38 Community Highlights: Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival.

Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield

Find a PYO apple orchard near you and take your kids pickin’ this weekend!

Rubik’s Cube to Watershed Blitz. Pudding Festival to Garlic Festival. Cuatro to Kouta… 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: Double Edge Theatre will perform an outdoor presentation on Don Quixote, Odysseus, and Shahrazad on Sunday, September 28, 6pm-7:30pm. They will use poetry, flying, humor, music, puppets, and visual arts to tell these tales, and will then discuss them after the show. Older students with an interest in literature, mythology, and performance arts will enjoy this lively outdoor performance, which takes place at Amherst College. 860-335-8421. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

STEM  ♦ Citizen Scientist  ♦ Music/Cultural StudiesHistoryMuseum AdventuresAnimal StudiesCommunity ServiceFall FestivalsCommunity MealsJapanese StudiesParent WorkshopsMythologyCollaborative Consumption

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


The Greenfield Community College Math Club is hosting a Rubik’s Cube Tournament in the Dining Commons on Saturday, September 27, 8:30pm-4:30pm. Come watch or participate in this official World Cube Association tournament, which is a great setting for Rubik’s Cube solvers to solve the cube in front of others and see how fast people are. If you are new to competing, this webpage will be helpful. Call for more information. 413-775-1203. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA. $

The Carnegie Library is offering a science program for homeschoolers every Wednesday, October 1 through November 19 at 1:15pm. Homeschool students of all ages can come learn about science and participate in hands-on activities. 413-863-3214. 201 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

The Higgs boson is a particle that gives mass to other particles and is thought to determine the origin of all matter. You can learn about physics and the Higgs boson at Amherst Cinema’s “Science on Screen” event, which pairs science films with talks by actual scientists. Amherst Cinema is screening Particle Fever (2013) on Wednesday, October 1 at 7pm. This documentary follows six scientists as they launch the Large Hadron Collider and seek to unravel the mysteries of the universe by discovering the Higgs boson. The scientists’ goal was to recreate the conditions that existed just after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson in order to determine the origin of all matter. UMass Physics Professors Carlo Dallapiccola, Stephane Willocq, and Ben Brau will be present to discuss the film and what the Higgs boson can tell us about the universe, including whether or not we may have reached our limit in understanding why we exist. Older students who are interested in physics and the universe can learn a lot from this screening and talk by local physics experts. Tickets ($) are available in advance. Call 413-253-2547 for more information. Amherst Cinema is at 28 Amity Street in Amherst, MA.

Citizen Scientist

Participate in a super fun citizen science project on the East Branch of the Westfield River during Wild and Scenic’s Watershed Blitz on Saturday, September 27, 9am-2:30pm! Walk in the river learning about and gathering data on newts, geology, frogs, dragonflies, erosion, bridges and culverts, fish biology, rare plants, birds, tracking, macro invertebrates, and invasive species. This citizen science project is a great chance to be involved in scientific data collection and will give you many opportunities to learn about the river. The event is rigorous and requires walking through the river for several miles. Please call to register and for the location. 413-623-2070. Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Music/Cultural Studies

Do you have a child in grades 3-8 who loves to sing? The Northampton Community Music Center’s Northampton Community Children’s Choir is free for students, thanks to the Xeric Foundation. The choir is open to children in grades 3-8 with unchanged voices, and rehearses on Tuesdays from 5pm-6:15pm beginning on Tuesday, September 30 and running for 30 weeks. The choir will sing a diverse multicultural repertoire, featuring songs that are representative of different cultures and ethnic traditions. Participants will learn some singing basics, including the fundamentals of harmony, rhythm, sight singing, and healthy vocal technique. This choir would be a great experience for kids who like singing and want to improve their vocal skills. Call NCMC at 413-585-0001 for more information. Registration is required. Rehearsals take place at NCMC, 139 South Street in Northampton, MA.

Learn about the cuatro, a Puerto Rican instrument, at an illustrated talk by stringed-instrument expert William Cumpiano on Tuesday, September 30, 5:30pm.  Cumpiano will discuss the history, sound, and significance of the cuatro and its importance to Puerto Rican music and culture. This talk is sponsored by Holyoke Hispanic Heritage Month and takes place at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA.

