50 Community Highlights: Handwriting to Storytelling. Electric Bikes to Historic Trains.

Bridge over West Branch of Westfield River near Middlefield Rd, Chester MA

Chester on Track is this weekend, Sat., May 16,  a free, community-wide celebration of railroads and local history around Chester. This year’s event features many activities for the whole family to enjoy with history-focused events and demonstrations, including blacksmithing and woodworking demonstrations, early Irish railroad reenactments, a historic train show, classic cars, gas engine demonstrations, 1920s-era freight cars, and more. Community members of all ages can attend this fun annual event to celebrate life in Chester and learn about historic railroads and other local industries.

Handwriting to Storytelling. Electric Bikes to Seed Swaps. Trains to Planes… These are just a few of the community-based 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 community highlight this week:  The River’s Song is a community-wide celebration of the Connecticut River in Turners Falls on Saturday, May 16, 11am-9pm. There will be an opening ceremony and drumming by the Nolumbeka Project, art activities with the Art Garden, a river parade, a chance to learn about fish at the Great Falls Discovery Center, live music, an art reception, a dance performance, and more. The whole community can come together to celebrate the river at this fun all-day event. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

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

Community CelebrationsHistoryBicycleCommunity ResiliencyCommunity MealsPlant SalesSeed SwapsService-Based LearningNature-Based LearningPlanes, Trains & AutomobiliesAncestryArts & CraftsLiteracyMuseum AdventuresMusicParent WorkshopsPreschool HighlightsSTEM

Join our stellar team supporters!
Become a sponsor of Learn Local. Play Local. and see your banner here:

Community Celebrations

Saturday, May 16, 7am-9pm; Sunday, May 17, 12-5pm  – LONG MEDDOWE DAYS: The 36th Annual Long Meddowe Days celebration takes place May 16 and 17 on the Town Green! The event celebrates Longmeadow’s long and fascinating history and is the main fundraiser for the Longmeadow Historical Society. The day kicks off with a free pancake breakfast and 5K race/walk, then continues with food vendors, craft vendors, kids activities, Civil War reenactors, a community campfire, and more. There is something for all ages to enjoy at Long Meddowe Days! Longmeadow, MA.

Saturday, May 16, 9am-7:30pm – OLD HOME DAYS: The Deerfield Recreation Department’s Old Home Day is on May 16 at various locations around Deerfield. There will be activities like a 5K road race, a kids’ race, a tag sale, a book sale, a fun fair, bike rodeo, softball and baseball, a dog show and parade, and more. This great community event is fun for the whole family! More information available on the Deerfield Recreation website. 413-665-1400 x107. Deerfield, MA.

Saturday, May 16, 10am-1pm – FAMILY LITERACY FAIR: Families can attend the Early Education Community and Family Literacy Fair at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School Cafeteria on May 16. There will be books, interactive activities, snacks, trucks and buses, and representatives from community organizations, businesses, and resources. 413-625-6194. 75 Mechanic Street. Shelburne Falls, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 16, 10am-1:30pm – FUN FAIR: The Deerfield Elementary School PTA is holding Fun Fair 2015 on May 16! There will be tons of activities for the entire family, like music, balloon sculptures, magic, hula hoops, a bounce house, games, a raffle, and more. Don’t miss this fun community event! 21 Pleasant Street. South Deerfield, MA.

Saturday, May 16, 11am-9pm – RIVER’S SONG: The River’s Song is a community-wide celebration of the Connecticut River in Turners Falls. There will be an opening ceremony and drumming by the Nolumbeka Project, art activities with the Art Garden, a river parade, a chance to learn about fish at the Great Falls Discovery Center, live music, an art reception, a dance performance, and more. The whole community can come together to celebrate the river at this fun all-day event. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 16, 3-8pm – NORTH HADLEY POND DAY: Celebrate spring with your community at Lake Warner during North Hadley Pond Day. Live music, games, free canoe rentals, tethered hot air balloon rides, food… a festival of fun for the entire family! Discover the conservation work of Friends of Lake Warner and the Mill River and how you can get involved with their conservation work too. 413-320-3386. 239 River Dr. Hadley, MA (FREE)

