Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here. Growing up in the hills of East Texas, Memorial Day weekend marked the opening of our neighborhood swimming pool. With great hopes that this weekend will be sunny and beautiful, we plan to follow this youthful tradition by blowing up the kiddie pool! My daughter’s beside herself. Yesterday she was running around the yard in her water-wings, river shoes and underwear. (And she’s got the bug bites on her back to prove it.) She wouldn’t take them off at bath-time. So why not … let her bathe with her swimming attire on. She got very frustrated with the water-wings. “They keep popping up!” she hollered as she tried to keep them submerged.

With the lilacs in bloom, Memorial Day weekend also marks the 33rd annual MA Sheep and Wool Craft Fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds – one of the oldest sheep fairs in New England. Is it my imagination, or have we had cruddy weather for the past couple of years during the fair? I’m actually hesitant to check the weather report. I’m going on wishful thinking!

The fair is a great opportunity to take the family to discover more about one of the oldest industries in the world. I’ve included a few of their events in this week’s list that are specifically for kids and families, but there is much more going on at the fairgrounds during the weekend. Visit their website for a complete schedule of events. Read More

Listen to Podcast:


Hilltown Family Variety Show
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM
Northampton, MA
May 22nd, 2007 @ 7pm

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Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Park

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

This past weekend we stopped by the Springfield Museum and my daughter got to romp around the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Park. Dr. Seuss grew up in Springfield, and is honored throughout the city with banners and a sculpture park. There were many kids there climbing on the structure, which a sign nearby clearly prohibits. Parents were shouting things like, “Joey, get off Horton.” “Hazel, don’t climb on the Grinch.” “LIAM! Don’t push your brother into Thing Number 2!”

I noticed one of the benches a screaming parent was sitting on had a tribute to Taj Mahal. I later learned that Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) is the official Blues Artist of Massachusetts. Voted on and approved by the Senate and House of Representatives. Taj Mahal grew up in Springfield too, another claim to fame of the city.

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Hilltown Families & Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child Present …


Uncle RockJoin us for an intimate performance with Uncle Rock in the beautiful Hilltown of Shelburne Falls, MA. Make a day exploring Shelburne Falls following this Saturday morning performance. “Unlike some of the classic New England towns that are overrun with tourists in the summer and fall, Shelburne Falls remains a bit of an undiscovered pot of gold at the end of a bridge decked with a rainbow of blossoms.”

Reserve your tickets for UNCLE ROCK!

  • July 28th, 2007 @ 10 a.m.
  • Children’s Art Museum
  • 14 Depot Street (behind the Trolley Museum)
  • Shelburne Falls, MA.
  • Tickets are $6.
  • Call to reserve your tickets!
  • 413.296.0096.

“[Uncle Rock’s CD, Plays Well with Others] is the album you imagine your former-rocker husband would love to make for your own kids–if only you had let him buy that Stratocaster last year instead of replacing the washer and dryer.” – Cool Mom Picks

Plays Well with Others is an album with some great cuts of kid-friendly roots-rock.” –

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After dropping the kids off at school or their homeschool progam, drop on over to Elmer’s and enjoy an informal breakfast, tea or just coffee in the company of other hilltown parents. A good opportunity to meet other parents and to discuss the issues around their education and development.

Elmer’s Store is located at 396 Main Street in Ashfield, MA. A warm and inviting place to get together for breakfast and/or conversation.

  • Breakfast at Elmer’s
  • Main Street in Ashfield, MA
  • Wednesday’s at 9am-ish

Join other hilltown parents on Wednesday’s at 9am-ish for an informal, grassroots gathering to share and unite.

Click here to discover the 2008 schedule, etc.

2007 Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade in Chesterfield
with Quilts, Antique Cars & Horse Drawn Buggies

This year will mark the 60th annual 4th of July Parade in Chesterfield! To recognize this milestone, this year’s parade will reflect the theme of “An Old Fashioned 4th.”
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April 5th, 2007

Dear Parent Support Community,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Childbirth Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital to inform you of a recent development and to request your support. Hampshire OB/GYN sent a letter to its families on Tuesday, April 3 that outlined their decision to discontinue nurse midwifery (CNM) services at births as of June 15. They will continue to offer nurse midwifery care during prenatal and postnatal office visits and for gynecological visits. Hampshire OB/GYN is the only obstetrical practice affiliated with the hospital that currently provides CNM assisted births. We are working to further understand the decision made by Hampshire OB/GYN and to create a response plan to their decision. Read More

Spring Festivals

(c) Hilltown Families.  Hummingbird in West Chesterfield.It’s that time of year for plant sales and spring festivals. There are a couple spring festivals happening this weekend. One in the Hilltowns and the other in the Valley, and in a couple weeks is RiverFest in Shelburne Falls.

There are several plant sales this weekend too. If you have a plant sale you’d like to share, click here to post it.
If you have a family friendly event or educational program you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at Comments are warmly welcomed! Read More

Springfest Celebrates Building Community Through Music

On May 19th from 11am-4pm the Northampton Community Music Center will host its annual citywide celebration of building community music in Northampton, MA. More than 200 children, adults, and faculty will play live music at various locations throughout downtown.

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RiverFest 2007
Celebrating Energy That’s Clean & Green

(c) Hilltown Families - RiverFest 2006 in Shelburne Falls, MA.As spring turns to summer, the village of Shelburne Falls is once again preparing for its annual educational celebration of the Deerfield River and the surrounding countryside … RiverFest 2007!

RiverFest 2007 will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday, June 9. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Energy That’s Clean & Green,” and event organizers are making sure that visitors will have plenty of opportunities to go with the flow. Read More

Listen to Podcast:


Hilltown Family Variety Show
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM
Northampton, MA
May 15th, 2007 @ 7pm

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  • