41 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Local History to Car Shows. Agriculture to Woodworking.

Explore local rivers and ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and learn about the role beavers play in our local ecosystem. This program is suitable for ages three and up. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA.(<$)

Local History to Car Shows. Agriculture to Woodworking. Writing to Foraging. 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: In honor of the National Parks Service centennial, you can participate in a guided hike on Thursday, August 25, 9:30am-12pm to learn about the history of America’s State and National Parks. Learn about the forces which shaped, protected, and preserved these national resources on a three mile hike. This hike will go over moderate terrain and take approximately three hours. The event is appropriate for ages twelve and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Mount Holyoke Range State ParkMeet at the Notch Visitors Center. Please bring water, bug spray, and sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. 413-253-2883. 1500 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

 Agriculture ♦ Literacy ♦ Writing ♦ Local History ♦ Woodworking ♦ Dance Studies ♦ Guided Nature Walks ♦ Foraging ♦ Music Studies ♦ Automotive ♦ Car ShowZoology ♦ Bird Language ♦ Opera ♦ Art Studies ♦ Culture Studies

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Saturday, August 20, 7am-7pm and Sunday, August 21, 8am-5pm
Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs honor the generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities. A tradition for many generations, agricultural fairs showcase the unique skills and talents specific to rural life in western Massachusetts – and in doing so, fairs offer families the opportunity to not only celebrate local culture, but to actively participate in preserving it. The Heath Agricultural Fair will have everything from sheep and cattle shows, sheep shearing demonstrations and herd dog demonstrations, to kids games, a beekeeping workshop, and much more! Visit the fair website for a full schedule of activities. Heath Fairgrounds. Heath, MA. ($; Children 9 and under FREE)

Saturday, August 20, 8am-10pm and Sunday, August 21, 8am-5:30pm
Agricultural fairs, primarily established by agricultural societies for the purpose of agriculture promotion, science and education, celebrate New England history and local culture in communities all over western Massachusetts throughout late summer and early fall. The Westfield Fair will provide the opportunity for historical and agricultural learning through an ox draw, demolition derby, antique tractor pull and more. Visit the fair website for a full schedule of activities. 413-222-4067. 137 Russellville Road. Westfield, MA. (<$; Children under 12 FREE)

Saturday, August 20, 9am-5pm
Agricultural fairs are a celebration of local farming, farm culture, and New England history. The 76th Annual Berkshire County Youth Fair specifically features the work of young people! Anyone between the ages of five and eighteen can enter the fair and showcase items they made, created, grew, or raised. Visit the Mass 4H website for information on entering. Come see the youth exhibits as well as animal exhibits, horse gymkhana, crafters, live entertainment, a food booth, and a mechanical bull! Berkshire County 4H fairgrounds. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 20, 11am-3pm
Agriculture is an essential part of our culture here in the Pioneer Valley. You can support our thriving farms and farmers by attending the “Farmer Olympics” at Hancock Shaker Village. Contests and team competitions for all ages will include Moo-Juice Squeeze, the Grain Bag Toss, the Wheelbarrow Waggle, the Hay Bale Stack and more! This celebration of agriculture will directly benefit Greenagers, a nonprofit that provides environmental education for teens and young adults. Visit the Hancock Shaker Village website for more information. 413-443-0188. 1843 West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield MA. ($; 17 and younger FREE)

Thursday, August 25, 4pm-9:30pm and Friday, August 26, 7am-9:30pm
Agricultural fairs connect people to local food and culture through the longstanding tradition of showcasing agricultural products. At the Cummington Fair you will be able to also learn about history through the antique engines and tractor show. There will be horse shows, crafts, and live music. Check the fair website for a full schedule of events on August 25th through 28th. 413-634-5091. 97 Fairgrounds Road. Cummington, MA. ($; Ages 10 to 15 <$; Ages 9 and under FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 10am-2pm
Writers throughout history have relied on their senses for inspiration. Writers often describe sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and physical sensations in order to ground the reader in a place and time, while also connecting the reader to the characters. This guided walk at Bug Hill Farm will focus on sensory exploration. Writer and landscape historian Jane Roy Brown will guide participants. Bring your own picnic lunch, water, and be prepared for moderate walking. No writing experience is required. Register online. 502 Bug Hill Road. Ashfield, MA. ($$)