Sunday, May 17, 10am-1pm – WILD GOOSE CHASE: Whole Children’s Wild Goose Chase 5K and Family Fun Run is May 17 at Look Park. There will be a variety of runs for all, including a 5K, 1-mile run/walk, and various “dashes.” There will also be carnival activities like an egg hunt, face painting, games, a costumed goose, performances, and more. This is a fun activity for the whole family that raises money for a great local organization. Please register in advance. 413-585-8010. 300 North Main Street. Florence, MA. ($$-$$$)

Sunday, May 17, 12noon-4pm – FARM FESTIVAL: Atlas Farm is holding a Spring Festival on May 17! Come to the farm for kids’ activities, face painting, and tons of delicious local food to taste. The festival is a great opportunity for families to learn about food and farming. 413-397-3587. 218 Greenfield Road. South Deerfield, MA.

Thursday, May 21, 5pm-8pm – 3RD THURSDAY: Upstreet Pittsfield’s family friendly street festival, 3rd Thursdays, happens every third Thursday through October! Come celebrate and explore Pittsfield while participating in fun activities, watching performances, and eating great food. 413-499-9348. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)


Saturday, May 16, 2pm – HANDWRITING: What have we lost, or gained, in the shift from writing by hand to typing? What does a person’s handwriting say about them? Smith College Professor Rosetta Cohen will address these questions in a free talk at Historic Northampton. In “Not Your Grandmother’s Cursive: Teaching Handwriting in America from Colonial Times to the Computer Era,” Professor Cohen will discuss handwriting, how it has changed over time, and how perceptions about it have changed. She will also talk about teaching children to write, and how today there seems to be more emphasis on teaching children to type. The neurological benefits of writing by hand vs. typing will be discussed as well. Older students interested in history, handwriting, or education would enjoy this enlightening talk. Historic Northampton is located at 46 Bridge Street in Northampton, MA. Call them at 413-584-6011 for more information.

Saturday, May 16, 10:30am-1pm – STORYTELLING: The Holyoke History Room will have a Holyoke Remembered Oral History Showcase on May 16. Stop by the History Room to hear excerpts from interviews with long-time Holyoke residents. Recording these primary source stories ensures that they will be available for a long time for community members to enjoy and from which to learn about local history. 413-420-8101. 250 Chestnut Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 17, 11am – TOWN HISTORY: Older students and adults interested in local history can join the Swift River Valley Historical Society for a walk to and over Greenwich Village. Learn about the history of the town of Greenwich and the Quabbin Reservoir on this walk. Call to register ASAP. Meet at Gate 43. 978-544-6882. Greenwich Road. Hardwick, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION)


Bay State Bike Week may be coming to a close this weekend, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more great events to attend! There are several bike-centric events for families this weekend in the area, from Springfield to South Hadley.

  • On Saturday, May 16 from 11am-4pm, families can attend the Family Fun Festival at North Riverfront Park in Springfield (121 West Street). There will be face painting, rowing and paddling instructions, a bike maintenance workshop, and family-friendly rides along the Connecticut River.
  • In South Hadley, from 1pm-4pm, families can attend the Bike Safety Rodeo in Buttery Brook Park (123 Willimansett Street). Here you can learn about bike safety while enjoying time in the park on its opening day.
  • Then, on Sunday, May 17 at 1pm, there will be a fun, six-mile family bike ride starting at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley (55 Alvord Street). Ride to the Falls and enjoy beautiful spring scenery.

All these activities give families a chance to spend time together outdoors while learning more about using bikes for everyday transportation, as well as recreation.

Saturday, May 16, 9am-12noon – ELECTRIC BICYCLE: Learn about converting your bicycle to an electric bicycle at a workshop with Peter Talmage and the Gill Energy Commission at Gill Elementary School on May 16. The workshop will focus on the different types of electric bikes, how they work, the cost, and more. Participants can help with actual bike conversion in this workshop, which would be great for those interested in cycling and STEM. Call to register. 413-863-8694. 48 Boyle Road. Gill, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 16, 10am-11am – BIKE REPAIR: Learn how to do basic bike repair at the Berkshire Museum‘s Learner’s Lab on May 16. An expert from Plaine’s Bike, Ski, and Snowboard will walk you through the tools and techniques needed to get your bike ready for summer riding. Free with museum admission. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Community Resiliency

Saturday, May 16, 2-5pm – TIME TRADE/SKILLSHARING – Do you have a skill you’d like to share with the community? Or do you need assistance with a project or want to learn more about what other community members have to offer? Time trading is an organized exchange system where members can earn hours (time credits) for time spent helping others. Join Valley Time Trade Skills Trading Fair/5th Anniversary Celebration to learn more about what community members and organizations in the Pioneer Valley have to offer. Some of the services that will be available include bike maintenance, massage, knitting, wood working, and may others. Free food, entertainment, door prizes, and a conversation café will all be provided for everyone to enjoy while they learn about all of the services Valley Time Trade members have to offer! 413-585-0373. Florence Civic Center (next to Lilly Library), 90 Park Street. Florence, MA. (Free to attend).

Saturday, May 16, 1-5pm – REPAIR CAFE:  Want to learn how to get organized this spring? The Pittsfield Repair Cafe will be having someone who can provide organizing help. Just bring photos or bags of the items or space you’re looking to organize, and the Repair Café’s expert will help you develop a game plan to conquer your clutter! They will also have free repairs from their team of volunteer experts for items like clothing, lamps, chairs, bicycles, and electrical items to name a few. Bring your family so they can learn more about how to reduce waste by repairing items while you enjoy musical entertainment, refreshments, and face painting for the kids. There will also be a legal reference desk and freebies in the Giveaway Corner. For more information, please see their Facebook page. Pittsfield Repair Café is also looking for volunteers. Please email Janet Henderson at jmh27@hotmail.com if you are interested in volunteering as a repair person or to help with event organization. St. Stephens Parish (in the basement), 67 East Street. Pittsfield, MA. (Free to attend).

Saturday, May 16, 1pm – BACKYARD CHICKENS: Learn about raising chickens in your own backyard with Meg Taylor of the Pioneer Valley Chicken Association at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library. Both beginners and those who are experienced can learn from this informative talk. Great for families and students interested in raising backyard chickens for eggs, compost and pest control (think ticks!). 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Community Meals

Saturday, May 16, 8am-11am – PANCAKE BREAKFAST: Community meals are great intergenerational opportunities to sit down with neighbors of all ages, making connections and nurturing relationships across the generations. Participating in a community pancake breakfast does more than fill your belly… it strengthens the social fabric of community by developing a sense of place in our children! Celebrate the founding of Springfield (May 13, 1636) at the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, held in the Eastfield Mall parking lot. This event features pancakes and family entertainment, and allows families to meet and spend time with community members of all ages. 1655 Boston Road. Springfield, MA. (>$)

Saturday, May 16, 4pm-8pm – SPAGHETTI DINNER: Did quoits evolve from horseshoes or horseshoes from quoits? While the history of this game is disputed, you can’t dispute that playing horseshoes with your community could be a fun game!  The Belchertown VFW Horseshoe Club is hosting a Spaghetti Dinner to raise money for the Belchertown VFW Horeshoe Club. There will be supper and dessert… and games of horseshoe! Skip the dishes and bring your family to enjoy an evening with your community and let your kids learn firsthand the meaning of the idiom,  “Close only counts in horseshoes…” Tickets available at the Belchertown VFW. Belchertown, MA. ($)

Plant Sales

Tending to a family garden not only provides food for your family and adds beauty to your surroundings, but the process of growing and caring for plants brings with it ample opportunity to learn about everything from edible plants to soil science! Here in western Massachusetts, gardening season is upon us, meaning it’s time to start planning and planting your family garden!

Saturday, May 16, 8:30am-3pm – AMHERST GARDEN CLUB: The Amherst Garden Club is holding their annual plant sale on the Town Common. Come find unique plants for your home and garden! Amherst, MA. (SALE)

Saturday, May 16, 9am-12noon – BRIDGE OF FLOWERS: The Bridge of Flowers’ annual plant sale will be held at the Trinity Church Baptist Corner Lot. Come support the Bridge of Flowers and find great plants for your garden at this plant sale. Shelburne Falls, MA. (SALE)

Saturday, May 16, 9am-1pm – WISTARIAHURST MUSEUM: Find new plants for your home and garden in a lovely setting at the Wistariahurst Museum‘s plant sale! There will be tons of unique plants to choose from. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (SALE)

Saturday, May 16, 9am-3pm – SUNDERLAND LIBRARY: The Sunderland Public Library is holding a book, plant, and bake sale! 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (SALE)

Sunday, May 17, TBA – MILK & HONEY HERBS: Learn about propagating medicinal plants with Milk and Honey Herbs at their Open Farm and Plant Sale Day. Best for self-directed students interested in plants. 413-253-8076. 163 Leverett Road. Shutesbury, MA.


