38 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Asparagus to Anthropology. Fishing to Fairy Tales.

The art of tying flies for fly fishing combines scientific knowledge, fine motor skills, and creativity. While many flies are created for use as bait, some are created for artistic displays. Learn more about fly-tying, as well as various fishing techniques, at this week’s fishing events!

Asparagus to anthropology. Fishing to fairy tales. Engineering to rowing. 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:If you live in Hadley, you probably know that your town is considered the asparagus capital of the world, with this plant popping up so frequently that people call it “Hadley grass.” Come to the 2016 WGBY Asparagus Festival to buy fresh asparagus and other produce at the farmers’ market, shop locally sourced items at the makers’ market, and enjoy live music. And stop by the Hilltown Families’ Pop-Up Open House! Besides asparagus in its natural form, you can also taste test unique uses of the food, like asparagus ice cream! There will be plenty for kids to do, including a cooking workshop. Hadley town commons. Route 9/Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Engineering ♦ GeologyPlacemakingConservation BiologyFly FishingBoatingPoetryChildren’s LiteraturePuppetry ♦ Local HistoryCultural StudiesGardeningNutritionParenting

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Saturday, June 4, 10am-3pm
The Great Holyoke Brick Race challenges participants to create the fastest moving brick racecar! This intergenerational event is open to participants of any age, from anywhere in the world. Participants are also welcome to compete individually or as part of a team. Participation is a great opportunity for hands-on, and possibly collaborative, learning about physics and engineering design. Check in for racers begins at 10am. The race begins at 11. Read more in our post, STEM Opportunities at The Great Holyoke Brick Race. 413-563-9750. 80 Race Street. Holyoke, MA. (< $)

Learn a bit about the origins of this event and view scenes from last year’s brick race in this news clip from WWLP-22News.

Saturday, June 4, 10:30am-12:30pm
Rock collectors between the ages of eight and twelve are invited to the Granby Library on June 4, July 9 and August 6 to learn more about rocks and minerals! Jack Marcy, president of the Connecticut Valley Mineral Club, will teach kids how to identify rocks. You’re welcome to bring your collection and receive help identifying specific pieces. You may attend one, two, or all three sessions. Registration is required and space is limited. 413-467-3320. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Geologic time scales are very different than the time scales we normally reference in our everyday lives. Gain an appreciation for earth’s history and geologic processes in this fabulous short animation, “A stone’s adventure through time.”

Sunday, June 5, 10am-3pm
The 30th Anniversary 4C’s Auto Show & Aircraft Exhibit at New England Air Museum will offer people of all ages the opportunity to learn about engineering and physics through viewing both cars and planes. For the regular cost of museum admission, visitors will be able to explore the museum as well as viewing antique, classic, special interest, sports cars and street rods. Automobiles are also a piece of history. Seeing classic cars can help you picture different time periods and track shifting design trends. 860-623-330. 36 Perimeter Road. Windsor Locks, CT. (12 and up $. 4 to 11 <$. Under three FREE)

Henry Ford’s Tin Lizzie is known for being the first affordable, commercially available car. Taking a drive in one was quite different than today’s car riding experience! Take a look!

Sunday, June 5, 11am-3pm
Lots of children are fascinated by cars, trucks, trains, and even the wheels on their bicycles. Parents should feel good about encouraging this early interest in engineering and physics. Bring your automobile loving family members of all ages to the Springfield Jewish Community Center for Touch a Truck! There will be a playground, face painting, balloon animals, food, and kids are encouraged to bring their own wheels (bike, roller skates, scooter, etc.). For more information, call 413-739-4715 x332. 1160 Dickinson Street. Springfield, MA. ($)


