35 Community Highlights: Mandarin to Historic Hike. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest.

Are you carving your Halloween pumpkin this weekend? Pumpkins are the focus of many community celebrations this weekend, including the Franklin County Pumpkinfest, Mount Warner Pumpkin Fest, Easthampton Harvest Festival, and the Westhampton Great Pumpkin Roll! (Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield)

Mandarin to Historic Hike. Archaeology to Paleontology. Cemeteries to Pumpkinfest… 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: It’s hard to imagine dinosaurs roaming the earth, let alone the Connecticut River Valley, but that is exactly what they did some 190 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. Families can learn about dinosaurs in the region with geologist Dan Vellone at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s Family Dino Day on Saturday, October 18 from 10:30am-2:30pm. Through exploration stations, arts and crafts activities, dinosaur tracks and bones, and a presentation (12noon), all ages can have fun learning about dinosaurs. Vellone’s presentation will focus on the origins of dinosaurs and how they are rooted in the Connecticut River Valley. Pack a picnic and explore Northfield Mountain’s trails after the dino festivities. Call 1-800-859-2960 to pre-register for this free event. Northfield Mountain is at 99 Millers Falls Road in Northfield, MA. (FREE)

ArchaeologyChinese LanguageTextilesLocal History  ♦ PaleontologyWomen’s StudiesAnimal StudiesCemeteriesPumpkin FestsNature StudiesParent WorkshopsPreSchool Activities

Learn Local. Play Local is sponsored in part by:

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens


When most people think of archaeology, they probably think of far off sites where ancient artifacts are dug up, but did you know that archaeology is relevant to New England and that it can help us learn more about our region’s history? Discover how archaeology has taught us about history in western Massachusetts at Historic Deerfield’s Archaeology Day event on Saturday, October 18, 10am-12:30pm. Dr. Robert Paynter of the UMass Amherst Anthropology Department will lead an archaeology tour around Deerfield Village, and Claire Carlson, the Education Program Coordinator at Historic Deerfield, will lead a tour of the Old Burying Ground. Each of these free tours can teach museum visitors about the history of Deerfield and how archaeology has helped us gain a deeper understanding of life in Colonial and pre-Colonial times. Call 413-774-5581 for more information. Visit Historic Deerfield at 84B Old Main Street in Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Celebrate International Archaeology Day at the Smith College Museum of Art on Saturday, October 18, 10:30am-11:30am. Join SCMA for a guided tour of the new ancient art gallery, with commentary by field archaeologists. Students with an interest in ancient history and archaeology will love this chance to check out SCMA’s new gallery! 413-585-2760. Elm Street at Bedford Terrace. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

On Saturday, October 18, 2pm-4pm, learn about local archaeology with Mohawk Trail Regional High School, the Sons and Daughters of Hawley, and Boston University at a presentation on the 2014 archaeological field program that took place at the Sanford Tavern in Hawley. Teacher Ivan Grail will present on “Excavation Learning Goals” and archaeologist Laura Masur will present “Tavern and Community: Archaeology in Hawley.” There will also be an exhibition of artifacts collected during the dig this past August. Students can learn about archaeology on the local level at this event, and can see and hear about the work done by their peers in the field. Route 112. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Learn about archaeology at Western Gateway Heritage State Park‘s “Archaeology: The World Tour (International Archaeology Day)” lecture on Saturday, October 18, 3pm. 413-663-6312. 115 State Street. North Adams, MA.

In order to celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Deerfield River Watershed Association is offering a free talk on the archaeology of the Deerfield River Valley over the past 10,000 years on Tuesday, October 21, 6:30pm. New England archaeologist and chair of the UMass Amherst Anthropology Department, Elizabeth Chilton, will present archaeological evidence from pre-Colonial and Colonial times. Some questions she will address include: How were lands managed for food production? What role did the river play in cultural and economic life? The talk takes place at Four Rivers Charter School. 248 Colrain Road. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Chinese Language

The Storrs Library in Longmeadow, MA, has a new K-2 Mandarin program. Beginning Monday, October 20, 4:30-5:15pm, they will offer four weeks of free Mandarin Language classes for kids 5-8yrs. By the end of the first day, kids will be speaking full sentences! Students will learn basic language concepts relating to family with the use of games and role plays. They’ll also learn to recognize Chinese characters and become familiar with Chinese culture. At the end of the course, watch the pride as they read the booklet they made in Chinese! Sign up in the Philip Michael Lauro II Discovery Room at 413-565-4182. 693 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, MA (FREE)

