29 Community Highlights: Rhubarb Circus to Jam Making. Paper Marbling to Chilifest.

Have you been making jam this summer? Why not trade it with others at the Preserve Swap this Saturday, Sept 13, at the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market? Never made jam or just want to improve your skills? Join Grow Food Amherst at All Things Local Cooperative Market in Amherst for a jam making workshop on Sunday, Sept 14!

Honey Festival to Chilifest. Paper Marbling to Jam Making. Rhubarb Circus to Science Cafes… These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Don’t be scared away by that chill in the air! Grow Food Amherst has moved their weekly Sustainability Sunday Workshops indoors for the fall! They will now be holding them at All Things Local Cooperative Market (104 North Pleasant St.) in Amherst. All Things Local is a year round, six day a week, farmers’ and craft market focused on sustainability and community. Learn how you can support local farming and food sources by turning your local produce from those fun filled fall apple picking excursions into delicious homemade jam at the Sunday September 14 workshop on jam making from 2-4pm! Other highlights from this season’s lineup of workshops include local residents sharing their knowledge and skills in the handmade soap workshop and how to make herbal oils, creams, and lip balms to keep your skin and lips healthy when the cold weather comes.

EntomologyHistorySkillshareVolunteer OpportunitiesSTEMFood FestivalPerformance/AstronomyOrnithologyMusic StudiesEnvironmental JusticeCulture/ArtLiteracyCommunity CelebrationsPastry Arts/ArchitecturePoetry

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Bees and other native pollinators are crucial to the survival of many plant and animal species, important to many agricultural practices, and play an important role in keeping our environment healthy. Families can discover the importance of bees and the wonderful world of honey at Warm Colors Apiary’s (2 South Mill River Rd.) annual Honey Festival on Saturday, September 13 from 10am-4pm in South Deerfield. The Festival is a free community celebration of honeybees and other native pollinators, and gives community members a chance to meet with local beekeepers, sample honey, purchase honey and bee-related products, and attend workshops on topics like “How Pollinators Influence Food Supply” or “How to Cook with Honey.” Come out to this fun, free festival and learn all about bees and honey!  413-665-4513

For fifty years, people have fought to protect San Bruno Mountain and its rare butterflies. Learn the story in in Butterflies and Bulldozers, a film being screened at the Berkshire Museum’s Little Cinema (39 South St.) in Pittsfield on Saturday, September 13 at 11:30am. The documentary examines the rights of nature vs. the rights of people and what compromises must be made. This film would appeal to older students interested in environmental conservation and insects. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171.


Taxidermy has been around for several hundred years, although its “golden age” was during the Victorian era (1837-1901), when taxidermied animals were used widely in home decor. Older students and adults can learn about the history of taxidermy at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment (525 South Pleasant St) in Amherst with Jennifer Pyke on Thursday, September 18 from 7pm-8:30pm. Pyke will present a free talk titled, “Still Life: Victorian and Contemporary Taxidermy,” in which she will discuss the history of taxidermy and its popularity in Victorian England, as well as its resurgence in popularity today, and its place in art and science. Call to register: 413-256-6006

The Sheffield Historical Society‘s Sock Hop will transport you to the days of poodle skirts and the twist on Saturday, September 13 from 4-7pm. This free family events will be at the Town Hall parking lot and Historical Society Grounds (159 Main St.) in Sheffield. Come and check out the souped-up cars at this classic car cruise night and rock out to an oldies concert featuring Jeannie Romeo. There will be burgers, hot dogs and vintage treats for sale, a hula hoop contest and tons more fun for all you greasers and teenyboppers. Rain date: 9/14. 413-229-2694

For the month of September, Wistariahurst Museum (238 Cabot St.) in Holyoke will be hosting an in-house exhibit of advertisements made by Skinner & Sons from the turn of the century to the mid 1900s. For over 150 years, the Skinner name was synonymous with silk of the finest quality. William Skinner & Sons produced products ranging from threads, silks, satins, dress goods and sewing notions used to create lingerie and bridal gowns. William Skinner & Sons was a brand associated with excellence, quality and reputation. A variety of advertisements from the 1880s to the 1950s for silk, satin, rayon and taffeta products will be on view in the gallery demonstrating the William Skinner & Sons marketing style and confidence in a superior product. 413-322-5660

WEBs is the country’s largest independent yarn retailer and is located in downtown Northampton. Come to the Wistariahurst Museum (238 Cabot St.) in Holyoke on Monday, September 15 at 6pm to learn about the history of WEBs and its humble beginnings as a home-based yarn store. This presentation will use visuals to help illustrate the history of this important local company. 413-322-5660


Don’t be scared away by that chill in the air! Grow Food Amherst has moved their weekly Sustainability Sunday Workshops indoors for the fall! They will now be holding them at All Things Local Cooperative Market (104 North Pleasant St.) in Amherst. All Things Local is a year round, six day a week, farmers’ and craft market focused on sustainability and community. Learn how you can support local farming and food sources by turning your local produce from those fun filled fall apple picking excursions into delicious homemade jam at the Sunday September 14 workshop on jam making from 2-4pm! Other highlights from this season’s lineup of workshops include local residents sharing their knowledge and skills in the handmade soap workshop and how to make herbal oils, creams, and lip balms to keep your skin and lips healthy when the cold weather comes.

Volunteer Opportunities

Teach kids the importance of community service and outdoor volunteer work at the Markert’s Pond Community Work Day in Amherst on Saturday, September 13 from 8am-12noon. Community members of all ages can help restore this local conservation area to its former state. Work includes tree trimming, trail work, spreading wood chips, tree planting, and other activities. 413-253-5039

The “Humane Hero” program gives kids ages 10-14 the opportunity to volunteer at the Berkshire Humane Society (214 Barker Rd.) in Pittsfield while learning about the responsibilities of pet ownership, how to be an advocate and educator, and how to effectively fundraise in order to create change in their community. The Humane Society is offering a Humane Hero orientation on Thursday September 18 at 6pm. 413-447-7878 x29


Scientific subjects need not be discussed exclusively in stuffy high school classrooms or college lecture halls… Science Cafes, a grassroots movement to open science to everyone and to bring presentations and engaging conversations into casual community settings, have come to the so-called knowledge corridor of Western MA! Cafes are facilitated by experts in their field, therefore the integrity of the information is always maintained; and the accessible atmosphere represents a fantastic community-based learning opportunity, attractive to self-directed students of all ages.  Read on to find a science cafe near you: Science Cafes Provide Unique Community-Based Learning Opportunity

Learn about physics and engineering at the Jones Library (43 Amity St.) in Amherst during their free “Things That Go” program. Kids ages 6 and up can come build their own toys and then race them. 413-259-3090

Are you interested in learning more about computer programming or web design? Looking to improve your set of skills and abilities within these fields? Or are you just looking to try something new? The New England Regional Developers (NERD) are holding a free, three-day conference – NERDSummit – for all experience levels at the UMass Hotel and Conference Center from September 12-14. The conference has many workshops and activities for teen and adult programmers of all skill levels, in addition to some geared toward the younger crowd. Kids can participate in workshops on topics like Intro the Web and HTML, Intro to Javascript, Learn to Program with Scratch, and Physical-Digital Chain Reaction with Scratch and LEGO WeDo. Kids, teens, and adults who are interested in learning more about computers and programming will benefit from this super fun conference and all it has to offer. More information on the conference and how to sign up can be found on the NERDSummit website. Call 413-387-4540 for more information. The UMass Hotel and Conference Center can be found at 1 Campus Center Way in Amherst, MA.

Food Festival

Celebrate local food with your family! The Kitchen Garden’s annual Chilifest takes place this weekend, September 13 & 14 starting at 12noon at Mike’s Maze (23 South Main St.) in Sunderland. The weekend is a celebration of all things spicy, and features live music by several local bands, cooking demonstrations, a chili cook-off, a chili pepper eating contest, a hot sauce competition, kids’ activities, art, food vendors, and more. 413-387-5163


The Traveling Rhubarb Circus (2 North St.) in Montague is a performance written, produced, and performed by kids in western Massachusetts. Their 2014 show, titled “Look,” is about astronomy and the stories of Queen Cassiopeia and her pet swan Cygnus, Princess Andromeda, Orion, Perseus, and other constellation characters. The performance features trapeze, juggling, and other circus acts and takes place Friday, September 12 at 6:30pm; Saturday, September 13 at 3pm & 6:30pm; and Sunday, September 14 at 3pm. 413-367-9923


Learn about birds at “Birding During Fall Migration,” a nature workshop at Stanley Park (400 Western Ave.) in Westfield, led by Janice Zepko on Sunday, September 14 from 8-10am. At this free workshop, you can learn about and look for fall migrants. The workshop focuses on how to coax and identify some of these birds. 413-568-9312 x100

Wingmasters will present a birds of prey program at Greenfield Community College ( 1 College Dr.) on Thursday, September 18 at 12:30pm. See a free presentation on these interesting predators and learn about their behaviors, biology, ideal habitats, what they eat, and more. There will even be a live endangered raptor at the presentation! Please call ahead if you plan to come with a large group. 413-775-1200

Music Studies

The Mt. Holyoke College Music Department presents a concert of classical Indian vocal music and a lecture on the topic in McCulloch Auditorium (Lower Lake Rd.) in South Hadley. on Sunday, September 14 at 10:30am. Older students interested in music and in learning about the history of this genre would be interested in the program.  413-538-2306

Beatles expert Scott Freiman will present “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper” at the Springfield Jewish Community Center (1160 Dickinson St.) in Springfield on Thursday, September 18 at 7:30pm. This presentation offers an in-depth look at the Beatles’ creative process and the success of their album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, using film, music, and lecture. Beatles fans of all ages will enjoy learning more about the band, their history, and the making of this successful album.  413-739-4715

Environmental Justice

Oil and Water is a coming of age documentary about two boys, one from Amherst and one from Ecuador, who come from opposite ends of the oil pipeline, but who each want to make a difference in their communities and the world. David, from Amherst, goes to Ecuador to start the first company that certifies oil as “fair trade,” while Hugo, from Ecuador, comes to the United States to get an education and keep his tribe alive in Amazonian Ecuador. The film will be screened at Amherst Cinema (28 Amity St.) in Amherst on Monday, September 15 at 7pm, and David will be present for a Q&A. Older students interested in environmental justice and cultural studies will enjoy seeing this film and learning about the impacts of oil in South America. 413-253-2547


Paper marbling is an ancient art that dates back to China and Japan before 1000 CE, and is the process of floating pigments atop a viscous surface, then pressing the paper on top to create a marbled look. Paula Hodecker, director of the Student Union Craft Center at UMass Amherst, will lead a workshop on paper marbling in the UMass Oswald Tippo Library Sculpture Courtyard (154 Hicks Way) in Amherst. on Wednesday, September 17 from 4-6pm. This free workshop will teach basic marbling techniques and is free and open to all. 413-545-2096

The UMass Fine Arts Center presents a performance by Sheng Dong in the Bower Auditorium (151 Presidents Dr.) in Amherst. on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:30pm. Sheng Dong is a musical group that plays both Western and Chinese instruments to create songs inspired by traditional Chinese music, Taiwanese aboriginal and folk songs, and the music of Central Asia. This is a unique musical experience that you don’t want to miss! 413-545-2511


All day on Friday, September 19, Follow the story Please, Louise by Toni and Slade Morrison down North Pleasant Street in Amherst for a free StoryWalk, where the story will be displayed in store windows, to the Jones Library (43 Amity St.) in Amherst. Families can enjoy this story while exploring downtown Amherst on foot. The StoryWalk will be up from September 19-21. 413-259-3090

