25 Community Highlights: Agricultural Fairs to Eating Local. Textiles to Shape-Note Singing.

Old Sturbridge Village is offering free admission for kids in the month of August. For this year’s Textile Weekend, Aug 17 & 18, Village historians are highlighting 19th-century fashion accessories and a tour of the new “Trimmed to Taste” exhibit, which salutes the clever creativity of early New England seamstresses.

Agricultural Fairs to Eating Local. Renaissance Garden to Shape-Note Singing. Greece to Middle East…

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!

Featured learning highlight this week happens at the Kingman Tavern Museum in Cummington where there will be a free shape-note singing school on Saturday afternoon, August 17th.  Introduced in 1801, shape notes were designed to help facilitate community singing and originated in colonial New England. This type of singing was created to support a persons desire to sing with others either in their community or in their congregations. The class will teach participants about this unique singing style, celebrate American history, and offer a chance to engage in an intergenerational activity.

Agricultural Fairs  ♦  Geology  ♦  Insects & ReptilesHistoryCultureMusicArtisanLocal Food


Agricultural fairs are an important tradition in New England, and all across the country. Such events showcase rural skills and traditions, and help to promote a strong connection between communities and their physical surroundings. Of course, families can learn about agriculture & rural skills by viewing displays, watching demonstrations, and meeting local experts. However, a learning opportunity that is perhaps even more valuable for kids is becoming a fair exhibitor! Read our post, Exhibiting at the Fair, for a look at embedded learning at our agricultural fairs!

Agricultural fairs coming up this week in western Massachusetts include the 86th Westfield Fair and the 96th annual Heath Fair. Both begin Friday, August 16th and runs though the weekend. On Saturday, August 17th, the Berkshire County 4-H Youth Fair takes place in Pittsfield. Later in the week the 145th Cummington Fair begins on Thursday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 25th. And on Friday, August 23rd the Ware Grange Fair begins and continues on Saturday, August 24th.


Ralph Brill, director of Project Pangaea, will give a free talk on the International Appalachian Trail at Bascom Lodge in Lanesborough on Sunday evening, August 18th. Project Pangaea aims to connect the Appalachian Trail on several different continents. The mountain range was connected during the time of Pangaea and the Project would “link” the trail to others throughout the world.

During the weekday on Wednesday morning, August 21st, kids can learn about rocks and handle specimens at the Chicopee Public Library with Jack Marcy. Getting to handle and learn the natural history of different rocks, and how stones are used in modern life, is one way kids can learn to love geology!


For those (ages 8 and up) who want to learn more about insects, Project Native in Housatonic is holding an Advanced Bug Safari (Entomology 200) on Sunday afternoon, August 18th! Participants will learn how to set several types of insect traps, explore different habitats, and learn all about native insects. Later in the week on Wednesday afternoon, August 21st families of all ages can contribute to Project Native’s Butterfly House by participating in a Butterfly Safari! Explore the 54-acre former dairy farm looking for butterflies, caterpillars, and eggs to relocate to the Butterfly House. Learn more about Lepidoptera by gaining skill in finding and even identifying butterflies and by learning to identify host plants.

Learn about the adaptations and differences between reptiles and amphibians at the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Family Friday event on Friday morning, August 23rd in Stockbridge. Reptile expert Tom Tyning will teach about the many different species that are native to the Berkshire region, and will even have a few for you to observe!


This weekend, Saturday & Sunday, August 17th & 18th, is Textile Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village, exploring 19th-century clothing and offering demonstrations in knitting, dying, sewing, bonnet-making, crocheting, and more.  Textile Weekend is a fun way to learn about 19th-century life in New England through the lens of textiles. Families can discover the many different ways people made a living and provided for their families.

Learn about the 14th-16th century through the lens of gardening on Saturday morning in Amherst.  Tour the Massachusetts Renaissance Center’s 16th century kitchen garden and see what types of vegetable and herb would have been grown 500 years ago in England during a free open house.

What better way to learn about history than by song? The Kingman Tavern Museum in Cummington is holding a free shape-note singing school on Saturday afternoon, August 17th.  Introduced in 1801, shape notes were designed to help facilitate community singing and originated in colonial New England. This type of singing was created to support a persons desire to sing with others either in their community or in their congregations. The class will teach participants about this unique singing style, celebrate American history, and offer a chance to engage in an intergenerational activity.

