29 Community Highlights: Poetry Slam to Classical Music. Back-to-School to Stargazing.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: In the summer evenings, when the darken skies fill with a cacophony of sounds, have you ever wonder what insects are making these beautiful noises? You can find out at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s Night Insect Sounds program in Easthampton on Thursday evening, August 28. Learn about katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, and others. The program starts with a slideshow of the insects and their sounds and then proceeds outside where you can try your hand at identifying the sounds. Best for older students and adults.
Plant Studies ♦ Local Food ♦ Transportation History ♦ Local History ♦ Music Studies ♦ Back-to-School ♦ Insect Studies ♦ Safety ♦ Agricultural Fairs ♦ STEM ♦ Astronomy ♦ Poetry ♦ Summer Celebrations
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
Do you know which of our native tree species was featured on a coin in the 1600s? What about the tree that is most commonly used for baseball bats? Kids ages 10 and older can learn these fun facts and much more with Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at their free Trees of Riverview program on Saturday morning, August 23. This program focuses on common tree species in western Massachusetts, what different habitats they live in, their natural history, some fun facts, and how to identify them. Plant and nature enthusiasts will enjoy learning about the fascinating world of trees in our local context!
With only a few more weeks left of summer, wildflowers like goldenrod and joe-pye weed dot our landscape. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment is offering a Native Wildflower Workshop with naturalist Nancy Goodman on Saturday, August 23. Discover many of the beautiful and unique wildflowers that grow in the area and learn how to use Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, the most well-respected guide to northeastern wildflowers. Older students and adults can learn about these fascinating plants and their importance to our local ecology at this program in Amherst.
Are you enthusiastic about local food and this summer’s bounty? The annual Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival in Granby is an excellent way to celebrate local foods and tomatoes in particular! All day Saturday, August 23, families are invited to come to Red Fire Farm for a fun-filled day of activities, including live music, kids’ activities, food and craft vendors, a tomato tasting, and a 5K. There will also be workshops and demonstrations and skillshares on topics like outdoor cooking, cheese making, wild edibles, home preserving, flower arranging, and more. There’s something to learn and enjoy for all ages and this community-oriented local food-centric celebration!
This time of year, it’s so easy to forget how badly we longed for crisp pickling cucumbers and fresh local tomatoes during the winter – sometimes, it all comes in at once, and it’s all we can do to keep the bounty of our gardens and farm shares from going to waste. Join Just Roots and Danny Botkin in Greenfield for a workshop on “Alternative, Low-Tech Food Preservation” to learn how to put up fresh local food for the winter months. Botkin will discuss the pros and cons of different preserving methods like fermenting, pickling, root cellaring, and dehydrating. Older teens and adults interested in learning more about food preservation, local food, and nutrition will enjoy this workshop on Saturday morning, August 23
Find out how cucumbers become pickles at a free fermentation workshop at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on Wednesday afternoon, August 27. These pickles aren’t just any old pickles – they’re lacto-fermented! A healthy way to put up vegetables from cucumbers to cabbage for the winter!
How do you think people got around in the Hilltowns and traveled to and from cities in the days before modern transportation? You can learn about transportation in the Hilltowns in the 18th and 19th Centuries at “Highways and Byways of the Hilltowns: The First Century of Transportation” at the Worthington Historical Society on Sunday afternoon August 24. Historian Ralmon Black will present this free, illustrated lecture about how settlers traveled in the 18th Century, as well as how roads were built and how their locations were selected. How does that process differ from how it’s done today, in terms of planning, materials, etc.? Older students and adults with an interest in local or transportation history will enjoy this fascinating lecture that delves into the largely untold story of early transportation in the Hilltowns.
What do you think Northampton residents in the year 2114 would be interested to learn about the city as it is today, in 2014? Historic Northampton’s “Midnight to Midnight: Northampton’s Self-Portrait in 48 Hours” consists of over 1,000 photographs taken in early May, in and around Northampton, Florence, and Leeds. The pictures tell a story of what the city was like on those days, and this visual story will be archived as a digital record of the city. You can see an outdoor projection of the photos at Historic Northampton’s Ice Cream Social on Saturday evening, August 23. There will be complimentary local ice cream, a blacksmithing demonstration, and live music. Community members can celebrate Northampton at this fun event that documents live in the region for generations to come.
Join the Buckland Historical Society for an open house at Buckland Historical Society Museum and the Wilder Homestead on Sunday afternoon, August 24. Between these two community resources you can see many interesting artifacts and town records, a furnished 1775 saltbox, a 1779 English barn, and a shoemaker shop. Those who are interested in local history will enjoy having the opportunity to explore these great local sites in the Hilltowns!
You may know about Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, but did you know that it’s considered to be haunted? Come see for yourself on one of The Mount’s ghost tours on Monday evening, August 25 in Lenox. The tour will take you through the stables and the main house, where you will learn about and even witness the property’s haunted creaks and footsteps. Best for teens and adults.
Do you want to learn more about the Mission House in Stockbridge? The Trustees of the Reservations presents a lecture and tour with Brock Jobe, Professor of American Decorative Arts at the Winterthur Museum, and Louisa Brouwer, an American Decorative Arts Fellow at Yale University. This free lecture, which takes place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Main Street), is focused on the architectural, decorative, and landscape history of the home. Following the lecture, there will be a tour of Mission House led by Professor Jobe. Older students and adults interested in history, decoration, architecture, and landscape design will enjoy this lecture and tour.
