Berkshire Family Fun for May 2012

Family Fun in the Berkshires: May 2012

May in the Berkshires (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)We are entering into my favorite time of year in the Berkshires. A time when the frozen Berkshire hills that lay semi-dormant this winter turn into a bustling center of activity. People emerge once again from their homes, tourism picks up, theater schedules kick into full gear, outdoor activities are plentiful, Trustees of Reservation properties reopen, and annual festivals return. So once again, grab your calendars, blackberries, iPhones and the like, and get ready to plan you itinerary in the Berkshires for the month of May.



Library | Film | Outdoor | Museum


Month of May: I love to talk about local libraries. They provide some of the best family programming in the area, and the best thing about all that is the entertainment is FREE. This month let’s talk about the library programs at the North Adams Public Library in our North County section, beginning with the venue’s toddler and preschool programs. Each week the library holds a 10:30am. Toddler Time on Tuesday which features age-appropriate stories and songs, as well as a Wednesday Preschool Storytime and craft also at 10:30am. North Adams, MA (FREE)

May 10th & 24th: For older patrons the North Adams Library will host four evenings of favorite poems from 6 to 7:30 p.m. ranging from fun and whimsical poetry to lyrical:  May 10, Are poems like people?, where participants will bring a puzzling poem to discuss and explore why enigmas grab a reader’s attention; and May 24, Lyric poetry and, well, lyrics!,  where participants will bring a lyric to recite or sing in order to explore ancient origins of poetic lyric expression and celebrate, too, lyricists of the American Songbook. North Adams, MA (FREE)


May 19th: In May the International Family Film Series at Images Cinema in Williamstown concludes with a screening of The Secret World of Arrietty on Saturday, May 19, at 10am and 12noon. The 34-minute animated film tells the story of the Clock family, four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered. 50 Spring St. Williamstown, MA (>$)


May 5th & 6th: There are plenty of opportunities to head outside in North Berkshire this spring from hikes along various trails at Mount Greylock State Reservation to Foraging Walks, and more. The latter foraging hikes organized by Berkshire Farm and Table, the organization that aims to cultivate economic development through the advancement of food culture in the Berkshires, will host a number of Where the Wild Things Are Foraging Walks around the county which begin end of April and continue into May.  The walks are lead by experienced and passionate instructors who will focus on responsible harvesting techniques, recipes and the history of foraging in the Berkshires. The schedule includes Russ Cohen at Money Brook Trail in the Greylock State Reservation in Williamstown on Sat., May 5th and at Williams College’s Cole Field in Williamstown on Sun., May 6th. Both walks happen from 1-3pm.  For reservations and ticket information on these walks and others, visit Williamstown, MA. ($$)


Fridays in May: The Williams College Museum of Art is a great place to visit, and it is always offering a variety of family programs aimed at providing opportunities for children and adults to create and talk about art and enjoy a museum experience together. The first Friday of each month the museum hosts a Preschool Storytime in the galleries from 10:30-11:15 a.m. with a goal to find connections between art and children’s stories. Participants will enjoy readings, songs, games and art-making activities. The next storytime is scheduled for May 4, and will feature the story of Town Mouse, Country Mouse, by Jan Brett. Participants will listen to Brett’s illustrated rendition of Aesop’s fable about a town mouse and country mouse who switch places, while artwork and gallery activities will bring to life the sights and sounds of the city and the country. Participants will then create a mouse puppet to bring home. The museum is located at 15 Lawrence Hall Dr. on the Williams College campus. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and 
Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Williamstown, MA (FREE)


Festival | Outdoor | Library | Theater | Museum | Conference | Misc


May 17th: Every year the city of Pittsfield celebrates the return of spring with the May kickoff of their annual Third Thursday events. Beginning in May and running through October the city shuts down North Street on the third Thursday of each month and local businesses open their doors to visitors, making way for vendors, entertainers, local artists, musicians, late night shopping and more.  Last year my children were disappointed that we didn’t make a single Third Thursday event, but this year my husband and I have planned to remedy that beginning by attending the first Third Thursday of the season on May 17.  Visit for more information.  Pittsfield, MA (FREE)


Located within one of Pittsfield’s premier city resources, Springside Park, sits the Hebert Arboretum, a living tree library encompassing 231 acres within the city, and providing a unique sanctuary for plant and animal life. In the month of May the arboretum has several events scheduled to appeal to the naturalist in all of us:

  • May 5th: beginning with a Smorgas”bird” Nature Hike at 9:30am led by Hebert Arboretum Naturalist Victor Capelli. Participants will meet at the arboretum. 874 North Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)
  • May 6th: The following day the site will celebrate its founder Tommie Bailey with its annual Lilac Celebration and Thank You. The event is set to take place from 1-3 pm with music by Spruce & Oak and refreshments provided. 874 North Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)
  • May 8th: Then on Tuesday from 5-6:30pm, Bob Presutti will lead a pruning workshop. Participants will meet at the Springside House Parking Lot and are encouraged to bring gloves and gardening tools if possible (some will be provided). For more information call 413-442-0444.  874 North Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

May 26th: Last year when I worked for The Advocate I covered the second annual Community Bike Ride sponsored by the Pittsfield Parks and Recreation Department. This year the department will host its third annual ride.  Registration runs from 9-9:45am with the actual ride commencing at 10am.  Riders of all ages are invited to ride with participants meeting at the Controy Pavillion in Burbank Park at Onota Lake where the ride will begin. The ride will take families on a 6-mile round trip ride to the Pittsfield State Forest and back. Younger riders are welcome and encouraged to ride the trail along the lake within Burbank Park. For more information visit or call 413-499-9370. Pittsfield, MA.


Fridays in May: Once again the Pittsfield Library is lush with fun-filled activities for the whole family during the month of May from preschool films to outdoor adventure talks. The Preschool Films are free and run weekly each Friday at 10am consisting of a series of several short-films lasting approximately 20-30 minutes. Upcoming films include:

  • May 4: This is the House that Jack Built; Danny and the Dinosaur; Hot Hippo; and The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
  • May 11: The Mysterious Tadpole; Noisy Nora; Georgie; and Strega Nona
  • May 18: Milo’s Hat Trick; Harry the Dirty Dog; and Good Night Gorilla
  • May 25: Most Wonderful Egg in the World; Morris’s Disappearing Bag; Ish; and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

May 19th: Beginning at 10am, the library will welcome the beginning of spring with a reading of Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson, followed by a movie, a spring flower craft and snacks. Children under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. 413-499-9480. One Wendell Ave. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)


End of May: When the Berkshire summer theater season begins you will surely find me taking up residence at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield where you can enjoy some of the most eclectic theater offerings in the area appealing to theater-goers of all ages. The season kicks off with the New England premiere of Lungs by Duncan Macmillan and directed by Aaron Posner, at BSC’s Stage 2 (which they officially own now). The play is an intimate drama about a young couple contemplating whether or not to have a child in a time of global anxiety and political unrest. The show opens in previews on May 23, with opening night set for Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. Performances run through June 10 and take place Tuesday-Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. There is an additional matinee Thursday, June 7 at 3 p.m. Please note: Saturday, May 26, the evening performance is at 7:30 p.m. Opening Night: Sunday, May 27 at 3pm. 36 Linden Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$$)

May 25th: Next up in May at BSC’s Stage 2 are the May 25 and 26, 9:30 p.m. performances by Joe Iconis and “his merry band of musical theater punks,” who return to BSC this summer for an intimate evening of Iconis tunes, both classic and brand spankin’ new, featuring singalongs, three-hanky ballads, persnickety character pieces, exhilarating stompers and more.  413-236-8888. 36 Linden Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($$)


Month of May: The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield has plenty of activities scheduled for the month of May beginning with its current exhibitions Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds, which will be on display through June 17, and Bryn Nash Gill: Beyond the Landscape on display through May 28. The former exhibit showcases the masterful wildlife art of John James Audubon and explores the fascinating realm of birds, from the tiniest hummingbird to the flightless ostrich. More than thirty original hand-colored, life-size prints of birds from Audubon’s masterwork The Birds of America, paired with bird specimens, comprise the centerpiece of the exhibition. The science of feathers and flight, the many different bird habitats, the highly-evolved senses of birds, bird intelligence, and bird behavior are all explored in a wide array of photographs and video, art, objects, specimens and samples of birds, eggs, and nests. The latter exhibit features the artwork of Connecticut-based artist Bryan Nash Gill who creates abstract sculptures, works on paper, and installations that are inextricably bound to the materials and inspiration he finds in nature, working and living in a rural New England setting. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA

Through May 13th: Also on view at the museum through May 13 is David Henderson: A Brief History of Aviation featuring large-scale, curvilinear components of artist David Henderson’s elegant, architectural sculpture inspired by the beautifully complex fan vaulting of a sixteenth-century cathedral in England, but the pieces are built from materials and methods used in modern, ultra-light aircraft. Being from a family of pilots this exhibit appeals to me, and I may have to grab one of those free museum passes from one of the local libraries to view it. But for the other exhibits one might be interested in scheduling a visit during the May 17 Third Thursday, as the museum is always open and free to the public during the monthly events. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA

May 24th: Then opening at the museum on May 24 and running through Oct. 21 is Liz Whitney Quisgard: Kaleidoscope exhibit that features a vivid selection of paintings, sculptures, and fiber wall hangings by the artist who utilizes an exuberant palette of sumptuous colors and rich patterns, reminiscent of Byzantine mosaics, to create a scintillating rhythm and texture across her paintings and fiber works. Mark your calendars because a FREE opening reception will be held Saturday, June 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA

Fridays & Saturdays in May: Families of younger children may also want to attend one of the museum’s ongoing weekly programs such as:

  • Aquarium Adventures for ages 2 to 4, Fridays, 11 a.m., where toddlers enjoy story time, meeting a different animal, and animal-themed art projects. Free with Museum admission.
  • Chow Time in the Aquarium, Saturdays, 12:30 p.m., where visitors to the museum can watch as Berkshire Museum staff feed their aquarium friends. Free with Museum admission.


May 30th: Each year in Berkshire County the Berkshire Environmental Educators Network, which includes Center for EcoTechnology, Flying Cloud Institute, Housatonic Valley Association Massachusetts Audubon Society and Berkshire STEM Pipeline Network organize a Youth Environmental Summit for students in grades 3 through 12. This year’s summit is set to take place Wednesday, May 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Students from around the county will have the opportunity to present environmental projects that they have been working on throughout the year to other through a number of student-led workshops, and listen to five morning presentations, which focus on environmental topics. YES is formative in helping students put their own learning experiences into context with others. As they encounter hundreds of other students from throughout Berkshire County who are engaged in environmental projects, students feel empowered and inspired to make improvements in their own local environment. For more information, e-mail Cynthia Grippaldi or call 413-445-4556, ext. 25. Pittsfield, MA


May 4th-6th: Starting off the month in Central Berkshire, which may be of interest to many parents of tweens, teens, and young adults, is the Berkshire Manga and Anime convention, the first large-scale comic, gaming and pop culture convention in the area, set to take place May 4-6 at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. 
Anime and manga are Japanese forms of animation and comics or graphic novels, respectively. The convention will feature creators of anime and manga, artists, vendors and exhibits, panels, workshops and gaming. The events will showcase comics, costumes and animation with a focus on all aspects of Japanese anime, manga and pop-culture. There will also be costume contests and art shows open to all. Pittsfield, MA ($$)

May 2nd: Each month Berkshire Community College hosts a number of free forums for the public from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in room K-111 of the college’s Koussevitzky Arts Center (unless otherwise noted), and there are a few offerings this month that have peaked my interest. On Wednesday, May 2, at 6:30 p.m. the school’s Committee for Diversity will sponsor a screening of the 2010 feature “Sarah’s Key.” Based on the best-selling book by Tatiana de Rosnay, this film stars Kristin Scott Thomas as a journalist who, while researching the French government’s deportation of 8,000 Jews to Nazi concentration camps during WWII, uncovers the story of 10-year-old Sarah, who left her little brother locked in a closet to protect him from the deportation. 413-236-4564. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

May 13th: Then on Thursday, May 13, Gaia Roots will present a musical program inspired by roots music from West Africa, the Caribbean and around the world. I have seen the group perform at a number of Third Thursday events and it is always an upbeat and fun performance where the Gaia Roots World Music Ensemble blends drumming, dance, vocal harmonies and story into a unique weave of traditional music and original creations. It will be hard to stay in your seats for this one. 413-236-4564. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)


Library | Outdoor


Again with the libraries, you say? Well, I believe one can never have too many free family fun dates on his or her calendar, and this time I am sending you all around the southern part of the county beginning with the Mason Library in Great Barrington:

  • May 3rd: 7-8:30 p.m.: First Thursday Free Film Series Mason, featuring the film “Truth in Numbers,” that explore the history and cultural implications of one of the most referenced sites on the Web, Wikipedia, where a range of opinions are expressed about the impact of Wikipedia on the archiving of learning, from interviews with founder Jimmy Wales to commentators suspicious of the site’s supposed neutrality.
  • May 7th: 5:30-6:30 p.m.: Earth-Centered Recovery, a 12-step meeting for environmental awareness and spiritual recovery.
  • May 9th: 6:30 p.m.: Mystery Lovers Book Club, call 413-528-2403 for May’s reading selection.
  • May 12th: 11 a.m: Library patrons can read to a real llama. All ages are welcome and a snack and a craft will be provided as well.
  • May 21st: 9-10 a.m.: Bagels and Books, an early morning book club and breakfast, call 413-528-2403 for May’s reading selection.
  • May 23rd: 10:15-11 a .m.: Young Children’s Story Time, where children and their caregiver enjoy stories, sing songs, play games and craft


Foraging Walks sponsored by Berkshire Farm to Table, mentioned above in the North County section, will also take place in South County The walks are lead by experienced and passionate instructors who will focus on responsible harvesting techniques, recipes and the history of foraging in the Berkshires.

The Schedule of Events for South County is as follows:

The walks will take place rain or shine. Registration is mandatory and reservations must be made at least 48 hours prior to scheduled walk. Registered participants will receive a confirmation email a few days prior to the scheduled date with details on meeting place. For reservations and ticket information on these walks and others, visit Williamstown, MA. ($$)

Like last month, the Berkshire Natural Resource Council naturalists will lead a number of hikes during the month of May, once again providing the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and immerse your family in nature:

  • May 12th: At 9:30 a.m. is the Garlic Mustard Grapple at Stevens Glen, where participants will help with some easy weeding of the invasive garlic mustard plant. Bring water and a lunch. Wear work boots, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Gloves will be available, but participants can bring their own. Getting there: From the center of Lenox, take Route 183 South for 1.5 miles, passing Tanglewood. Where 183 bears left, turn right on the Richmond-Lenox Rd. Continue uphill for 1.6 miles. At the top of the hill turn left onto Lenox Branch Rd. (Lenox-West Stockbridge Rd.) and go 0.6 miles. Park at a small pull-off on the right with a sign for the Glen. Overflow parking is available 100 yards farther down the road. Lenox, MA (FREE)
  • May 21st: At 9 a.m. is a dog friendly 2.5- mile hike to Yokun Ridge South. Participants will meet at Olivia’s Outlook parking lot. Check out the trail maps here:
  • May 23rd: At 2 p.m. is Bob’s Way Hike in Monterey, 2.5 mile hike. Bring snacks, plenty of water, and appropriate footwear! Getting there: From Monterey take Route 23 east and look for the Bob’s Way trail sign and parking area on your right just past Mt. Hunger Road and just before the Otis town line. Monterey, MA (FREE)

May 11th & 12th: Lastly on the southern Berkshire’s outdoor agenda this month is the 35th annual plant sale at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge set for May 11 and 12. The sale opens is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in Friday, and will feature features thousands of plants appropriate to northeastern gardens, organized into the plant habitats in which they thrive. Regional vendors will spotlight antiques and unique items for garden, patio and home, and offer free plant advice. New this year is a Container Design Station where professionals will create one-of-a-kind container gardens to take home. Visitors to the design station are welcome to bring their own containers or window boxes, or purchase them at the Plant Sale. Stockbridge, MA (FREE/SALE)


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 freelance writer living in Hinsdale with her husband, Mark, and three children — 12-year-old twins, Max and McKenna, and almost-10-year-old, Shea. She has had her work published in The Advocate, The Family Beat and Berkshires Week out of Berkshire County, and the former Wee Ones E-magazine. She also authors a new blog and Facebook page titled “Renaissance Mom.” — Check out Berkshire Family Fun on the first Thursday of every month.

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