33 Community Highlights: Whalemobile to TrolleyFest. Scottish Festival to Bang on a Can.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: The Whalemobile is a 43-foot, life-sized inflatable whale named Nile, modeled after a female humpback whale born in 1987 who summers off the coast of Massachusetts. This traveling educational program teaches kids all about whales – where they live, how they communicate, what they eat, what their behavior is like – and then gives them a chance to climb inside the inflatable replica to learn about whale anatomy and physiology. The Whalemobile will be visiting several libraries in western Massachusetts this summer. Don’t miss this free interactive program for all ages. Find out where it will be appearing here.
Animal Studies ♦ Shakespeare ♦ Transportation ♦ Culture ♦ Playgrounds ♦ Nature Studies ♦ Agriculture/Farm Tours ♦ Local History ♦ STEM ♦ Insects ♦ Community Meals ♦ Geology ♦ Festivals
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
The Whalemobile is a 43-foot, life-sized inflatable whale named Nile, modeled after a female humpback whale born in 1987 who summers off the coast of Massachusetts. This traveling educational program teaches kids all about whales – where they live, how they communicate, what they eat, what their behavior is like – and then gives them a chance to climb inside the inflatable replica to learn about whale anatomy and physiology. The Whalemobile will be visiting several libraries in western Massachusetts this summer. Don’t miss this free interactive program for all ages:
- Sunderland Public Library on Tuesday, July 22
- Jones Library (Amherst) on Wednesday, July 23
- Holyoke Public Library on Wednesday, July 23
- Belchertown Library on Thursday afternoon, July 24
- Emily Williston Memorial Library (Easthampton) on Thursday, July 24
Guess how many owl species have been recorded in New England… twelve! On Saturday afternoon, July 19, Eyes on Owls will be at the Sunderland Library with their free owl program. This program features six live owls and will teach about the owls of the northeast. Come learn how you can use field marks and signs to find wild owls without disrupting them. (Hooting lessons are optional.) Owl pellets will be dissected and are a fascinating way to learn about owl anatomy and physiology, along with what their diets consist of and the habitats necessary to support not only owls but the prey these raptors survive on.
Pittsfield’s Shakespeare in the Park runs Thursday-Sunday evenings until July 27. This year, you can come see A Midsummer Night’s Dream for free at Springside Park. The show features a cast of local actors and kids and is a great chance for the whole family to experience this classic Shakespeare romantic comedy in a lovely outdoor setting. There will be free, interactive workshops before the Saturday and Sunday shows. This is a terrific community opportunity for families to discover Shakespeare theater on a warm summer’s evening!
Step back in time at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum as they celebrate their annual TrolleyFest on Saturday, July 19! TrolleyFest is a celebration of the restoration of trolley #10 and features hands-on activities like cider pressing, butter making, weaving, and toolmaking. There will also be blacksmithing demonstrations, Trolley Era reenactors, a raffle, live music by Burris Jenkin, trolley rides, and more. Families can learn about local history and the American Trolley Era while experiencing some aspects of day-to-day life of this time period at this low cost event in Shelburne Falls.
Celebrate Springfield history and industry at the Springfield Museums’ 5th Annual Indian Motorcycle Day on Sunday, July 20. Indian Motorcycles were manufactured in Springfield from 1901 to 1953, and the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History has a collection of vintage Indian bikes. See the classic motorcycles, browse vendor displays, hear a DJ play classic rock tunes, and see a motorcycle best of competition. This is a fun way to learn about Springfield transportation history while seeing beautiful vintage motorcycles.
The 21st annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival is taking place at Look Park in Florence on Saturday, July 19! There will be live music, animals, games, historical reenactments, demonstrations, activities, and more! Historic Highlanders, a Scottish cultural and educational organization will be at the festival recreating everyday life of Highland society from 1314-1746. There will also be traditional music and competitions, including bagpipes and drum bands. Come hungry and discover traditional Scottish fare like haggis and bridies. The festival is a fun way for families to celebrate and learn about Scottish history and culture while enjoying all the festival has to offer.
The Ko Festival of Performance presents The Dancing Fox by Mettawee River Theatre Company on Amherst College Observatory lawn on Sunday evening, July 20. This performance is for all ages is made up of fables, folklore, and folk traditions of both Jews and Arabs and features masks, puppets, giant figures, live music, and song.
Family Resource Center, a program of Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc., has a playground and park guide for northern Berkshire County. They also have a Playground Scavenger Hunt game families has participate in together while exploring the different playgrounds, parks and trails in and around northern Berkshire.
The Montague Sand Plains is one of the most interesting natural areas in western Massachusetts. Roughly 10,000 years ago, retreating glaciers formed meltwater streams that flowed into Glacial Lake Hitchcock, which covered much of the Connecticut River Valley during the glacial period. These meltwater streams dropped sediment that formed the delta that is now known as the Montague Sand Plains. Explore this unique habitat with the Great Falls Discovery Center and a DCR interpreter on a free hike on Saturday morning, July 19. This intermediate-difficult hike will show you around the Plains’ sandy, dry, Cape Cod-like landscape and teach you about its geologic history and interesting flora and fauna. Meet at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls.
Are your kids curious about all of the many different plants and animals that they find while exploring outside? Have you ever been curious about the amount of biodiversity in your community? Join Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield for a BioBlitz on Saturday morning, July 19! A bioblitz is a community event designed to quickly compile information on biodiversity in a relatively small area. Community members of all ages are welcome to participate in this free event alongside trained naturalists and scientists to find and identify as many species of plants and animals as possible around the library. This is a unique hands-on learning experience that support awareness of biodiversity while learning about new species.
Families can join the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation for a guided interpretive hike on the Fitch Trail on Saturday afternoon, July 19. Look for signs of land use history, while hiking through hemlock groves and a stand of old-growth maple of y the beautiful Fitch Memorial Woodlands. This free hike is moderate, two miles, and appropriate for all ages. Bring your sense of adventures and curiosity about the biodiversity around us.
Do you want to learn more about farming? On Saturday afternoon, July 19, CISA and Kestrel Land Trust are offering a free tour of Next Barn Over Farm, a 34-acre mixed vegetable farm focused on sustainability, justice, and community involvement. Farmers Ray Young and Tory Field will talk about their sustainable approach and will discuss the ins-and-outs of farming and the crops they grow. Michael Doctor of Winter Moon Roots will also be present to discuss the history of farming in Hadley, the success of new/young farmers in the Valley, and how he reduced the carbon footprint of his farm. Older students interested in sustainable agriculture and local food would enjoy this farm tour in Hadley.
Explore Bug Hill Farm at their second annual open house and farm tour event on Sunday afternoon, July 20! You can pick your own berries, see demos in the kitchen, taste food, walk the trails, and hear educational wildlife talks. Come with your curiosity on how to farms survive in the rocky terrain of the Hilltowns. Tour the farm, ask questions, and learn how your food is grown at this local farm in Ashfield.
Poet William Cullen Bryant, American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post, grew up in the heart of the Hilltowns in what is now the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington. Join The Trustees of Reservations in celebrating the poet at their annual Bryant Day Celebration on Saturday, July 19. Discover the natural wonders of the Homestead, tour the house, hear the poetry of Bryant and Emily Dickinson (another western MA poet) read aloud by costumed actors, hear a choral performance, see historical demonstrations, do kids’ activities, and more. Visitors can connect with the history of Bryant and his Homestead through the readings and historical activities at this low cost event in Cummington.
Did you know that in the 1840s Florence was home to a utopian community? Sojourner Truth came to the Pioneer Valley in 1844, joining the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, where she met abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Wendell Phillips. The Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee is sponsoring a walking tour of the African American Heritage Trail on Saturday morning, July 19 in Florence. Come explore the Florence of Sojourner Truth, David Ruggles, and Basil Dorsey. Notable sites include Sojourner Truth’s house, the Nonotuck Silk Mill Dam, the site of David Ruggles’ home and Northampton water cure, and the Park Street Cemetery (map). The 1.5 hour tour will be led by committee member Wendy Sinton and is free & open to the public. Meet at the Sojourner Truth memorial statue. Corner of Pine & Park Streets.
