26 Community Highlights: Corn Mazes to Pickling. Food History to Egypt Art.

This Saturday, learn about traditional vegetable pickling at Taproot Commons in Cummington. Learn to preserve vegetables the way our great-grandmothers did!

Corn Mazes to Pickling. Food History to Egypt Art. Yo-Yos to Skillsharing…. 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:  Not many toys can boast over 2,500 years of use worldwide, but the yo-yo has enjoyed consistent use in hundreds of cultures for nearly three millenia. Seemingly moved by magic, the yo-yo is little more than a well-designed tool to demonstrate basic principles of physics. Consisting essentially of a spool and a string, yo-yos (when in the hands of a skilled operator) can spin, jump, hang, and bump in patterns that are so graceful and speedy that they seem almost impossible. This Sunday, September 6 from 10:30am-6pm is the Northeast Regional Yo-Yo Contest, held at Union Station in Downtown Northampton. See yo-yo champions strut their stuff, and get your kids thinking about physics (and maybe even interested in the art of yo-yoing!). Union Station. Northampton, MA – Read more about the physics of the yo-yo and local resources in our post, Yo-Yo School Can Unlock Secrets of Physics!

Agriculture FairsCorn MazesGuide HikesCemetery TourFilmTheaterSkillsharingFermentationNutritional AnthropologyJewish HistoryArtMuseum AdventuresBusinessTechnology HistoryPhysicsYo-YosSTEMCommunity MealCanoeingParent Workshop

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Western MA Culture

September 4 – 7
Blandford Fair: Agricultural fairs provide an immense amount of entertainment for folks of all ages, and they are chock-full of learning opportunities as well! At the Blandford Fair, visitors can sit in on a demonstration focused on making pottery and another featuring Police K9 dogs. A number of animal shows–horse, poultry, rabbit, dairy cattle, and sheep–allow for an opportunity to compare and contrast physical and behavioral characteristics within and between species. And there is plenty to learn by simply striking up a conversation with the people you encounter, from folks who have been attending the fair since they were children, to entertainers, crafts people, and animal husbandry experts who love to share their knowledge with others! Learn more from these Hilltown Families posts about youth participation at agricultural fairs and their multidisciplinary learning opportunities! 413-848-2888. 10 North Street, Blandford, MA. (< $ admission; < $ parking; FREE for children under 6)

September 4-7
Three County Fair: There is something to be said for experiencing something new, and the Three County Fair offers a plethora of opportunities to do so during its run from September 4-7. On Saturday, you can meet baby animals, watch a kiddie tractor pull, be dazzled by motorcycle stunts, and appreciate the talents of the Axe Women of Maine. There will also be a special birthday celebration for Garfield, cartoon cat extraordinaire. New experiences like this invite language development (new vocabulary), cultural appreciation, historical perspective-taking, and the simple delight of discovery and surprise. 413-584-2237. Three County Fairgrounds, 41 Fair Street, Northampton, MA. (< $; FREE for children under 11)

Monday, September 7. 10am-5pm
LOCAL CULTURE/CORN MAZE: Get lost in a corn maze, a classic New England tradition! There are a few in Western MA you can check out with your family, including Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm (23 South Main Street. Sunderland, MA), Hicks Family Farm Corn Maze ( 1299 Route 2. Charlemont, MA), Meadow View Farm Corn Maze (120 College Highway. Southwick, MA), and Rolling Acres Farm Corn Maze (53 Pleasant Street. Southampton, MA ). Many of these mazes offer a fun and challenging outdoor adventure (of the best kind!) for families of all ages, along with other activities and farm fresh produce and perennials.

September 10-13
Franklin County Fair: A visit to a county fair can be a lot of fun, and it is also a way to show your support of the important work of organized agricultural societies. The Franklin County Agricultural Society provides education and opportunities for all members of the community, works in partnership with the community on its projects, and continually maintains and improves their land and programs for all to enjoy. The Franklin County Fair kicks off on Thursday with classic aggie fair features like pig races and a midway, and the “Bushels of Fun” parade begins at 5pm. 413-774-4282. Franklin County Fairgrounds, 89 Wisdom Way, Greenfield, MA. ($; FREE for children 8 and under)

Guided Hikes/Walks

Saturday, September 5. 9am-1pm
STATE FOREST: When you explore the outdoors with knowledgeable guides, you can learn a great deal about local ecosystems, flora, and fauna. Intergenerational guided group hikes also provide great opportunities to meet other families who share your interest in the outdoors, and with whom you might be able to arrange family hiking outings in the future. This weekend, Wild & Scenic Westfield River representatives will share some of their favorite hikes along the river valley. Registration required. 413-623-2070. Chester-Blandford State Forest, Sanderson Brook Road, Chester, MA. (< $)

Saturday, September 5. 10:30am-12pm
CONNECTICUT RIVER: September is Turners Falls History Month! Learn all about this interesting town, whose history has been strongly influenced by its riverside location, on a tour of the Patch neighborhood with a DCR interpreter from the Great Falls Discovery Center. The Patch, which was settled in the early 20th century by Polish immigrants who came to work in the mills, is actually an island, sandwiched between a canal and the Connecticut River! In crossing the bridge to the Patch, one gets a sense of entering a special and unique place that has many stories to tell. 413-863-3221. Corner of Avenue A & 11th Street, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, September 5. 4pm-5pm
CEMETERY TOUR: Stockbridge, a hotbed of true and fantastic historical tales? Of course! Tour the town cemetery with a guide from the Stockbridge Library‘s Museum and Archives to hear stories about unusual businesses, political events, and other interesting bits of history on the Amazing but True: Strange and Surprising Stockbridge Stories walking tour. 413-298-5501. Cemetery gate, Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. (SUGGESTED DONATION: < $)

Sunday, September 6. 10am-12pm
CANAL-SIDE RAIL TRAIL: The Canal-side Rail Trail winds past countless sights of local interest. Walk along the wide, paved trail (great for strollers!) with a DCR Park Interpreter from the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn about the area’s industrial, cultural, and natural history through interesting anecdotes, facts, and your own observations. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, September 6. 2pm
DOWNTOWN: The W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site is offering guided walking tours every Saturday and Sunday through October 4 at the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite and in downtown Great Barrington. Learn about Du Bois’ life and time in Great Barrington on this engaging tour. 413-717-6259. 612 South Egremont Road. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)

Theater & Film

Saturday, September 5. 10am
HARRY POTTER: This week’s offering by Amherst Cinema‘s Family Film Series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (PG, 2001), the first movie in this popular fantasy series. This adaptation has been recognized for many strengths, among them, its faithfulness to the book on which it is based. Here are lessons, activities and other resources teachers/parents can use to use Harry Potter as a learning tool. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)

Saturday, September 5. 11am-12pm
ALICE IN WONDERLAND: “Down the rabbit hole…” It’s one of many cultural references whose origins stem from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Sharing time-honored stories like this with your children not only allows them opportunities for entertainment, it helps connect them to others through shared cultural references! Share the magic of talking flowers, a riddling doormouse, the comic duo of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and a rabbit who is running out of time with your family at the Berkshire Children’s Theater’s performance of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland JR at the Spectrum Playhouse. 413-394-5023. 20 Franklin Street, Lee, MA. (FREE; < $ SUGGESTED DONATION)

Saturday, September 5. 11am & 1pm; Sunday, September 6. 1pm & 3pm
PUSS IN BOOTS: Paintbox Theatre presents the classic tale, Puss in Boots, at the Eric Carle Museum this weekend! Kids will get a kick out of the adventures a boy has as he follows a clever cat on the road from rags to riches. In the traditional telling of Puss in Boots, the cat achieves his goals though questionable morals (cheating, lying, etc). See how Paintbox Theatre puts a spin on this classic tale and get your kids thinking about acceptable values and behaviors. Theater can be both entertain and thought provoking! Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA. (< $)


Saturday, September 5. 10am-1pm
FOLK SCHOOL/FERMENTATION: True resiliency depends on having a wide breadth of knowledge – and lots of it. As such, community resiliency and sustainability depend not only on the knowledge and skills of individuals, but upon the knowledge and skills of a community as a whole. In the Hilltowns, Taproot Commons’ new folk school style workshops offer opportunities for community members to work towards accomplishing a goal of true community resiliency and interdependency. This Saturday, learn about traditional vegetable pickling with Sarah Stockwell-Arthen. Learn to preserve vegetables the way our great-grandmothers did, with “lactic acid fermentation,” (they called it “pickling”). It is easy, quick, uses no vinegar (just salt), and requires no energy input beyond your chopping skills. 11 Porter Hill Rd. Cummington, MA ($)

Sunday, September 6. 1pm-3pm
FERMENTED FOODS: What do you get when you take fresh food and allow bacteria to feed on its sugars and starches? Fabulous, tasty, fermented food like sauerkraut and kimchi, which are chock full of fermentation by-products like enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. These by-products can have positive health effects for those who consume them, and the fermentation process also helps preserve the food. Win-win! Learn how to make your own fermented foods at the Haberdashery‘s Fermenting Vegetables workshop. All participants will take home a jar of the item created in class. Those interested in learning more about fermenting can also check out the Cultured Dairy and Probiotic Beverages classes that the Haberdashery is offering later this fall. 413-527-1638. 52 Union Street, Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Nutritional Anthropology

Sunday, September 6. 2pm
JEWISH HISTORY/FOOD: Have you ever tasted a blintz, a fresh cut of corned beef, or an invigorating garlic dill pickle, straight from a renown delicatessen? The American culinary experience is full of tasty influences such as these from Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Romania, which were brought by newcomers who immigrated to the United States around the turn of the 20th century. How have these businesses stayed afloat in challenging economic times, and over generations as priorities and cultural influences shift? How has America been influenced by traditional delicatessens, and how has America, in turn, influenced these institutions and the people who run them? Explore Jewish history through the lens of food in Erik Greenberg’s film, Deli Man (PG-13, 2015) at the Yiddish Book Center. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street, Amherst, MA. (< $)


