33 Community Highlights: Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Wild Rice to Apples.

Pumpkin games this weekend at the Ashfield Fall Festival!

Fall Festival to Medieval Faire. Haunted History to Paleontology. Wild Rice to Apples… 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: Travel back to colonial times with the Buckland Historical Society at their Colonial Day celebration on Sunday, October 12 from 2pm-5pm at the Wilder Homestead. Colonial Day replicates life in New England several hundred years ago, and engages visitors in everyday activities that are characteristic of the period. There will be demonstrations of open hearth cooking, basket making, weaving, spinning, quilting, folk painting, and cider pressing, as well as oxen and performances of Morris dance and music from the 1700s. How do these activities compare to those of today? Most people no longer weave their own baskets or spin their own yarn – why do you think that is? Colonial Day will get all ages actively engaged in learning about history and will help them see how much has changed in a few hundred years! 413-625-9763. 129 Route 112. Buckland, MA. (>$)

STEMFilm StudiesLocal HistoryAgricultureArcheology/TextilesService-Based LearningPaleontologyArchitectureCommunity CelebrationsMedieval HistorySukkotLocal Food HistoryHaunted HistoryOutdoor AdventuresTheater Studies

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


Spark!Lab is the Berkshire Museum‘s new hands-on creative laboratory, designed to engage kids in the process of innovation. It opens on Saturday, October 11, 10am-5pm, with activities that challenge visitors to solve problems through their own resourcefulness. Kids can do activities like experiment with wind tunnels, invent new moving vehicles, and more, all relating to science, technology, engineering, and math. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. $

Students in grades 10-12 who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math can engage in hands-on science activities, demonstrations, and lab tours at UMass Amherst’s Science Quest event on Saturday, October 25 from 9:30am-3:40pm. in the Integrated Science Building (661 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA). Students can choose from a variety of classes, demos, and tours, including ones on topics like food science, physics, biology, nanotechnology, astronomy, alternative energy, chemistry, and engineering. High school students can become more engaged in the sciences through this free event, which promotes hands-on learning and participation. In addition to these activities, UMass undergraduate science students will be present to talk about their experiences as science majors and an admissions representative will be on hand to discuss preparing for college and applying to UMass. This event helps engage high schoolers in many different scientific fields through hands-on learning and participation in a variety of activities. More information and the registration form can be found on the Science Quest website.

Film Studies

The Northampton International Film Festival takes place the weekend of October 10-12 at the Academy of Music Theatre. There will be screenings of a variety of films through the weekend – check the schedule for synopses and to check age-appropriateness (the majority of films are best for older students). Studies of international film can be a great way to introduce kids to studies of modern culture in foreign countries. 413-584-9032. 274 Main Street. Northampton, MA. $$$

Aspiring filmmakers ages 5-18 can participate in YouthFilm, the Northampton Arts Council’s weeklong festival of films by local and regional youth, to take place February 16-20, 2015 at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton. These short films will be screened on the Academy’s large screen, making this a truly unique and exciting experience for young filmmakers to showcase their work. Making films is a great form of communication and creative expression, because almost anything can be incorporated into a film – music, art, dance, science experiments, poetry… there are an infinite number of possible film ideas out there! Entry guidelines can be found on the YouthFilm webpage. Students who would like to participate should read the guidelines and have their films submitted by January 30 at 11:59pm.

Local History

Columbus Day Weekend is the Berkshires’ bi-annual Coaching Weekend! This weekend celebrates the Gilded Age tradition of coaching – taking rides through the countryside in fancy carriages (or “coaches”) led by teams of horses. Each coach is ridden by men and women dressed in period clothing, and every day of the weekend brings the group to a new Berkshire location! On Saturday, October 11, 11am-1:15pm, see them at the Elm Court Estate; on Sunday, October 12, 11am-1:50pm, see them at the Norman Rockwell Museum; and on Monday, October 13, 11am-1:15pm, see them at The Mount. 413-298-3119. 310 Old Stockbridge Road. Lenox, MA.

Travel back to colonial times with the Buckland Historical Society at their Colonial Day celebration on Sunday, October 12 from 2pm-5pm at the Wilder Homestead. Colonial Day replicates life in New England several hundred years ago, and engages visitors in everyday activities that are characteristic of the period. There will be demonstrations of open hearth cooking, basket making, weaving, spinning, quilting, folk painting, and cider pressing, as well as oxen and performances of Morris dance and music from the 1700s. How do these activities compare to those of today? Most people no longer weave their own baskets or spin their own yarn – why do you think that is? Colonial Day will get all ages actively engaged in learning about history and will help them see how much has changed in a few hundred years! 413-625-9763. 129 Route 112. Buckland, MA. (>$)


What’s fall in New England without fresh apple cider? Learn how this fall staple is made on a family-friendly farm tour of Hilltop Orchards with Berkshire Co-Op Market on Friday, October 17 at 3:30pm. The tour includes fun activities like a hay ride and apple snacks, and also gives farm visitors an opportunity to learn all about cider production and the many other uses for local apples. Learn every step of the cider-making process, from apple picking to pressing, bottling to distribution. This farm tour, which is geared towards families, is a great chance for all ages to learn about these delicious fall fruits and how this historic local farm operates. Call the market at 413-528-9697 for more information or to sign up. Hilltop Orchards is located at 508 Canaan Road in Richmond, MA.


Did you know that archaeology can help us better understand contemporary fashion? Professor Elizabeth Wayland Barber will present, “The Mummies Speak: Why We Dress the Way We Do,” at Smith College’s Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, October 15 at 7:30pm. Dr. Barber has worked for over two decades researching the origin and development of textiles in Europe and the Near East. She will discuss the history of weaving and the “String Revolution,” which proposes that if archaeologists and scientists didn’t focus so much on artifacts created by men, women’s creation of string would have been more widely acknowledged. It is thanks to recent technology that we now understand the ancient story of cloth and its role in the development of ancient civilizations – because it is a more delicate material than metals or stoneware, it degrades faster and is therefore more difficult to study reliably. Older students interested in history, archaeology, textiles, and fashion will enjoy this lecture, which is full of fascinating information. The lecture is free and open to the public. 122 Green Street. Northampton, MA.

Service-Based Learning

Volunteer with Wild and Scenic Westfield River for “Tidying the East Branch Trail” on Saturday, October 11, 9am-1pm. Bring gloves, shovels, clippers, lunch, and your enthusiasm and work with others to help clean up this trail along the River. A great community service experience for older students! Call for questions and to sign up. 413-623-2070. Chesterfield Gorge. Ireland Street. West Chesterfield, MA.

The Storrs Library needs helping sewing bags for their bagshare program on Saturday, October 11, 10am-12:30pm & 1pm-3:30pm! The Library’s bagshare program has been around for four years, and in that time they have kept over 6,000 disposable plastic bags out of the environment. Come learn to sew and get creative making fun new bags for the bagshare program. Call to sign up. 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA.

Help promote sustainability in your community by sewing reusable bags for The Bagshare Project and the Old Creamery Co-op on Saturday, October 11, 10am-2pm. Come to the Community Sewing Center in the basement of the Community House to improve your sewing skills and participate in this ongoing community service project. All ages and abilities welcome. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA.

Join Greening Greenfield at Greenfield Energy Park Volunteer Day on Sunday, October 12, 1:30pm-4pm. Community members of all ages can engage in service-based learning by helping to prepare the Energy Park flower gardens for this fall’s final event and for this coming spring. The day kicks off with an orientation tour, and then volunteers can help out with the garden project. Bring gloves, buckets, tools, or whatever you can, and come for the whole time or just stop by! Email nhazard@worldsustain.net for more info and to RSVP. Miles Street. Greenfield, MA.


Learn about dinosaurs with Jurassic Roadshow around Holyoke (near the canal, Children’s Museum lawn, Carousel, Town Hall, Holyoke Heritage State Park Visitors’ Center) on Saturday, October 11, 11am-3pm. Kids and adults can learn about fossilization and climatic history; they can study rocks and minerals under a microscope; and do dinosaur crafts and puzzles. All ages will love these fun and educational dinosaur events, exhibits, and activities all around town. Holyoke, MA.


