29 Community Highlights: Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp.

Can’t get enough of ripe, summertime tomatoes? Visit Red Fire Farm‘s Tomato Festival this Saturday, August 22 from 8am-5pm, where you can geek out on all things tomato! Learn through the lens of this juicy fruit!

Tomato Festival to Corn Fest. Poetry Slam to Zine Camp. Harvest Supper to Civics… 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 highlights this week: How many different kinds of corn are there? Which varieties are grown in Western Massachusetts? Explore the different textures and flavors of butter & sugar corn, white corn, and candy corn, among others, at Whitney’s Farm Market‘s 6th annual Corn Fest this Sunday, August 23 from 1pm-5pm ! There will be a corn shucking contest, a corn eating contest, races, a petting zoo, and some delicious corn chowder. Visitors are also invited to bring a jar of homemade pickles (with name and phone number on the jar) to enter in the Pickle Patch competition for a chance to be crowned “best pickle in Berkshire County.” 413-442-4749. 1775 South State Road, Cheshire, MA. (FREE)

Food FestivalsLiterary ArtsOutdoor AdventuresAgricultural FairsCollaborative ConsumptionPerformance ArtPaleontologyCommunity CelebrationsSocial StudiesLocal HistoryCommunity MealSingingCreative WritingBiologyLEGOsOutdoor Music

Learn Local. Play Local. is sponsored in part by the 25th Annual Music Benefit, Transperformance 25:

Food Festivals

Saturday, August 22. 8am-5pm — TOMATO FESTIVAL
Can’t get enough of ripe, summertime tomatoes? Visit Red Fire Farm‘s Tomato Festival, where you can sample over 100 tomato varieties. Kids enjoy tasting the tomatoes and comparing the fruits’ different colors, textures, seeds, and flavors. Folks who grow their own tomatoes can benefit from trying out varieties they’ve never included in their own gardens, in order to choose something new for next year’s crop. In addition to the popular tomato tasting, there will be a 5K race through the farm’s fields, food preparation workshops, a stage with music from local musicians, and a designated area for kids’ activities. 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street, Granby, MA. (< $; FREE for children age 10 and under)

Saturday, August 22. 9am-12pm — WILD EDIBLES
Have you ever tasted a milkweed pod or snacked on milkweed cheese? Perhaps wild carrot spice cake with sumac frosting is more to your taste? A wonderful opportunity to learn to identify local edible plants and then to taste a wide variety of dishes highlighting those ingredients awaits you at Acorn Kitchen‘s Fresh & Feral Wild Food Plant Walk & Feast! Registration required. 413-588-6881. Tripple Brook Nursery, 37 Middle Road, Southampton, MA. ($$; FREE for children under 12)

Sunday, August 23. 1pm-5pm — CORN FEST
How many different kinds of corn are there? Which varieties are grown in Western Massachusetts? Explore the different textures and flavors of butter & sugar corn, white corn, and candy corn, among others, at Whitney’s Farm Market‘s 6th annual Corn Fest! There will be a corn shucking contest, a corn eating contest, races, a petting zoo, and some delicious corn chowder. Visitors are also invited to bring a jar of homemade pickles (with name and phone number on the jar) to enter in the Pickle Patch competition for a chance to be crowned “best pickle in Berkshire County.” 413-442-4749. 1775 South State Road, Cheshire, MA. (FREE)

Literary Arts

Saturday, August 22. 6:30pm — POETRY SLAM
The WordxWord Poetry Slam finalists will compete for the title of ” 2015 WXW Poetry Slam Champion” at the Berkshire Museum. Stay for the WXW 2015 finale event at 8pm, which will feature some of the Berkshires’ most talented storytellers and performance poets. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Outdoor Adventures

Saturday, August 22. 8:30am-11:30am — CANOEING & NATURAL HISTORY
The Housatonic River and its banks are home to many plant and animal species, but many of these areas are in need of protection and restoration. Learn about the river’s past, present, and future as you explore the meandering Housatonic via canoe with a knowledgeable guide. Bald eagles may soar overhead, and a variety of landscapes will be visible, too. Paddles, PFDs, and boats will be provided. Meets at Bartholomew’s Cobble, a Trustees of Reservations property. Registration required. 413-229-8600. 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA. ($$)