Saturday, August 20, 10am-5pm and Sunday, August 21, 10am-5pm
Library book sales support the institution of the library, thus supporting literacy for the entire community via collaborative consumption. The Lenox Library Book sale will have a large selection of children’s books at bargain prices, adult and teen fiction, cookbooks, and biography. Smaller but popular categories include gardening, art, poetry, The Berkshires, military history, computers and science, how-to and hobbies, plus CDs, DVDs, LPs, sheet music, and much more! 413-637-0197. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Monday, August 22, 4pm
Shirley Jackson was a popular American author whose works in the 1940s and 1950s have gone on to inspire authors today. Writer Ruth Franklin will be at The Mount discussing her forthcoming biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. This talk will offer insight into writing of the past and present. 413-551-5111. 2 Plunkett Street. Lenox, MA. ($$)

Wednesday, August 24, 12pm-1pm
“Erasure” or “blackout” poetry is a form of poetry created by pulling words from a pre-existing text. Writers take a sample of writing, and black out some or most of the words, turning it into something completely new. This can be a less intimidating introduction to poetry, or a new technique for seasoned poets. This Make It Springfield workshop will get you started making your own blackout poetry. All ages are welcome. 168 Worthington Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Using a newspaper or magazine for blackout poems can help to amp up the artistic potential of the activity. Differences in font, text size, and alignment can help poets to create a piece that not only sounds wonderful, but is aesthetically pleasing, too! To get started on your own, you can watch the following How To video:

Parents who want to encourage their children to read and discuss their reading, may be interested in local book clubs. Check out our post, Book Clubs for Early Literacy and Lifelong Learning. Additionally, for adults and self-directed teens interested in literary learning and local history, read our post, 10 Resources for Literary Learning in Western MA.


Saturday, August 20, 1pm-2pm
Hydroelectricity is a form of electricity powered by the gravitational force of flowing water. At the time of its inception and for many years after, the Turners Falls hydroelectric concrete dam known as Cabot Station was the largest hydroelectric facility east of Niagara Falls. Come to Great Falls Discovery Center for an interactive historical review of the construction of Cabot Station. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 21, 2pm
Bike paths and other systems which encourage bicycling have a profound effect on communities. Bike paths encourage exercise as well as sustainable forms of travel. You can learn about the history of Northampton’s rail trails during this talk at Historic Northampton. Craig Della Penna will be speaking on the topic. This program takes place in conjunction with the current exhibition, The Norwood Engineering Building: A Florence Landmark. Check out the exhibition to learn more about local history and architecture. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 21, 2pm-4pm
The Bisbee Mill Museum is a three-story 19th-century reconstructed grist mill, with a blacksmith shop, woodworking shop, and a small museum area. The museum houses hundreds of historic artifacts, from a circa-1835 horse drawn hearse to old woodworking tools. Come to the museum on August 21 or September 18 and witness demonstrations, such as corn grinding, with historic tools. 66 East Street. Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

Blacksmithing has been around for many centuries, dating back to the Iron Age, and is the practice of forging metal for practical or decorative purposes. Along side carpentry, both artisan skills not only build furniture, but all sorts of artistic and functional works, including instruments. If you’re interested in learning about additional resources for historical learning through practical skills, read our post, Inspiration for Aspiring Woodworkers & Blacksmiths.

Wednesday, August 24, 1pm-4pm
Learn about Longmeadow history with a visit to the Storrs House Museum. The Longmeadow Historical Society will be holding an open house at the museum, offering the chance to view the Stephen Williams exhibit room as well as the basement archives/ research area. You can learn about the historical society’s new project entitled Through the Lens- Longmeadow 100 Years Ago. This project will involve interactive photos and maps about Longmeadow in the early 20th century. 697 Longmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 10am-2pm
Ohana School of Performing Arts offers dance classes ranging from hip hop to tap to ballet.
Come to this open house to meet instructors, tour the studio space, learn more about our mission and register for fall classes! Dance combines exercise with performance and creativity and teamwork. 413-529-9996. 470 Newton Street. South Hadley, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 20, 6:15pm
Dancing is a natural human activity which occurs formally and informally across cultures. Even babies, listening to music, will move their bodies along to the beat. Contemporary dance performances can explore and communicate themes through choreographed movement and collaboration among dancers. Students from the Musical Theatre Dance program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow will be impressing audience members of all ages with their repertory works to live music. Come see them perform on at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)


