29 Community Highlights: Witches Butter to Apple Cider. Beatbox to Native American Flute.

Great weekend to carve a pumpkin for Halloween! Where’s your favorite place to PYO pumpkins in Western MA?  Click here to share your recommendations.

Witches Butter to Apple Cider. Bear Hole to Old Burying Ground. Beatbox to Native American Flute.  Community Service to Community Meals.

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 Archeology Day with the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association in Deerfield on Saturday, October 19th. Families can learn about local history and local archaeological digs by taking part in an archaeological tour of the historic village, searching for artifacts in a mock dig site, attending a lecture on digs that have taken place at the former site of the Pocumtuck Fort, or visiting a display of artifacts that have been recovered from two local sites – Sanford Tavern and Taylor’s Fort. These free activities are not only fun for the entire family, but they give visitors of all ages to learn about local history and discover how archaeology has shed a light on life in the past here in Western Massachusetts.

Fall HarvestLandscape/HistoryAnimal StudiesLiteracyCultureCemetery ToursParent WorkshopsCommunity ServiceScienceCommunity Meals

Fall Harvest

This weekend celebrates “From Field to Table” at Old Sturbridge Village on both Saturday & Sunday, October 19th & 20th. Celebrate the fall harvest and learn how food historically traveled from the farm to the table by talking to costumed interpreters, helping out with the harvest, milling cider, tasting apples and touring the orchards, putting the herb garden “to bed” for the season, grinding corn, touring root cellars, churning butter, and more. This special weekend gives visitors of all ages a chance to learn about what fall was like in the past and what activities were typically carried out during this season and why.

This week’s Trustees of Reservation’s “Fall Food on the Farm” workshop focuses on the many different colorful varieties of vegetables. Combine learning in both culinary arts and agriculture at Land of Providence in Holyoke where participants will learn about seasonality and do a “MyPlate” competition to create winter meals that include colorful vegetables on Saturday morning, October 19th. Swiss chard will be harvested and planted, and you will learn to cook lemony swiss chard with pizza bread!

Sunday is CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) Day at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield! BYO picnic lunch, buy some cider, and learn about preserving apples. Families can discover the many different ways one can preserve this fruit, like making applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and using a solar dryer.


Families can join DCR and Great Barrington Trails and Greenways for a “Reading the Landscape” hike along the Threemile Hill Trail on Saturday morning, October 19th. This free guided hike focuses on the history of our local landscape, including charcoal-making and other past uses. Shuttle will take families from  Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington to and from the site of the hike.

Ghost town storytelling hike at Tamarack Hollow & Windsor Jambs in Windsor or Saturday. Celebrate the season of Halloween and learn about historical life in the highlands. See cellar holes, water wells, sluiceways and apple orchards from the 1800’s still intact. Hear stories about the Windigo (the “big-foot” of the Hilltowns!), the Babbit Ax factory and the dairy and maple farms that provided income for these remote dwellers. Look for “Witches Butter” and “Dead Man’s Fingers” among other ghoulish forest treasures on this 3-mile moderate hike.

Animal Studies

Explore streams and the creatures that live in them with Franklin Land Trust at the Guyette Farm’s Meadow Brook in Plainfield on Saturday morning, October 19th. Families can discover the many different insects that live in streams and their importance in stream ecosystems in and around Western Massachusetts. Learn how to determine the health of small streams by studying the aquatic invertebrates present in them while examining the differences between these water insects. Open to anyone interested in stream ecology; families with children welcome. Free.

Join Springfield College Professor Emeritus and Environmental Historian Dietrich Schlobohm for a Beaver Walk at Bear Hole in West Springfield on Saturday morning. You will learn about North America’s largest rodent and its endangerment/near-extinction and subsequent comeback in New England in the 19th and 20th centuries, in addition to the current controversies regarding the animal. The group will visit several sites of beaver activity in order to learn about the animal’s history and life cycle. This program is geared towards adults but may be appropriate for older students interested in animal studies and natural history.

Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center presents “Skulls and Bones” a free Halloween-related nature program for kids 7 and older on Saturday afternoon. Discover what you can learn about an animal’s life through its skull and bones. Compare the skulls and bones of different animals to see how birds and mammals differ and how to tell how a bone moved (if at all) by their formations.

Are you interested in learning about bats? The Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls is holding an event for kids ages 3-6 and their parents to come learn about bats and the habitats they live in on Friday morning, October 25th. Also participate in crafts while exploring the natural world together with your preK kids.


Join the East Longmeadow Public Library for a free StoryWalk on the Rail Trail on Saturday, October 19th. Meet at the library and then head out in search of the first page of I Want Your Moo!. The StoryWalk will be followed by hot chocolate and prizes. StoryWalks are an interactive  way to explore books & literacy in the great outdoors while spending time with family and friends.

Stop by Art in the Orchard in Easthampton for “Unbuttoned: An Afternoon of Spoken Word for Kids” on Saturday afternoon. This event consists of poetry games for kids. Children should feel encouraged to bring a poem if you would like to share.

Every Child Ready to Read” is a free parent/child workshop to help preschool-aged child develop early literacy. The workshop presents the five early literacy practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing along with activities and takes place on Tuesday morning, October 22nd at the Westfield Athenaeum. This is an intergenerational opportunity to get your young child reading while spending some quality time learning together.

Author and Mount Holyoke College professor Valerie Martin will read from her newest book, Anton and Cecil, Cats at Sea at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. The book, for ages 7-14, is about two cat brothers and their adventures at sea. The Dakin Humane Society will be at Odyssey with kittens for you to meet and play with during the reading. A great way to discover a new book and make some new animal friends.


Native American flute player, traditional drummer, singer, dancer, and culturalist Shawn Stevens comes to the Stockbridge Library on Saturday afternoon, October 19th, to present a Native American program of stories and songs. Stevens is a member of the Stockbridge Munsee band of Mohicans in Wisconsin. The Mohicans were the very first residents of the Berkshires. This free program would be interesting to older students who want to learn more about Native American culture and traditions.

Saturday night is the 4th annual Berkshire Drum and Dance Fest! Bring the family to Berkshire Community College’s Boland Theater in Pittsfield for an evening of rhythm and dance by many musicians and dancers. Some of the featured artists include Puerto Rican Bomba & Plena Dancers, West African Djun Djun & Drum Corps, Berkshire Pulse Drummers, West African / Beatbox / Bucket Drum Fusion, Gaia Roots and many others. There will also be a silent auction (7pm) and an intergenerational community drum jam. The Fest is a fundraiser for the Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center Raise the Roof project and a super energized way to learn about the different dance and drumming performances from various cultures!

The Yiddish Book Center’s free Community Open House is on Sunday, October 20th in Amherst! At 11am, there will be a talk/round-table discussion titled “How Do You Say ‘Cutting-Edge’ in Yiddish?” about the Yiddish language; at 2pm there will be a concert by the Strauss Warschauer Duo, who play international klezmer and Yiddish music; and at 11am and 1pm you can tour the Center, which is the world’s first Yiddish museum. Discover this great local museum while learning more about Yiddish language, culture, and music.

Join the Wistariahurst Museum as they continue their fall lecture series, “Historical Culinary Incidents: An Exploration of Food and Culture in the Pioneer Valley” in Holyoke. On Monday evening, October 21st, Harry Rodriguez will speak about Caribbean foods, highlighting classic meals from Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba, and discuss how the use of Mexican cuisine has diminished the contribution of Caribbean foods in America. This talk would be interesting for self-directed students who want to learn more about Caribbean food and culture.

Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools are holding a Latino Heritage Celebration at Crocker Farm Elementary School in Amherst on Thursday evening, October 24th. There will be Latin music, dancing, and food, and everyone is welcome to bring a favorite dish to share.

Cemetery Tours

The Norman Rockwell Museum is hosting a tour of Stockbridge Cemetery on Wednesday evening, October 23rd, led by Curator of Education, Tom Daly. Discover the burial sites of famous Stockbridge residents like Norman Rockwell, Elizabeth Freeman, the Sedgwick family, and others while hearing about their history and influences on culture in the Berkshires. Meet at Old Town Hall for cider and doughnuts before the tour.

If it’s ghostly apparitions, spooky spirits, and archaic graves you want to see this Halloween season, another cemetery tour is of the Old Burying Ground in Westfield, MA, a National Register of Historic Places in America established in 1668. On Friday evening, October 25th, hour-long guided tours by lantern light will be led through the Old Burying Ground, a site containing some of the oldest, yet most significant headstones in all of Westfield. Historic personages, who rest in the antiquated land, including General William Shepard and Reverend Edward Taylor, the poet laureate of Colonial America, will be enacted by community performers in colonial grab, who will meet participants at their respective graves. The Old Burying Ground is the oldest remaining cemetery in its original location in the United States with 1100 remaining gravestones with its last recorded burial was in 1934. The tour will not only capture the Halloween spirit but will also offer a new appreciation for some of the founding families of Westfield, both the more famous as well as the everyday folk who helped make Westfield what it is today.

Parent Workshops

On Monday evening, October 21st, parents can learn about the science behind sleep and the importance of sleep to development for all ages. Sleep educator Beth Grams Haxby, Ed. M. presents this workshop at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, in which she hopes to influence others to practice better sleep habits in the free presentation.

Do you think your child seems anxious or worried? The Puzzle of Parenting Workshops presents “Little Minds, Big Worries,” a free workshop for parents of young children with anxiety on Wednesday evening, October 23rd in Easthampton. Parents will learn about the causes of childhood anxiety, why it is on the rise, and what you can do to help your anxious child feel supported.

Community Service

Franklin County Pumpkinfest is looking for recycling volunteers on Saturday afternoon & evening, October 19th,  in Turners Falls.  Recycling volunteers will: help set up lightweight recycle bins next to trash cans; collect recyclables from designated bins; process materials; have fun and enjoy the festival while protecting our environment. High School groups and clubs welcome and encouraged to volunteer!

Come by the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst for pumpkin carving on Thursday evening, October 24th. At this free community event, families can carve pumpkins for the Enchanted Forest event taking place on 10/25 and 10/26, a fundraiser for the Center. Families can do a Halloween-related community service project together while supporting a local nature center.


Kids in K-3 can learn all about water with Helen Ann Sephton from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at the Wendell Free Library on Wednesday afternoon, October 23rd! Kids will learn about water through hands-on “Water Olympics” activities, including floating paper clips and discovering how many drops of water can fit on a penny. This is part of a free four-part “Exploring Science” series sponsored by the Community Network for Children.

Community Meals

The annual Leverett Harvest Festival is on Saturday, October 19th! Start off the day with an intergenerational fireman’s community pancake breakfast (8am-10:30am), then enjoy games, food, live music, horse rides, and much more at the festival. There will be another intergenerational community meal later in the day too; a community spaghetti supper (5pm-7pm). Celebrate fall while engaging with your community. Takes place at Leverett Elementary School.

Amherst Fire Department is holding an intergenerational community pancake breakfast to benefit the SAFE (Student Awareness of Fire Education) program in local schools on Sunday morning, October 20th. The breakfast, which includes pancakes, sausages, bacon, coffee, and juice, takes place at the North Fire Station.

Whip up your favorite dish, gather up the kids, and celebrate food with members of your community on Thursday evening, October 24th! Grow Food Amherst is sponsoring a free community wide potluck supper to celebrate National Food Day and the importance of eating fresh, local food. Bring a dish to share prepared with items from your garden, CSA, or local farm; along with your own plate and utensils and an index card with a list of ingredients for those with food allergies. Grow Food Amherst hopes to add all the recipes together to create a community cookbook.

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.

[Photo credit: (cc) Justin Kern]

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