29 Community Highlights: Battle of the Books to Scavenger Hunt. Shaker Dinner to Strawberry Jam.
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 some animals can survive in sub-zero temperatures? And that some are able to climb great heights and steep slopes or rocks? It is amazing how animals are able to evolve and adapt to their surroundings! You can learn about how and why some of these animals had to change to make themselves better suited to their environments at the Hatfield Public Library‘s “Amazing Adaptations” program on Tuesday morning, June 24. This free program focuses on mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates and how they have evolved and adapted over time. Kids will have fun meeting and learning all about these fascinating creatures and how where they life impacts their adaptations.
American History ♦ River Studies ♦ Animal Studies ♦ Local History ♦ Insects ♦ Fizz, Boom, Read! ♦ Local Food/Strawberries ♦ Literacy ♦ Music History ♦ Culture ♦ Hikes
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
The American Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865 and was fought primarily outside of New England. This does not, however, mean that New Englanders were not impacted by the war – they fought in it and were important to war-related labor. Storrowton Village in West Springfield is offering an interactive tour, “Storrowton and the Civil War,” on Wednesday evening, June 25. This tour gives you a look into the past at what life was like for New Englanders during the War. You can sit in on a recruitment meeting, speak with a blacksmith about the increase of manufacturing during the war, hear from women about sewing and making clothes, learn about how the war affected families, and what the impact on local industries was. This event is appropriate for older teens and adults. Registration is required.
Juneteenth marks an important milestone in our history. On June 21 and 22, Old Sturbridge Village observes Juneteenth with their Black History Weekend. Juneteenth is a celebration that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. OSV visitors can learn about the abolition movement through activities, demonstrations, talks, and reenactments. It’s a great opportunity for families to educate their children on an immense time in U.S. history and to do so in the context of their own community. It also affords some dialog on how freedom manifests itself in daily aspects of our lives.
Are you interested in learning more about rivers ecosystems and what effects them? There are many different processes at work in our local rivers, including those that are the work of humans. Riversmart Communities (a UMass Department of Geosciences and UMass Extension program) and the Deerfield River Watershed Association are offering a river walk titled, “Understanding the Active Deerfield River” on Saturday, June 21 in the Mohawk State Forest in Charlemont. The walk is easy to moderate and focuses on the natural and human processes that affect our rivers, such as erosion, floods and droughts, human river use and management, and more. The walk will take you along the Deerfield River and one of its main tributaries, the Cold River.
Did you know that some animals can survive in sub-zero temperatures? And that some are able to climb great heights and steep slopes or rocks? It is amazing how animals are able to evolve and adapt to their surroundings! You can learn about how and why some of these animals had to change to make themselves better suited to their environments at the Hatfield Public Library‘s “Amazing Adaptations” program on Tuesday morning, June 24. This free program focuses on mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates and how they have evolved and adapted over time. Kids will have fun meeting and learning all about these fascinating creatures and how where they life impacts their adaptations.
The Knightville Flood Control Dam was built from 1939-1941 in Norwich (now Huntington) and the valley areas of Knightville and Indian Hollow. The Huntington Historical Society presents “The Forgotten Valley, Forgotten No More,” which takes place on Sunday afternoon, June 22, and focuses on the construction of the dam and how it impacted local communities. This free talk covers the period of 1773-1941 using photographs, audiovisual equipment, and spoken word. Two residents of the valley in the 1920s and ’30s – Winnie Bates Smith of Huntington and Albert Edward Strong of Westfield – will discuss what it was like growing up before the dam was built. Descendents of the first settlers of Norwich will also be present to tell about their families. This presentation offers a peek into the lives of those who lived in the area nearly 100 years ago and would be fascinating to anyone interested in local history.
Are you looking for a fun, interactive way to learn about local history? The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke is holding a “Mysteries of the Mansion Scavenger Hunt” on Friday evening June 27. At this event, teams can explore the Skinner family mansion and learn about their lives and legacy by deciphering clues, answering riddles, and solving puzzles. Families with teens will enjoy immersing themselves in local history while having fun learning about the Skinners and the mansion, which was owned by the family from 1874 until 1959, when it was sold to the City of Holyoke. The mansion features original decor from the several generations of Skinners who resided there, and offers a thorough look into the lives of this prominent Holyoke family. Make sure you pre-register!
Learn about the history of the Academy of Music in Northampton on one of their free building tours on Tuesday evening, June 24! Academy Director Debra J’Anthony will teach about the Academy’s early days under the stewardship of the Lyman family, the creation of the United States’ first municipal theater company, and the first woman to manage the Academy. This tour would be great for older students and adults interested in local history or in learning about the history behind one of Northampton’s most well-known buildings. Space is limited; registration is required.
Advanced Placement United States History students from Easthampton High School will present their research on local history topics at “A Local Lens: Histories of the Pioneer Valley,” on Tuesday evening, June 24. The students researched topics relating to local history, including the Easthampton mills, Williston seminary, history of Easthampton railroads, Holyoke’s women reformers of the 1920s, the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power at UMass, and more. These brief presentations on a wide variety of topics would be a good way to get middle and high school students interested in local history via their peers!
Contribute to Project Native’s Butterfly House by attending a Summer Butterfly and Bug Safari on Saturday morning, June 21 in Housatonic! Walk the grounds looking for butterflies, caterpillars, and eggs to relocate to the Butterfly House. Learn about this order of insects, Lepidoptera, and gain skills in finding and even identifying butterflies and caterpillars and by learning about their host plants at this free intergenerational event.
Families can explore Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden on Saturday morning, June 21, with naturalist Kevin Kopchynski. Come find out what lives in the waters of the sanctuary using pond nets, bug boxes, hand lenses, and field guides, then examine them up close to learn about their unique adaptations to life in the water! Identify macroinvertebrates before they becoming flying insects, like stoneflies and dragonflies! Kids will love getting to explore this interesting natural area and learning about the creatures that live there. Registration is required.
Saturday, June 21 is free Family Fun Day at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum! This event is all about the statewide summer reading program, “Fizz, Boom, Read!” and is hosted by the Jones Library of Amherst. This event focuses on light and there will be tours and activities relating to stained glass and the wonders of light in art and science. There will also be family drop-in craft and gallery activities. Discover this great local museum and learn all about science and summer reading at this fun family-oriented event. 4
Kick off the Fizz, Boom, Read! summer reading program at the East Longmeadow Public Library with a pizza party on Monday at 12noon, June 23. There will be pizza and live entertainment by Jon O’Neill at this free event.
Celebrate the start of summer reading at the Lee Library‘s kick-off party on Tuesday afternoon, June 24! Kids can come see “Fire and Ice” with the Mad Scientists and sign up for summer reading at this free event.
M.N. Spear Memorial Library‘s Summer Kick-Off Party happens in Shutesbury on Thursday evening, June 26! Stop by for summer reading registration, snacks, fun, and a free performance of Walters Wizards. Takes place on the Town Common.
Westhampton Public Library will kick off their summer reading program on Thursday evening, June 26. Jungle Encounters will present a Small Wild Cat Show to kick off the program, and there will be other free shows throughout the summer including Marvelous Marvin and his Magic of Science Show and a live animal show!
The summer reading program begins at Gaylord Memorial Library as they kick off Fizz, Boom, Read! on Thursday evening, June 26 with a free song and story celebration with Davis Bates in South Hadley! He will perform traditional and contemporary folk songs and stories from New England and around the world. There will also be a musical spoons lesson for kids!
Head to Red Fire Farm for their Strawberry Soiree on Saturday afternoon, June 21 in Montague. There will be live music, strawberry tasting, a walking tour of the farm, a fairy house building workshop, and PYO berries! All ages will enjoy this free intergenerational celebration of local food and seasonal fruit!
Join Grow Food Amherst for a strawberry jam making workshop on Saturday, June 21! Come pick your own strawberries and then learn how to cook and preserve it so you can enjoy the fruit all year long. This workshop would be best for teens and adults interested in food preservation. The skillsharing workshop is free but you must pay for the strawberries you pick. Must preregister!
Celebrate strawberries and help support the Hatfield Elementary PTA at the 2nd Annual Strawberry Festival, held at Hatfield Elementary School on Saturday afternoon, June 21. Enjoy entertainment, games, raffles, and strawberries at this fun community celebration!
Celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer reading at the Dickinson Memorial Library‘s Summer Reading Kick-Off event, The Woodlands Fair, which will focus on fields, forests and wildlife around us. On Saturday, June 21 in Northfield, come to the library for nature crafts, archery, henna, a treasure hunt, and a StoryWalk. There will also be light food provided by Northfield BBQ and a chance to sign up for summer reading.
Join the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a special screening of The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations on Sunday afternoon, June 22 in Amherst. This documentary explores Norton Juster’s classic children’s book and traces the friendship between him and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jules Feiffer. In addition to the film screening, Juster will be present for a question and answer session and a book signing. Fans of The Phantom Tollbooth will enjoy this special event, connecting the relationship between author and illustrator and learning how collaborations (and unlikely friendships) are made!
Small libraries in the Pioneer Valley will come together this September for a tournament of readers, called Battle of the Books. This battle will be a trivia contest, featuring questions on 10 books assigned at the beginning of the summer. Tweens and Teens at participating libraries form teams of no more than 5, name their teams, and come up with a team uniform or costume. Teams will read all 10 books throughout the summer so that either everyone reads all 10, or each person becomes an expert on 2 or 3 books. Teams will meet in September to engage in a quiz bowl style battle at the Hatfield Public Library. Participating libraries: Hatfield Public Library, Pelham Public Library, Florence (Lilly) Library, South Hadley Public Library, Williamsburg (Meekins) Library, Sunderland Public Library, Shutesbury Public Library, and Deerfield (Tilton) Library. The M.N. Spear Memorial Library is holding an interest meeting at Town Hall on Friday, afternoon June 27 for kids who might want to participate in the event. Readers ages 10 to 14 are encouraged to sign up at your library no later than July 18! Readers from out of town are welcome to join teams at participating libraries.
Boston University Professor of Music Dr. Jeremy Yudkin presents “The Beatles, the Sixties, and Popular Culture” at the Lenox Library on Sunday afternoon, June 22. Dr. Yudkin’s talk about the Beatles, how American and English culture in the 1960s was reflected in their music, and what this meant for popular music. Beatles fans and older students interested in music would enjoy this lecture, which will teach audience members all about the group and their music.
La Noche de San Juan is an annual celebration of Puerto Rican arts, culture, dance, and food that takes place each year in Holyoke Heritage State Park. On Saturday afternoon, June 21, bring the family to come celebrate with live music and dance by Marcamusic, Jesus Pagan Conjunto Barrio, the Jose Gonzalez Trio, Star Dancers Unity, Norma Rodriquez Coquils, Paper City Fitness, and others. End the evening with the lantern parade, which features many beautiful handmade lanterns. This is a great chance to learn about and celebrate Puerto Rican culture right here in Western MA
Shakers are know for their communal lifestyle, pacifism and a model of equality… but what would you see on your plate is you sat down for dinner in a Shaker village? Mostly food they raised on their own, either fresh or preserved. Kids and adults can learn to cook traditional Shaker meals at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield on Saturday morning, June 21! Learn about whole grains, eating in season, food preservation, fermentation, and more. This is a terrific intergenerational opportunity for kids to learn about cooking and Shaker culture.
The fourth annual Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival in Montague returns this weekend, June 21 & 22, for medieval-inspired fun. There will be games, vendors, jousting matches, music, food, the chance to explore the enchanted Sherwood Forest, and more. You can even meet Maid Marion and Robin Hood and his Merry Men! Mutton and Mead is not just an exciting event – it is also a fundraiser for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, so come in costume (or not!) to support the Food Bank and have a great time stepping back into time and into the Middle Ages.
Join Mass Aububon and Aimee Gelinas of Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center for a Summer Solstice Hike in the Highlands on Saturday, June 21 in Windsor. On this three-mile, moderate hike you can explore the drowned lands – part of the Berkshire Plateau that serves as headwaters to the Hoosac, Westfield, and Housatonic Rivers. You can see natural springs, 19th-century wells, hear folklore, and more. Best for older teens and adults.
The Trustees of Reservations invite you to “wonder across more than 200 acres of forest and through a maze of thickets on a trail that traces a small brook and passes vernal pools and other wetlands.” Explore Dry Hill in New Marlborough and hike to its newly-reopened summit on a free guided Saturday morning hike searching for mountain laurel blooms and learning about other plants native to the habitat of Dry Hill.
Did you know that The Trustees of Reservations‘ Chapel Brook property in Ashfield was once home to thousands of sheep? Or that Chapel Falls was the site of gristmills and a two-room schoohouse? Here we are over 150 years later and Chapel Brooks is a wonderful reservation open to hiking, rock climbing and natural water slides! On Sunday, June 22, come explore Chapel Brook’s waterfalls and big trees on a guided hike. A lovely way to celebrate the longest day of the year!
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) Elyse Ash]