Library Grand Opening & Westhampton Fall Festival

Big Weekend in Westhampton!

“Building the library has brought our community together and all of us have made new friends because of this project, said Thecia Hancewicz, president of the Friends of the Westhampton Public Library, which oversaw the project’s capital campaign. Hancewicz said that more than 400 hundred people, businesses and foundations have donated financially to the project, and she said the number of hours that volunteers have given to the project is overwhelming. “Thousands and thousands of volunteer hours, and I don’t even want to tally up the thousands of emails,” she said with a smile. Although professional crews built the library, local volunteers from Westhampton made the cupola, designed and fabricated its owl weathervane, painted the building’s interior and exterior, and did all the stonework and landscaping around the building.

After more than ten years of planning, fundraising, and unstinting effort, library supporters in Westhampton, MA will celebrate the grand opening and dedication of their town’s new library on Sunday, October 17th. Aside from Westhamptonites, library supporters from all over the state are expected to attend. Over the last three years, Westhampton’s Library project has gained statewide recognition for its dedicated volunteers and whimsical fundraisers, which have ranged from pumpkin rolling and decorated flamingos to a marathon lounging-for-literacy reading event.

The new Westhampton library is three times bigger than the former library, ADA compliant, and on track to become LEED Certified. It also has a 60-person community room and the interior is full of local woods, native stone and is modeled after a New England home and barn to blend with the town’s historic center.

Library Director Lyn Keating says she fully expects a big increase in circulation and visitation. “If you look at library surveys around the county, that’s what happens every time a new library opens or expands,” said Keating. And among the new patrons that Keating is expecting are many students from Hampshire Regional High School, which is just 600 feet away. “We’re hoping that they’ll want to come after school or athletic practice and take advantage of the library’s computer resources, internet access and its comfortable setting.” Which means, she says, that not only Westhamptonites that benefit from the new library, but so will young people from the surrounding towns of Goshen, Williamsburg, Southampton and Chesterfield.

To celebrate the Grand Opening of its new library, the Friends of the Library and others have organized a number of events during the weekend.

On Saturday, October 16th, the Friends of Westhampton Public Library is sponsoring a harvest home tour of six of Westhampton’s loveliest homes from 10 am-3pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and are available at the Westhampton Public Library, Outlook Farm, Intervale Farm, Strawbale Café, and North Country Gardens; $12 the day of the tour. For more information, contact 529- 2373.

Come Sunday, October 17th, the day is full of events to mark the library’s grand opening. At 10:15 a.m. the Westhampton Congregational United Church of Christ is paying tribute to the new library with a special community/interfaith service titled “Celebration of the Word.” The service will trace the history of the written word from Cuneiform and hieroglyphics to the Westhampton Public Library, which for a time in the late 1800s was housed in the church. The service will be followed by a coffee hour and steeple tours that offer spectacular valley views.

Many more activities will get underway at noon in the fields surrounding the new library. Organizers intentionally scheduled the grand opening to coincide with the town’s 5th Annual Fall Festival, which means there will be plenty of things to interest everyone. The activities include a wide range of traditional and not-so-traditional activities. In addition to a woodsman’s demonstration, Indian corn shucking, cider pressing, and a farm animal petting zoo, there will be a homemade catapult that hurls squash and melons hundreds of feet and rocket launching. At 12:30 a 5K Walk/Run called Run to the Westhampton Hills will begin in the town center. Runners can get registration materials on-line HERE. The final leg of the race includes “running” up a long, steep hill to the new library—which is “somewhat symbolic,” said race organizer and library building committee chairman Phil Dowling with a grin.

From 2:00-3 pm, the Westhampton Board of Library Trustees will host the official grand opening and ceremony for the new library, with refreshments and tours of the new library to follow.  Following the grand opening, festival activities will resume. Festival organizer Janice Tracy said the local blacksmith museum will be open, and local wool spinners will be on hand to demonstrate their craft. Tracy said other activities at the festival will include an oxen demonstration, scarecrow building workshop, an antique tractor show, a largest pumpkin contest, and a variety of games for young children.

The 5th Annual Fall Festival is on Sunday, October 17th with great family activities all day. The famous "Great Pumpkin Roll" happens at 4:15pm. A community supper, bonfire and sing-a-long will follow the Great Pumpkin Roll.

At 4:15 pm, musician and Westhampton resident Jim Armenti will pick up his guitar and sing “The Great Pumpkin Roll,” a song he wrote 4 years ago as a tribute to the event and the efforts to build a new library in town. The Great Pumpkin Roll is the title track of a 10-song CD that Armenti created to benefit the Westhampton Library, and it includes songs celebrating community, the joys of reading and the benefits of public libraries. When Amenti’s last chord dies away, the great pumpkin roll will get underway. Pumpkins will be available for $1 at the event, but people are also welcome to bring their own. “Expect to see more than 250 pumpkins rolling down the main hill in town,” said Laurie Sanders, an organizer of the festival and member of the Library Building Committee. In addition to all the activities, throughout the day, the Friends will be selling refreshments featuring local farm products, and the Westhampton Council on Aging will be selling pies— including, of course, pumpkin.

A community supper, bonfire and sing-a-long will follow the great pumpkin roll. “This is a great way to bring people together, to celebrate with music, fun and food,” says Armenti. After all, he added, “What is a life, but a great pumpkin roll.”
Parking and all the events are free, and will be held rain or shine.  For ore information call Euthecia Hancewicz at 527-6498.

2 Comments on “Library Grand Opening & Westhampton Fall Festival

  1. Stopped by a couple of weeks ago to check out the library…. it’s beautiful with great space for events & programs, both inside and out!

  2. Congratulations on the new library. I wish you amazing success!

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