Saturday, September 5. 2pm-3:30pm
SCULPTURE: Offer your child the opportunity to talk to an artist about his or her work and process, and you invite them into an intriguing world to which they may not otherwise have access. Artist Jon Brooks will be at Hancock Shaker Village to talk to visitors about his work, Mover and Shaker, a large-scale contemporary sculpture, which is currently on display in the historic village through November 1. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE for members and children 12 and under; $)

SCULPTURE & LOCAL AGRICULTURE: Art in the Orchard is a unique sculpture trail (featuring the works of 28 local artists) that winds through the crops and fields at Park Hill Orchard. The trail will be open through October 31, 2015 each day of the week excepting Mondays and holidays. Once apples are ripe, you can pick your own while you’re there! Wear appropriate shoes. 413-303-0335. 82 Park Hill Road, Easthampton, MA. (< $; SUGGESTED DONATION)

Sunday, September 6. 1pm-3pm
MUSEUM ADVENTURE/LOCAL HISTORY: The Skinner family, known for its manufacturing of fine silk and satin fabrics, was a prominent family in Holyoke in the late 1800s. The estate they called home, Wistariahurst, is now a museum dedicated to celebrating Holyoke’s history and elevating the public’s appreciation of history and culture. On Family Fun Day Sunday, visitors will be invited to participate in a creative project inspired by the property’s architecture, gardens, and stories. Each project includes observation and discovery. Registration required. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA. ($)

Friday, September 11, 4pm-8pm
MUSEUM ADVENTURE/ANCIENT EGYPT ART: Kids love codes! Talking in codes, writing in codes, trying to decode messages…there’s mystery in it, yet it requires a lot of higher order thinking, too. Hieroglyphics appeal to kids in much the same way. At Hieroglyphic Selfie, this month’s family art event at the Smith College Museum of Art, participants of all ages are invited to tour the gallery, view art inspired by Ancient Egypt, then create their own artwork using symbols and patterns. Light refreshments will be served. 413-585-2760. 30 Elm Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Sunday, September 6. 7:30pm; Monday, September 7. 1:30pm
TECHNOLOGY/ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Can people form personal connections with machines? Steve Jobs thought so, and built an empire on devices that welcomed people to engage with them in deeper ways. Alex Gibney’s biopic, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, screening at the Berkshire Museum, invites audiences in to learn more about this influential figure. Pair a screening with online lesson plans. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (< $)


Sunday, September 6. 10:30am-6pm
YO-YO: Not many toys can boast over 2,500 years of use worldwide, but the yo-yo has enjoyed consistent use in hundreds of cultures for nearly three millenia. Seemingly moved by magic, the yo-yo is little more than a well-designed tool to demonstrate basic principles of physics. Consisting essentially of a spool and a string, yo-yos (when in the hands of a skilled operator) can spin, jump, hang, and bump in patterns that are so graceful and speedy that they seem almost impossible. This weekend is the Northeast Regional Yo-Yo Contest, held at Union Station in Downtown Northampton. See yo-yo champions strut their stuff, and get your kids thinking about physics (and maybe even interested in the art of yo-yoing!). Union Station. Northampton, MA – Read more about the physics of the yo-yo and local resources in our post, Yo-Yo School Can Unlock Secrets of Physics!

Wednesday, September 9. 10:30am-11am
STEM: The Berkshire Museum is offering a Parent/Child STEM Session the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Come explore science, technology, engineering, and math through books, hands-on activities, and play. Registration is required. Borrow a free museum pass from the library. 413-443-7171 x21. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Community Meal

Sunday, September 6. 12pm-4pm
BARBECUE: The 45th Annual Plainfield Firefighter’s Barbecue is this weekend!  For 45 consecutive years, the Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department has held a chicken barbecue to support the fire and EMS departments.  Coinciding with the barbecue will be the Shaw Memorial Library book sale, ArtsFeast (local arts and crafts), the 38th Annual Plainfield Road Race, a silent auction, a tag sale, and a bake sale.  This event is very popular, so please purchase tickets in advance.  Event takes place behind the Shaw Memorial Library.  Tickets available at Public Safety Complex on North Central Street or from any firefighter or EMT.  Main Street.  Plainfield, MA.  $


Monday, September 7. 8:30am-11:30am
GUIDED PADDLE: 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. ($$)

Monday, September 7. 1pm-4pm
GUIDED PADDLE: Canoers with some experience are invited to take a leisurely paddle along the Mill River with staff from the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Participants may see the river’s resident beavers and a number of bird species, too! Wear sunscreen, a hat, and water shoes if you have them. Registration required. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Road, Easthampton, MA. ($)

Parent Workshop

Wednesday, September 9. 6:30pm-8:30pm
ANXIETY: Does your child struggle with worries and anxiety? It can be hard to watch our children face psychological challenges, especially when we are not sure how we can help. Lynn Lyons, author of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents, specializes in anxiety disorders and is dedicated to “breaking the generational cycle of worry in families.” She brings her “How to Handle Worry at Home and School” presentation to Northampton High School, an event which is open to all, thanks to the Northampton High PTO. 413-587-1344. NHS Auditorium, 380 Elm Street, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc) Susy Morris]

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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