Berkshire Family Fun: Summer of Art, History, Movies and More

Plenty to Keep You Busy in the Berkshires this Summer

Berkshire Theatre Company will present “Hansel and Gretel’s Grimm Tale” at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, beginning July 6 and running through July 16, 2011.

Though there were a plethora of activities in Berkshire County this week I couldn’t resist the chance to sneak away to the northeastern coast of Massachusetts with my daughter McKenna to grab a little QT with my niece Kylee and my sister Tiffany. Better yet I got to spend some much needed “Mom and Kenna time” and dip my toes in the frigid ocean waters at nearby Hampton Beach while Kenna unsuccessfully attempted to body surf. But now we have returned and with the summer vacation months ahead we will be looking for anything and everything in the area to keep us busy.


Summertime is all about the libraries once again, with local libraries serving up a variety of summer reading incentive programs and entertainment for all. Today, Thursday, June 30, libraries from South to North Berkshire County will have a little something for everyone. Beginning at 11 a.m. the Lenox Library will take visitors on an animal adventure with the Jungle Encounters traveling zoo, featuring six exotic animals from around the world. Find out more by calling 413-637-0197, ext. 105. Then at 1 p.m. families can head on over to the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield where the summer reading program will feature a performance by Len Gerwick, who will present “Aesop’s Fables,” a puppet show for children ages 4 and up which will be followed by a discussion of each fables’ moral message. Call 413-499-9480, ext. 5, for more information. Our last library stop of the day will end at the Adams Free Library at 6 p.m. where Don Jordan’s Nutshell Playhouse will present “Pirates,” a swashbuckling adventure featuring bold buccaneers, a mysterious map with a riddle, cursed treasure, a visit to an island that you can’t see, a pirate ghost and a magical journey to the bottom of the sea. The fun begins at 6 p.m. Call 413-743-8345.


MOMENTS House in Pittsfield is a nonprofit organization working to open a facility to benefit all Berkshire County families living with cancer. This summer families can help the cause by attending one of the organizations “Art with Heart” programs at Chapters Bookstore in Pittsfield where children will create art projects that will be given to cancer patients after their treatments to brighten their days. The art programs take place every first Saturday of the month throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to noon at the North Street store. The next program is scheduled for this Saturday, July 2. Admission is a suggested donation to benefit MOMENTS House.


I have mentioned before in this column my desire to explore the Berkshires and discover the regions rich history with my children this summer. On Saturday, July 2, Bidwell House Museum in Monterey will celebrate a little bit of that history during its “Bidwell House Museum Township No. 1 Day,” a community celebration of Tyringham and Monterey history featuring live music by local musicians, children’s activities, pie-baking contest, antiques appraisals featuring Charles Flint of Charles Flint Antiques, author talk by local historian Bernard Drew; “Historic Stone Walls” talk and walk by Land Planner Rob Hoogs and more. The event runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and is free. Bidwell House is located at 100 Art School Road. More information can be found at

Another one of the area’s hidden historical gems is Naumkeag located on Prospect Hill Road in Stockbridge, and on July 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. families can explore the former home of the Choate family at the Trustees of Reservation property during its “Discovery Days: Secret Spaces, Special Places.” From the water features in the garden to the cows in the pasture, the Trustees welcome the whole family to enjoy a combination of guided and self-guided activities in the special places and secret spaces of the magical 48-acre estate. Children will enjoy finding out what the young Choates did for fun in the large house, whimsical gardens and the dairy barn. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy at the noon break between morning and afternoon activities. The day’s events are recommended for children ages 6 and older. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Visit for more information.

From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. July 9 the Trustees will host another discovery day, which will focus on Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman’s World at Bartholomew’s Cobble and the Ashley House in Sheffield. This time Trustees invite families to discover the Berkshires oldest stories in a cornfield by the river once tended by Mohicans, and in the kitchen that Elizabeth Freeman walked away from on her inspired journey to freedom. Join organizers for a combination of guided and self-guided activities in the Ashley House and in surrounding fields, trails and woodlands of Bartholomew’s Cobble. Again bring a picnic lunch to enjoy during the break between morning and afternoon activities. Suggested age for the event is 6 and older, siblings welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. More information can be found


Like always July 4 will be filled with picnics, parades and fireworks throughout the nation and in Pittsfield at 10 a.m. locals can attend the more than 100-year-old annual Fourth of July. Organized by an all-volunteer committee and funded by community contributions large and small, the parade was named one of the 10 Best Independence Day parades by USA Today, and is one of the largest in New England. For more information, visit Later that night (after the picnics perhaps) families can take in a baseball game at Wahconah Park where the Pittsfield Colonials take on Brockton at 6:30 p.m. After the game families can partake in another Fourth of July tradition — fireworks — at the park at approximately 9:30 p.m.


With summer comes the area’s outdoor concerts and events for the whole family from Williamstown to Pittsfield and beyond. July 5 marks the beginning of the Clark’s outdoor summer concert series where families and friends are encouraged to picnic on the lawn and enjoy a wide range of musical talents. The first concert of the season will feature the Doerfels with music beginning at 6 p.m. In the event of rain, the weekly concerts will be held in the auditorium. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit

Wednesday, July 6, kicks off the 10th consecutive season of “Live on the Lake” at Burbank Park on Onota Lake in Pittsfield. The series runs through Aug. 24 with all concerts beginning at 6 p.m. Next week’s concert will feature the musical stylings of Whiskey City. Wednesday also kicks off the City of North Adams’ annual “Concerts at the Lake,” a 6-week band concert series held at Windsor Lake. At 7 p.m. next Wednesday the band Champagne Jam will begin the summer-long celebration. There is no admission cost to attend. The rain date for each concert is the following Sunday at the same time. Windsor Lake is at the top of Bradley Street. For parking, make a right onto George Fairs Way and enter the parking lot. Parking is also free. For additional events and special concert times visit the city’s website at and click on “Calendar of Events.”

North Adams also hosts a “Party in the Park” concert series on Thursday evenings in July and August at Noel Field which will begin next Thursday, July 7, at 6 p.m. and will feature Who Are You.


Outdoor movie theaters have become obsolete in Berkshire County but that doesn’t mean families won’t be able to catch an outdoor flick in the region this summer. Friday, July 8, kicks off the town of Adams’ Friday Night Movie series featuring “Shrek Forever” with a variety of open night activities beginning at 6 p.m. on Park Street. For more information and for upcoming movie titles visit

The city of Pittsfield also offers outdoor movie fun on the Common on First Street periodically throughout the summer. The first of the movies this summer “Over the Hedge” screens on Friday, July 17, and begins after dusk. The movie is canceled in the event of rain.

As part of Williamstown’s “Sundays at Six” (see entry below) Images Cinema also hosts an outdoor movie (the fun moves inside in the event of rain). The first movie of the season is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. this Sunday, July 10, and will feature the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder.


There are plenty of opportunities throughout the Berkshires for families to enjoy theater of the indoor type and beginning July 6 and running through July 16 Berkshire Theatre Company will present “Hansel and Gretel’s Grimm Tale” at the Berkshire Museum Wednesday-Saturday at 11 a.m. This lighthearted tale is based on two Grimm’s fairy tales — “Hansel and Gretel” and “The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs” — and follows young Hansel and Gretel who are obsessed with stories. When the pair wanders off into the woods one day, they have only their wits and the power of tales to ensure they make it home and get a “happily ever after” ending. More information can be found at


From music and inspiring stories of one slave’s fight for freedom to kites and garden tours, Saturday July 9 is a day chockfull of activities for all ages. At 11 a.m. to noon at Mission House’s gardens on 19 Main St. in Stockbridge the Trustees will present “Summer Storytime,” where Trustees Horticulturalist Anne Gannon will share stories geared towards families with children ages 6 and younger. Siblings are welcome. The theme on July 9 will be tied to the Indian museum and will include Native American legends celebrating the natural world. For more information call 413-298-3239, ext. 3003 (weekdays) or ext. 8138 (weekends).

At 1 p.m. at the Milne public library, Mister G will present a musical program that is sure to have audience members young and old dancing in their seats. According the library’s website “Ben is an accomplished musician, showman, yoga instructor and teacher with many years of performance experience. His program is a world of fun for kids and grown-ups of all ages!” Call 413-458-5369 for more information.

Lastly, IS183 in Stockbridge will celebrate a Family Day at Citizens’ Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors to the art school will be able to get creative and participate in a free kite-making workshop with Angel Heffernan, or try their hand at screen-printing and make their own IS183 T-shirt (or apron or kite or any other textile they choose to bring). Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch; light fare will be available for sale. More information can be found at


Last year my kids were craving sushi and a friend recommended Thai Garden in Williamstown. Since we were on our way to Circus Smirkus at Mt. Greylock High School (set for July 16 and 17 this year) we decided to give the restaurant a whirl. The food was delicious, but we encountered another treat all together on our visit to Spring Street that day. It happened to be Sunday and during the summer Spring and Water streets open up for the town’s weekly “Sundays at Six” event where patrons are treated to artisan sales, music, special performances and activities, outdoor movies and more. Next Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m. marks the beginning of “Sundays at Six” for the season. (Please don’t ask about the meaning of the name when festivities begin at 2, I have no idea about the thinking behind that one.) Perhaps you’ll find the answer along with more information on the events at


Kelly Bevan McIlquham Berkshire Family Fun

Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our biweekly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires.  Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, a chocolate lab, a very fat cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate and the Editor of The Family Beat in the Berkshires. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her non-fiction published by Wee Ones online family magazine. When not writing or editing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. — Check out Berkshire Family Fun every other week.

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