18 Community Highlights: Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. Guided Tours to Open Houses.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly this weekend in Franklin County at the Bernardston Unitarian Church.

Robert Frost to Monarch Butterflies. War of 1812 to Urban Townhouses. Guided Tours to Open Houses. These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.  Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


Take a special back-to-school themed tour of the Stockbridge Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 8th, now the final resting place of numerous former town residents of special interest. This late afternoon tour will feature visits from ghosts of former schoolteachers and town residents who want to share their stories of learning in Stockbridge. Same evening in the Pioneer Valley, learn about the Grand Trunk Hotel, once an important part of Turners Falls’ life and culture! Join the Great Falls Discovery Center to visit the hotel’s former site, and use your imagination (along with artifacts, photos, and recorded testimony) to piece together an idea of what a stay at the hotel may have been like. – Both tours are free.

Old Sturbridge Village hosts Drummer’s Call on Saturday, Sept. 8th, a celebration of 19th century military music. There will be a parade featuring numerous groups in costume, uniform “fashion shows,” and more. Along with the learning opportunities available during a visit to the village, the event offers families a chance to learn about music history, and the role that music played in the military (especially during the Civil War). Then on Wednesday, Sept 12th, OSV is hosting a special homeschool day, featuring events and activities centered around the War of 1812. The War of 1812 is perhaps one of the most misunderstood conflicts in American history – immerse yourself in 1830’s life to learn about this war in American history.

The Rowe Historical Society presents Robert Frost– for kids on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th! The event will include a reading of some of Frost’s most kid-friendly work, as well as a talk on his life and poetry. John Dennis Anderson will dress as Frost, and questions will be answered first as Frost may have, then from a historian’s perspective. Prepare for the presentation by reading some of Frost’s poetry at home! Then in the evening of Monday, Sept 10th, the Pelham Historical Society will include a special presentation on the area’s rich agricultural history. Authors Ruth Owen Jones and Sheila Rainford will share slides and material from their book Harvesting History, which covers over 300 years of local agrarian history. The event is great for older students interested in agriculture and/or the development of their community, and can help to supplement studies of American history and culture. – Both events are free.


There are two guided afternoon tours happening on Saturday, Sept 8th. In Berkshire Cty., take a guided tour of the grounds at Field Farm in Williamstown, a Trustees of Reservations site that is home to two stunning modernist homes, nestled amongst over 300 acres of beautiful Berkshire scenery. Families can learn about the history and design principles behind the homes, and explore the paths and foothills of the property.  And in Hampden Cty., learn about Springfield’s unique historic district at Mattoon Street with the Springfield Preservation Trust Home Tour! The area is home to one of Western Massachusetts’ only distinctly urban rows of conjoined brick townhouses, and tours are being offered of these historic homes! Visitors will learn about the history of the area and its significance within the development of the community, as well as interesting facts about the homes’ unique architecture and why the design is specific to urban environments.


The Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield is home not only to exotic creatures, but to animals native to New England as well! Visit the zoo on Saturday, Sept 8th for Backyard Friends, a program on animals you’ll find locally and how to help them survive and thrive.  Then on Sunday, Sept 9th, it’s Grandparents Day at the Zoo in Forest Park! Grandparents get a free train ride with a child ticket. – Another zoo adventure awaits at the Southwick Zoo on Sunday, Sept 9th where they will be celebrating Massachusetts Day! Present a state residency card (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to receive buy-one-get-one admission.

Monarch butterflies take on an epic annual migration – from the northern United States, all the way to Mexico! Learn about the life cycle and migratory flights of this beautiful butterfly on Sunday morning, Sept. 9th. There will be hands-on science activities at the Bernardston Unitarian Church, and maybe even a chance to see some live butterflies up close! Over in Amherst in the afternoon on Sunday, participate as citizen scientists helping the staff at the Hitchcock Center tag Monarch butterflies. Then on Monday morning, Sept 10th the canal in Turners Falls is drained once a year to allow for maintenance to the power station and the canal’s walls. Northfield Mountain is offering a unique opportunity to explore the canal bed while it’s dry! Participants, clad in boots and bearing buckets of all sorts, will be able to see species not normally found due to their aquatic habitats (including dragonfly nymphs, lamprey eels, and more). Kids can learn to identify new species! All collected critters will be released afterwards. – Both events are free.


Celebrate Springfield’s history and culture at the annual Mattoon Street Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept 8th in Springfield! This year marks the 40th year of the festival, making it the longest running arts festival in the valley. There will be local food, artisan vendors, art showcases, and tours of the many historic homes and gardens surrounding the historic Quadrangle neighborhood. The event also features a special children’s carnival.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th, the Museum School at the Springfield Museums’ D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is offering an open house, featuring demonstrations of many of the different skills that students can learn, a chance to meet faculty, and, of course, ample opportunity to learn about the school’s programs for children and parents.

Arts Night Out in Northampton on Friday night, Sept 14th, features the annual Chalk Art Festival.  Community members can view the finished pieces (created in public spaces all across town by artists with varied styles and specialties) while visiting the many other galleries, restaurants, and businesses hosting art shows. Artists will be drawing from 8am-4pm, and families can explore Northampton to view the creation process before seeing the finished product! A free event.


There are a couple of music school open houses happening this weekend.  In Berkshire Cty., the Berkshire Music School in Pittsfield hosts a morning pen house for prospective students and parents on Saturday, Sept 8th. There will be an instrument petting zoo and opportunity to check out youth music classes. And in Hampshire Cty. on Sunday afternoon, Sept 9th,  families are invited to visit the Northampton Community Music Center to learn about the many different programs offered to the community (and to learners of all ages!). Families can take a demo class, visit an instrument petting zoo, explore the center, and get information about fall programs, classes, performances, and more. – Visiting these open house sis a great first step for families interested in bringing music education into their family, or for kids with a keen interest in learning to read music, sing, or play an instrument.

Bucket ListFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.  And don’t forget about our Bucket List of 60 recommendations of things to do and places to see in Western MA in the summer by Hilltown Families readers (and add you’re own recommendation too!)


[Photo credit: (ccl) Sandy Richard]

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