29 Community Highlights: Food Chemistry to Period Restaurants. Edible Books to Oddball Science.

World music is a powerful pathway towards discovery of other cultures and music instruments. Families can learn about two instruments used in North Indian music – the sitar and the tabla – at the Amherst Jones Library‘s “Introduction to North Indian Classical Musicfree events this month!

Draft Horses to Merino Sheep. Food Chemistry to Period Restaurants. Edible Books to Oddball Science. Folk Dancing to Classical Indian Music… 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: Did you know that if a domestic sheep weren’t shorn, their wool would grow and grow and grow? Come learn about shearing and the wool harvest at Winterberry Farm at their new farm in Colrain on Saturday, April 5th during  Shearing Day! There will be music, food, demonstrations, and a chance to see 30 sheep get sheared. A great chance for families to learn about this traditional process and for kids to know where their woollies come from. Free.

Animal ScienceFood StudiesAstronomyCultural StudiesLiteracySTEMMuseum AdventuresDance StudiesNature ScienceOrnithologyParent Workshops

Animal Science

Once we used draft horse where now we rely on tractors to plow our fields. 19th-century farmers relied heavily on horses for transportation, pulling farm machinery, and obtaining power. Learn about the many roles of horses on 19th-century New England farms (and even meet some!) with Blue Star Equiculture at the Keep Homestead Museum in Monson on Sunday afternoon, April 6. Discovering how farms in past centuries functioned can help students of all ages better understand how farm machinery and tasks have changed over time.

The UMass Pre-Veterinary and Animal Science Club’s Annual Baystate Livestock Classic takes place on Saturday, April 5 at Hadley Farm in Hadley. Students and faculty take part in this free show, which has been around since 1938, offering food and fun activities for all ages. Kids can learn about livestock animals, see them up close and ask pre-veterinary college students questions about animal health and care.

Did you know that if a domestic sheep weren’t shorn, their wool would grow and grow and grow? Come learn about shearing and the wool harvest at Winterberry Farm at their new farm in Colrain on Saturday, April 5th during  Shearing Day! There will be music, food, demonstrations, and a chance to see 30 sheep get sheared. A great chance for families to learn about this traditional process and for kids to know where their woollies come from. Free.

Food Studies

When you think about cooking, it seems pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot of science going on in your skillet! There are many different things to consider when cooking, including chemistry and physics.It is important to consider the multidisciplinary aspects of food, which is what food experimentalist and founder of the Museum of Food and Drink, Dave Arnold, will do in his free talk, “Science and Technology in the Kitchen” at Williams College in Williamstown on Wednesday evening April 9. Come learn about the science and technology behind food and cooking, as well as food’s cultural implications. Older students interested in food studies, culinary arts, science, or technology would benefit from this presentation.

Did you know that Chandler’s Restaurant in South Deerfield offers youth culinary classes?  On Saturday morning, April 5th, they are offering a Kids Cooking class for families to explore the art of cooking, proper use of kitchen tools, and raw ingredients that go into delicious dishes! A brief tour of their professional kitchen follows the class. Great way to introduce children to the world of culinary arts!

Ventfort Hall in Lenox presents a Tea Talk on Saturday afternoon, April 5th, with Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer, entitled, “Repast or Dining Out, 1900-1910.” Lesy and Stoffer are co-authors of Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910, and they will take the audience on a culinary tour of period restaurants and dining, examining how dining has evolved in America. Older students interested in history or food studies would enjoy this talk.


Most people know how many planets are in our Solar System, but do you know how many solar systems are in our galaxy? There are tens of billions of planets (or more) in our galaxy, not to mention the hundreds of billions of stars. Thinking about outer space can be mind-boggling – we humans seem so small when thinking about the seemingly infinite world of planets, stars, solar systems and galaxies. Space provides billions of opportunities for discovery, and you can explore and learn at Notchview with members of Arunah Hill Natural Science Center and the Trustees of Reservations on Saturday evening, April 5 in Windsor. Peering through telescopes, families can discover in the vast night sky. Share your questions with the many amateur astronomers helping out.