Tour of Holyoke City Hall with PassportHolyoke on Saturday, October 11, 12noon-3pm. Come along for a trip back in time to Holyoke City Hall. Listen to a brief history of the builder and architect of City Hall, the City of Holyoke, its people and its industries over the years. See the murals in the Council Chambers and the magnificent stained glass windows of the Grand Ballroom. Tours run about 45 minutes and are on the hour at 12, 1, and 2pm. Handicapped accessible. Park behind City Hall and meet at the Dwight Street entrance. Holyoke, MA (FREE)

Tour of the United Congregational Church of Holyoke with PassportHolyoke on Saturday, October 11, 3-5pm. Tour the acoustically and architecturally renowned Skinner Chapel and the main sanctuary of this beautiful church. Tours will take place at 3pm and 4pm. Please enter by the Maple Street door. Holyoke, MA (FREE)

Tour of Historic Fairfield Avenue with PassportHolyoke on Sunday, October 12, 12noon-3pm. This tour will point out some of the architectural features of Queen Anne homes and some of the personalities who helped build and make this street so special. Tours are on the hour at 12, 1, and 2pm. Wear comfortable walking shoes and meet on the island near Northampton St. and Fairfield Ave. Rain or shine. Holyoke, MA (FREE)

Community Celebrations

The Ashfield Fall Festival will take place up and down Ashfield’s Main Street on October 11-12, from 10am-5pm. on both days – rain or shine. The annual festival offers craft and art exhibits by more than 50 exhibitors, locally-grown and prepared foods, live music and dancing, face-painting and other children’s activities, and book and tag sales. Main Street. Ashfield, MA (FREE)

Explore Easthampton’s local art scene at this month’s Art Walk on Saturday, October 11, 5pm-8pm. This is a fun evening out that lets you see work by talented local artists and experience some of the great art-related opportunities Easthampton has to offer! The theme of this month’s Art Walk is “Know Thy History,” and there will be historic tours, oral history presentations, exhibitions, and more as part of this special event. There will be tons of great activities around town, all relating to art, poetry, local history, fall, and Halloween. More information can be found on the Art Walk Easthampton website. 413-527-8278. Downtown. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Berkshire Botanical Garden’s 80th annual Harvest Festival takes place October 11 and 12 from 10am-5pm. The festival has family fun, great food, craft vendors, a farmers’ market, tag sales, a bounce house, cider pressing, hayrides, animals, face painting, and so much more! Free admission for kids 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Garden’s education program. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road. Stockbridge, MA. >$

Thursday, October 16, starting at 4pm is Third Thursday in Turners Falls! This month’s theme is “Crows and Co-Ops,” and there will be activities like scarecrow building at the Great Falls Discovery Center, improvisational dance, a screening of the documentary Food for Change: The Story of Cooperation in America, and more. 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. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Upstreet Pittsfield’s family friendly street festival, 3rd.Thursdays, happens Thursday, October 16, from 5pm-8pm! This Thursday’s theme is “Halloween.” Come celebrate and explore Pittsfield while participating in fun activities, watching performances, eating great food, and getting excited for Halloween! 413-499-9348. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

Medieval History

Living history at the Medieval Faire at the Ventfort Hall Mansion a in Lenox on Sunday, October 12, 10am-4pm! The historic Jacobean-Revival estate in Lenox will revert to days gone by when chivalry and armored tournaments were a way of life. Organized by The Barony of Bergenthal, a branch of the Society of Creative Anachronism, one of the world’s largest medieval living history organizations, the day will include exciting displays of archery techniques, medieval arts, crafts and clothing, a Flemish Renaissance couture fashion show, performances, live music, food vendors, and more. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA ($)


In celebration of the fall harvest, Abundance Farm is holding a Sukkot Harvest Festival for all ages, open to the public on Sunday, October 12, 1-4pm. Activities will include apple cider pressing, a smoothie-making bicycle blender, honey extraction, fermentation workshop, heritage wheat exhibition, wood-fired cob oven, herbal medicine making, nature arts and crafts and more. Food and beverages from local farms and artisan. Featuring live music from Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas. 413-584-3593 x203. 253 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA (>$)

Celebrate Sukkot with Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy at their Pizza in the Hut event on Monday, October 13, 5:30pm . Sukkot is a Jewish holiday, during which those who observe eat in a sukkah, which is a walled structure covered with plant material. There will be a pizza, soup, and salad dinner followed by a Sukkot Carnival. This Sukkot event is fun for all ages! Reservations are appreciated. 413-567-8665. 1148 Converse Street. Longmeadow, MA. $

Local Food History

The Williamsburgh Historical Society presents a talk by Hatfield author Russell Steven Powell, who will read from his book, Apples of New England on Tuesday, October 14, 7:30pm. Learn about New England’s heirloom apple varieties and their discovery, growing, and selling throughout the history of New England. There will be apples available to taste. Come at 6:30pm and bring a dish to the Historical Society’s potluck supper. 4 North Main Street. Williamsburg, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)

Haunted History

Storrowtown Village hosts “Tales From Haunted New England” in the Meetinghouse at the Big E on Friday, October 17, 7pm . It is said that there are a thousand ways to die, and it appears as though our ancestors have explored almost all of them. Al and Betsy McKee, of the Association for Gravestone Studies, will discuss the causes of death recorded on gravestones in the Connecticut River Valley from the 18th and 19th centuries during this spooky event inside the Village’s historic church. Cause of death recorded on gravestones is fairly rare, but the McKees have found and photographed hundreds of examples, from dramatic accidents to heartbreaking tragedies. In this candlelit presentation, the couple will explore gravestone carving as forensic research and address the mysterious questions behind carving – why did some carvers record the cause of death on a gravestone? Was it meant to serve as a cautionary tale or was it just the 18th century version of magazine headlines? The McKees, both in the medical field, became interested in the subject after moving into a home in Longmeadow, Mass., built by gravestone carver Hermon Newell around 1801. Now in its 25th year, families are encouraged to join in this fun and bewitching tradition of Halloween in Storrowton’s unique and eerie setting. 413-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. >$

The Sheffield Historical Society is hosting a presentation by Lisa Johnson of the Stanley-Whitman House (in Farmington, CT) titled, “In a Preternatural Way: 17th Century Witchcraft in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts,” in Dewey Hall on Friday, October 17, 7:30pm. Johnson will discuss the hysteria surrounding witchcraft that swept across western New England a generation before the Salem Witch Trials. This presentation is a great chance for older students to learn more about the history of witchcraft in New England. 413-229-2694. Route 7. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Outdoor Adventures

Kids ages 10 and up can hike to Rose Ledges with Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center on Saturday, October 11, 12:30pm-4pm. See beautiful fall colors, explore 19th-century stone quarries, and search for signs of wildlife. Call for more information and to pre-register. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Join Mass Audubon and Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center for a ghost town storytelling hike at Tamarack Hollow on Sunday, October 12, 10am-2pm. Learn about local history by exploring 19th Century cellar holes, stone walls, an old dairy farm, and what’s left of the Babbitt Axe factory. Search for “witches butter” and “dead man’s finger fungus.” The hike is one-way and moderate – best for teens and adults. Registration required. 413-584-3009. 1515 Savoy Hollow Road. Windsor, MA. $$

Kids ages 8 and up (with an adult) can explore the Mill River and Connecticut River Oxbow with Mass Audubon on a Wild Rice and Fall Foliage Canoe trip on Monday, October 13, 10am-1pm . Enjoy the fall foliage, learn which trees change to which color, learn to identify wild rice, and look for other wetland species. This is a fun canoe trip for a parent/caretaker and child to enjoy this fall! Registration is required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. $

Theater Studies

A new Hilltown Community Theater Group for all ages is forming in Worthington. The group will meet Saturday mornings at 10am downstairs at the Worthington Library beginning Saturday, October 18th. The groups’ goals are to bring together people of all ages and abilities to have fun, to learn about all aspects of theater production in an encouraging supportive environment and to perform quality plays for the community. There are many different aspects to theater production in addition to performing. Are you interested in art? Props might be for you. Are you interested in electronics, lighting or music? The first four weeks will be devoted to theater games, learning about the theater and deciding on a play to produce. This group is free and open to all Hilltown residents. Children under eight must be accompanied by a parent. For more information, contact Kim Savery at 413-667-2203 or ksavery@hchcweb.org.

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.

Donate Now

Hilltown Families is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: