25 Community Highlights: Chrysanthemums to Cider Donuts. Opera to Big Band Jazz.

Chrysanthemums are in bloom at the Smith College Botanic Gardens in Northampton. Starting Saturday, November 3rd. Bring the family for an impressive botanical display!  Before going, explore the rich history of the chrysanthemum and when you arrive examine the wide array of forms and colors that are cultivated. See if you can get your kids to pick out the different varieties of chrysanthemum displayed at the show. Check the show brochure for a list. Click here for printable coloring sheets of different flowering forms.

Chrysanthemums to Homemade Candles. Doghouses to Cider Donuts. Opera to Big Band Jazz…. 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!


Franklin County celebrates its plentiful apple harvest and the delicious batches of cider that follow at the 18th annual Cider Days all weekend! The event includes fun events and activities county-wide – including an apple pancake breakfast, wagon rides and orchard explorations, cider pressing, lots of tastings (of ciders for big kids and little kids), and chances to learn about apple varieties, heirloom apples, organic orchards, and more! It’s a chance for families to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of our local apple industry..

Families can also learn about the culinary history of apples at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, November 3rd.  Their open hearth cooking program continues, with a focus on apples! Families often had their own small orchards, from which to harvest crops for cider, baking, storage, cooking, etc. Learn about traditional apple dishes and preservation of apples for the winter! There will also be workshops on making apple pomanders.


Native American artist Teri Greeves will be at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, November 3rd at 10am to lead a hands-on beaded medallion workshop for kids to accompany the museum’s Rethink! Native American Art exhibition. Kids will learn basic beadworking skills, and will also learn about the role of beadwork in traditional Native American art. In Springfield at the Robyn Newhouse Hall, storyteller Eshu Bumpus will be telling stories from around the world on Saturday afternoon. Eshu captures his audience by telling a variety of African, African-American and World folktales leavened with music, humor and mystery.


The Fiber Festival of New England takes place this weekend in West Springfield, featuring fiber arts and crafts, demonstrations and workshops, and a sale of all things fiber! Families can attend one of their workshops held during the Fiber Festival to learn how to make your own holiday gifts.  Workshops including Beginner Rug Hooking, Fancy Felted Soaps and Needle Felted Sheep.

Shop local and handmade this Saturday, Nov. 3rd at the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair, co-sponsored by Hilltown Families. Happens at the Berkshire Trail Elementary school in Cummington and supports the Cummington Family Center.

In Cummington on Saturday, November 3rd is the 3rd annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair at the Berkshire Trail Elementary School. There will be a couple of felting workshops for families to make your own craft to take home or give. Also on Saturday at the Tilton Library in Deerfield and the Lilly Library in Florence, there will be two bookmaking workshops.  Kids and their parents can learn how to make books together in these workshops, and then go home and make their own books as holiday gifts.

Later in the week on Friday, November 9th, kids can learn how to make homemade candles at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington. Candles make great holiday gifts, and are handy all around the house (especially in the darkest months of the year!).


Chrysanthemums are in bloom at the Smith College Botanic Gardens in Northampton. Starting Saturday, November 3rd, visit to see a wide array of colors and blooms of all sizes. Kids can learn about the growing and blooming process that the plants go through, and can learn about greenhouse gardening, too.  There will be extended evening hours on Friday, November 9th from 6-8pm.

In Northfield on Saturday, November 3rd, youth ages 12yo+ and their adults can join forester Helen Johnson at Northfield Mountain for a late fall tree ID walk. Characteristics like bark, branching patterns, buds, overall tree shape, and habitat will be used to aid in identification. There will also be discussion about impacts on the forest from insects, diseases, and invasive plants. No previous tree identification skills are required for this field walk.


On Saturday, November 3rd, families can help build doghouses for Kane’s Krusade in Ludlow, an organization that helps dogs in need in the Springfield area. The organization is putting together CARE Kits (Canine Assistance Resources and Education) for families who struggle financially to care for their dogs – providing assistance in the form of insulated dog houses, leashes, collars, treats, etc. helps to keep dogs with their loving families, rather than in shelters.

On Sunday, November 4th, take part in the very first Cider Donut Run to benefit the Amherst Survival Center in Amherst. Families can choose to run a 10k, or to participate in the much less strenuous 2.4 mile run/walk, both of which begin at the Mill River Recreation Area. Enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and the crisp, clear autumn morning air while getting great exercise and helping to support a vital community resource.


This weekend there are several opportunities for kids to practice their math, science, and engineering skills. The Sunderland Library has a Lego Club on Saturday morning, November 3rd. Children ages 6yo+ and their adults can come and practice their engineering and architectural skills while getting creative and sharing their inventions.  The Jones Library hosts a Chess Club for youth ages 7yo and older with Andy Morris-Friedman in the Amherst Room on Saturday afternoon. And on Sunday, November 4th, an informal Chess Club happens at the Lilly Library in Florence. Participants are encouraged to supplement existing chess boards by bringing their own too.

Later in the week, on Tuesday, November 6th, the Hatfield Library will host a science program for 8-10yo students, and on Wednesday, November 7th, visit the East Longmeadow Library for some afternoon chess!


Country Quilt Llama Farm is paying a fur-filled visit to the Lenox Library on Saturday morning, November 3rd! Kids can learn about llama farming and the uses for llama fiber through storytime, large pictures detailing important parts of llama life and llama-raising, and many llama-products to touch and inspect. There will be a llama visiting, too for kids to meet and learn about.

Get your kids to stop and think about what adaptations nocturnal animals have that allow them to navigate the dark landscape so well.  Then bring them to Mass Audubon on Saturday night to learn all about nighttime living on a family night hike. Families with kids ages 5-12yo can explore Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary by dark in Easthampton, and learn to make sparks with rocks, listen for night sounds, and learn to see without a flashlight.

Humans and other animals have very different ways of preparing for the winter. While we turn on the heat, pull out sweaters and wool socks, and freeze our favorite seasonal foods, animals have very different adaptations. Children ages 6-9 (grades 1-4) can visit the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Tuesday, November 6th for a full day program on how the local landscape and the animals that call the valley home prepare for winter!

The Berkshire Environmental Education Network hosts the annual BEEN Conference for Environmental Educators on Tuesday, November 6th, at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. The conference offers workshops for educators of all types, all of which will be centered around the theme of hands-on, place-based environmental education. Attendees will get to choose from over 20 different workshops – the learning possibilities are endless.


Amherst Cinema screens, “The Girls in the Band,” a film that tells the story of women in big band jazz, on Monday evening, November 5th. Female vocalists are fairly common in the jazz world, but female musicians are not – an issue examined by looking at the lives and accomplishments of notable female jazz musicians.

The Westfield State University department of music presents an opera for young audiences on Friday morning, November 9th. This year they present “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck. It tells the Brothers Grimm fairy tale story in song, of the two children lost in the woods, tempted by a house made of candy, who fall into the clutches of a child eating witch. They eventually defeat her plans to eat them and are reunited with their parents. This work is being presented in a piano/voice version on Dever Stage and runs about a half hour. Open to the public.

Matt Cusson, a locally-grown and nationally known singer/songwriter and pianist, is offering a songwriting workshop at The Garage in Pittsfield on Friday afternoon, November 9th! A self-taught musician, Cusson is a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and has performed with acts such as James Taylor, Cee Lo Green, and Brian McKnight.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and other events & activities happening all next week in our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday.


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