Community Celebrations

For buskers, performing in public spaces, like city streets, is a good way to get your music to a diverse group of listeners. For the listeners, hearing buskers perform is a great chance to experience different types of music, hear local and traveling talent, and show your appreciation by tipping. This Saturday, September 13, from 5pm-8pm, Union Street in Easthampton will come alive with music by over 20 local musicians and performers, all busking on the street as part of Art Walk Easthampton. Families can walk around town and hear many different musical styles and unique instruments, introducing kids to the many different types of music that exist. In addition to these performance, there will be other Art Walk events like art openings, a DIY pencil cup activity at Knack (in the Eastworks building), and a screening of Ghostbusters at 8pm in Millside Park. Call 4130527-8278 for more information.

Upstreet Pittsfield’s family friendly street festival, 3rd.Thursdays, happens Thursday, September 18, 5-8pm in Pittsfield! This Thursday’s theme is “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Come celebrate and explore Pittsfield while participating in fun activities, watching theater performances, and eating great food. 413-499-9348

The Amherst Downtown BID is holding the Celebrate Amherst Block Party on Thursday, September 18 from 5-9pm. The streets will close for a street fair with food vendors, live music, circus performers, dancing, and other vendors. This is a great way for families and community members to enjoy downtown Amherst and celebrate at this fun event. 413-345-2945. Downtown. Amherst, MA.

September 18 is Third Thursday in Turners Falls from 5-10pm! This month’s theme is “20th Century Turners Falls” and there are loads of cool events and activities relating to the history of Turners Falls from 5-10pm. There will be a screening of White Coal, a documentary about water power, and an audio-visual presentation on dams at the Great Falls Discovery Center (6pm); Free Spirits a documentary about the Renaissance community at the Shea Theater (7pm); Polish food; a history walking tour of Avenue A (5:30pm-7pm); a video installation of historic photos and moving images; storefront galleries; an exhibition on the role of women in industrial age factory work; and a photography workshop. There is something for all ages at this fun event, which highlights some of the awesome things Turners Falls has to offer. 413-230-9910

Celebrate the start of fall at Florence Night Out on Friday, September 19 from 5:30-8:30pm! The evening is a celebration of art, dance, music, film, and local business in Florence, and features artist open studios, exhibits, demonstrations, dances, live music, and more.

Pastry Arts/Architecture

Adventures in Gingerbread is the Springfield Museums’ fifth annual gingerbread house exhibition and competition, which takes place November 28-December 31. Bakeries, restaurants, organizations, school groups, kids, and adults can all participate in this event by submitting a gingerbread house blueprint or design plan by October 24. This is a cool opportunity for kids to get creative and do some hands-on architecture and construction work! Design a house yourself or get a group of your peers together and think up some imaginative gingerbread house ideas. Kids can work together on this creative collaborative project and compete with others in their age group for prizes. Adventures in Gingerbread gives participants a chance to experience the planning and blueprint stage, as well as the hands-on building of the gingerbread house, teaching kids the ins-and-outs of architecture. See the Adventures in Gingerbread webpage for more information and competition/entry guidelines.


The Amherst Poetry Festival is a celebration of the region’s rich poetic history and the works of modern-day poets. The event includes the Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon, during which all 1,789 of Dickinson’s poems will be read aloud in her home, what is now the Emily Dickinson Museum (280 Main Street, Amherst, MA). This poetry-filled event takes place September 19-September 21 at the Museum, in downtown Amherst, and in Sweetser Park, and features readings by contemporary poets, the Dickinson readings, historical poetry, a poetry picnic, and tons of other events. The Poetry Festival is an excellent opportunity to get kids more interested in poetry – by attending the festival and hearing works by many different poets, students can be introduced to the many different styles and types of poetry and discover which appeal to them most. Students can also learn about local history by visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum and hearing her poems read aloud.

[Photo credit: (cc) Ken Owen]

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.

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