Kids in grades 3-6 can learn Mandarin Chinese in a four-week session at the East Longmeadow Public Library. The first meeting is on Monday, October 20, 4-5pm, and participants will learn basic conversation skills, will engage in language-building role play activities, learn about Chinese culture, and learn to read and write Chinese characters. Please register in the children’s department. 413-525-5400 x1506. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)


Fall is the time for wool socks and sweaters, and whether they are textiles bought in the store of made by hand, there are many steps necessary to get your favorite cozy sweater from the sheep to you! Learn about shearing and fibers at Winterberry Farm‘s Fall Sheep Shearing and Fiber Day on Saturday, October 18 from 10am-4pm. This free event features demonstrations of shearing, spinning yarn on spindles and wheels, needle felting, weaving cloth, angora rabbit grooming and spinning, and herding by border collies. Meet farm animals and see fiber on display and for sale. All ages can get an inside look at the fascinating world of wool, fiber & textiles at this event. Call 413-624-3940 for more information. Winterberry Farm can be found at 340 Wilson Hill Road in Colrain, MA. (FREE)

Learn about the textile industry and local history at the Wistariahurst Museum’s “Threads that Bind” lecture series on Monday, October 20, 6pm.  This week, Betsy McKee will present “Textiles in the Connecticut River Valley: Weaving Stories.” Learn how New Englanders of the past created their everyday textiles and see examples of textile tools. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. $

Local History

Hike into the past with Mass Audubon and historian Mike Whalen on a Hilltown Heritage Hike at Hiram H. Fox State Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, October 18 from 10am-3pm. Worthington and Chester both have rich histories, and you can discover interesting bits of their pasts by walking along early wagon roads deep in the forest of Little Canada Hill. Explore old homestead sites and foundations, and search for industrial artifacts from the past. As you walk, Whalen will discuss the pioneers who settled these towns and how the lands have changed over time – from forest, to farmland, and back to forest, by way of ecological succession. Older students and adults who are interested in learning more about local history, industry, and ecology can call 413-584-3009 to register for this program and learn more about it. Hilltowns, MA ($$)

Visit the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage for their October Open House and Family Day on Sunday, October 19, 1-4 pm. See tools and products manufactured in Franklin County, and a special exhibit on the history of local paper mills. Join in activities to identify and use hand tools manufactured in the region, take a walk on the Green River, and see the hidden Mill Street dam from the the museum’s home in the historic Newell Snow factory building. Your donations support museum programming. 413-336-8275 2 Mead Street. Greenfield, MA (>$)


It’s hard to imagine dinosaurs roaming the earth, let alone the Connecticut River Valley, but that is exactly what they did some 190 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. Families can learn about dinosaurs in the region with geologist Dan Vellone at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s Family Dino Day on Saturday, October 18 from 10:30am-2:30pm. Through exploration stations, arts and crafts activities, dinosaur tracks and bones, and a presentation (12noon), all ages can have fun learning about dinosaurs. Vellone’s presentation will focus on the origins of dinosaurs and how they are rooted in the Connecticut River Valley. Pack a picnic and explore Northfield Mountain’s trails after the dino festivities. Call 1-800-859-2960 to pre-register for this free event. Northfield Mountain is at 99 Millers Falls Road in Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Women’s Studies

Women have historically been underrepresented in many musical genres. Despite playing alongside their male counterparts and touring as all-girl bands in the 1930s and ’40s, the contributions of women jazz and big band instrumentalists went unnoticed or ignored for much of the 20th Century. Learn about women in jazz from the 1920s to today at a screening of The Girls in the Band (2011) at the Berkshire Museum on Sunday, October 19 at 2pm. The film, which is presented in collaboration with the Pittsfield Jazz Festival, is about the journeys of these female musicians – their successes and failures, their talents, and their perseverance, in spite of the sexism, racism, and diminished opportunities they were presented with. Lovers of jazz music and those who are interested in the history of women in music would enjoy this documentary. Call 413-443-7171 for more information. The Berkshire Museum is at 39 South Street in Pittsfield, MA. ($)

As part of their Fast Forward Film Series, Historic Northampton presents, “Pioneers: Three Women in Film,” featuring films by Alice Guy-Blache (Falling Leaves, 1912), Maya Deren (Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943), and Agnes Varda (Le Bonheur (Happiness), 1965) on Sunday, October 19, 3pm. These historically significant films will be introduced by Justin West, Professor of Electronic Media at Holyoke Community College, who will provide a historical context for the films. These films would be great for older students interested in film and women’s studies! 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mt. Holyoke College presents a lecture entitled “Women’s Leadership: Ending Wars and Building Peace” with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee on Thursday, October 23, 7pm. Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, social worker, public speaker, and women’s rights advocate who has founded multiple organizations and initiatives that promote peace in Liberia and globally. Older students interested in peace, global studies, and women’s studies can learn from Gbowee’s lecture. Takes place in Gamble Auditorium. 413-538-2000. Lower Lake Road. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Animal Studies