The UMass Fine Arts Center presents a performance by Zakir Hussain, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, and Jayanthi Kumaresh on Friday, October 3, 8pm. They will play Indian classical music on the tabla, violin, and veena. This is a unique musical experience that you don’t want to miss! 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. $$


The Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival, happening on Sunday, September 28, is a Hawley tradition that happens every five years. The day features a pudding contest, in honor of the first-ever recorded event in Hawley, which was a pudding contest in 1780. The modern-day pudding contest rewards the most delicious pudding. There will be tours of Sidehill Farm and Headwater Cider at 11:15am, lunch at 12:30pm (donation to Sons and Daughters of Hawley), a pudding parade, music, and announcement of the contest winners. Community members are welcome to participate in the contest ($ entry fee to benefit Sons and Daughters of Hawley) or just come for the festivities! This unique community celebration is great for the whole family. 413-339-4747. East Hawley Road. Hawley, MA.

Learn about the historic trade of blacksmithing with Rick Martin at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, September 27, 10:30am-4pm. Martin will demonstrate blacksmithing techniques from the past in order to teach visitors about the trade. Free with museum admission. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. $

Discover the history of industry, hydropower, and old foundations with the Worthington Historical Society on a walk with David Whitcomb on Sunday, September 28, 2pm. Meet on Witt Hill Road and hear stories of the Ring brothers, their sledge factory, and their famous wagons. Best for older students interested in local history. 413-238-0491. 190 Witt Hill Road. Worthington, MA. (FREE)

Learn about the textile industry and local history at the Wistariahurst Museum’s “Threads that Bind” lecture series. On Monday, September 29, 6pm, Dennis Gleeson will present “The Cheney Brothers: Silk Manufacturing in Manchester, CT.” The talk focuses on the Cheney brothers, who were known for their world renowned silk mills in the mid-1800s, their innovative silk processing techniques, and their dedication to the community – they built schools, workers’ housing, a public library, and more. Older students interested in the rise and fall of the textile industry in New England may enjoy this lecture. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. $

Brian Gillie will perform “The Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll” at the Storrs Library on Monday, September 29, 6:30pm-8pm. This fun, interactive presentation uses humor, costumes, props, sound bites, piano playing, impersonations, and more, in order to tell the history of rock and roll music. Older students interested in music history will enjoy this exciting presentation. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA.

The Greenfield Public Library presents “Specter Brides and Headless Horsemen: The Ghosts of New England” with Barry Deitz as part of their First Wednesdays Speaker Series on Wednesday, October 1, 6pm-8pm. The talk focuses on the ghostly tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and others, as well as some of the haunted places in and around Greenfield. Best for older students interested in local history, literature, and ghost stories. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Museum Adventures

Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live! takes place Saturday, September 27 all over the country and offers free general admission for two people to one museum. Museum Day highlights the learning that takes place in museums and celebrates their cultural significance. There are several museums throughout western Massachusetts that are participating in Museum Day, including the Mead Art Museum (Amherst, MA), the Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, MA), the Wistariahurst Museum (Holyoke, MA), the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Amherst, MA), the Bidwell House Museum (Monterey, MA), and Naumkeag (Stockbridge, MA). Museum Day Live! is a great chance to explore a museum you haven’t been to before. Want to learn about children’s book art? Head to the Eric Carle Museum to see their exhibitions and visit their art studio. What about local history? Be sure to visit the Wistariahurst Museum, Naumkeag, or the Bidwell House Museum to learn about life in western Massachusetts in the past. These are just some examples of the seemingly endless learning opportunities that are available at our amazing local museums, especially when free admission for two is offered! A full list of participating museums can be found on the Museum Day Live! website.

Animal Studies

Is your child a budding chiropterologist? Bats are amazing creatures – they are the only mammals capable of sustained flight, and they are ecologically important as seed dispersers throughout much of the world. There are several species of bats native to New England, and kids ages 8 and up can learn about them at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, September 27 from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Kids can learn about bat natural history and conservation efforts, bat ecology, and threats to bats in New England, such as white nose syndrome, which is a little-understood fungus that has killed millions of bats throughout North America. There will also be hands-on activities like searching for bats and signs of bats outside, doing a bat craft, playing a bat game, and more. This program is a great introduction for kids to the amazing world of bats! Please call 413-584-3009 to register. Arcadia is located at 127 Combs Road in Easthampton, MA. ($)

The Berkshire Humane Society’s “Humane Hero” program gives kids ages 10-14 the opportunity to volunteer at the Humane Society, learn about the responsibilities of pet ownership, learn how to be an advocate and educator, and learn how to effectively fundraise in order to create change in their community. The Humane Society is offering a Humane Hero workshop on endangered species on Saturday, September 27, 11am. More information on becoming a Humane Hero can be found on the Berkshire Humane Society website. You can sign up anytime! 413-447-7878 x29. 214 Barker Road. Pittsfield, MA.

Community Service

The Great Falls Discovery Center needs volunteers on Saturday, September 27, 9am-12noon, to help clean up the canal side bike path as part of the annual Source to Sea Clean Up happening on September 27. Volunteers play a huge role in helping to clean up the Connecticut River watershed, and this is your chance to be involved! The Source to Sea Clean Up is a great opportunity for kids and teens to get involved in a community service project with visible results – removing trash around the watershed will significantly improve its beauty and health. Call for more information or to register. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

The Food Bank of Western Mass is holding their 4th Annual Will Bike 4 Food Fundraiser on Sunday, September 28. Volunteer participants may ride as individuals or in groups with co-workers, family, or friends, and can choose from 10, 25, 50, or 100 mile routes through the Pioneer Valley. Participants also must fundraise for their ride, since it is a benefit for the Food Bank. More information on routes, registration, fundraising, and more can be found on the Food Bank Website. 413-247-9738. 97 North Hatfield Road. Hatfield, MA. (FUNDRAISER)

Fall Festivals

The 28th Annual Apple Harvest Crafts Fair and Children’s Festival takes place Saturday, September 27, 10am-4pm, on the Amherst Town Common. The Festival is a benefit for the Amherst Family Center, and features free admission, live entertainment, local food, craft booths, vendors, a petting zoo, games, pumpkin decorating, and much more! 413-545-0865. Town Common. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hancock Shaker Village hosts an old-fashioned country fair this weekend, September 27 and 28, 10am-5pm! The fair celebrates fall, and highlights many of the unique, interesting, and educational things that the village has to offer. There will be a farmer’s market featuring local goods, a display of antique tractors and engines, a quilt show (featuring both antique and newly made quilts), wagon and pony rides, heirloom tomato samples, and lots of fun activities for kids, including chicken races, crafts, Shaker games, and more! 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield, MA. $$

The 35th annual Lenox Apple Squeeze and Harvest Festival runs this weekend September 27 & 28, 10am-5pm! Celebrate fall in the Berkshires with food, rides, live music, shopping, kids’ activities, and more at this lively street fair. 413-637-3646. Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

The smelliest festival around is happening this weekend, September 27 & 28, 10am-5pm! Forster’s Farm hosts the 16th annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival – a celebration of local artists and artisans and locally-grown and locally-produced foods. The festival includes fun for family members of all ages – there will be live music throughout the day, cooking and other demonstrations, food and craft vendors, games, workshops, and more. 60 Chestnut Hill Road. Orange, MA. $

The Trustees of Reservations and Nuestras Raices are hosting a Harvest Festival at Land of Providence/La Finca on Saturday, September 27, 12noon-6pm. This community fall festival features activities for all ages, including food, live music, a DJ, tai chi, pumpkin painting, yoga, Zumba, and much more. Celebrate fall with your community and this fun event. Tickets available in advance. 413-532-1631 x10. Main Street. Holyoke, MA. $

Sunday, September 28, is the Windsor Historical Commission’s annual Pie Sale, Craft Fair, and Harvest Festival from 11am-3pm! There will be a chili and cornbread lunch, museum exhibits, craft vendors, a book sale, live music, and more. What a great way to kick off fall and celebrate Windsor! Email aimee@gaiaroots.com for more information. Route 9. Windsor, MA.

Sunday, September 28, 1pm-4pm, is the Hopkins Memorial Forest Fall Festival at Williams College. Celebrate fall with woodworking demonstrations, apple butter and cider production, the canopy walkway, shake splitting, a crosscut saw competition, live music, kids activities, and more. The Festival is a fun and educational way to welcome fall to the Berkshires. 413-597-2346. Northwest Hill Road. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Community Meals

The Franklin Land Trust‘s Annual Member’s Picnic takes place Saturday, September 27, 2pm-5pm. All are welcome to enjoy this potluck picnic with friends and community members. There will be hikes, hayrides, and live music by local band Free Range. This is a great opportunity to meet those involved with the Land Trust and spend time with community members and nature-lovers of all ages. Please call to RSVP as soon as possible. 413-625-9151. 38 Bardwells Ferry Road. Shelburne, MA.

