23 Community Highlights: Corn Maze to Kimchi. Hoosac Tunnel to Marble Quarry.
Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!
Featured learning highlight this week: Do you want to learn more about astronomy, but don’t know where or how to start? Arunah Hill Days is a free, family-oriented weekend all about astronomy, nature, and science education at Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington. Come to Arunah Hill on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this Labor Day weekend for astronomy-related talks and activities for astronomy fans of all ages! Observe the night sky and search for Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, galaxies, star clusters, and more using large, powerful telescopes; see sunspots and solar prominences with a special filtered solar telescope in the daytime; enjoy guided nature walks, disc golf, and a rocket building/launch fest; and hear talks on telescope design and other astronomy topics. Bring the whole family and come early to camp on the Hill! This is a great opportunity to learn as a family and enjoy quality time spent together outdoors.
Astronomy ♦ Music Studies ♦ Haunted History ♦ Geology/Natural History ♦ Agriculture ♦ Food History ♦ Museum Adventures ♦ Skill Share/Fermentation ♦ Agricultural Fairs ♦ Culture/Music ♦ Community Meal ♦ Ornithology ♦ Plant Studies
Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:
Do you want to learn more about astronomy, but don’t know where or how to start? Arunah Hill Days is a free, family-oriented weekend all about astronomy, nature, and science education at Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington. Come to Arunah Hill on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this Labor Day weekend for astronomy-related talks and activities for astronomy fans of all ages! Observe the night sky and search for Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, galaxies, star clusters, and more using large, powerful telescopes; see sunspots and solar prominences with a special filtered solar telescope in the daytime; enjoy guided nature walks, disc golf, and a rocket building/launch fest; and hear talks on telescope design and other astronomy topics. Bring the whole family and come early to camp on the Hill! This is a great opportunity to learn as a family and enjoy quality time spent together outdoors.
Join the Springfield Museums for “Stars Over Springfield” on Friday evening, September 5, for an introductory astronomy talk and star viewing at the Science Museum’s observatory. The event is recommended for kids 8 and up, but younger children are welcome. If it is cloudy or rainy, a planetarium show will be presented in place of the live star viewing.
Teens and tweens can learn how to play the ukulélé at the Sunderland Public Library on Saturday afternoon, August 30! This is a free chance for kids to get introduced to this fun and unique instrument. Celebrate the SPL’s new ukulélés with this ukulélé workshop facilitated by musician, Julie Stepanek. Open to youth ages 10-18. Beginners welcomed!
The Cummington Historical Society is holding its second annual Kingman Tavern Museum Singing School/Singing on Saturday afternoon, August 30. Tim Eriksen will be at the museum to teach shape note singing, a participatory form of singing that is done for each other, not for an audience. All ages and singing levels are welcome to join in this free hands-on opportunity to learn about the history of shape note singing. Community shape note sings are a great intergenerational activity for community members.
Have you ever wondered what some of the great mysteries of the Berkshires are? The region is so rich in natural and human history, there are bound to be a few! Historical storyteller Shirley Sutton will present “Berkshire Trails and Tales“ at Bascom Lodge atop Mt. Greylock on Wednesday evening, September 3 in Lanesborough. Sutton will talk about ghosts in the Hoosac Tunnel, runaway slaves in Cheshire, a tomb in a glacial erratic, and Old Coot, the ghost who haunts Mt. Greylock’s Bellow’s Pipe Trail. Older students who have a fascination with local history and strange tales will love hearing these accounts of some of the Berkshires’ more unique tales at this free program.
Discover the geology and history of the Berkshires at Natural Bridge State Park‘s free Marvelous Marble Tour on Monday & Tuesday morning & afternoon, September 1 & 2. The Park is home to the only natural white marble arch and manmade white marble dam in all of North America. Join a park interpreter for an easy walk around the park exploring this fascinating geologic history, as well as the remains of the 19th- and 20th-century marble quarry that once operated on the grounds. This tour is an excellent way to study glaciation – the arch was formed over 13,000 years ago, when glacial melt water carved the 550 million year old bedrock marble into an arch. Families can gain a deeper understanding of local geology and the effects of glaciation on this tour in North Adams.
Are you unsure of how to store this summer’s bounty from your garden or CSA share? The Trustees of Reservations is offering a workshop on Root Cellars and Crop Storage at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield on Sunday afternoon, August 31. Here you can learn about different crop curing and storage techniques and can gain hands-on experience building a mini root cellar. The workshop covers some of the tried-and-true crop storage methods and why they work so well, delving into details like the ideal temperature and humidity for each crop. Older students interested in food preservation and growing their own food will enjoy this highly informative workshop.
Dennis Picard, historian of the lifestyles and folkways of New England, presents an intoxicating free lecture on the History of Hard Cider Making, on Friday evening, September 5. Hard Cider was a much more popular drink in early America than it is now, and the abundance of apples grown in Sheffield and surrounding areas made it a natural choice for home and commercial brewers alike. Presented by the Sheffield Historical Society.
Looking for something fun and educational to do with the family this Labor Day? Check out one of our great local museums! Between Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties, there are dozens of incredible museums to choose from, with exhibitions ranging from book art to local history, birds to toymaking. MASS MoCA currently has two unique exhibitions – “It’s Only Human” is all about the human body, and “Eclipse” is about the now-extinct passenger pigeon. Looking to learn about life in the past? Visit Old Sturbridge Village for “Bucket Town: Four Centuries of Toymaking and Coopering in Hingham” or Historic Deerfield for “Deerfield: A Community of Craftwork in the Early 20th Century.” Fans of children’s books can visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to see their exhibition, “Harriet the Spy Turns Fifty“. These are just some of the amazing local museums families can visit this Labor Day. Plan ahead and visit your local library to check out a museum pass for free admission!
Do you like pickled foods? You can learn how to make kimchi and other pickled foods at the Mason Library in Great Barrington on Wednesday afternoon, September 3! Michelle Kaplan will demonstrate basic pickling techniques to help get you started at this free. Best for older students and adults.
Remember the old fashioned Barrel Pickles? Pickling by fermentation! On Friday evening, September 5, get a batch of half-sour garlic gill pickles going, and start a batch of sauerkraut at the Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center in Middlefield. Discussion of pickling techniques will be presented, and sampling of fermented relishes and other pickled products at this free community event.
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:
- The Blandford Fair runs from August 29-September 1and is full of fun activities for the whole family. There will be live music, exhibits, kids’ activities, vendors, games, rides, truck pulls, and other classic agricultural fair activities.
- The 197th Annual Three County Fair in Northampton runs from August 29-September 1 and features tons of cool events and activities for all ages. There will be rides, games, a demolition derby, a magic show, live music, frisbee dogs, racing pigs, as well as traditional agricultural fair activities. This is a great community event with something for everyone!
- The 166th Annual Franklin County Fair in Greenfield runs this from September 4 through September 7 and has tons of fun activities for community members of all ages! Learn about animals in the Exhibition Hall, see horse and oxen pulls, have fun on the midway, see a community talent show, eat delicious food, hear great live music, see demonstrations, watch the demolition derby and firefighter’s muster, and much more!
Join the Porter-Phelps Huntington House Museum in Hadley on Saturday afternoon, August 30 for A Perfect Spot of Tea, their summer tea and music series. Sit on the museum’s back veranda and enjoy tea, pastries, and live music. This week, The Pikeys will perform traditional Irish and Scottish music on a variety of instruments.
Marafanyi Drum, Dance, and Song will perform an exciting concert at Bascom Lodge in Lanesborough on Sunday evening August 31. The duo blends original songs and spoken word with West African rhythm and dance. All ages will enjoy this interesting musical performance!
The annual Plainfield Firefighter’s Barbecue takes place on Sunday afternoon, August 31! For nearly 45 consecutive years, the Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department has held a chicken barbecue to support the fire and EMS departments. Coinciding with the barbecue will be the Shaw Memorial Library book sale, ArtsFeast (local arts and crafts), the annual Plainfield Road Race, a silent auction, a tag sale, and a bake sale. Intergenerational community meals give neighbors the opportunity to dine together while connecting across generations and nurturing relationships.
Wildlife photographer and author Peter Christoph will present, “On Silent Wings: The Magic of the Snowy Owl,” at the Greenfield Public Library on Wednesday afternoon September 3. Christoph will discuss the majestic snowy owl and his experiences photographing it. Older students interested in birds and nature/wildlife photography will enjoy this talk, which is co-sponsored by the World Eye Bookshop.
On Monday, September 1, take the kids to explore the Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory & Plant House in Northampton where loads of learning opportunities are awaiting your family! The Conservatory offers an audio tour for both kids and adults, and a “Woods of the World” display that features panels of wood from over 170 trees from all around the world! With ten different indoor exhibits to explore, the learning possibilities offered by the conservatory are endless.
For thousands of years, corn has been a staple in the diet of countless cultures. Today, corn is the largest produced crop in the world, and can even be a source of adventure as played out in corn mazes. Take the family to Mike’s Waze at Warner Farm in Sunderland on Labor Day, and let the adventure get your kids curious about corn and it’s variety history and many uses. Educators can use this teacher-friendly guide to the evolution of maize to help get kids interested in learning more!
[Photo credit: (cc) Debby]
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.