Squirrels and chipmunks are a common sight this time of year. Do you want to learn more about them? Join Mass Audubon at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary for a program all about these unique creatures on Saturday, October 18, 10am-11:30am. Learn about how they store food, look for squirrel middens, pretend to be a squirrel and look for food, and more. Best for ages 4-12. Pre-registration required. 413-584-3009. Main Street. Hampden, MA. $


Cemeteries can be a great place to learn about local history through the lens of our ancestors and the stories of their lives. But what’s the history behind the trade of making gravestones, the stone tablets that mark the graves of our ancestors and give a glimpse into their lives and lineage? Learn about the historic trade of gravestone carving with Karin Sprague at Historic Deerfield on Saturday, October 18, 10:30am-4pm. Sprague will demonstrate the art of gravestone carving. Free with museum admission. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. $

Learn about Holyoke’s history on a cemetery tour with the Wistariahurst Museum and city historian Penni Martorell on Saturday, October 18, 3pm & 6pm. Explore Forestdale Cemetery and learn about the history of some of Holyoke’s found families. Best for older students interested in local history. Pre-registration is required. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. $

Ghosts & Legends of Upstreet Pittsfield. Based on the longtime local folklore project, These Mysterious Hills, this colorful downtown walking tour will explore a lesser known, mysterious, and somewhat darker side of Pittsfield’s historic and cultural center on Thursday, October 23, 5:30pm and on Friday, October 24, 7pm. Beginning in front of the Pittsfield Common, an early city graveyard, this approximately 1.5 hour walk will delve into ghost stories, legends, lore, and strange-but-true tales attached to many Upstreet locations, including several of the city’s premiere cultural venues. Rated PG-13, may not be suitable for children under age 12. 28 Renne Ave. Pittsfield, MA (>$)

The Longmeadow Historical Society is hosting “Ghosts in the Graveyard,” a cemetery tour with a focus on Longmeadow’s history on Friday, October 24, 6:30pm-8pm. Bring a flashlight and the kids and learn about local history as you tour the Longmeadow Cemetery while members of the LHS share stories of historical figures who have lived in the area and have been laid to rest. 413-567-3600. Williams Street. Longmeadow, MA (SUGGESTED DONATION >$)

Pumpkin Fests

Franklin County Pumpkinfest! happens Saturday, October 18, 10am-9pm. Pumpkinfest features food, games, activities, entertainment, crafts, live music, and more. Fun for the whole family. 413-522-0712. Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA.

Celebrate the opening of Mount Warner with The Trustees of Reservations at a Pumpkin Fest, Tractor Parade, and Dedication Hike on Saturday, October 18, 10:30am-4pm! The day includes tons of fun all-ages activities, like a ribbon cutting, guided hike, and Pumpkin Fest/Tractor Parade at the North Hadley Sugar Shack. There will be games, food, cider and wine tastings, a petting zoo, and a tractor parade. All ages will love this fun fall festival! 413-532-1631 x21. Mount Warner Road. Hadley, MA. (FREE)

The 4th annual Easthampton Harvest Festival features a pumpkin carving contest, a scarecrow competition, food, games, live music, face painting, a pie baking contest, and more on Saturday, October 18, 12noon-5pm. Come by and celebrate pumpkins, fall, and Halloween at this exciting community festival at Nonotuck Park. 413-529-1440. 1 Daley Field Road. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Come to Westhampton Town Center for the annual Fall Festival on Sunday, October 19, 10:15am-7pm. There will be tons of great activities, like a community interfaith church service, a 5K road race/walk, games, crafts, kids’ activities, the Blacksmith Shop Museum, demonstrations, contests, and more. The famous Great Pumpkin Roll takes place at 4:15pm, followed by community supper, bonfire and sing-a long! Westhampton, MA. (FREE)

Nature Studies

All ages are invited to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary to celebrate their 70th anniversary with a Fall Forest Quest on Saturday, October 18, 10am-2pm. The event teaches about the trees, land, and people through games, crafts, and activities for all ages. You can also walk the Trolley Line Trail and explore Mountainview Farm to learn about current farming practices on Arcadia’s land. This is a great chance for the whole family to celebrate Arcadia and learn about this amazing local natural area. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road. Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Parent Workshops

The Northampton Public Schools, Northampton/Hadley CFCE, Sunnyside Child Care, Northampton Parents Center, and Northampton Area Pediatrics have come together to offer a series of free Parent Cafés for parents and guardians of young children in the Northampton area. On Wednesday, October 22, 5pm-7:30pm, families will eat dinner together, then children are cared for while parents meet for the Café. Here parents can discuss all aspects of parenting and gather support from one another as they face the challenges of raising children. Parent Cafés are great for parents because they provide a supportive and welcoming environment in which to discuss and learn about parenting. Childcare and dinner are provided. The Cafés occur on October 15 and 22. Call or email bblack@northampton-k12.us to register or for more info. 413-587-1471. 2 Parsons Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

The Collaborative for Educational Services is offering a three-part parent cafe at the South Hadley Public Library on Wednesdays, October 22, 29, and November 5 from 6-7:30pm. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers of children birth to kindergarten age can attend the parent cafes, which are designed to bring parents together to share thoughts, advice, ideas, and parenting strategies. Free childcare is available. Registration is required. 413-586-4998 x102. 2 Canal Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Parents of children ages 10-14 can attend the “Let’s Be Honest” workshop at Berkshire South Regional Community Center on Thursday, October 23, 6:30pm-8pm. The workshop focuses on helping parents learn how to create trusting environments with their children in which to discuss sex and sexuality. Call for more information. 413-528-2810 x30. 15 Crissey Road. Great Barrington, MA.

Community Resources for People with Autism presents a lecture by Dr. Jed Baker – “All Kids Can Succeed: Effective Interventions for Behavioral and Social Challenges” at the Hadley Farms Meeting House on Friday, October 24, 9am-3:30pm. Professionals, teachers, and administrators, as well as families and individuals with autism, are welcome to attend this event, which focuses on creating positive learning environments for students with autism. If you are interested in attending, please register ASAP – the event is likely to sell out! 413-529-2428. 41 Russell Street. Hadley, MA. $$$

PreSchool Activities

An autumn story walk happens at DAR State Forest on Saturday, October 18, 9am-12noon. The morning’s activities will include: an apple snack story time, a fall crown craft, an accessible trail book walk, searches and a  fairy/critter house building project! Each family will also receive a free storybook as gift from the CFCE! Route 112. Goshen, MA (FREE)

Fun with Fall Leaves for preschoolers and their families on Saturday, October 18. Meet at 11am at the Ashfield Farmers Market and end at Belding Library by 12pm. All families with preschool-aged children are invited to a workshop that will begin at the Ashfield Farmers Market, engaging families in activities along the way to the Belding Library on Saturday October 18 from 11 am to noon for a fun-filled hour of hands-on activities and stories with a focus on the science and beauty of leaves in Fall. STEM focuses children’s natural curiosity on pre-scientific discoveries as they have a good time learning about, playing and creating with fall leaves The workshop is free. Please contact Melissa Pincus/CFCE Coordinator to sign up @ 413-625-6194 or mepincus@mohawkschools.org. Town Common. Ashfield, MA (FREE)

Families can join Forbes Library for a Halloween celebration on Monday, October 20, 6pm! Come in costume and enjoy games, activities, snacks, and spooky fun. 413-587-1011. 20 West Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Join the Easthampton Family Center on Wednesday, October 22, 10am, for their annual trip to The Great Pumpkin Patch at Fletcher Farm on October 22. Kids can pick their own pumpkin, visit the animal pens, go on a hayride, and have fun with a coloring book. Call to RSVP. 413-527-5496. Gunn Road. Southampton, MA. >$ (Postponed: Monday, Oct 27, 10am)

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is offering a preschool nature program, running on Thursdays,  10am-11am, October 23 through November 13. The classes include stories, crafts, and outdoor play/exploration focused on how nature prepares for winter. This is good way to help your preschooler explore the outdoors and make new friends. A parent or guardian must accompany every two children. You may sign up for one class, or for all. More information can be found on the WRLF website. Pre-registration is required. 413-458-2494. 671 Cold Spring Road. Williamstown, MA. ($$ for full session)

The Hitchcock Center’s Enchanted Forest event takes place Friday, October 24 & Saturday, October 25 from 5pm-8pm. This exciting event takes you through the Hitchcock Center’s grounds on a non-scary tour with the theme of “Sounds of the Night.” Creatures will emerge to share stories and teach you about themselves while you explore the woods and celebrate Halloween. The event fills up quickly, so please register for a walk time ASAP! 413-256-6006. 525 South Pleasant Street. Amherst, MA. $

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


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