Saturday, May 16, 10am-1pm – HILLTOWN SEED SAVING NETWORK: The Hilltown Seed Saving Network is holding its third annual Spring Seed and Plant Exchange at the Community House. Bring plants and seeds to swap with others, and find the perfect plants to grow this season and swap seeds for summer crops! Bring the whole family and exchange gardening tips with neighbors and friends. 413-634-5013. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 17, 10am-2pm – GREENFIELD COMMUNITY FARM: Kick off spring at the Greenfield Community Farm’s Spring Plant Sale and Seed Swap! Come find vegetable plants and seeds, attend an intro to beekeeping workshop, do activities, and more. This is a great opportunity to learn about the community garden and what they do. 413-325-8969. 34 Glenbrook Drive, Apt 1B. Greenfield, MA.

Service-Based Learning

Saturday, May 16, 9am-1pm – RIVER CLEAN UP: Join the Berkshire Environmental Action Team and the Housatonic Valley Association for a West Branch River Cleanup on the Housatonic River. Volunteers can meet in Wahconah Park and help clean up the river. A great way for older students to get involved in community service! Call to RSVP. 413-394-9796. Pittsfield, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Saturday, May 16, 1pm-3pm – TRAIL CLEAN UP: Help The Trustees of Reservations maintain trails and property at Little Tom Mountain as part of the David Sigelman Memorial Workday. Volunteers will work to upgrade the trail, install signs, and remove/control invasive species. More information on this event and volunteer registration can be found on the Trustees website. 413-532-1631 x21. 125 Reservation Road. Holyoke, MA. (VOLUNTEER)

Nature-Based Learning

Sunday, May 17, 4pm-6pm – FIELD WALK: Join naturalist Laurie Sanders for a natural history field walk in Conway Learn about the different habitats along the South River and learn how to identify different plants and animals. Best for older students interested in ecology and natural history. Meet at the town-owned field near the beginning of Shelburne Falls Road. Call for more information. 413-369-4697. Conway, MA.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Saturday, May 16, 9am-4pm – TRAIN HISTORY: Chester on Track is a free, community-wide celebration of railroads and local history around Chester. This year’s event features many activities for the whole family to enjoy. There will be a parade, tractor pulls, a craft fair, a book sale, and other activities. There will also be history-focused events and demonstrations, including blacksmithing and woodworking demonstrations, early Irish railroad reenactments, a historic train show, classic cars, gas engine demonstrations, 1920s-era freight cars, and more. Community members of all ages can attend this fun annual event to celebrate life in Chester and learn about historic railroads and other local industries. Call 413-354-7878 for more information.

Saturday, May 16 & Sunday, May 17 at 10am – AIR SHOW: The Great New England Air Show is overhead at the Westover Air Reserve Base. Come tons of cool planes, vintage and modern, flying through the sky at this fun, day-long event. 413-557-2020. Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 16, 10am-2pm – TOUCH A TRUCK: There will be a Touch a Truck Public Safety Field Dayat Greenfield Community College. Kids can come see all sorts of trucks and vehicles, see demonstrations, and more. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 17, 8:30am – BIG RIG DAY: It’s Big Rig Day on May 17! Kids can see big trucks and machinery up close and personal – they’ll get to check out the intricacies of the equipment and learn about what each part does. 50 Payson Avenue. Easthampton, MA.


Saturday, May 16, 10am-12noon – GENEALOGY: Join the Dickinson Memorial Library for Family Tree Day. Come to the library to learn about local cemeteries, local families, how to write a family story, and more. Great for older students who want to learn more about their family’s history! 413-498-2455. 115 Main Street. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

Arts & Crafts

Saturday, May 16, 11am-1pm – COLLAGE WORKSHOP: Kids can attend a collage workshop as part of the “Piecework” exhibit at Mill Arts Project. Kids can learn about collage and hear from artist Cathe Janke at this hands-on workshop. 116 Pleasant Street. Easthampton, MA.