Saturday, June 4, 8:30am-11am
Puffer’s Pond in Amherst is a place for families to swim, float, or kayak, and take a walk through the woods. The 25th Annual Puffer’s Pond Pancake Breakfast will have all you can eat pancakes and coffee, all to benefit the pond! A lot of work goes into maintaining the area around the pond to keep it clean and safe for all visitors, and this is your chance to support that work while enjoying a delicious meal. There will be gluten-free pancakes and locally sourced sausages. The breakfast will take place at the Mill River Recreation Area. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Saturday, June 4, 10am-6pm
If you live in Hadley, you probably know that your town is considered the asparagus capital of the world, with this plant popping up so frequently that people call it “Hadley grass.” Come to the 2016 WGBY Asparagus Festival to buy fresh asparagus and other produce at the farmers’ market, shop locally sourced items at the makers’ market, and enjoy live music. And stop by the Hilltown Families’ Pop-Up Open House! Besides asparagus in its natural form, you can also taste test unique uses of the food, like asparagus ice cream! There will be plenty for kids to do, including a cooking workshop. Hadley town commons. Route 9/Russell Street. Hadley, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

You and your children can prepare asparagus together as a part of making a family meal. These two young chefs will share their asparagus roasting recipe and technique with you!

Saturday, June 4, 10am-4pm
Art walks are a form of placemaking. These events, wherein galleries are opened to the public and artists are often present, create a sense of place-based identity and encourage community members to meet. The city of Westfield will be offering its first art walk on June 4 2016! “Arts on Elm” will feature more than 25 local and regional artists, musical performances, and food. In addition to works of art there will be demonstrations of artistic skills such as candle making and stained glass. Read more in our post, New Placemaking Event Explores the Arts in Westfield. Elm Street. Westfield MA. (FREE admission. MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, June 4, 7pm
Come help kick off New Century Theatre’s 2016 summer season with a toast and roast of life inside our 413 area code! Laugh and celebrate our collective Western Massachusetts home towns with six original tales by local authors presented as old-time radio theatre. Life in the (413) honors local culture and shines a spotlight on what makes our community so vibrant and unique! This one-night-only performance will be held in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for Performing Arts at Smith College. 413-585-2787. Northampton, MA. ($$$)

Sunday, June 5, 11am-5pm
The Lander Grinspoon Academy Spring Carnival will bring families together as kids enjoy the games, prizes, face painting and bounce house! There will also be a dunk tank, pie eating contest and giant jenga game. The activities at this carnival gives kids and parents a chance to socialize and appreciate the warm weather. Locally sourced food will be available for purchase. The LGA chorus, Felicia Sloin and Tom Knight, and Light of Day will perform. 257 Prospect Street. 413-584-6622. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Bring a lawn chair, or set up a picnic with friends and family at an outdoor community concert. This week’s options include:

  • Sunday, June 5, 6pm-8pm: Neil Diamond tribute band The Diamond Collection will perform at Beveridge Pavilion Annex in Stanley Park. 413-568-9312. 400 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA. (FREE)
  • Wednesday, June 8, 6:30pm: As part of Wednesday Folk Traditions at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, you can hear traditional and original music performed by the Tim Eriksen Trio. This group will play ballads from the Appalachians to the Pioneer Valley. Picnickers are welcome on the museum grounds at 5:00 pm. 413-584-4699. 130 River Drive, Hadley MA. ($. 16 and under <$)
  • Wednesday, June 8, 6:30pm-8pm: Local musicians Satellite Shine will showcase their acoustic covers of popular songs at Windsor Lake. 413-664-6180. Kemp Avenue and Bradley Street. North Adams, MA
  • Thursday, June 9, 6pm-8pm: Hear folk, blues, and ragtime, among other genres at a Co Op Concert in Greenfield, featuring Bruce Colegrove, Jim Eagan and Orlen & Gabriel. You can also explore the gardens, and children will be able to play on the train structure in the children’s area. Energy Park. 50 Miles Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Animal Studies

Saturday, June 4, 9:30-12:30
Want to learn about the important role bees play and the ways you can help their declining population? Attend a Bee Week event! As part of Bee Week in Greenfield, the 2nd Congregational Church will be holding Bee Fest. This educational celebration will feature a honey bee tea party, parade, lectures on bee health and bee history, a bee pinata, and a performance of youth dancers from Karen’s Dance Studio. All ages are welcome and encouraged to come. Join a local and worldwide effort to save the bees! Read more in our post, Bee Week Encourages Community Activism. 16 Court Square. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

People don’t often reflect on the role that pollinators play in our ecosystems and food supply. Learn more about why bees populations are in decline, and why you should consider adding a pollinator garden to your own landscape.

Saturday, June 4, 11am
Are snakes actually slimy? Do porcupines shoot their quills? This “Mythbusters” event at the Zoo in Forest Park will explore common misconceptions about animals. Meet real animals while learning some lesser known facts about them. This program is free with regular museum admission. 413-733-2251. 293 Summer Avenue. Springfield, MA. (<$)

Saturday, June 4, 10am-2pm
Ichthyology is a branch of biology devoted to the study of fish. The 11th Annual Family Fish Day at Great Falls Discovery Center will provide visitors with scientific learning, as well as arts and crafts, and skills based activities. Fly casting, fly tying and stream demonstrations will help kids and adults learn new fishing techniques, and a free fishing program will be offered so participants can practice their new skills. From 2pm-4pm at the nearby Turners Falls Fishway, attendees can learn how to create a gyoyaku, an ancient Japanese fish. Other activities include decorating a sea lamprey crown, enjoying a story walk and having your face painted. The event will take place rain or shine. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

What’s inside a fishing reel? Take a close look at the mechanics behind this clever device!

Saturday, June 4, 10am-4pm
For Family Fun Day at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary you can independently explore the pond, forest, and stream trails, or learn about turtles, salamanders, birds of prey, honeybees and much more in interactive workshops. Bird-spotting and salamander walks will take place at 10am. Kids will have the opportunity to learn about local wildlife through songs, crafts, and a puppet show. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, June 5, 9am-1pm
Children up to age 16 are invited to show off their skills by competing in a fishing derby! Fishing gets people out in nature, and teaches patience and hand-eye coordination. Whether your children are experienced anglers, or they want to give fishing a try, they can bring a fishing pole down to Lake Mansfield and compete. Registration will take place at Lake Mansfield beginning at 9:00 a.m. A cookout lunch will follow the derby. For more information, please contact the Youth Development Manager at 413-528-2810, ext. 30 or by email at YIPC@berkshiresouth.org. Lake Mansfield Road. Great Barrington. (FREE)


Saturday, June 4, 9am-12pm
Although it would seem to be entirely an upper body effort, rowing is a full body workout. Rowing as part of a team also encourages communication and combined efforts. On National Learn to Row Day, Northampton Community Rowing will be offering an introductory rowing class, followed by a pot luck meal. Find out if this fun, challenging, team-based sport is for you! 413-230-9254. 68 Damon Rd, Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Get inspired by some scenes from the Head of the Charles regatta, one of the most famous rowing races in the world!

Saturday, June 4, 1pm-3pm
Learn about the wildlife and history of the Housatonic river from a new perspective: paddling down it! Your guide will tell you about efforts to restore species who live in and around the river. You can watch for bald eagles flying over Bartholomew’s Cobble. Paddles, life preservers, and boats are provided. 413-229-8600. 117 Cooper Hill Road. Sheffield, MA. ($$)

Language Arts

Saturday, June 4, 10:30am
During April, National Poetry Month, the Westfield Athenaeum held adult and youth poetry contests. Winners were chosen from each category, and now you are invited to celebrate these great local poets! The poetry written and submitted by local youth will be shared at this reading and celebration. This is a wonderful event for encouraging reluctant writers, inspiring youth poets, and celebrating your community. 413-568-7833. 6 Elm Street. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 4, 10:30am-4pm
Scavenger hunts turn children and their parents into amateur detectives, using their knowledge, reasoning, and determination to find hidden objects. The 11th Annual Children’s Book Festival at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will feature scavenger hunts, as well as art, storytelling, and games. Scavenger hunts will connect the event to the current exhibition, “The Art of Eric Carle: Hide & Seek,” which teaches visitors about the hidden notes in some of Carle’s picture books. For the full schedule of events, visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art website. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Sunday, June 5, 2pm-4pm
Do you love to read and write? Come to the 9th Annual “Are You a Bookie?” celebration at Bay Path University! You can meet established book clubs to join, share your favorite authors, discover new ones, and listen to readings. Keynote speaker Ann Hood is a novelist, short story and nonfiction writer. Blake Student Commons. 588 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 9, 5pm-8pm
The Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden is a local treasure and a place to honor and explore the work of this profoundly influential author and artist. Did you know that there is a plan going forward right now for building the world’s first Dr. Seuss Museum? Come to the Springfield Museums to learn more, while enjoying Hop on Pop-corn Chicken, Sam-I-Am’s deviled eggs, and more. There will be chalk art, balloon art, a DJ, acrobatics by Boston Circus Guild, and a photo booth. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (<$ members. $ non members)