Looking for a good opportunity to introduce your kids to classical music? Tanglewood’s annual Family Concert takes place Saturday afternoon, August 23 at Ozawa Hall in Lenox. Here families participate in fun activities and and hear a performance by the Boston Cello Quartet. They will perform “Telling Stories Through Music,” which includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, Debussy’s Reverie, and parts of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Families with kids of all ages can make connections to classical music and experience what Tanglewood has to offer.
Join the Porter-Phelps Huntington House Museum in Hadley for A Perfect Spot of Tea on Saturday afternoon, August 23, at their summer tea and music series based on the colonial tradition. Sit on the museum’s back veranda and enjoy tea, pastries, and live music. This week, Same Old Blues will perform classic ragtime music.
The Springfield Public Schools‘ Back to School Celebration takes place on Saturday, August 23 in Blunt Park! The day features a cookout, music, games, giveaways, and more. The free event is open to Springfield Public Schools students, staff, and families, and is a great way to kick off the school year with family, friends, and community members!
Get excited for the school year at the Odyssey Bookshop’s Back to School Party in South Hadley on Saturday afternoon, August 23! Come enjoy an in-store scavenger hunt, root beer floats, prizes, and a reading of the first chapter of James Patterson’s newest book in the Middle School series! For kids ages 7 and up.
Kids entering kindergarten this fall can visit the Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield on Saturday evening, August 23, for a fun kindergarten event! Come read kindergarten stories, make bookmarks, go on a StoryWalk, and plant seeds to take home.
The Agawam Public Schools are hosting a free parent cafe on how parents can get ready to send their kids off to kindergarten on Tuesday evening, August 26 in Agawam.
Get ready to go back to school at the 5th Annual First Day Celebration on the Amherst Town Common on Wednesday evening, August 27. Families can spend time with teachers and school staff members and can enjoy games, music, art, and more. This is a free end-of-summer activity for family members of all ages!
Contribute to Project Native’s Butterfly House by attending a free Summer Butterfly and Bug Safari on Tuesday morning, August 26 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.
In the summer evenings, when the darken skies fill with a cacophony of sounds, have you ever wonder what insects are making these beautiful noises? You can find out at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary’s Night Insect Sounds program in Easthampton on Thursday evening, August 28. Learn about katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, and others. The program starts with a slideshow of the insects and their sounds and then proceeds outside where you can try your hand at identifying the sounds. Best for older students and adults.
Kids in grade 3-5 can join the Westfield Athenaeum for a free visit to the police station on Thursday morning, August 28. Come see the station and learn about what the police do and what goes on at the station. Great for kids who are curious about how the police department functions and how it connects to our larger community.
Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs honor the generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities. A tradition for many generations, agricultural fairs showcase the unique skills and talents specific to rural life in western Massachusetts – and in doing so, fairs offer families the opportunity to not only celebrate local culture, but to learn locally. Lessons from agriculture to re-skilling await, farmers and craftspeople welcome curiosity and questions, and your participation as is even welcomed. Here are fairs happening this week:
- 146th Cummington Fair (Cummington, MA)
- Shelburne Grange Fair (Shelburne, MA)
- Blandford Fair (Blandford, MA)
- 197th Annual Three County Fair (Northampton, MA)
The Center for Science Outreach at Smith College in Northampton is offering free, hands-on science and engineering activities for kids in grades 1-6 from 3pm-5pm on Saturday, August 30 (next Saturday) in Ford Hall on the Smith College campus. Kids can choose from a variety of activities, including engineering balloon-powered cars, investigating rock and mineral properties, exploring electromagnetism, and more. Space is limited and registration is required by 12noon on Sunday, August 24. More information is available on the Smith College Center for Community Collaboration website.
Want to learn about astronomy first-hand? Join the Trustees of Reservations and the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center for an evening of stargazing and searching for moons, planets, galaxies, and more at Notchview in Windsor on Saturday at dusk, August 23.
The Berkshire Museum‘s poetry slam finals take place on Saturday evening, August 23 as part of WordXWord in Pittsfield. Come see poets compete for prizes onstage and hear some great slam poetry. Bring the kids and get them excited by poetry through these high energy spoken work performances!
Celebrate summer in the Berkshires at Great Barrington’s SummerFest on Saturday afternoon/evening, August 23. There will be local vendors, performances by local bands, food, shopping, demonstrations, kids’ activities, and much more. This is a great end of summer activity for the whole family – come enjoy food, live music, and spending time with community members!
Celebrate the end of summer at “Transperformance XXIV: Off the Map” at Look Park’s Pines Theater in Florence on Tuesday evening, August 26. This fundraising concert features loads of local musicians covering songs by musicians or bands with geographically-inspired names, like the Dixie Chicks, Buffalo Springfield, and others. This concert is a great opportunity to hear many different types of music, including fun covers, while spending time with family and friends to bring this beautiful summer to a close.
[Photo credit: (cc) Peter Gorman]
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.