Wednesday, August 24, 6:15pm
Dancing is a natural human activity which occurs formally and informally across cultures. Even babies, listening to music, will move their bodies along to the beat. Contemporary dance performances can explore and communicate themes through choreographed movement and collaboration among dancers. On August 24, you can witness the work of three dance companies as they perform at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. This show, Women Making Work , will showcase female choreographers of multiple genres based in New York. For more information, visit the Jacob’s Pillow website. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, August 25, 6:15pm
On August 25th, you can witness the work of rising collegiate choreographers and performers as they perform at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. For more information, visit the Jacob’s Pillow website. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 26, 6:15pm
On August 26th, you can witness Philadelphia-based group Just Sole! performing their hip-hop and street dance styles at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. For more information, visit the Jacob’s Pillow website. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 9am-1pm
Foraging connects people with nature by making them more observant of the plants around them. This Highland “Ghost Town” Berry Foraging Trek at Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center will offer the opportunity for foraging of wild edible plants, including high bush blueberry foraging. Participants will also explore Cellar holes, stone wells, and “witness trees.” Witness trees are trees which were alive during the the First and Second Battles of Manassas, making them over 150 years old. Wear long pants, long sleeves, hat, sturdy waterproof boots, and bring a lunch. Email aimee@gaiaroots.com to register and for directions. 1515 Savoy Hollow Road. Windsor, MA. (<$)

Thursday, August 25, 9:30am-12pm
In honor of the National Parks Service centennial, you can participate in this guided hike to learn about the history of America’s State and National Parks. Learn about the forces which shaped, protected, and preserved these national resources on a three mile hike. This hike will go over moderate terrain and take approximately three hours. The event is appropriate for ages twelve and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Mount Holyoke Range State ParkMeet at the Notch Visitors Center. Please bring water, bug spray, and sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. 413-253-2883. 1500 West Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 21, 1pm-4pm
Fresh, locally sourced ingredients improve any meal. You can find wild fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seasonings growing wild all around you! You can learn about local, edible plants, how to identify them and sustainably pick them, at this Wild Food Walk. Learn more on the Meetup website, under the Northampton/Amherst Herbalist Group. Wildwood Elementary School. Meet near the play structure at the end of the parking lot. 71 Strong Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

offers learning opportunities that integrate culinary arts with botany and agriculture. In addition to many, year-round offerings of culinary workshops and resources in Western Massachusetts, seasonal events such as guided wild plant walks can open up new doorways of interests and add local, fresh ingredients to your cooking practice. Whether you are interested in wild plant walks, gardening, farming, or cooking, there are ample opportunities for you and your family to connect with your community through food and plants. Here are several community-based educational resources and events to support your interests while engaging in your community this summer. Check out those listed in our post, Summer Opportunities to Connect People to Place through Wild and Cultivated Food.


Sunday, August 21, 1:30pm
A carillon is a musical instrument involving at least twenty-three bells, typically played by striking a keyboard. Automated music can also be played on certain carillons, similar to a player piano. You can hear these bells played by carilloneur Norma Hopper in Stanley Park. For more information, call 413-568-9312 ext 100. 400 Western Avenue. Westfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 21, 2pm
The 94th Army band is a musical group with a rich history. They are a unit of the Army Reserve assigned to the eastern United States. You can hear them play outside, behind the Springfield Armory National Historic Site museum building. Bring a picnic or blanket and hear music which is connected to local and national history. The concert is weather dependent. 413-734-8551. One Armory Square. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 21, 6pm
Oakes & Smith are a self proclaimed “art folk duo,” who perform an acoustic mix of folk and pop with voices blending in close harmonies. Their soulful songs are inspired by nature, love, spirit, art and poetry. You can hear them perform at Bascom Lodge. This show is free and open to the public. 413-743-1591. 30 Rockwell Road. Lanesboro, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 26, 4pm
Singing releases both endorphins and oxytocin, leaving the singer more relaxed. Oxytocin also causes a feeling of bonding with others. Combine singing with a sense of community, and you are bound to experience a strong sense of belonging. The Sunderland Public Library is hosting a community sing, for all ages and abilities. Lyrics will be provided. 413- 665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 26, 5pm-11pm
Music festivals can connect community members to their town through a celebration of local culture. Celebrate Holyoke, on August 26-28, invited you to enjoy live music, local restaurants, and goods from local artists and makers. The downtown celebration kicks off with four bands: Basement Cats, Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze, Jesus Pagan y Conjunto Barrio, Joe Velez Creacion Latin Big Band. Check the Celebrate Holyoke website for a full schedule of events. Holyoke Heritage State Park. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 8am-10am
Do you enjoy learning abou collector, classic and custom vehicles? The first ever Wheels and Waffles event at Eastern States Exposition will offer coffee and breakfast, historical music from the 50s and 60s, and show cars! This event is an extension of the Exposition’s Collector Car Experience, taking place on September 18th. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Friday, August 26, 9am-3pm
Car and transportation shows can teach people about automotive technology. The presence of vintage cars provides insight into technological history. The North Adams car show on August 26-28 will feature not only cars but trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles, tractors and more. This event is free to attend, but requires a registration fee to display a vehicle. The main car show will take place on August 28th when Main, Holden and Eagle Streets will be closed to all but pedestrian traffic for the show. For more information call 413-664-6180 or email tourism@northadams-ma.gov. Downtown. North Adams, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 11am
Beekeeping is an educational hobby which can also be a vital part of a sustainable living lifestyle. This is the second last session of a summer-long beekeeping workshop sponsored by Just Roots and led by Daniel Berry. The information in this workshop is not entirely cumulative. Even if you have not attended previous sessions you are welcome to attend this session on August 20th, and/or the final session on September 17. This workshop has a pay-what-you-can policy, with the goal of achieving a $10 donation on average, per person, at each workshop. Bee suits will be provided. Register at the Just Roots website. 413-325-8969. Just Roots Farm. 34 Glenbrook Drive, Greenfield, MA. ($)

Sunday, August 21, 9am-4pm
How come some birds just seem to vocalize simple chirps while others have elaborate, melodious songs? Bird songs evolve socially, and although species sing the same song, dialects develop regionally. “Bird language” is a term referring to the combined chirps, songs, and behaviors which allow birds to communicate with each other. Humans can learn these cues too! This workshop at the Mass Audubon and Flying Deer Nature Center will teach participants about bird language through storytelling, lecture, slideshows, outdoor activities and field exercises. There will be activities for adults and teens, as well as a separate day of activities for kids ages six through twelve. 413-637-0320. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. 472 W Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. ($$)

Tuesday, August 23, 6pm
Honey is a substance made from the sweet deposits of plants and trees, which bees gather and store in the honeycomb. You can learn a great deal about your local ecosystem by learning about the role of the honey bee. Ken Warchol, professional bee keeper, will present this informative lecture at the Sunderland Public Library. There will be a honey tasting following the lecture. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 24, 11am-12pm
Watching and interacting with animals provides insight into those animals behaviors. Animals are entertaining creatures and observing them can get people interested in learning about scientific concepts such as habitat, ecology, biology, and evolution. You and your family can observe live animals during your lunch at River Valley Co Op. Lori Swanson from Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society will be present with lots of friendly creatures. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 24, 6:30pm-8pm
From afar, a beaver dam looks like a big pile of sticks, but a closer examination reveals careful construction and cool inner architecture! Through the creation of dams, beavers have had profound effects on plant, animal, and microbial communities across the country. Learn more about our country’s largest rodent and their relationship within our ecosystem by visiting the beaver ponds at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. This program is suitable for ages three and up. 413-637-0320. 472 West Mountain Road. Lenox, MA. (<$)

Friday, August 26, 11am-12:30am
Learn about amphibians and reptiles at the Berkshire Botanical Garden! Professor Tom Tyning will have a few live frogs on hand for families to see. He will share with visitors interesting facts about the behaviors and the methods which frogs and turtles use to survive and reproduce. 413-298-3926. 5 West Stockbridge Road. Stockbridge, MA. ($; Children under 12 and members FREE)

are a common interest among children. Whether they’re in love with cats of all shapes and sizes or fascinated by the destructive power of a shark’s jaws, children can learn a lot through having an interest in creatures. In utilizing the numerous animal-related community-based learning resources available locally, families can support children of all ages in learning about everything from biological classification to compassion. Summer opens up these opportunities and is the perfect time to seek out animal demonstrations, visit the zoo, or learn about biology through volunteering at a shelter. Read our post: Community Resources Support Interests in Animals, Insects, Fish and More!