Saturday, August 22. 10am-12pm — BIKE TOUR
You’ve crossed many of the bridges in Turners Falls and Montague, but do you know when and how they got there? This bike tour along the Canal-side Rail Trail will take participants past bridges where they will learn about each structure, as well as the challenges of spanning the Connecticut River, from a Great Falls Discovery Center guide. Bring your bike, water, insect repellent, sunscreen, and helmet. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Agricultural Fairs

August 21-23 – HEATH FAIR
Have you visited one of our local agricultural fairs yet this year? The Heath Fair is a lovely small town fair that runs August 21-23, and includes all of the components of a classic aggie fair! Saturday’s schedule includes animal shows, a horse draw, a kids’ tractor pull, wagon rides, games, live music and a chicken barbeque! There will also be interesting workshops and demos at which you can learn about herd dogs, smoking meats, sheep shearing, and CPR/first aid from local experts. Rain or shine (shelter provided). Heath Fairgrounds, Colrain Stage Road, Heath, MA. ($; FREE for children 9 and under)

August 21-23 — WESTFIELD FAIR
Agricultural fairs have a strong history in Western Massachusetts. Don’t let aggie fair season pass you by without attending one! The Westfield Fair, in which many generations of Westfield residents have participated over the years, runs August 21-23. Saturday’s events include a demolition derby, live music, rides, and games. Learn more from these Hilltown Families posts about youth participation at agricultural fairs and their multidisciplinary learning opportunities!
413-222-4067. 137 Russellville Road, Westfield, MA. (< $; FREE for children under 12)

August 27-30 — CUMMINGTON FAIR
Aggie Fair season marches on with the Cummington Fair, which runs August 27-30. This fair began back in 1883, when the Hillside Agricultural Society began to place strong focus on “the attainment and diffusion of scientific and practical knowledge in the cultivation of the soil.” The modern day fair offers many connections to those first events, and also includes components relevant to current times. Thursday is the “Night for Trucks,” featuring a show of antique tractors and engines and a 4×4 truck pull, as well as a classic midway, rides, crafts, and pig races. Learn more from these Hilltown Families posts about youth participation at agricultural fairs and their multidisciplinary learning opportunities! 413-634-5091. Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA. ($; FREE for children under 10)


Saturday, August 22. 10am-5pm; Sunday, August 23. 10am-5pm — BOOK SALE
Have you ever passed along a favorite book to a friend? Are some of the books in your home ones which were important to others before they came into your life? Books are wonderful items to use and then pass along! To this end, the Lenox Library is hosting its 20th annual Giant “Bargains in Books” Sale August 21-23, comprised almost entirely of books donated by the community. This sort of community sale provides an excellent opportunity for children to practice basic financial skills like budgeting and prioritizing. With book prices starting at fifty cents, a child could learn a great deal navigating the sale with $1 of his or her own to spend! The sale will also include music and artwork, and a special selection of first editions, rare volumes, and the like. All proceeds benefit the library’s educational programs. 413-445-5679. 18 Main Street, Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Performance Art

Saturday, August 22. 11am & 2pm — THEATER
Talking flowers, a riddling doormouse, the comic duo of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and a rabbit who is running out of time accompany Alice in the Berkshire Children’s Theater’s performance of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland JR at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($)

Saturday, August 22. 10am-12pm — BALLET
Expressing ourselves through performing arts is valuable on many levels. Ballet can help people develop better focus, increase their confidence, improve their physical fitness, and learn about other cultures. If your child is interested in dancing, he or she may enjoy the Pioneer Valley Ballet‘s open house! Tour the studio, meet the trainers, and try out a class. Appropriate for children ages 4 and up. 413-527-6363. 116 Pleasant Street, #155, Easthampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 22. 11am — PUPPETRY
Beautiful handmade puppets and scenery await the audience members of the Gerwick Puppets‘ “A Woodland Cinderella.” This performance highlights the importance of being good and the problems with being overly focused on material possessions. Intended for ages 3-11. 413-369-4646. Field Memorial Library, 1 Elm Street, Conway, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 22. 2pm & 7pm; Sunday, August 23. 2pm — THEATRE
Mary Poppins is full of magical moments you will remember from when you first saw the story on screen or stage. Share the story and songs of everyone’s favorite nanny with the children in your life at the Berkshire Theatre Group‘s production of Mary Poppins. This tenth annual production of the show will include over 100 talented Berkshire County natives in fabulously choreographed song and dance numbers! Runs August 13 – August 23. 413-997-4444. Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($-$$)