Saturday, May 16, 1:30pm – READING TO DOGS: The Westfield Athenaeum is hosting a Read to Rover event for kids ages 3-9. Young readers can practice reading stories aloud to specially-trained dogs, who offer non-judgmental, non-threatening attention. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to improve their reading skills and their confidence in reading aloud. Please register in advance. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, May 16, 7pm – CHILDREN’S LITERATURE/CELEBRATION: The Greenfield Public Library is hosting a Harry Potter Party on May 16! There will be an interactive play with Harry Potter characters, “Muggle” magic from Ed the Wizard, a costume contest, and more. Fans of the books will love this fun event! Sign up in advance. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Museum Adventures

Sunday, May 17, 10am-5pm – THE CLARK: The Clark Art Institute is celebrating their 60th anniversary on May 17 with free admission, cake, an a cappella performance, and more. This is a great chance to explore this wonderful local museum! 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)


10:30am-3pm – SPRINGFEST: Northampton Community Music Center’s students take to the streets today!  The center’s annual Springfest brings live music to locations throughout downtown – musicians of all ages will play a variety of different types of music all day long.  Northampton, MA.  (DONATION)

Sunday, May 17, 2pm – CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS: The Deerfield Academy dance, music, and theater programs present a performance of “The Carnival of the Animals” in the Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall. This performance is family-friendly. Email chynds@deerfield.edu for more information. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, May 17, 2pm – LAWN CONCERT: The Cushman Library is hosting a concert by Skylarkz on May 17. Bring blankets, chairs, and a picnic lunch and enjoy this spring lawn concert! 413-648-5402. 28 Church Street. Bernardston, MA. (FREE)

Parent Workshops

Saturday, May 16, 9am-11am – PARENTING STYLES: The Community Network for Children is offering a workshop for parents/caregivers at Leverett Elementary School on May 16. “Beyond Bossing, Begging, and Bribing,” with Jeanine Fitzgerald, focuses on different teaching and parenting styles and how they affect children. Childcare available. Call to pre-register. 978-544-5157. 85 Montague Road. Leverett, MA.

Saturday, May 16, 10:30am-2pm – HEALTHY CHOICES: Parents can attend a Northampton Prevention Coalition workshop at the Collaborative for Educational Services on May 16. “How to Help Your Teen Make Healthy Choices: A Taste of Motivational Interviewing” with John Brelsford will focus on training parents in Motivational Interviewing. Lunch will be provided. 413-587-1344 x3021. 97 Hawley Street. Northampton, MA.

Thursday, May 21, 10am – NUTRITION: The Family Resource Center is offering a Supermarket Party for parents on May 21. This guided grocery store tour will teach you how to buy healthy food on a budget and save money at the store. Meet in the bakery section of the North Adams Big Y. Call to register; space is limited. 413-664-4821. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Preschool Highlights

Tuesday, May 19, 9:30am-11:30am – MUSIC/MOVEMENT: Maggie Shar is offering a series of Music and Movement programs at the South Hadley Family Center during their regular playgroup hours on May 5, 11, and 19. This fun music and movement program would be best for ages 5 and under and their families. Call or email shfckids@yahoo.com to pre-register. 413-533-7096. 7 Woodbridge Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, May 20, 11:30am-12:15pm – MUSIC/MOVEMENT: Families can attend a Music and Movement class at the Belchertown Family Center this April and May. Come for music, movement, and fun! Drop-in. 413-835-5201. 720 Franklin Street. Belchertown, MA. (FREE)


Thursday, May 21, 4pm-5pm – STEM: Kids ages 6 and older are invited to come to the Greenfield Public Library for “Fun with Science,” an activity using science in a craft or experiment, with educator Corissa Tripp. This free program is made possible by the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library. This community-based STEM program happens on the third Thursday of each month through June 2015. 413-772-1544 x5. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: By John Phelan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Buckland, Colrain, Cummington, Deerfield, Hadley, Longmeadow, Montgomery, New Salem, Plainfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, Westhampton, and Worthington Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Donate Now

Support Hilltown Families, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with your tax-deductible donation.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: