33 Community Highlights: River Cleanups to Storytelling. Russian Food to Apple History.

Orchard Ladders in Deerfield, MA

Apple orchard ladders in Deerfield, MA. Take your kids apple picking this weekend!  See where our readers recommend in our post, Where’s Your Favorite Apple Orchard in Western MA? (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Talc Mines to Papermaking. River Cleanups to Storytelling. Russian Food to Apple History

These are just a few of the community 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 at the Keep Homestead Museum in Monson. There will be a free talk entitled “How the Apple Changed America and How America Changed the Apple” by Russell Steven Powell, a New England apple expert, on Sunday afternoon, October 6th. Powell will discuss the history of apples around the world and how America has cultivated many of these to form a “melting pot” of apples. He will also discuss heirloom apple varieties and the history of New England orchards.

Natural HistoryIndustryEnergyCommunity ServiceLiteracy/StorytellingFire SafetyLocal HistoryCultural StudiesFood HistoryScienceParent Workshops

Natural History

Experience this deep evergreen forest and stunning cascading falls on a natural and cultural history walk at Wahconah Falls State Park in Dalton on Saturday morning, October 5th. See “glacier erratics” (large boulders left from past glacier activity), look for signs of the talc mines that once utilized the brook for power and learn how to identify trees and plants on this easy trail walk along Wahconah Falls Brook.  Hike will be led by naturalist and cultural educator Aimee Gelinas, and begins at 11am..  Wear hiking boots/sturdy footwear and bring drink/snack. This free 1.5 mile hike will last about 2 hours.  Meet in the parking lot at Wahconah Falls State Park on North St/Wahconah Falls Road.

Later in the week on Wednesday evening, October 9th, Aimee Gelinas will also be leading a Boreal Forest Ecology Walk (and slideshow) atop Mt. Greylock in Lanesborough. Gelinas will introduce visitors to many of the unique plants and indicator species of boreal forests. This free program is ideal for older students interested in ecology and will teach you all about the many fascinating plants that grow in these forest types.


Visit the Crane & Co. paper museum in Dalton for a free printing and papermaking demonstration on Saturday afternoon, October 5th. The Crane Museum of Papermaking is housed in Crane’s 1844 Old Stone Mill. The 1930 museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is situated on the banks of the Housatonic River, which supplied the water to wash the rags and drive the machinery of the early Crane mills.  Visit at your leisure any time between 1-5pm – the museum is located at 30 South St. (at the intersection of Rte 9). Follow the signs for the Papermaking Museum.

Learn about the art of silversmithing and the process of making a sterling silver flatware set for an 18th-century American home with silversmith Steve Smithers at Historic Deerfield on Sunday, October 6th. Smithers will go through the entire process, from research and design to the actual silver work itself.


The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield will be offering tours on Sunday, October 6th at 10:30am. Join Todd Burdick on this “green tour” of the Hancock Shakers’ 19th century water power technology and other examples of renewable energy evident at the Village of yesterday and today. See a demonstration of the 1858 water power turbine, and a moderate hike to the Village’s archaeological site to view ruins of Shaker buildings and dams. Does not include admission to the entire Village. Wear sturdy footwear & clothing for walking in woods and through fields. 2 miles–1.5 hours.  Meet at the HSV Visitor Center, main entrance, on Route 20, Hancock (just past junction with Rt. 41), five miles west of Pittsfield  Call to register for this free event: 413-443-0188.

Community Service

The Source to Sea Cleanup, an annual effort to clean up the Connecticut River Watershed, is in its 17th year! All ages are invited to join in the effort and help clean up our watershed at these locations in the Hilltowns & Pioneer Valley on Saturday morning, October 5th:

  • The Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls
  • Chesterfield Gorge in Chesterfield
  • Pynchon Point in Agawam
  • Green River Recreation Area in Greenfield


Families are invited to participate in a free nature based storywalk at the Westhampton Public Library on Saturday morning, October 5th! The story is In The Woods: Who’s Been Here by Lindsay Barrett George. Come enjoy this great story and the beautiful fall weather!

Storyteller Jonathan Kruk will be at the Spectrum Playhouse in Lee telling spooky stories about ghosts, ghouls, and goblins this Saturday morning. This is part of the Playhouse’s Family First Series of entertainment for kids and is Halloween-themed but not too scary. Kick off the Halloween season with this fun storytime!

The Jones Library and MassHumanities present “Family Adventures in Reading,” a six-week storytelling program, beginning on Saturday morning in Amherst. Storyteller Motoko Dworkin read stories and lead discussions on topics such as courage, fairness, and dreams. For kids 6 and older and their parents.

Join in folklore and storytelling on Saturday evening in Amherst. The Pioneer Valley Folklore Society’s Song and Story Swap is centered on a theme, where everyone shares a song or story relating to the theme (it’s also okay to just listen!). The Song and Story Swap is a great opportunity for intergenerational storytelling. Takes place at the Nacul Center.

Fire Safety

October is Fire Prevention Month and this weekend there are several events to bring about fire safety awareness!

Join the Northampton Fire Department for a free open house at their headquarters on Saturday morning, October 5th. Touring an active firehouse is a great way to get the whole family interested in fire safety.

Saturday is the Greenfield Health and Safety Fair at the Greenfield Fire Station. Stop by for fire safety information, relevant kids activities, and information tables.

This week is Fire Prevention Week too! Join the Whately Library on Saturday morning for a special free storytime with Jason Dorval of the Whately Fire Department. Dorval will share a story and teach kids about fire safety. After the storytime, volunteers from the fire department can show kids around their fire truck!

Local History

A guided walking tour of African American and Abolition Era History takes place on Saturday morning, October 5th. Meet at the Sojourn Truth Memorial Statue in Florence and tour the neighborhood, learning about local history from the abolition era.

The Gravediggers Tour” is the last of the monthly Stockbridge Cemetery Tours for the year, happening on Saturday afternoon. The free tour explores the lives of Stockbridge gravediggers in the 1800s and early 1900s. This is a great way to learn about local history and about interesting, but not necessarily well-known, residents of Stockbridge.

Sunday, October 6th is the Hatfield Fall Festival! Visit the Farm Museum and Historical Museum, watch fiber arts demonstrations, see antique cars, trucks, and tractors, attend the library book sale, browse local produce and crafts, and more. There will also be live music, food vendors, and kids activities. Be sure to check out the exhibit, House Calls to Hoaxes: Early Medicine Exhibit at Hatfield Historical Museum too!

The Meekins Library and the Williamsburg Historical Society present “At Home in Our Town: Families and Homes in Williamsburg and Haydenville” in the Meekins Library’s Hawks Hayden Room. The reception is on Sunday afternoon, but the exhibit will be up through the month. On Tuesday, Oct. 15th at 6:45pm, there will be a special tour of the Parsons House in Williamsburg too. The exhibit is focused on local history and is a great way to learn more about what these towns were like in the past.

Cultural Studies

This week’s Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys program at the Jones Library is a free screening of “Koran By Heart” in Amherst on Saturday afternoon. This film a documentary about three 10-year-olds at the annual International Holy Koran Competition. Muhammad Ashraf will lead a discussion following the screening. Older students interested in film or Middle Eastern studies would benefit from this screening.

Join the Springfield Museums on Sunday, October 6th for their “Family Fiesta,” featuring the musical group Surcari. Visitors can also enjoy the new exhibit, Fiesta: Flora and Fauna from Puerto Rico, and a variety of hands-on activities.

Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow is hosting a fun cooking class for children and their parents or grandparents on Monday afternoon, October 7th. The class is focused on Russian food, like Russian potato salad, borscht, pickles, and fruit pancakes, as well as Russian crafts. This free class is a great way for kids to spend time with family while learning culinary skills and food from other cultures.

Food History

The Keep Homestead Museum in Monson is hosting a free talk entitled “How the Apple Changed America and How America Changed the Apple” by Russell Steven Powell, a New England apple expert, on Sunday afternoon, October 6th. Powell will discuss the history of apples around the world and how America has cultivated many of these to form a “melting pot” of apples. He will also discuss heirloom apple varieties and the history of New England orchards.

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, October 7th, Jennifer Chateauneuf will speak about the history of Nick’s Nest, Holyoke’s famous hot dog spot. Nick’s Nest has been around since 1921, when it began as a popcorn cart. Learn how this beloved restaurant has changed over time. Older students interested in food studies and local history would find this talk interesting.

Stop by Historic Deerfield to learn all about foods for the fall harvest at their open hearth cooking demonstrations on Friday, October 11th. You will discover how early American kitchens made use of the fall harvest by processing and preserving foods for winter. The demonstration will focus on traditional fall foods like pumpkins, apples, and corn.


The UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department presents OEB Science Cafes at Esselon Cafe in Hadley each month. This month’s talk takes place on Monday evening, October 7th, and is by Skye Long, who will present “How to Scare a Spider,” a spider’s view of the world. Science Cafes are oriented towards adults without a science background, but are interesting to those with science backgrounds as well! Older students interested in science would enjoy the Science Cafes.

Kids in K-3 can learn all about air with Helen Ann Sephton from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at the Wendell Free Library on Wednesday afternoon, October 9th! Kids will learn about wind, hot air balloons, and how and why air behaves the way it does. This is part of a four-part “Exploring Science” series sponsored by the Community Network for Children.

Parent Workshops

  • Saturday morning, October 5th: Representatives from the International Cesarean Awareness Network are leading a workshop at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield for women planning or considering a VBAC, or for those who would like to support moms considering VBACs.
  • Monday evening, October 7th: Sex educators Jane Fleishman and Brooke Norton will be at Cup and Top Cafe in Florence to lead a free workshop on talking with your kids about sex. They will focus on technology, media, and social networks and how these affect kids’ perceptions of sex, as well as things like body image, shaming, bullying, and more.
  • Wednesday evening, October 9th: The Puzzle of Parenting Workshops presents “Little Minds, Big Worries,” a free workshop for parents of young children with anxiety at Hatfield Elementary School.
  • Wednesday evening, October 9th: “Understanding My Child’s Learning Style: A Workshop for Parents and Professionals” takes place at Hatfield Elementary School.
  • Thursday afternoon, October 10th: Parents, guardians, and caregivers looking to become certified in pediatric first aid CPR with AED can attend two workshops at Leverett Elementary School.

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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