Berkshire Family Fun: One Last Hurrah Before Back-to-School
End of August in the Berkshires
The natives are getting restless. The war cries signaling that two brothers have had enough “together time” this summer resonates throughout the house. A drum beats slowly and methodically in my head as I reach for the bottle of ibuprofen to stave off yet another kid-induced migraine — peace drums here, not a chance — while I ready myself to intervene in the latest battle between these warrior brothers: “I will not bet you a dollar that I can be quiet all the way home because you didn’t pay me the dollar last time I won a bet” … “Well, I didn’t pay you because you cheated.” … “I didn’t cheat, a yawn doesn’t count as talking.” … “Well, two years ago when I yawned during the bet you counted that as talking.” … And on and on it goes. And then the smoke signals appear from my seething 12-year-old daughter’s ears (her summer has been spent either loving me or hating me, there seems to be no in between these days), and for the moment she does not like the fact that I have asked her to change out of the short-shorts that are slowly creeping up her backside because she has grown over two inches since they were purchased in May.
This can only mean one thing: TIME FOR THE KIDDOS TO HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL! You know what else signals the end of summer and the beginning of another school year? The fact that family-friendly activities that once filled our summer calendars are slowly coming to an end. But there’s still more year-round fun to be had in the Berkshires and I am on a mission to find it all. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
STILL TIME TO BBQ
Start your weekend off right with a family-friendly outdoor barbecue where kids can play and parents can socialize. Berkshire South Regional Community Center on Crissey Road in Great Barrington is hosting a barbecue this Friday, Aug. 26, from 5:30-7 p.m., in their outdoor courtyard complete with hotdogs, hamburgers and more. For a small fee family members can grab a bite to eat, spend some time on the play structure or bounce around in the bouncy castle. All one has to do is sign up at the front desk or call 413-528-2810. For more information visit www.berkshiresouth.org.
Can’t make the barbecue? The community center will also host a Community Supper Mon, Aug. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lounge and meeting room. This supper, with seatings at 5 and 6:15 p.m. is free (monetary donations or donations of nonperishable foods are excepted) and features a fabulous meal prepared by some of the Berkshires’ finest chefs, including Naji Nejaime (Naji’s), chefs from the Route 7 Grill, Annie Dinan (Dinan with Annie), Jim Gop (Guido’s), Michael Ballon (Castle Street Café), the Berkshire CoOp, Tommy Lee, and the Masiero Brothers (Guido’s and Baba Louie’s). To reserve a seat call 413-528-2810, ext. 10.
If the increased wearing of sweatshirts and layers are any indication that the end of summer is near then so, too, are the last of the outdoor movies. Today, Thursday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 p.m. the Norman Rockwell Museum will screen “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” in Stockbridge. For more information go online to www.nrm.org.
Then on Friday, Aug. 26, the town of Adams will celebrate Christmas in August with activities and a visit from Santa beginning at 6 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. screening of “The Polar Express.” For more information visit www.celebrateadams.com.
The last of the movies on the summer schedule is set for Sunday, Aug. 28, on the Dalton CRA lawn, Main Street, Dalton, where a screening of “The Incredibles” will help celebrate Back to School Movie Night. The movie will begin at 8 p.m. Visit www.daltoncra.org for more details.
HISTORY IN THE AREA
If you have read any of my previous columns you will know that I’ve had a little infatuation lately with teaching my children about local history and, surprisingly, I have found that a cemetery is a treasure trove of historical information. Apparently the members of VOICES Theatre Company have found another use for the area’s cemeteries: performance space. Tonight Aug. 25, and also on Sept. 1 and 8 the company will perform “Shades of the Revolution: A Ghostly Re-Enactment of People, Places and Scenes from Pittsfield’s Past,” with actors dramatizing key scenes from Pittsfield’s colorful early history at the Wahconah Street Cemetery at 7 p.m. There is a small fee, but it sounds intriguing, for lack of a better word. For more information 413-442-1793 or pittsfield250.com for more information.