Did you know that Dr. Seuss used to work in advertising? Or that no one wanted to publish his first book? Learn more about the interesting life of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

Performing Arts

Saturday, June 4, 9:30-10:30am
There is no set definition of a fairy tale, but these stories are often relayed in the form of oral storytelling. Some other common features of these tales are their simplicity as well as the involvement of natural elements and talking animals or creatures. Fairy tales do not need to actually involve fairies; however, children who love fairies will love this fairy tale performance at the Wendell Library. Talking Hands Theatre presents Fairies of the Seasons , an enchanting show featuring handmade fairy puppets and felted animals! Set on the storyteller’s dress, these delightful characters invite the audience to sing, move, and help the fairies find their way back to the seasons where they belong. This show introduces young children to the joy of theater through the use of puppetry, imagination, and participation. Recommended for children ages 2-7. 978-544-3559. 7 Depot Road. Wendell, MA. (FREE)

Do you and your children want to make some of your own puppets at home? In this classic clip, Jim Henson, master puppetmaker and puppeteer, shows you how to make your own puppets out of everyday household materials.

Saturday, June 4, 11am-12pm
Laughter may not be the best medicine for every ailment, but it is actually a great pain reliever, since laughing releases endorphins. Bowey The Clown’s performance at the Spectrum Playhouse will have audiences laughing at his humorous ventriloquism, in addition to amazing them with magic and balloon art. After the show families are invited to stay for a healthy lunch at the Starving Artist Cafe at 40 Main Street. 413-394-5023. 20 Franklin Street. Lee MA. (DONATION)


Saturday, June 4, 10am
Learn about the history of Northampton through stories, artifacts, and a walking tour of the proposed Pomeroy Terrace Historic District. An application has been submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission to create this new historic district! Copies of the plan will be available for participants to read. Tour leader Steve Strimer will identify the work of architect William Fenno Pratt, who laid out Phillips Place in 1847. Learn about the history of Northampton as well as the possible future of this historic district. Meet at Historic Northampton. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, June 4, 1:45pm; Sunday, June, 5, 11:30am
Over the past 50 years, New England has lost over 10,000 conventional dairy farms. Family operated farms have been impacted by drought as well as low priced milk and other dairy products from corporate farms. A new documentary, Forgotten Farms, tells the story of conventional dairy farmers who have been affected. The film will premier on June 4th as part of the Berkshire International Film Festival. Screening this film can teach you about local history, as well as national economic trends, from a personal perspective.

  • Saturday’s showing will take place at Triplex Cinema. 70 Railroad Street. Great Barrington, MA. (< $)
  • Sunday’s showing will take place at Beacon Cinema. 413-358-4780. 57 North Street. Pittsfield, MA. (< $)

Sunday, June 5, 3pm-4pm
Performance artist and storyteller Tammy Denease will bring to life Elizabeth Freeman, the first black slave to win a freedom lawsuit in Massachusetts.This historic decision was based on proving that slavery was not consistent with the tenets of the Massachusetts state constitution. Attending this living history presentation at Wistariahurst will teach visitors about local history, law, and an incredible local figure. Freeman made a difference in the lives of other slaves as her lawsuit was used as a precedent in future cases. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Friday, June 10, 6pm
This coming fall, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the Eastern States Exposition, the site of The Big E. The Eastern States Exposition has hosted presentations of the livestock, as well as commercial, industrial and artistic products, throughout the past century. The Storrowton Village Museum on the site of ESE has been an integral part of that history since its origins in 1926. The “Imagination and Determination” tour will tell the history of Storrowton Village Museum through the perspectives of living history actors. It all began will Helen Osborne Storrow, who was charged with creating the “Home Department” exhibition on the grounds. Attend the program to learn more! 13-205-5051. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (<$)

Culinary Arts

Sunday, June 5, 2pm
2016 documentary In Search of Israeli Cuisine explores the question: What is Israeli cuisine? Israel is made up more than 100 different cultures. This film profiles chefs, home cooks, farmers, vintners, and cheese makers of Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, and Druze faiths. Screen this film at the Yiddish Book Center to connect with your heritage or learn about a new culture through food. Read more in our post, Culinary & Cultural Education via Local Resources & Events. 413-256-4900. 1021 West Street. Amherst, MA.

Watch this film’s trailer here:

Tuesday, June 7, 9:30am-11am
Children under five and their caregivers are invited to participate in a garden playgroup, sponsored by the Trustees. Your kids can learn about locally grown vegetables, interacting with healthy foods in fun ways and forming positive associations with these foods. Children and their caregivers will gain the knowledge and skills to start their own gardens at home. Babies are also welcome. Groups will take place at Monument Mountain every Tuesday until June 28 2016. Registration is recommended. 413-298-3239. Great Barrington, MA. (<$)

Thursday, June 9, 10:45am-12pm
Children ages 2.5-5 years and their caregivers are invited to Kids’ Kitchen, a fun cooking group in which children can learn basic food prep techniques and how to make healthy choices for everyday meals. Children who participate in meal preparation often show greater tolerance for a variety of foods and healthier eating habits than children who do not! You might think your picky eater would not enjoy cooking and trying new foods, but you may be surprised what a peer cooking experience might bring about! Sponsored by Community Health Programs of Berkshire County. 413-644-0104 x 1159. 442 Stockbridge Road. Great Barrington, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, June 4, 10:30am
Transitions can be difficult for kids, and put a strain on parents as a result. “Building Blocks for Kindergarten Readiness” will give parents tips for the sometimes difficult transition from preschool to kindergarten. This workshop at the Granby Library will include information, family activities to encourage learning, and a free book! Please register by calling 413-467-3320. Indicate if you will need child care. 297 East State Street. Granby, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, June 5, 10am-3pm
Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley presents “Raising Spiritually Intelligent Children,” a workshop at Eastworks with author, psychologist, and teacher Dr. Christopher Willard. Participants will learn how to cultivate virtues like effort, patience, determination, truthfulness, loving kindness, and equanimity. Dr. Willard is the author of Child’s Mind, Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety, and Growing Up Mindful. This workshop is appropriate for parents, caregivers, educators, therapists, social workers, and all who work with and care about the next generation.Please register. 413-527-0388. Direct questions to general@insightpv.org. 116 Pleasant Street. Easthampton, MA. ($$)

Wednesday, June 8, 9:30am-11am
What makes parenting the hardest job in the world? For one thing, people are complicated! Understanding the emotions of children, whether they’re babies or teenagers, requires empathy and emotional intelligence. Every human being is unique, and a parenting strategy which works on one child could backfire on another. That’s why it’s a good thing to have the support and understanding of other parents, as well as tons of behavioral strategies to try. This four-part “Positive Solutions” workshop at the Northampton Parents Center will explore techniques for helping children handle their emotions, follow directions, and communicate effectively. Sessions will take place on June 8, 15, 22 ,and 29. Childcare will be provided available during the workshop. To register or for questions, please call 413-587-1471 or email bblack@northampton-k12.us. 297 Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, June 9, 6pm
Expectant mothers in their last trimester of pregnancy, and their partners, are invited to The Family Center for a baby care and self-care parenting workshop. Participants will receive a free baby box with infant clothing, a baby blanket, diapers, and other newborn necessities. Priority will be given to first-time parents. Registration is required. 413-664-4821. 210 State Street. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

[Photo credit: (cc) Mike Cline]

Learn Local. Play Local. is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Blandford, Bernardston, Chesterfield, Erving, Holyoke, Montague, Montgomery, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Springfield, Warwick and Williamsburg Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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