Saturday, August 22. 10am-5pm — JURASSIC ROAD SHOW
Anyone interested in dinosaurs will enjoy the fossils and interactive exhibits of the Jurassic Road Show, featured at the Springfield Museum‘s Dinosaur Hall. Two films will show throughout the day, and there will be special stations set up for children to participate in their own “fossil” digs. In addition, Dr. Patrick Getty, a knowledgeable paleontologist, will be present to answer any dinosaur-related questions that visitors have! Each family will receive a set of dinosaur footprint trading cards, too. 800-625-7738. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA. ($)

Community Celebrations

Saturday, August 22. 11am-11pm; Sunday, August 23. 11am-7pm — CELEBRATE HOLYOKE
Celebrate Holyoke’s vibrant community through music, art, food, and socializing at a weekend-long festival, Celebrate Holyoke 2015! Learn about the talents of area artisans as you stroll through the arts bazaar, and enjoy a variety of live music all day long. Be sure to bring your appetite for favorite foods and new culinary adventures, too. A highlight of the event is the 1000 foot long “Slide the City” slip and slide! Wear your bathing suit and cool off before or after enjoy everything else the festival has to offer. Dwight Street & Front Street, Holyoke, MA. (FREE; $ for a trip down the slip and slide)

Saturday, August 22. 12pm-4pm — NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK PARTY
People move around a lot these days, and it can sometimes leave us feeling disconnected from our neighborhoods and larger communities. One way to dig your roots deeper into your current location is by participating in a block party! This year, the Saint James Episcopal Church is hosting their second annual Federal Street Neighborhood Block Party with music, food, games, circus arts, and a raffle to support community nonprofits. Transportation will be provided for anyone who cannot walk, bike, or drive to the event. 413-773-3925. 8 Church Street, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Social Studies

Saturday, August 22. 11am — CIVICS
Celebrate local heroes at the Stockbridge Library‘s Community Hero Day. Stockbridge Police Chief Bob Eaton and Fire Chief Chuck Cardillo will drive their official vehicles to the library where children can view them up close. Both chiefs will stay on site to visit with participants. 413-298-5501. 2 Depot Street, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Local History

Sunday, August 23. 2pm — EDUCATION
Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic, right? What was the school experience like for students and teachers in the era of one room school houses? Explore this interesting chapter of educational history with Dennis Picard at the Huntington Historical Society‘s program, “All to the Tune of a Hickory Stick: A Look at Education in the One Room Schoolhouse.” Light refreshments will be served. 413-667-3453. Stanton Hall, 26 Russell Road, Huntington, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 23. 2pm-4pm — INDUSTRY
The Charles Gillet Cigar Factory, built in 1892, is the last surviving building of its kind in the valley. It is one of two museums operated by the Southwick Historical Society, and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about a manufacturing process that was important in our region in another era. The Southwick Historical Society also runs the Joseph Moore House, a structure that was built in 1751 by Joseph Moore, who lost his life in the Revolutionary War. Visit both of these museums at an open house this summer or fall, and savor the interesting artifacts and ephemera they hold while touring with a docent!  413-569-0275. 86 College Highway, Southwick, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 23. 2pm-4pm — LOCAL HISTORY
Artifacts hold rich stories about the people who interacted with them and the eras in which they were used. You can view three floors of local artifacts as well as a furnished saltbox home, an English barn, and a shoemaker’s shop from the late 1700s at the Buckland Historical Society‘s open house. You and your child might bring a sketchbook to record some of your observations or to draft a piece of writing inspired by the items you encounter! 413-625-9763. 20 Upper Street, Buckland Center, MA and 129 Route 112, Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Community Meal

Sunday, August 23. 4:30pm-6:30pm — FREE HARVEST SUPPER
What could be more delightful than an evening of al fresco dining with your friends and neighbors, where the food is sourced from dozens of local farms and prepared by some of the area’s finest chefs? Don’t miss this opportunity to savor the best of summer produce while supporting the Center for Self-Reliance, a food pantry based in Greenfield during the annual Free Harvest Supper. In addition to the dinner, there will be live music and children’s activities. The unique “Really, Really Free Market” will be full of donated produce from community gardens (bring any surplus you like!), and everyone is welcome to “shop” and take home the items they’d like. This is a great chance to invite your children to choose a new vegetable or two and to prepare it for a meal later in the week! Be sure to bring your own place setting(s). 413-773-5029. Greenfield Town Common (Court Square), Greenfield, MA. (DONATION)