Sunday, August 21, 3pm
Opera is an artistic form which blends together the human drama of a theatrical performance, with the emotional impact of music. Amherst College is providing audiences with the unique opportunity to witness a free workshop performance and post-show discussion. This workshop performance will showcase the concluding half of The Scarlet Professor, a new opera based on the 1960 arrest and trial of Smith College professor Newton Arvin. Learn about theater, music, acting, directing, and local history all at once! 413- 542-2000. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 23, 4pm
Mealtimes are often times of celebration, ceremony, and cultural significance. In narratives, meals and sharing of drinks can have symbolic meaning. Food historian and author Francine Segan will be discussing the role of food and drink in opera, with her talk, “A Toast! To Artful Dining Among the Arias.” Learn about significant opera scenes involving toasts and breaking of bread. Ventfort Hall. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. ($$)

For more theatrical performances and opportunities, check out our post, Handbill & Callboard: Theater Studies Through Engagement in Western MA for August.


Saturday, August 20, 2pm
While they are targeted at children, picture books are an impressive art form which weaves together narratives and illustration. author Elizabeth Howard and illustrator Diana Wege will be at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art reading their book, A Day with Bonefish Joe. Kids who enjoy stories and art will love this program. Adults may wish to purchase copies for signing. This program is free with museum admission. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Wednesday, August 24, 3:45pm-5pm
Messy art isn’t just for kids! Help your kids imagine, build, and create at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This is a great opportunity for you to collaborate with your family while meeting other kids and parents. There will be an optional free play area for siblings under four years old. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. ($)

Thursday, August 25, 5pm-8pm
Art walks are an opportunity to showcase local art, meet artists, and get inspired by local culture. DownStreetArt will once again be providing that opportunity, this time with the theme of “Meet your neighbors.” Attend local gallery openings, see live music, and make new friends. Downtown. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, August 25, 5:30pm
The Real or Imagined? Adventures in Visual Culture lecture series at the Norman Rockwell Museum will feature talks to enlighten museum goers in conjunction with the current exhibition, Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World. Illustrators Marshall Arisman, Anita Kunz, and Thomas Woodruff will provide three perspectives on visual narratives, realism, and Rockwell’s works. This program is included with museum admission. 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA. ($; College students with ID <$; Ages 6-18 <$; Under 5 and museum members FREE)


Saturday, August 20, 11am-8pm and Sunday, August 21, 12pm-6pm
Greek Fest 2016 at St. George Greek Orthodox Church of the Berkshires will give you a taste of Greece without the need to travel! In addition to the great dishes and pastries, there will be live music and dancing. This event will take place rain or shine on Saturday August 20th & Sunday, August 21st. 413-442-8113. 73 Bradford Street. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, August 26, 10am
Celebrate Jewish culture at a “Shabbat Shabloom” gathering! Fridays until late August, at Abundance Farm, families will gather for music. Felicia Sloin and Amy Meltzer lead a musical performance especially for young children, encouraging participation and movement. Families are invited to tour the farm, sample what is in season, and take home flowers. 253 Prospect Street. Northampton, MA. (DONATION)

Friday, August 26, 5pm-9pm
Westfield Food Fest on August 26th, 27th, and 28th, is your chance to try a variety of locally sourced foods. Local musicians will keep you entertained as you sample food from local restaurants and food trucks. For more information, visit the Westfield Rotary website. The event will be held on Elm Street between Franklin Street and Main Street. Westfield, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

a second language is a fun and exciting challenge for the brain. Since learning a second language is easiest during early childhood, language learning can be the perfect intergenerational pursuit for parents who want to expand their knowledge. Fluency in more than one language opens up career opportunities, as well as the ability to converse easily with a greater number of people, both at home and when traveling. But with over 3000 languages, how do you pick which one to learn? Read our post, Language Learning Resources in Western MA.

[Photo Credit: (cc) Pilot Girl]

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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