29 Community Highlights: Dragonflies to Damselflies. Father’s Day to Juneteenth.

Dragonfly or damselfly? Learn how to tell the difference between these two insects this weekend at the Mills River Environmental Center and the benefits they contribute to our larger ecosystem.

Dragonflies to Damselflies. The Hundred Dresses to The Hunger Games. Naturalists to Musicians.  Father’s Day to Juneteenth… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Happy Father’s Day!

On Father’s Day this Sunday, June 16th, dads and grandfathers with younger kids can enjoy a free train ride at Look Park in Florence, or Forest Park Zoo in Springfield. Or take an even bigger free train ride at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Other locations honoring dads and granddads on Father’s Day include Historic Deerfield and Old Sturbridge Village, both of which will offer free admission on Sunday, and a free ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. Check our Best Bets for Father’s Day highlights for more ways to spend time with the dad in your life this weekend in western Massachusetts!

Historic Homes & BuildingsMusic StudiesLawn Concerts Animal & Insect StudiesPlant StudiesLibrary AdventuresHistoryParent Workshops & Support


The Pelham Historical Society will lead a tour of the recently restored Joel Grout house, an 18th-century homestead  on Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Older students and adults are invited to visit the house and learn about both its historical significance, colonial architecture, and the restoration process of this classic New England farmstead.

On Friday evening, June 21st, Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls will host a free talk on the Grand Trunk Hotel, which stood right next to where the Center is today. Built during the Industrial Revolution in 1872, this four story hotel was demolished less than a hundred years later in 1968 as the industry in Turners Falls changed. Relying on old photographs and testimonials, participants can learn about the Hotel, which played an important role in the history of industrialization in New England and the history of Turners Falls in particular.


This weekend, June 15th & 16th, spend a day at Old Sturbridge Village’s Music & Art Weekend to learn from – and listen to – more than 50 musicians and artists perform 19th-century music, and demonstrating art-making techniques from the colonial era. A traveling artist will host a historically accurate Art Salon, open for audience participation, and there will be an additional hands-on art projects, as well as the chance to learn how to play a tin whistle. Happening all weekend, families can learn about music & colonial history through a fun and interactive lens.

On Sunday afternoon, June 16th, celebrate Father’s Day and the upcoming Summer Solstice with Gaia Roots World Music at Unity Park in Turners Falls. There will be free demonstrations of Caribbean and West African rhythms, instruments, and songs, and people of all ages can then try their hand at drumming in an intergenerational community music jam.

On Wednesday evening, June 19th, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley celebrates Juneteenth, a day which commemorate emancipation from slavery in Texas in 1865, with a performance by Afro-Semitic Experience, a band whose lyrically powerful, eclectic music and performances have been described as “redefining the jazz concert.” Great exposure to music that celebrates the united musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora.

Join Amherst Cinema on Wednesday evening for a screening of Whose Is This Song?, a film about the disputed origins of a particular song that leads through both sociological and historical exploration of deep misunderstandings between the people of the Balkans. A subtitled film older students interested in film, music and cultural studies will benefit from seeing.


Evening concerts on the lawn are a great way for families to enjoy dinner together while out in their community enjoying a relaxed evening listening to live music as the sunsets. BYO picnic dinner, blankets and lawn chairs, and enjoy these free lawn concerts for a special family dinner night out with your community!

  • Sunday, June 16th in Westfield. The Westfield Bank Sunday Night Concert Series at Stanley Park’s Beveridge Pavilion Annex presents Gunsmoke, who will perform country classics as well as the genre’s modern hits.
  • Tuesday, June 18th in Westfield. Musical Moments at Amelia’s Garden, the Amelia Park Ice Arena summer concert series, presents the Pitoniak Brothers, who will be playing easy listening tunes.
  • Wednesday, June 19th in Northampton. Join Forbes Library for a lawn concert featuring Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils! Evans and her band will perform jazz and blues songs for the audience.
  • Thursday, June 20th, in Greenfield. Coop Concerts Summer Concert Series takes place weekly at Greenfield Energy Park. This week’s show features Charlie Conant, Desmond Burke, and Bruce Colegrove.
  • Friday, June 21st, in Easthampton. Arts in the Park Summer Concert Series happens at Millside Park.

ANIMAL STUDIES: Birds & Insects

There are four birding opportunities this week. Mass Audubon at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary hosts “Chirps, Cheeps, and Warbles – Birding by Ear” on Saturday morning, June 15th in Lenox. This bird walk is for beginner or intermediate birders looking to improve their auditory identification skills.. Also on Saturday morning in Stockbridge, Berkshire Natural Resources Council will lead a morning bird walk on the Yokun Ridge Reserve through wetlands, mature hardwood forests, and a spruce/pine plantation. — In the Pioneer Valley on Sunday and Monday morning, June 16th & 17th, Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke will host free birding hikes around the lake for beginning and intermediate birders. Practice your birding skills and learn about new species and their habitats while hiking around the Reservation.

Learn to identify the differences (and similarities) between dragonflies & damselflies with educator Rachel Roberts and naturalist David Small at the Mills River Environmental Center in Athol on Saturday morning. All ages can learn about their lifecycle and importance in our ecosystem through stories and hands-on art/science activities. Trek to a nearby waterway and finds these insects in their natural habitat. Later in the afternoon, go for an afternoon dragonfly search with David and Lula Field. Kids are welcome with adults and participants should bring an insect net and a sense of adventure!

On Friday morning, June 21st, join Mass Audubon at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox for an Insect Safari! Kids 8 and up are welcome to explore the sanctuary while looking for insects like butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and damselflies. This is a fun way for kids to get up close to insects while learning about their local habitat and adaptations.

PLANT STUDIES: Trees & Wild Edibles

Kids age 6 and up are invited on a free tree identification walk around Fountain Pond State Park in Great Barrington on Saturday morning, June 15th. Learn the basics of identifying trees and the habitat they grow in alongside other native plants with Department of Conservation and Recreation staff.

Forging for wild edibles can be a fun activity for families and a useful way to engage with your local habitat. John Root and Transition Amherst will offer a free edible wild plants walk on Amherst’s Brookfield Farm on Saturday morning for families looking to learn how to identify, collect and prepare wild plants for a local wild harvest meal.


The East Longmeadow Public Library is hosting a Father’s Day StoryWalk along the E.L. Rail Trail on Saturday morning, June 15th! Read Don Wood’s The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear as families walk the Rail Trail. StoryWalks are a fun way to get outside and learn while supporting literacy in young children.

Sunderland Public Library hosts Mike Bent on Monday afternoon, June 17th who will perform “Readers of the Lost Book,” a free performance about a missing overdue library book. Bent will incorporate magic, comedy, storytelling, puppets, and music into his performance as he searches the ruins of an ancient temple and travels the world for this overdue book. The performance is fun for kids of all ages, who will enjoy the variety of different performance styles offered.

Youth ages 8-11 can join the Westfield Athenaeum on Tuesday afternoon, June 18th for a free kids book discussion group on Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses, a great book to encourage dialogue about the nature of friendship. This is a perfect chance for kids to do some outside-of-school reading while interacting with their peers in a discussion group about friendships.

The Sunderland Public Library is holding a Hunger Games training day for kids 11 and up on Wednesday afternoon, June 19th! Participants will learn to survive on their own in the wilderness, just like Katniss in The Hunger Games. Skilled mentors will teach archery, fire-starting, knot tying, and shelter craft. Kids will have a chance to step into a favorite character’s shoes while learning useful survival skills.


On Saturday, June 15th,  Storrowtown Village in West Springfield will host a free opening day celebration! Storrowtown Village is an authentic recreated village from the 18th & 19th century which offers living history programs.  On opening day there will be guided tours, costumed interpreters, an open hearth cooking demonstration, blacksmithing, learning in the one room schoolhouse, a chair-making demonstration, a broom-making demonstration, and much more! This is an exciting chance to explore Storrowtown Village and learn about life in 19th Century New England.

Did you know that the first female nature guides East of the Rockies worked at Mt. Tom State Reservation? Stop by Mt. Tom in Holyoke on Monday afternoon, June 17th, to learn about this slice of women’s history and about the Reservation, a Western MA treasure!

On Wednesday afternoon, June 19th, the 2013 Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival with a free guided tour of Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, a National Historic Landmark and a historic stop on the Underground Railroad. This tour highlights African-American history at the Pillow, and will be led by Norton Owen, Director of Preservation.

Guy McLain, director of the Wood Museum of Springfield History, will give a talk on the Irish immigration experience in the Pioneer Valley as part of a lecture series for the Springfield Museums on Thursday at noon, June 20th. In his talk, McLain will highlight the experiences of the early Irish settlers, including their struggles to integrate into New England society while dealing with unfair labor conditions and anti-Irish prejudice.


The Forbes Library in Northampton hosts for a free support group in their community room for parents of children with Asperger’s, NVLD, PPD-NOS, or other “high functioning” autism spectrum disorders on Saturday afternoon, June 15th. The structure of these meetings will loosely follow the 12-step program and will be peer-led. This is also a place to get feedback, share resources, brainstorm, or even just chat with others.

Parents of young children are invited to participate in Child Care of the Berkshires workshop, ABC Read With Me, in North Adams on Tuesday evening, June 18th. This free workshop will focus on promoting literacy and on teaching young children to enjoy reading.

Healthy North Berkshire is a a free event on Wednesday evening, June 19th, for people living in the Northern Berkshires to come together to learn how food is accessed within the community. There will be panelists from W.I.C., the school lunch program, local farms, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and local free meal sites. Learn about food security in the community and how best to access healthy food for your family or clients.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Phil]

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