Join Storrowton Village in West Springfield for an interactive tour, Storrowton and the Civil War, that gives you a look into the past at what life was like for New Englanders during the Civil War. On Tuesday evening, July 22, 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 only.
Learn about some of history’s greatest scientists at the Hatfield Public Library on Tuesday morning, July 22. Kids can learn about scientists like Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and George Washington Carver, and then go to different science experiment stations at this free STEM event.
Preschoolers can learn about chemistry at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whately on Tuesday evening, July 22, by making sidewalk chalk and a gooey slime mixture. This is a free hands-on activity to get young kids interested in chemistry!
Join the Heath Free Public Library at the Heath Fairgrounds’ Blue Exhibit Hall for some fun summer reading-related science experiments on Wednesday evening, July 23! This free program will get kids engaged in both summer reading and STEM learning.
Gary Pozzato will present “Go for the Stars” at the Wilbraham Public Library on Thursday morning, July 24. This free multimedia space program will teach about gravity on other planets, robots, and living and working in space. Pozzato has worked with NASA on designing space suits and objects for the International Space Station. This program is great for kids ages 5 and up who are interested in learning about space!
Join Dickinson Memorial Library for a free program about caterpillars on Tuesday afternoon, July 22. The Caterpillar Lab will be at the library to teach about caterpillars and so you can see some live ones up close. Come with your questions and learn about the lifecycle of caterpillars and into the amazing butterflies they metamorphose.
Children with autism and their families are invited to a picnic at Stanley Park in Westerfield on Saturday, July 19. Organized by Community Resources for People with Autism, there will be a bounce house, activities, a barbecue, and more. Come out for this fun community meal at the park! BYO side or dessert to share.
The Westhampton Historical Museum is hosting a chicken barbecue at Saturday afternoon, July 19. Spend time with community members of all ages while enjoying delicious summer foods like grilled chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, and more. Intergenerational community meals are a great way for connections to be made that can support friendships of all ages while allowing a community as a whole to come together. Be sure to check out the Westhampton Library’s Field of Dreams concert following the barbecue.
Red Gate Farm in Buckland is hosting a Summer Picnic at the farm on Wednesday evening, July 23, open to all. Enjoy food, games, music, and great company at this intergenerational community meal. Food – hot dogs, hamburgers, vegetarian dishes, etc. – will be provided. Come see the farm, check out the gardens, and visit the animals too.
Discover the geology of western Massachusetts with naturalist Kevin Kopchynski at the Wilbraham Public Library on Wednesday evening, July 23. Learn about our region’s geologic history and how to identify rocks at this free educational program.
Laurel Park Arts is holding their Chautauqua Festival of Ideas on Saturday, July 19 in Northampton. There are a variety of activities planned for the day, including a guided nature walk with the Broad Brook Coalition, a local history talk by Steve Strimer of Historic Northampton, a barbecue, live music, kids’ activities, a performance by magician Ed Pop, a magic show, a concert, and more.
Bang on a Can is a music organization that performs classical, eclectic, and innovative music in a festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams each year. The whole family is invited to play along with Bang on a Can faculty and fellows at MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 on Saturday morning, July 19. They will bring unique and everyday instruments to demonstrate and let you play along with. Learn about different musical styles and techniques at this exciting interactive performance.
The annual Gather-In Festival is taking place at Pitt Park in Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon, July 19. Held by the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, Gather-In is the Berkshires’ only traditionally African-American festival. There will be music, games, activities for kids, dance, food vendors, raffles, and more at this free event, open to all.
Multi-Arts is hosting a festival of music, dance, food, and wine at the Amherst Winery on Thursday evening, July 24 in Amherst. There will be activities for the whole family, including flamenco dancers, Latin Folklore dancing, mime, live music, a fashion show (and a dog fashion show!), an auction, and more. Families can come out for fun at the winery while supporting a local organization. Kids 12 and under get in free.
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) Jeremy Seto]