Sunday, August 23. 5:30pm-7:30pm — COMMUNITY SING
Do you and your children love to sing? Singing in a group with many harmonizing voices can be a transcendent experience, and when the songs are selected from traditional pieces, there is so much culture and history one can learn! Earthdance invites your family to a community a cappella sing in its Dance Barn. Songs will be taught by rote, so there is no need to read music. All ages welcome! A potluck dinner will follow the sing. 413-634-5678. 252 Prospect Street, Plainfield, MA. (FREE)

Creative Writing

Monday, August 24. 9am-3pm — ZINE CAMP
Is your child brimming with imaginative tales? Flywheel Arts Collaborative‘s Zine Camp provides the space, guidance, encouragement, and peer community in which any child can develop a zine. If you’ve never heard of one, a zine (abbreviated from magazine) is a booklet or small magazine that someone (or a team of folks) creates and then distributes to or trades with others. Zines give writers a way to share their craft with a wider audience without needing approval from a professional publisher; they are, as Flywheel puts it, “a space for everybody’s voice to be heard.” Program runs daily from 9am-3pm, August 24-August 28. Registration required. 910-227-9279. 43 Main Street, Easthampton, MA. ($$$; partial scholarships available)


Tuesday, August 25. 10:30am-12pm — BUG SAFARI
Basic naturalist skills are fun to develop and will serve a person for a lifetime! Learning to use a hand lens helps develop fine motor skills and increases one’s ability to observe, and subsequently, describe objects. Discovering how a field guide is organized and how it is used helps one establish a stronger understanding of systems of classification and allows for lots of practice with comparing and contrasting. Project Native‘s Bug & Butterfly Safaris invite children to develop and practice these skills as they traverse fields in search of eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies to relocate into the Butterfly House. All ages welcome; all children should be accompanied by an adult. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Rain cancels. 413-274-3433. 342 North Plain Road, Housatonic, MA. (FREE)


Tuesday, August 25. 11am — LEGOS/MOVIE/CREATIVE PLAY
Chances are, there is someone in your family who loves LEGOs. These iconic bricks have come to be used for major art exhibits, modeling molecules in the classroom, and therapy, among many other interesting applications! Learn more about the history of LEGOs and LEGO culture at the Berkshire Museum‘s screening of A LEGO Brickumentary (G, 2015). After the movie, explore the museum and do some creating of your own in the hands-on Spark!Lab, where engaging Imagination Playground components await you! 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. ($; FREE for members and children under 3)

Outdoor Music

Tuesday, August 25. 4pm-9pm — TRANSPERFORMANCE
What fun to see your favorite local bands dressed up as other performers and to hear them play covers of great songs! At the Northampton Arts Council‘s Transperformance, you can enjoy an outdoor music festival to support arts enrichment programs in the Northampton, Leeds, and Florence public schools. Last year the 24 bands included The Sun Parade as Buffalo Springfield, The Snaz as One Direction, and The Nields as the Dixie Chicks! This year’s theme is “Look at the Movies,” and bands will play songs from movie soundtracks. 413-587-1269. Look Park, 300 North Main Street, Florence, MA. ($)

Thursday, August 27. 5pm-8pm — NAUMKEAG AT NIGHT
Don’t let summer pass you by without enjoying an outdoor concert! The Trustees of Reservations‘ Naumkeag at Night concert series invites your family to enjoy contemporary instrumental piano music by Dan Kennedy while you take in the property’s gorgeous sunset views. Bring a blanket or chairs, and pack a picnic, too! 413-339-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA. (FREE for members, $ for nonmembers)

Thursday, August 27. 6:30pm – 8pm — BERKSHIRE HILLS MUSIC ACADEMY
Take your family, a friend, or a neighbor to a concert at the gazebo on South Hadley‘s town common this summer and enjoy a variety of music from local artists. Tonight’s performance features the Berkshire Hills Music Academy Performance Troupe. Rain date 8/30. 413-538-5017. Route 47 & Route 116, South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

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.

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