Cultural Studies

What do you know about the Native Americans who lived in the northeast before and during European contact and colonization? What do you know about the Native Americans who live here today? Why are these histories are often ignored or trivialized in schools, in the media, and in many other facets of society.  Learn about the first residents of what is now Franklin County at Mass Slavery Apology’s free event, “Franklin County’s First Peoples: History, Heritage, and Current Events,” a talk by Joe Graveline of Cherokee and Abenaki descent on Saturday morning, April 5 in Greenfield. Discover the legacies, histories, and traditions of these groups, and examine why and how they have been ignored and denied through the years. As residents of western Massachusetts, it is important to recognize and understand the history of all people who live here.

World music is a powerful pathway towards discovery of other cultures and music instruments. Families can learn about two instruments used in North Indian music – the sitar and the tabla – at the Amherst Jones Library‘s “Introduction to North Indian Classical Music“ free events. On Thursday evening, April 10, Mike Jarjoura will demonstrate the sitar and introduce you to “raga,” a melodic mode used in Indian classical music. Then, on Sunday afternoon, April 27, Anna Sobel will play the tabla, a percussion instrument, and discuss its role in North Indian classical music. These events act as a great introduction to this beautiful music, as well as an introduction to two instruments commonly used in the genre, but not frequently heard in Western music.

The Five College West African Drum Ensembles will perform a free concert at Mt. Holyoke McCulloch Auditorium on Tuesday evening, April 8th in South Hadley. The Ensembles will perform music from southern Ghana, Togo, and Benin, and will be accompanied by African dancer Nani Agbeli. The whole family can come to this exciting concert and learn about music and dance in West Africa.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington presents a performance by the Martha Redbone Roots Project. on Friday morning, April 11th. Redbone is known for her blend of Native American elements with soul and funk, as well as Appalachian folk and Piedmont blues. She will perform and lead a discussion on her Native American, African American, and Appalachian roots. This event is for school-aged youth and is a great opportunity to see a talented musician play live, and a chance to have a meaningful discussion about cultural identity.


Child Care of the Berkshires is holding a free kick-off event for their April StoryWalk, Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy. On Saturday morning, April 5th, come to the Haskins Gym in North Adams for a morning of play, learning, building, hard hat decorating, and more. Participating families will receive a copy of the book and a StoryWalk map.

The Forbes & Lilly Library’s Edible Book event takes place on Sunday afternoon, April 6 at the Florence Civic Center. Come taste edible books inspired by real ones at this fun, creativity-centered event. All the books are 100% edible and there are many submissions, so all ages can enjoy taking a bite out of some of their favorite books!

Encourage literacy and a love of books in your young children (ages 2-5) with Child Care of the BerkshiresRaising a Reader Program. On Wednesday evening, April 9, come borrow free bags of books for ten weeks, read them, then return them so another family can enjoy them. There will be free family fun gatherings that introduce you to special ways to share reading with your family. Dinner, activities, and transportation included. Program also meets May 7 and June 18. Takes place at Cheshire Elementary School Cafeteria.


Origami is a fun way for kids to engage with an activity that supports their discovery of geometry… and raise money for the library! Kids 8-12 years old can participate in the Westfield Athenaeum’s “Origami for Beginners” program on Saturday afternoon, April 5th. Supplies are provided. Please register in advance; space is limited. This event is a fundraiser sponsored by Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum.

The UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department presents OEB Science Cafes at Esselon Cafe each month. This month’s talk is by Dr. Patty Brennan, who will present, “Oddball Science – Why Do We Study Weird Things?” on Monday evening, April 7th. Learn about the psychology behind why people choose to study certain things. 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.

Discover the amazing world of chemistry at the Emily Williston Memorial Library‘s Chemistry Adventure Day on Tuesday afternoon, April 8th in Eastampton! Mt. Holyoke College student representatives will lead this program, which includes fun science experiments.

This week’s Springfield Museums a la Carte lecture at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is, “Futurescape Springfield,” with Gretchen Gano and Krista Harper on Tuesday at noon, April 10. Futurescape City Tours are interactive community engagement projects that allow participants to explore how new technologies can impact their cities. Springfield is one of six cities taking part in the project, and participants can see how new technologies like nanotechnology could change transportation, buildings, food, energy use, and city life as a whole. Self-directed teens interested in technology would enjoy this presentation.

Kids in grade 4-6 are welcome to attend the Monson Free Library’s “Fizz Boom Splat Science Club” on Thursday afternoon, April 10th. This week, kids will be dissecting cow eyeballs – not for the squeamish!

Museum Adventures

Come see creatively re-imagined weapons at “Steampunk Springfield Armory: Reimagining Our Nation’s Weaponry.” This exhibition brings together the Armory’s collection of military shoulder weapons with the ingenuity of some one today’s best steampunk artists. A free public reception for the exhibit will be on Saturday evening April 5. Come see the show and meet the artists behind these amazing steampunk weapons!

Dance Studies

Come to Montague Common Hall for a square dance on Saturday evening, April 5th. Learn about and try out this traditional folk dance, which was first documented in 17th-century England, but has evolved throughout time in different regional areas, such as New England. This is a fun opportunity to learn square dancing with community members of all ages.

Nature Science

Vernal pools are temporary pools of water that provide habitat for unique animals as the snow melts and before the trees leaf out. In New England, these include fairy shrimp, wood frogs, and spotted salamanders. Learn about these fascinating ephemeral bodies of water at the Meekins Library’s vernal pool workshop on Thursday evening, April 10th in Williamsburg. Led by staff from the Hilltown Land Trust and the Trustees of Reservations, this workshop would be best for older students interested in the importance of local habitat. Part two of this program is a Vernal Pool Exploration on April 12. 


Woodcocks are returning to the area, which means spring is in the air! These birds return north to forest and farmland in the early spring, where males perform their mating displays at dusk. These displays consist of a series of ground calls, followed by a spiraling flight and melodious song. You can listen and watch for this distinctive and fascinating display at Guyette Farm in Plainfield with Franklin Land Trust from 6:30pm-8pm on Saturday, April 19. Catching sight of these interesting breeding displays can teach you a lot about woodcocks – how the males attract mates, what their ideal habitat is, which mating displays seem most effective, and how females react to the mating displays. This program allows people to have the opportunity to enter ideal woodcock habitat in search of these native birds, while learning about their behavior and habitat from a Franklin Land Trust expert. Please register ASAP by calling 413-625-9151 or emailing jmorse@franklinlandtrust.org. Free and open to all.

Parent Workshop

Are you interested in learning the basics of paying for college, and how to best save money, minimize costs, and maximize financial aid? The Jones Library is offering “Paying for College: What Parent Need to Know” as part of their free programming for Money Smart Week on Saturday morning, April 5. Parents and college-bound older teens would benefit from this talk, which outlines the basics of paying for college.

Dr. Jonathan Schwab (pediatrician) and Sharon Saline, Psy.D (clinical psychologist) will present a workshop for parents, “Parenting Preschoolers with Confidence and Consistency,” at Northampton Area Pediatrics. on Sunday evening, April 6th.

Baystate Children’s Hospital presents a free workshop for parents, “The Pediatrician Is In: Updates in ADHD,” with Dr. Patrick Brown, in the Children’s Specialty Center on Wednesday evening, April 9th. Brown will discuss the latest information about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, including how behavior, temperament, and context are interpreted in the developing child, as well as treatment options.

The Center School presents a free talk by Lori Duron, author of Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son, at Smith College’s Seelye Hall in Northampton on Thursday evening, April 10th. The talk is titled, “Parenting, Teaching, and Promoting Advocacy for Transgender Children,” and Duron will speak about her parenting experiences and life with a gender-variant child.nd 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.

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Charlemont/Hawley, Chesterfield, Conway, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Montgomery, South Hadley and Shutesbury Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

[Photo credit: (cc) Ramkumar Rajendran]

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