This year marks the 232nd anniversary of Elizabeth Freeman’s famous court case, which helped lead to the end of slavery in Massachusetts. As a slave, Freeman lived at the Ashley House in Sheffield. She was among the first slaves to file a freedom suit, which she won, freeing her and recognizing all people as equal, effectively making slavery illegal. Join the Trustees of Reservations for an Elizabeth Freeman Day celebration at Ashley House on Wednesday evening, August 21st for this free annual observance.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge presents “The Horror and the Beauty: Folklore, Culture, and Children’s Literature with Maria Tartar” on Thursday afternoon, August 22nd. This lecture is all about fairy tales, their history, and where their themes are present in modern storytelling (i.e., television). Tartar will discuss how the stories have grown and changed across cultures and history. This lecture is best for adults, educators and older students interested in literature.


Celebrate Greek culture with St. George Greek Orthodox Church at Greek Fest 2013 in Pittsfield on Saturday & Sunday, August 17th & 18th! There will be Greek food & pastries, Greek music & dancing, a boutique, raffles, a church tour, and more.

On Saturday evening, August 17th at the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield there will be a classical Middle Eastern music concert by Massachusetts-based Al-Layaali. Al-Layaali’s mission is to ‘increase the awareness of Arabic music and culture through concerts, recordings, workshops and lectures and features musicians from four Arab countries; Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco’. There will also be a pre-concert talk by the musicians, focusing on the tradition of music in the Arab world.

On Monday afternoon, August 19th, Parent’s Choice Award-Winning Japanese Story-teller Motoko will enchant children of every age with folk tales from her native country, leavened with music, mime and humor at the Goshen Library. Stories include, “Sumo Mice & Power Rice” and “Tales and Games from Japan.” All welcomed to this free event.


Mucca Pazza describe themselves as a “circus punk marching band” and they are known for their exciting and energetic live performances. This rag-tag, punk-loving marching band takes over MASS MoCA’s campus in North Adams for five performances this weekend!

The second annual Shelburne Center Music Fest happens this Sunday, August 18th, a benefit for the Arms Library featuring live music from a variety of local artists. Jill Connolly, Strawberry Afternoon, Co-Op Jazz, Short Change, and many more will perform jazz, blues, folk, rock, bossa nova, and other musical styles for audience members. Bring a blanket, chairs, and pack a potluck meal or lunch for your family and enjoy this exciting live musical event and help raise money for the Library.

Plainfield Concerts at 7 presents Aventuras Latinas, an free evening of Latin American music, on Monday evening, August 19th at the Plainfield Congregational Church. There will be music by many different composers and musicians, including Astor Piazzolla, H. Villa-Lobos, Alberto Ginastera, Fred Hersch, Luiz Bonfa, and Rodrigo y Gabriela. Recommended for adults and older students with an interest in music studies.


Rockland Glassworks is holding a free Summer Open Studio in Montague on Saturday, August 17th! This is a great chance to see glassblowing in action by watching demonstrations on how glass objects and art are crafted.


The annual Free Harvest Supper takes place on the Greenfield Town Common on Sunday afternoon, August 18th! The dinner brings together over 50 local farms and hundreds of volunteers in order to offer a delicious local community meal. All are welcome to join in sharing this truly community celebration event, which features a bountiful meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays and a Really, Really Free Market. Guests are asked to bring their own place settings, so as to keep the event as waste-free as possible! Live music this year includes Kevin Jones and iBand, Surprise Medley, and Harmaniacs.

Savor the abundance of local food grown right here in Western MA during Local Hero Restaurant Days on Tuesday & Wednesday evening, August 20th & 21st! Already in it’s 10th year, CISA and fifty-two Local Hero restaurants will be paying tribute to the bountiful harvest as chefs highlight local menu items. As your family tastes delicious dishes from new restaurants and old favorites, explain the benefits of eating in season and purchasing locally sourced produce, meats and dairy. Happens at select restaurants in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 125 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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: