tire parking lot, flowed by a bonfire and costume contest. Refreshments served. [Families] (Free)

7pm – HALLOWEEN EVENT – Halloween pizza and movie night at Cafe Evolution in Florence, MA. Screening The Nightmare Before Christmas. Bring kids in costumes. Tour the haunted vegan bus and enjoy sweets. [Families]

THURSDAY – 11/01

9am – PARENT SOCIAL – Hilltown Families invites parents to gather at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville after dropping off the kids. Get yourself a scone and tea and chat with other area parents before heading off to work or to accomplish your never-ending “to do list.” [Parents] ($, Free)

11am-1pm – HOMESCHOOL HAPPENINGS – Join other homeschoolers at the Greenfield Library in Greenfield, MA, to learn about Ancient Greece. Runs through 11/15/07. For more information call 413.772.1544 x5. [Ages 7 & up] (Free)

5:30pm – READ TO DOGS – The Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA, will be resuming their special program Reading to Dogs. Animals are ideal nonjudgemental reading companions that are less intimidating than peers. Children sign up for 20minute slots. All dogs are registered therapy pets. 413.268.7472 [Ages 6 & up] (Free)

FRIDAY -11/02

11am-12:50pm – HOME SCHOOL ICE SKATING – Mullins Center at the University of MA in Amherst, MA, is starting up a Home School (Ice) Skates. Ice skate rentals are free and accompanying parents are free. The Mullins Cafe will be open serving coffee and assorted foods. [Ages 5 & up] (>$)

5pm – COMMUNITY DINNER – Elmer’s in Ashfield, MA, invites community members to come together to share dinner and conversation every Friday evening. Click here for menu 413.628.4003 [Families] ($)

6 Comments on “Suggested Events 10/27/07 – 11/02/07

  1. The Rag Shag Parades sound like a lot fun but what about costume swaps? I haven’t been able to find any mentioned?

  2. Can someone fill me in on the new date/time/location of the Florence Halloween parade, as it was canceled on Monday?

    Thank you

  3. Greetings!

    In response to your inquiry on the history of the Rag-Shag, yes it is a New England, and more specifically, W. Mass phenomenon. This history is a little sketchy, but what I found out was that the actual term “Rag-Shag” is an inverse derivative of “Shag-rag”, which literally means: The unkempt and ragged part of the community. Being that the term has slang origins, the actual point of origin is vague at best, circa turn of the 20th century.

    Essentially it was the ruffians and derelects that began the parade, sort of as a protest to the disparity of classsim. It was the only acceptable way their voice could be heard from a voiceless group. Over time it merged with Halloween festivities such as trick-or-treating which did not become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934,and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

    So there you go! Good enough for a t-shirt?

  4. Make that eleven! Rumor has it that Chesterfield had a rag shag parade last night.

  5. HF Listserv members Julie & Andrew have pointed out TWO MORE rag shag parades that are happening in Western Massachusetts:

    “Also Williamsburg and Haydenville!

    Tues. Oct. 30th Haydenville Rag Shag Parade. 6pm. Starts in front of Orchard’s (Joe’s Garage!) and goes to the American Legion, where games and treats follow. Assistance by Girl Scout Troupe 228.

    and then

    Wed. Oct 31st Williamsburg Rag Shag. 6pm. Starts on Mill Street and ends at the fire station w/games, drinks, treats. from the Elementary School’s The Planet.”

    That’s now TEN rag shag parades happening in our area! If anyone has the skinny on the origins of the rag shag parade, or knows of any others happening in Western Mass, here’s the place to post your comment.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: