39 Community-Based Educational Highlights: Circle Dance to Witchcraft. Watercolor Painting to Astronomy.

Nighthawks are impressive creatures which engage in aerial acrobatics, catching insects on their wings! On Tuesday, August 30, 5pm-7:30pm, you can search the sky for migrating nighthawks at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. Bring binoculars. Registration is not required. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Circle Dance to Witchcraft. Watercolor Painting to Astronomy. STEM to Literacy.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 highlightthis week: On Saturday, August 27, 12:30pm-11pm and Sunday, August 28, 12:30pm-7:30pm you can be a part of Celebrate Holyoke. Enjoy live music, food from local restaurants, and goods from local artists and makers. On the 27th you can hear live music from the following bands: From the Woods, Skarroñeros, Paper City Exiles. Franny O Show, Trailer Park, Pabon Salsa, Eleven, and Brass Attack. Check the Celebrate Holyoke website for a full schedule of events. Holyoke Heritage State Park. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Sports ♦ Art Studies ♦ Watercolor Painting ♦ History ♦ Historic Schoolhouse ♦ Witchcraft ♦ Local Food Culture ♦ Literacy ♦ Astronomy ♦ STEM ♦ Circuitry ♦ Zoology ♦ Entomology ♦ Dance Studies ♦ Circle Dance ♦ Music Studies ♦ Agriculture

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Saturday, August 27, 9am
“Fun runs” are a family-friendly, accessible version of a typical road race. They provide the chance for parents and children to run or walk together. Bringing your child to a fun run can send the message that exercise is fun and can benefit the whole community. Proceeds from this Almost Mile Family Fun Run and 5K will benefit theStorrs Library in Longmeadow. 413-565-4181. Town Green. Longmeadow, MA. (Adult $$; Children 12 and under <$)

Saturday, August 27, 10am
This year, the Eastern States Exposition will celebrate its 100th anniversary at The Big E. The countdown to this historic event kicks off with a 5K run! Children ten and younger can participate in a fun run, free with a donation of a new or gently used book. Everyone is encouraged to dress in their Big E best to compete for the Big E Spirit Award! The person whose outfit best exemplifies the spirit of The Big E will receive a VIP day at the Fair. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Saturday, August 27, 2:30pm-4:45pm
On a hot summer afternoon, it can be nice to cool off outside with a swim, or stay inside and avoid the heat. The Jones Library will be screening matines of films with athletic themes, on August 20th and 27th. These films tie into the Olympics theme of this year’s summer reading program. On the 20th you can screen the 2016 movie Race (rated PG-13). Sports themed movies tend to be highly inspirational. The motivational message can be applied to athletics, or any competitive interest. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Did you know that learning about sports can also strengthen your sense of place? Western Massachusetts is filled with opportunities to learn about (and participate in!) sports of all kinds. Learn more in our post, Exploring Athletics and Sports History Through Community-Based Resources


Saturday, August 27, 9am-1pm
Watercolor is an ancient art form which has existed since Egyptian times. Watercolor had a resurgence during the European Renaissance and has been relatively popular ever since. You can learn watercolor painting techniques from teacher Sylvia Foster in this workshop at the Otis Town Hall. Class size is limited. To register call 772-785-6547. 1 North Main Road. Otis, MA. ($)

Saturday, August 27, 12pm and 1pm
Buildings are designed with both form and function in mind, therefore, architecture can teach us about stylistic as well as practical and historic trends. Come to Field Farm to see mid-20th century sculptures and tour the guest houses. You will have the chance to view and compare the award-winning Folly guest house (post-modernist) and the American modern style guest house. For information call the Trustees at 413 458-3135. 554 Sloan Road. Williamstown, MA. (Non members <$; Members FREE)

Wednesday, August 31, 2:30pm-4pm
Figure drawing is a fundamental skill for artists. This type of drawing can be intimidating for beginners, and it is easier to execute with a real model for reference. Hone your skills by attending the final drop in figure drawing session at the Clark Art Institute. All skill levels are invited to try it out and gather inspiration from the work on view: “Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado.” 413-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. ($. Under 18 and museum members FREE)with the fitness themed summer reading program. 413-499-9480. 1 Wendell Avenue. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, September 1, 2pm
The Norman Rockwell Museum is located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life. The museum offers the opportunity to learn about art history as well as biographical information on Rockwell himself. During this adult program, visitors are invited to explore the entire campus, learn about the historic buildings onsite, and enjoy the museum’s outdoor exhibition inspired by Rockwell’s first Saturday Evening Post cover. The program is free for Museum members, or included with Museum admission. 413-298-4100. 9 MA-183. Stockbridge, MA. ($. College students with ID <$. Ages 6-18 <$. Under 5 FREE)


Saturday, August 27, 10:30am
When Williamstown, Massachusetts was first settled, Stone Hill was the center of the town. This site was a place for residences, farms, and woodlots. Much of this original subdivision is still visible today. You are invited on a moderate hike of Stone Hill, led by exhibition co-curator and Williams College Biology and Environmental Studies Professor Hank Art, to explore the area and the impact of human land uses over the past 250 years. This program is free with admission to the Clark Art Institute and is held in conjunction with the summer exhibition, “Sensing Place: Reflecting on Stone Hill.” 13-458-2303. 225 South Street. Williamstown, MA. (Non Members $. Members, students with valid ID and children under 18 FREE)

Saturday, August 27, 10am
The Worthington Historic Society invites you to learn about local history by participating in a guided hike to Smith’s Mill and “The Gold Mine” in Peru State Forest. This is a two-stage hike and the second stage is optional. The first, fairly easy stage will takes participants to the stone foundation of Smith’s Mill, built in 1844. The second, more difficult stage will lead participants to “The Gold Mine,” located farther up Fuller Brook. This stage requires crossing Fuller Brook several times, stepping across rocks and boulders. The rain date will be August 28 at the same time. Pack water and a snack. RSVP to evanspring@gmail.com. Meet at Jim Dodge’s place, 311 River Road. West Worthington, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 27, 5pm-7pm
Historical societies are essential resources for community education. These societies often support a strong sense of connection to place through local history. You are invited to an ice cream social at one such organization, Historic Northampton. The Florence Community Band and A2Z Yo-Yo Team will be present for entertainment. 413-584-6011. 46 Bridge Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

For a list of local historical societies, check out our post, Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore.

Sunday, August 28, 2pm-4pm
Historical societies draw people together who have an interest in preservation of the past. Theis Buckland Historical Society open house will offer tours of the Museum and the Wilder Homestead. The Museum is a former school house which now houses three floors of artifacts and town records. The Wilder Homestead is a furnished 1775 saltbox with five fireplaces, a 1779 English barn with antique barn loom, and a shoemaker shop (Rt. 112). 413-625-9763. 20 Upper Street. Buckland, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 30, 4pm
Witchcraft is an integral part of Massachusetts history. While witch trials primarily occurred in the 17th century, an interest in the supernatural remains to this day. Learn about the spiritual history of the 1920s by attending this talk, “The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seducation and Houdini in the Spirit World,” at Ventfort Hall. Author and screenwriter David Jaher will relay the story of Mrs. Mina Crandon and her role in the debate over spiritualis. 413-637-3206. 104 Walker Street. Lenox, MA. ($$)


Saturday, August 27, 12pm-6pm
Learn how to cook from locally sourced ingredients, in workshops taught by local chefs! The Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival will feature workshops on topics such as home preservation, smoothie making, and shakshuka. Shakushka is an Israeli stewed tomato dish. Learn about various cultures through food while connecting to your community. There will also be wild edible plant walks, kids activities, opportunities to pick your own vegetables, and more. 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (Adults $; 8-17 years old <$; 7 and under FREE)

Saturday, August 27, 12pm-9pm and Sunday, August 28, 12pm-6pm
Westfield Food Fest 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)

Saturday, August 27, 3pm-5pm
What do you do with an abundance of fresh grown food, such as tomatoes and pickles? When you have too much of a particular food item, you can can them to preserve them. Georgia Barberi will be at the Bushnell-Sage Library teaching participants proper canning technique and helpful hints. 413-229-7004. 48 S Main Street. Sheffield, MA. (FREE)

Learning to preserve foods can be an educational experience, combining the topics of local food, and chemistry. Involve your kids and they’ll get some experience with cellular biology & chemistry. Read on for some excellent insights in our post, Learn About Local Food & Chemistry through Fermentation.


