35 Community Highlights: Fiddle Fest to Living Culture. Junior Ranger to Magic.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Double Edge Theatre at their “Celebrate Living Culture” event on Sunday afternoon, July 6. Located in Ashfield, Double Edge Theatre is a rich environment for both experiential learning and performance on 105 acres of historic buildings, forests, pastures and organic gardens. The afternoon includes an open house, tours, fun family activities, raffles, and an exhibition following the Theatre’s 20-year history. This is a great free opportunity to learn more about Double Edge Theatre, their theater philosophy, and explorations of their farm.
Local History ♦ Animal Studies ♦ Architecture ♦ Music Studies ♦ Culture ♦ Performance Art ♦ Farming ♦ Nature Studies ♦ STEM ♦ Magic ♦ Entomology ♦ Family Performances
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
Celebrate and engage in the history of Tyringham and Monterey at the Bidwell House Museum on Saturday afternoon, July 5. There will be colonial reenactors, live music, children’s activities, a baking contest, author talks, historic craft demonstrations, and more. Connect with the past through where you live now here in western Mass.
Discover the fascinating history of the Stockbridge Gilded Age cottages at the Stockbridge Library’s third cemetery tour of the season – “Stockbridge Cottages: Who, When, and Why.” Come to Stockbridge Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, July 5, to learn who built the cottages, as well as when, where, and why they were built. The tour also examines some of the new businesses made possible by the cottage lifestyle and the connections made between the past and the present. These cemetery tours are a fun way to learn about the history of the Berkshires.
Learn about the medicinal, culinary, textile, and household uses of many common 18th and 19th-century plants at Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield on a free tour of Aunt Helen’s Herb Garden on Thursday, July 10. Many plants that we consider weeds today were used widely for many purposes in the past. Joe Pye weed, for instance, was believed to have been a cure for typhus! Visitors to the museum can learn about these plants, tour the garden, learn why early Americans were not concerned with weeds like we are today, and see demonstrations on how these plants were used. This is a fun opportunity to learn about gardens of the past and to tour this particular garden, which was given to the Village’s founder (and garden’s namesake), Helen O. Storrow, in 1935! Storrowton Village is located at 1305 Memorial Avenue in West Springfield, MA. Call 413-205-5051 for more information.
Have you ever wondered how a butterfly drinks? What about why frogs sing? You can learn the answers to these questions and ask many more at Odyssey Bookshop’s event, “Curious Critters: Larger Than Life with author David FitzSimmons” on Thursday morning, July 10. FitzSimmons will be at the Odyssey in South Hadley to talk about his book, which features amazing photographs of and tidbits about fascinating animals. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary will also be present to share facts and artifacts from local animals, including moose antlers and a live turtle! This event (as well as FitzSimmons’ book) is a great way for kids to learn about many of the interesting animals that live in North America and around western Mass.
Julie Collier of Wingmasters will be at the West Springfield Public Library on Thursday morning, July 10, with their fascinating free birds of prey program! Best for ages 5 and up, Wingmasters brings their live raptors for participants to meet while sharing the story behind their habitat needs and their adaptive behaviors. Bring your questions and have Julie Collier lead your kids into the fascinating world of ornithology.
Kick off summer reading at the Lanesborough Public Library with a free live animal program by Teaching Creatures on Thursday afternoon, July 10. This fun and engaging program will introduce kids to animals and teach them about their defense mechanisms and adaptations. Come see which live animals will be on hand and come curious!
There are many ways for kids to learn about architecture – through LEGOs or other building block toys, through tours of local buildings, even through exploring their own home. Kids ages 5-12 can take their interest in architecture one step further by coming to the Hatfield Public Library on Tuesday morning, July 8, to talk about construction and building plans for the new library. Kids can come up with their own ideas for the building and discuss these with others while learning architecture concepts and engaging in a project that involves and affects all community members. Think of the pride they will have in their local library once the construction project is complete and they can put the process into context!
Looking for a fun activity to do with the whole family this Sunday afternoon, July 6? The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage is holding a Summer Celebration and Fiddle Fest in Greenfield. This free event features performances by renowned local fiddler Donna Hébert and her trio, local fiddle students, and a fiddle jam open to all. You can take a guided walk along the Green River down to the Wiley-Russell Dam, which was been around for 200 years, do hands-on activities, see demonstrations, and more. The museum’s new exhibit, Rags to Riches, which tells the story of the Franklin County paper industry, will also be open. This event is fun for families with kids of all ages and is a great chance to hear some talented fiddlers, explore a wonderful local resource, and learn some fascinating local history through an interest in music.
Composer and lyricist Irving Berlin is responsible for many of the 20th Century’s hit Broadway tunes, most notably his score for Annie Get Your Gun. In his 60-year career, Berlin wrote over 1,500 songs and scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood musicals. You can hear a sampling of some of his best songs performed at the Colonial Theatre on Monday afternoon, July 7 by Berkshire Theatre Group Acting Apprentice Company members in Pittsfield. “Irving Berlin on Broadway and in Hollywood” is part of BTG’s Ellenoff Musical Theatre Series and will feature many of Berlin’s hits from the 1910s to the 1960s. Students interested in musical theater will enjoy seeing this performance of classic Broadway tunes!
The Aston Magna Music Festival presents “Music From a Turbulent 17th Century England” at Daniel Arts Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington on Saturday afternoon, July 5. The performance features galliards, laments, and sonatas from before and after the English Civil War, performed with vocals, organ, theorbo, lute, baroque violins, and viola de gamba. Older students interested in music studies would enjoy this performance and exposure to history through music.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in Lenox presents Watch and Play on Sunday afternoon, July 6, a program designed to engage kids ages 3-10 in Tanglewood’s classical music experience. Musicians will present an interactive musical performance in order to teach kids about musical concepts, instruments, and concert themes.
Medicine Mammals will present a free program on Native American traditional and contemporary music, drumming, dance, and storytelling at Mountain View Campground in Otis on Saturday, July 5. This program also includes a talk about wild animals in our state, and there will even be some animals present that are being rehabilitated! All ages will enjoy this fun and educational program, discovering the value of wild animals in native culture and the importance of their native habitat.
Kids can learn about puppetry at Spectrum Playhouse in Lee during a shadow puppet workshop with local puppeteer Dr. Marmalade on Saturday morning, July 5! Make your own shadow puppets and create a story, strengthening a understanding to performance art of puppetry.
Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Double Edge Theatre at their “Celebrate Living Culture” event on Sunday afternoon, July 6. Located in Ashfield, Double Edge Theatre is a rich environment for both experiential learning and performance on 105 acres of historic buildings, forests, pastures and organic gardens. The afternoon includes an open house, tours, fun family activities, raffles, and an exhibition following the Theatre’s 20-year history. This is a great free opportunity to learn more about Double Edge Theatre, their theater philosophy, and explorations of their farm.
Kids ages 4 and under and their parents/caregivers can visit Red Gate Farm in Buckland on Monday morning, July 7, for Mornings on the Farm this summer. Come explore the farm and the seasonal changes it has gone through, learn about and meet the farm animals, enjoy locally grown treats from the garden, ask questions, and enjoy hands-on activities. This is a great chance for young kids to experience all a local farm has to offer.
Kids ages 8-11 are invited to participate in the Great Falls Discovery Center‘s Junior Ranger program on Monday mornings in July. Learn about the plants and animals living in the Connecticut River watershed and explore your surroundings at this free program in Turners Falls.
Mount Greylock State Reservation’s free Junior Ranger Program for kids ages 8-12 teaches kids about the outdoors and how to care for nature. There will be hikes and hands-on activities that explore geology, water, climate, plants, and animals. The program runs every Thursday morning through mid-August in Lanesborough.
Learn how to promote biodiversity in your own backyard with Leslie Reed-Evans of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation on Wednesday evening, July 9 at Bascom Lodge in Lanesborough. The free talk will focus on improving habitats for native species of birds, insects, and plants. Best for older students interested in nature, biology and landscape design.
Science is stirring at our local libraries all summer long as part of the Fizz, Boom, Read summer reading program! On Wednesday afternoon, July 9, join the Wilbraham Public Library for the “Science of Summer Smorgasbord” with Kim from Catch the Science Bug. She will present summer-related visuals and activities, and the audience can participate by answering questions, playing quiz games, and helping with demonstrations. Can’t make it? Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for all the rich STEM opportunities happening around the region at local libraries!
Ed Popielarczyk performs magic and comedy at the Odyssey Bookshop’s Summer Family Entertainment Series on Saturday morning, July 5. This series is a free way for the whole family to get outside and have some fun together on a Saturday morning. Kids interested in magic will enjoy this family performance. Happens on the Town Common in South Hadley. Moves indoors to the Bookshop if if rains. Hilltown Families is a proud sponsor!
When your kids think of magic, are they just thinking of disappearing rabbits and card tricks? Take that love for magic and get them excited about science! On Thursday evening, July 10, they can discover the magic of science with Marvelous Marvin at the Westhampton Public Library! See science experiments, magic tricks, and circus arts at this free event.
Ed the Wizard will be at the Pelham Library on Thursday evening, July 10, getting kids excited about books through is interactive magic performance. He will be presenting a special free science program, Alchemy Laboratory! Come see how he connect reading with science & magic and come away excited about all three!
Kids can come to the Mason Library for “Fire and Ice,” a presentation by Mad Science on Friday evening, July 11. See magic tricks and exciting chemistry experiments at this free science program for all kids in K-6 in Great Barrington.
Every Monday afternoon in July and August, study the caterpillars in the Berkshire Museum‘s “Butterflies” exhibition in Pittsfield and learn about their life stages at a “Caterpillar Chat.” Discover some of their amazing adaptations at this program. Free with museum admission. Check out a museum pass from your local library.
Join the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield for a free program on dragonflies and damselflies with naturalist Julia Blyth on Friday afternoon, July 11. Kids 5 and up and their families can learn all about these interesting insects, their lifecycle from water to sky, and search for them using field guides and nets.
It’s Moth Night at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center on Friday evening, July 11 with members of the Athol Bird and Nature Club. All ages can come learn about some of the 10,000 species of moths in North America in this free intergenerational event, including how to lure them for photo ops. This is a great chance to all ages to learn about these fascinating insects and how to photograph them! Bring a flashlight, field guide and camera, if possible.
- Saturday, July 5: Paintbox Theatre presents a performance of Cinderella at the Northampton Senior Center
- Saturday, July 5 & Sunday, July 6: CactusHead Puppets presents, The Tale of Juan Bobo, at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst.
- Saturday, July 5: S. White Dickinson Memorial Library presents Mister G in concert in Whately (FREE).
- Saturday, July 5 & Sunday, July 6: Jacob’s Pillow presents Bleu! in Becket.
- Monday-Wednesday, July 7-9: Majestic Children’s Theater presents a production of Pinocchio in West Springfield.
- Wednesday, July 9-Friday, July 11: New Century Theatre Kids! presents a production of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in Northampton.
- Wednesday, July 9: Springfield Museums presents Piti Theatre Company’s production of To Bee or Not to Bee in Springfield.
- Wednesday, July 9: Holyoke Public Library presents PuppeTree’s production of Swimmy and the Swimmer in Holyoke (FREE).
- Thursday, July 10: Springfield Museums presents Tanglewood Marionettes’ performance of The Fairy Circus.
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) mclcbooks]