Come to the Hatfield Congregational Church for their annual Chicken Barbeque on Saturday, September 27, 5pm-7pm. Get some food to go or sit down and spend time with community members. Tickets available at the door. 413-247-9540. 41 Main Street. Hatfield, MA. $

The Pelham Historical Society‘s Annual Harvest Supper and Pie Auction takes place on Saturday, September 27, 6:30pm. Enjoy a traditional New England boiled dinner as Senator Stan Rosenberg auctions off pies. Community members of all ages can spend time together at this annual community supper. Space is limited; please call for reservations. 413-695-1797. Amherst Road & Route 202. Pelham, MA. $

The Amherst Survival Center serves a free community meal every Thursday from 4:30-6pm and screens a film for the community to enjoy together. Bring your family and come enjoy an evening with your community while learning about the work of the ASC! 413-549-3968. 138 Sunderland Road. North Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Japanese Studies

The UMass Fine Arts Center presents a performance of “The Art of the Geisha” by Yuko Eguchi on Tuesday, September 30, 7:30pm. She will perform traditional Japanese music and dance, called kouta and koutaburi, meaning “small songs” and “dance of small songs.” Older students interested in Japanese culture, music, and dance will enjoy this performance, which takes place in Bowker Auditorium. 413-545-2511. 151 Presidents Drive. Amherst, MA. $$

Scholar and performer Yuko Eguchi will present a talk on the philosophy and symbols of the Japanese tea ceremony at Western New England University’s Clark Reading Room, located in the D’Amour Library, on Monday, September 29, 4pm. She will also perform “The Art of the Geisha” on September 30 at 7:30pm at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center’s Bowker Auditorium. Older students interested in Japanese culture will enjoy this talk and performance. 413-727-4269. 1215 Wilbraham Road. Springfield, MA.

Parent Workshops

United Arc is offering a workshop for parents entitled “Basic Rights in Special Education” on Monday, September 29, 6pm-8pm. This workshop provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), MA Special Education Law, and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The goal of the workshop is to help parents and caregivers learn to be effective partners with their child’s school when deciding their child’s eligibility for special education and when planning, making decisions, and monitoring the child’s progress in school. A presenter from the Federation for Children with Special Needs will conduct the workshop. Call to RSVP. 413-774-5558 x1007. 294 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA.

The Agawam Public Schools are hosting a parent cafe on delivering consequence on Tuesday, September 30, 9:30am-11am & 6:30pm-8pm. Childcare is available at the morning session only. Morning session takes place at Agawam Congregational Church (745 Main Street) and evening session takes place at Agawam Senior Center (954 Main Street). 413-821-0552. Agawam, MA. (FREE)

Parents are invited to, “Why do they DO That?!, a workshop offered by the Collaborative for Educational Services, as part of their Puzzle of Parenting series. This two-session workshop runs on Wednesday, October 1 & 8, 6pm-8pm, at the Palmer Monson Family Network and examines what’s at the root of challenging behaviors and strategies on handling them. Registration is required and childcare is available. 413-586-4998 x102. 4 Springfield Street. Three Rivers, MA. (FREE)

Scott Noyes will present a two-part workshop on “Helping Children Develop Healthy Sleep Habits” at the Community Health Programs, Inc. campus on Wednesday, October 1 & 8, 6:30pm-8pm. Noyes will discuss the effects of sleep deprivation on children’s mental and physical health and how inadequate rest impairs our thinking, our ability to handle stress, our immune systems, and our ability to moderate our emotions. Noyes will also give advice on how to help children establish and maintain healthy sleep habits. You may attend one or both sessions. Call for childcare information and to RSVP. 413-464-5095. 444 Stockbridge Road. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)


Double Edge Theatre will perform an outdoor presentation on Don Quixote, Odysseus, and Shahrazad on Sunday, September 28, 6pm-7:30pm. They will use poetry, flying, humor, music, puppets, and visual arts to tell these tales, and will then discuss them after the show. Older students with an interest in literature, mythology, and performance arts will enjoy this lively outdoor performance, which takes place at Amherst College. 860-335-8421. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Collaborative Consumption

Grow Food Amherst is hosting a workshop with David Lovler on how to harvest fall beans and sprout them all winter on Sunday, September 28, 2pm. Learn how to make the most of your fall bean harvest at this informative workshop, which takes place at All Things Local Cooperative Market. Best for older students and adults. 413-259-3149. 104 North Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA.

Come to the Forbes Library’s back lawn for a plant, seed, and tool swap on Tuesday, September 30, 6pm. This is a great chance to trade your plants, seeds, garden tools, and more for other garden related items. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (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.

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