Saturday, August 27, 2pm-4pm
Lewis Carol’s 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland, and the many film adaptations of the story, remain an important cultural tale to this day. People of all ages can get something out of the story of young Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a fantastical world. You and your family are invited to celebrate this tale, at a Mad Hatter themed tea party at Naumkeag. Participants will will decorate hats, read from the story, have tea and cake with Naumkeag’s very own Mad Hatter. Costumes are encouraged. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill. Stockbridge, MA. (Non members $. Members and children <$)

Tuesday, August 30, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Therapy dogs can calm people down in stressful situations, especially dog lovers. Libraries all over have begun to bring in therapy dogs to help children who are learning to read. Peanut the dog will be at the Whately Library as a gentle, non-threatening listener for children who want to practice their reading skills aloud. 413-665-2170. 202 Chestnut Plain Road. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Learn more about the benefit of therapy dogs to struggling readers in our post, Time to Talk: Stress-Free Reading.

Tuesday, August 30, 6pm-9pm
Workshops are an essential resource for writers. In writing workshops, people can inspire each other with ideas and prompts, and share their writing for constructive feedback. Make It Springfield will be offering a two-hour weekly writing workshop using visual prompts and poetry. This workshop is open to the public. Please register on the Make It Springfield website. 168 Worthington Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 31, 5:30pm-6:30pm
“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)


Saturday, August 27, 8pm
What better place to view the stars from, than the summit of a mountain? People of all ages are invited to meet at the summit of Mt. Greylock near the War Memorial Tower, for a “star party!” Members of the Amherst Astronomy Association will share their knowledge about the stars, planets, and constellations. Wear appropriate clothing for cool evenings, bring a flashlight. This program will be cancelled if it rains or if there is heavy cloud cover. Call 413-499-4262 for day-of questions about program status due to the weather. 30 Rockwell Road. Lanesborough, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, August 27, 8pm-10pm
The night sky changes with the seasons, thus there is always something new to see and learn about. You are invited to explore stars, planets, and more at Notchview. On Saturday, August 27 and September 24, volunteers from Arunah Hill Natural Science Center will teach you what to look for. Rain or heavy cloud cover cancels. 83 Old Route 9. Windsor, MA. (Members FREE. Non members <$)


Saturday, August 27, 10am-12pm
Makerspaces encourage STEM learning through creative collaboration. This makerspace workshop at the Greenfield Public Library will teach participants how to use a 3D Printer and a CNC Router. Also included will be balloon sculptures! This program is designed for ages eight through twelve. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Monday, August 29, 5:30pm-7:30pm
What does art have to do with technology? Computer programs of all kinds utilize a great deal of creativity for their projects. Technological softwares can open up new doors for digital and interactive artwork. Whether you have experience making art, programming, both, or neither, you can attend this Holyoke Codes workshop and create interactive artwork. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. This program is for ages eleven and up. 413- 552-4900. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 31, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Circuit boards are a great tool for people who wish to tinker with electricity. Using everyday objects such as batteries and lights, people can tinker with circuitry and learn about cause and effect. Youth ages seven and up are invited to do just that at this Holyoke Codes program. Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center413- 552-4900. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

For even more STEM opportunities, read our post, Community-Based Organizations & Workshops to Support Coding for All Ages.

You and your child can learn about STEM topics without leaving the house, through online educational videos. Learn more by reading our post, SciShow: Teaching the World of Science Through Video.


Tuesday, August 30, 5pm-7:30pm
Nighthawks are impressive creatures which engage in aerial acrobatics, catching insects on their wings! You can search the sky for migrating nighthawks, and learn how they behave in their habitat. Pleasant Valley’s caretaker will guide participants where to look, during this program at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. Bring binoculars. Registration is not required. 413-637-0320. Holmes Road. Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Tuesday, August 30, 10pm-midnight
Adults and teens are invited to an evening studying moths in Holyoke Heritage State Park. Moth, butterfly, and birding expert Betsy Higgins will show participants both how to attract and how to identify moths. The Department of Conservation and Recreation is providing extra security for this special, late-night event. Please bring a flashlight and meet in front of the visitors’ center. 413-534-1723. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 31, 11am-12pm
Animals are entertaining to observe and interact with. Lots of children are interested in learning about animals, which can in turn get them interested in learning about scientific concepts such as habitat, ecology, biology, and evolution. You and your family can learn about animals during your lunch at River Valley Co Op. Northampton Animal Control Officer Shayla Howe will be present with live animals. 413-584-2665. 330 North King Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 27, 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 27th, you and your family can witness expert, contemporary dancing at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. New York City-based artist Nico Brown, alumnus of Jacob’s Pillow, will be performing the new work, This is not a letter by my arms around you for a brief moment as well as the solo Nation. Don’t miss this final, free, “Inside/Out” program at Jacob’s Pillow. 413-243-9919. 358 George Carter Road. Becket, MA. (FREE)

Friday, September 2, 6pm-8pm
Circle Dance at the West Cummington Parish House draws upon the traditional dances of many different cultures. Sacred Circle Dance was founded by the members of Findhorn Community in Scotland. The dances have a range of pace and style, but no experience is necessary. Every dance will be explained and demonstrated, so this is a great opportunity to learn something new while getting exercise and meeting new people. Call 413 634-0132 for more information. 27 West Main Street. West Cummington, MA. (DONATION)

Looking for even more opportunities to witness and participate in dance? Check out our post, Explore the Art of Dance Through Community-Based Resources.


Saturday, August 27, 12:30pm-11pm and Sunday, August 28, 12:30pm-7:30pm
Music festivals can connect community members to their town through a celebration of local culture. Celebrate Holyoke, on August 26th-August 28, invited you to enjoy live music, local restaurants, and goods from local artists and makers. On the 27th you can hear live music from the following bands: From the Woods, Skarroñeros, Paper City Exiles. Franny O Show, Trailer Park, Pabon Salsa, Eleven, and Brass Attack. Check the b>Celebrate Holyoke website for a full schedule of events. Holyoke Heritage State Park. 221 Appleton Street. Holyoke, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, August 28, 6pm
Moonshine Holler is a two person musical duo drawing upon southern roots music and using more instruments than they can juggle, including: fiddle, banjo, Hawaiian guitar, harmonica and ukulele. 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)

Tuesday, August 30, 4pm-9:30pm
Arts classes in schools, including music, visual arts, theater and more, can help keep kids engaged and socially connected. You can support the arts in local schools by attending the 26th annual Transperformance benefit concert. See local bands such as The Lonesome Brothers, Suitcase Junket, Mister G. and more! For more information, visit the Northampton Arts Council website. Call 1-800-838-3006 to purchase tickets. Pines Theater-Look Park. 300 North Main Street. Florence, MA. (<$)

Sunday, August 28, 2pm
Placemaking is a practice and a philosophy. It is an approach to both the creation and use of public spaces, aiming to promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Lawn concerts are one type of event which supports placemaking, by drawing people together and strengthening a connection to neighbors via community spaces. The North Adams Music Series will be running through October 16, with free live music every Sunday. Check the Levitt Foundation website for a schedule of musicians. On August 28th, blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis will perform. Colgrove Park. 151 Kemp Avenue. North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, August 31, 6:30pm
Outdoor concerts are a fixture of the summer months, and a chance to appreciate the green spaces in your town with picnics and lawn chairs. This concert in Lilac Park will feature acoustic blues songs by Cosby Gibson and Tom Staudle. In case of rain the concert will be moved to the town hall auditorium. Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)

Friday, September 2, 2pm
The Sunderland Public Library will be hosting a lawn concert with Johnny and the Flashbacks, an upbeat band that plays recognizable cover songs. 413-665-2642. 20 School Street. Sunderland, MA. (FREE)


Saturday, August 27, 7am-9:30pm and Sunday, August 28, 7am-7pm
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 engine and tractor show. There will be oxen and 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 27, 10am-2pm
Farmers’ markets offer a consistent, simple way for local farmers and food producers to connect with the community. These markets provide locally grown items, teaching buyers about their habitat through seasonal variation in what is available. This Easthampton farmers’ and makers’ market will also offer locally made items, bringing artists and crafters into the mix. See what you can find, every Saturday from 10am-2pm through September 24th. For more information, visit the Easthampton Farmers’ and Makers’ Market website. 50 Payson Avenue. Easthampton, MA. (MARKET/SALE)

Friday, September 3, 4pm-9:30pm
The 3 County Fair is an almost 200 year old local tradition! The fair showcases several important aspects of Pioneer Valley culture, including agriculture, homesteading, art and music! Visit the fair website for a full schedule of activities and entertainment including animal shows, tractor pulls, and rides. 54 Fair Street. Northampton, MA. (Basic entry $. Children age 11 and younger, FREE. Wristband for rides $$)

Friday, September 2, 3pm-9pm
Agricultural fairs are an important tradition in New England, and all across the country. Such events showcase rural skills and traditions, and help to promote a strong connection between communities and their physical surroundings. The The Blandford Fair will feature, 4-Wheel Drive Truck Pulls, a petting zoo, racing pigs and much more! Check the website for a full schedule of events on September 2nd- 5th. North Street. Blandford, MA. (<$)

[Photo Credit: (cc) Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren]

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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