22 Community Highlights: Chinese Moon Festival to Tibetan Sand Mandalas. Arugula to Grapes.

Want to improve your foraging skills and learn about wild edibles? Blanche Derby is leading a free wild edible workshop on identifying, collecting, and preparing wild edibles this weekend.

Honeybees to Wild Edibles. Chinese Moon Festival to Tibetan Sand Mandalas. Arugula to Grapes

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 is part of the Trustees of Reservation’s “Fall Food on the Farm” workshop series in Holyoke.  On Saturday morning, September 21st, the series will feature the life cycle of the spinach plant and include a lesson on pollination, in addition to some real-life farm experience planting spinach and harvesting arugula. The workshop will wrap up with a lesson in culinary arts that utilizes the harvested food: in this case, arugula and cheese quesadillas!

History & Local CulturePollinatorsLanguage ArtsPlant & Nature StudiesHistoryAstronomyCultural StudiesLocal Food

History & Local Culture

The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area presents Heritage Walks, which celebrate the communities, natural areas, history, and different cultures of the many places recognized as part of this National Heritage Area. Heritage Walks take place on Saturday, September 21st and Sunday, September 22nd at many different sites throughout the region. For example, families can watch hawks at Bartholomew’s Cobble, explore local cemeteries, tour historic homes, see the W.E.B. DuBois National Historic Site, and explore the Housatonic River. Because the Heritage Area designation is about the intersections between nature, culture, and history, each walk offers something different and it is likely you will find one that fits your interests! Here are a few featured opportunities:

  • Tour the neighborhoods of Freedleyville in West Stockbridge, one of the earliest industrial neighborhoods in Berkshire County, and learn how industry effects communities.
  • Take a behind the scenes tour of Tanglewood in Lenox and learn about its historical background.
  • Join the Richmond Historical Society for a walking tour of the oldest part of the town burial grounds and learn about the history of past residents.
  • Learn about the history of the gilded age Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on a tour with local historians.
  • Tour Stockbridge’s Main Street to hear unique behind the scenes stories of this noted community.

The Belchertown Historical Association’s Stone House Speaker Series presents the first talk of the series, “Nine Belchertown People You Should Know,” by local historian and Stone House archivist Cliff McCarthy. On Thursday evening, September 26th, McCarthy will discuss some of Belchertown’s most famous residents and how they have impacted the town. This event is open to all and would be interesting to older students interested in local history through personalized stories.


Hunt for honeybees at the Bidwell House Museum in Monterey on Saturday morning, September 21st. Learn how farmers of old searched for and captured these important pollinators and how you can too. Learn how to “hunt” for a bee colony and talk a guided walk on the Bidwell grounds and in the woods in search of bees and other pollinators.

Discover the wonderful world of honey at Warm Colors Apiary’s annual Honey Festival! The Festival celebrates honeybees and other native pollinators. Meet with beekeepers, attend workshops, sample honey, and learn all about bees and honey at this exciting community building event in South Deerfield, all day on Saturday.

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 pollinator on Friday morning, September 27th. Kids ages 3-6 and their parents can join the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn about butterflies, do crafts, and explore nature in Turners Falls.

Language Arts

The Jones Library in Amherst is hosting a free kids’ poetry workshop on Saturday afternoon, September 21st, led by author Jeannine Atkins, called “Writing Poetry Together.” The workshop is intended for kids ages 10 and up – teens and tweens welcome, as well as parents, relatives, and other “favorite adults.” Participants will work with writing prompts and exercises, then write and share their own poetry.

For younger readers, the Westfield Athenaeum is hosting a free Read to Rover event for kids in grades K-3 on Saturday afternoon. Kids can practice reading stories aloud to specially-trained dogs, who offer non-judgmental, non-threatening attention. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to improve their reading skills and their confidence in reading aloud.

Plant & Nature Studies

Want to improve your foraging skills and learn about wild edibles? On Saturday afternoon, September 21st, Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center is offering a free wild edible workshop (for ages 12 and up), led by Blanche Derby, on identifying, collecting, and preparing wild edibles. A course on wild edibles is essential for kids who like to explore outside or for those who are looking to learn more about local food sources.

Caregivers and children are invited an autumn canoe activity at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton on Sunday afternoon, September 22nd. Paddle the Mill River and looks for animals like turtles, hawks, and more. What a fun way to learn about local habitats while spending some quality time together!


Historic Deerfield presents a special lecture by Michael Coe, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, on the line of forts created by American colonists to keep out the French and their Indian allies. on Saturday afternoon, September 21st. These forts, along the northwest corner of Massachusetts, are important to the study of 18th-century life in Western Massachusetts.

The Lenox Library kicks off its seventh season of Distinguished Lectures on Sunday afternoon, September 22nd, with a talk by Thomas Daly, Curator of Education at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Daly will discuss the changes in American society between the present day and the America that Norman Rockwell depicted in his paintings – and will explore the question: “in an age of technology, globalization, and economic downturn, is Rockwell still relevant?” The lecture will take place in the Lenox Library’s Sedgwick Reading room, and is free and open to the public. Those studying American history, art, culture, and even technology will find this lecture particularly engaging; recommended for middle-school-aged students and up.


Learn about astronomy and extraterrestrials at Western Gateway Heritage State Park’s Autumnal Equinox astronomy lecture in North Adams on Saturday afternoon, September 21st.

Sunday, September 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox! Come to the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst at sunrise and sunset to learn about the significance of solstices and equinoxes and the history of the UMass Sunwheel at a participatory community event.  Gather with your friends & neighbors, mark the seasons, and learn a little while you’re at it!

The Milham Planetarium at Williams College in Williamstown will be open to the public for a free planetarium show on Friday evening, September 27th. You can learn about the motions of the planets, the phases of the moon, comets, and much more!

Cultural Studies

The Smith College Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, along with the Chinese Inter-regional Student Cultural Organization and the Dean of the College, are hosting a free, public celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival on Saturday evening, September 21st in Northampton. The celebration will feature performances, traditional games and activities, and delicious food, including moon cakes.

All across the world, the creation and beauty of a Tibetan Sand Mandala painting remains a constant phenomenon of art and construction. Come see the monks at work at the UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst on Thursday, September 26th as they use traditional instruments to lay down the finest grains of colored sand to produce a work of art that explodes with color and detail. In the lobby, students can take part in additional art activities and create their own mandalas after the morning viewing sessions. This unique event highlights the power of the healing arts to ignite peace and tolerance among all.

Local Food

On Saturday morning, September 21st, the Trustees of Reservation’s “Fall Food on the Farm” workshop series features the life cycle of the spinach plant and a lesson on pollination, in addition to some real-life farm experience planting spinach and harvesting arugula. The workshop will wrap up with a snack that utilizes the harvested food: in this case, arugula and cheese quesadillas! This is part of a series of eight family-friendly seasonal food workshops hosted at Land of Providence, a property of The Trustees of Reservations in Holyoke, MA.

Join the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke as they continue their fall lecture series, “Historical Culinary Incidents: An Exploration of Food and Culture in the Pioneer Valley” on Monday evening, September 23rd. This week, Gary Kamen will discuss grape growing and winemaking in the Pioneer Valley. One might not think of Western Massachusetts as being prime wine country, but Kamen will discuss the ways in which wine is made here, covering everything from climate and grape varieties to the different styles of winemaking.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and many 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.

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