GOTTA LOVE ACTIVITIES FOR FREE
I love the fact that there is so much to do around the Berkshires that will entertain the entire family while leaving your bank accounts virtually untouched. I’ve discussed various free hiking opportunities throughout the Berkshires, and let me tell you the small price of a $2 parking pass was definitely worth the trip we took to Natural Bridge Stage Park in North Adams last week.
From local parks, to free community days at local museums and venues, to a plethora of art galleries and historic sites throughout the area, there is never a lack of something to do at anytime of the year. And if I wasn’t heading to Boston today for a much-needed parental vacation with my husband I would definitely be capitalizing on one of these free opportunities, Friday, Aug. 26, with my family. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will offer free admission as part of the highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. With myriad opportunities to view a variety of geckos, create an invention of one’s own, partake in an archeological dig, journey under the sea (lake, stream or river) and more, this is definitely a free activity you won’t want to miss. For more information visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413-443-7171.
Another free activity for families, besides a hike on any one of the trails leading up to Mount Greylock’s summit (I still haven’t gotten to the Cascades in the Greylock Reservation, but summers not over yet), is the Aug. 31 “Guide to Understanding the Stars” with Kevin Collins beginning at Bascom Lodge atop the mountain at 6 p.m. Sounds pretty interesting, if the forecast is for clear skies that night our family just might take a short vertical drive that evening. Call 413-743-1591 for more details.
TIME TO RIDE
My daughter has become obsessed with everything horses for the past year and thus spent her summer helping out at a local horse camp … and loved every minute of it. The next event revealed in my search around the county for family things to do is something right up her alley:
Saturday, Aug. 27, Blue Rider Stables in Egremont will hold a “Fun Day Fundraiser” at French Park in North Egremont to raise money for riding scholarships and to help fill the hay barn. Founded in 1991, Blue Rider Stables is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive opportunities through holistic horseback riding with a mission to support the growth and progress of each individual student while being mindful of the “safety first” principle for riders and horses. Programs at the stables include therapeutic riding, basic safe riding, riding without fear, vaulting, horse care, stable management, summer programs and more.
The fundraising event will begin at 10:30 a.m. and run until 5:30 p.m. It will feature pony and hay wagon rides, games, face painting, Roger the Jester, music by Terry a la Berry and Lukas Schwartz and Friends, a Hippity Hop Shop, food and much, much, more. Admission is FREE. For more information visit www.bluerider.org or call 413-528-5299.
MUSIC AND MORE
Opportunities to enjoy a variety of musical genres year-round abound within the Berkshires and the end of the summer season is no different with free concerts and low-priced performances taking place all week long. Tonight Berkshire patrons can head to Noel Field in North Adams for another “Party in the Park” concert featuring Whiskey City, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Prior to that, one might stop at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown to experience “Club 7” featuring music provided by DJ BFG, drinks, snacks and a sunset at one of the most interesting architectural marvels in the Berkshires — Tadao Ando’s “7 Wall” at the Clark’s Stone Hill Center at 5 p.m. Yes, that event is also free. Visit www.clarkart.edu for more information.
Also today at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are a little pricey, but it is sure to be a fun time for all. (Perhaps a Parent Night Out, mom and dad?) Tickets and information at 413-997-4444 or www.thecolonialtheatre.org.
There’s still more musical events on the schedule for Friday, Aug. 26, beginning with Roomful of Teeth’s work-in-progress concert at Mass MoCA in North Adams. Roomful of Teeth is a vocal ensemble led by Williams College’s Brad Wells, that will continue its annual tradition of bringing singing styles from around the world to the area. The concert begins at 8 p.m. with a small admission fee. Mass MoCa is located on Marshall Street. Call 413-662-2111 or visit www.massmoca.org for details. Also in North Adams Friday night beginning at 6:30 p.m. is another “Music at the Mansion” concert at the North Adams Library, part of the town’s summer outdoor concert series. This concert will feature the J.P. Murphy Band and … drum roll please … it’s free!
Moving on to Sunday, Aug. 28, and continuing through Aug. 31, Berkshire Cabaret will celebrate its grand opening at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington with a series of 9 a.m. performances by world-renowned soprano Maureen O’Flynn, who has been a regular at the Metropolitan Opera and has sung on virtually all of the great opera stages throughout the world. Tickets can be purchased at www.berkshirecabaret.com.
On Aug. 29 at “Arrowhead” in Pittsfield, the former home of author Herman Melville, as part of the many offerings during Pittsfield’s 250th anniversary celebration, the Historical Society will present a musical revue of songs Pittsfield people sang and heard from the town’s incorporation in 1761 through the end of World War II in 1945, in a performance titled “Sentimental Journey.” The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. Call 413-442-1793 for more information.
And finally on Aug. 31 Big and Bigger Delta Blues with Wanda Houston and Jeff Gonzales will perform at Lilac Park in Lenox as part of the free summer concert series. The evening will open at 7 p.m. with a performance by the Berkshire Singers, a Pittsfield-based teen chorus, and continue until 8 p.m. The park is located at Main Street and Sunset Avenue. Call 413-637-0880 for details.
MUSIC AND MORE
From great theater, to art classes, music programs and more the Minerva Arts Center in North Adams has definitely been a wonderful addition to the local community since opening its doors a year ago. With a mission “to teach community members the importance of an arts-based education, to provide them with the highest quality arts programming available, to inspire the greatest possible amount of creativity in our communal culture and to offer opportunities for students and adults of all ages to realize their true artistic potential,” the MAC engages in an ongoing collaborative effort with local and non-Berkshire artists specializing in a variety of areas to provide some fun and unique programming for Berkshire County residents of all ages. But to keep those doors open takes money and the center that has giving to so many area residents during its short time in North Adams is now asking that same community to help give back to the center.
On Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28, the Minerva Arts Center will host “The Everything Under the Sun Music and Arts Fest,” a fundraiser/birthday party for the MAC at Noel Field, Route 8, North Adams. The celebration will feature a mix of up and coming acts as well as established acts from across the musical landscape. With more than 20 of the best musicians and bands playing a combination of rock, pop, reggae, acoustic jam, metal rap, hip hop, country and hardcore music on one stage over the two-day, festival organizers promise there will be something for everyone.
The gates open at 11 a.m. both days and will close promptly at 10 p.m. Saturday will feature a young adults dance party with a variety of hip-hop acts and DJ J-Real spinning the latest jams until 9:30 p.m. in a fun drug- and alcohol-free environment. There also will be street art (graffiti) demonstrations both days showing the intricacies and skill that goes into creating a full color piece, as well as face-painting, bounce houses, art workshops, food and more. For more information call 413-346-4502.
SPEAKING OF THE MAC
Currently the MAC is wrapping up its world premiere run of “Tiger,” the story of one family’s unstoppable deterioration — “a blazing slide straight through dysfunction into utter destruction,” with final performances scheduled for today, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 28, with shows Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Massachusetts Ave. property.
Also today, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 26, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Little 2 Big productions and Minerva Stage will present “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the MAC, featuring everyone’s favorite characters, as well a few new ones such as Esmeralda and the queen’s cat. The cost of all performances is a donation to the center. Call 413-346-4502 for more information or visit www.minervastage.com.
There is one more event I almost forgot to mention and it takes place this Saturday, Aug. 27, at Field Farm, a Trustees of Reservation property in Williamstown. “Rendezvous at The Folly” lets guests explore the intersection of modern architecture, art and nature inside a sculptural “puzzle” of a building, right next to a beaver pond, with tours at noon and 1 p.m. Children 12 and under are free. Adults pay a small admission fee. Call 413-458-3135 or visit www.thetrustees.org for more information.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and look for more fun FALL events in the Berkshires in the next Berkshire Family Fun column.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly 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. Kelly is a freelance writer who 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. email@example.com — Check out Berkshire Family Fun every other Thursday.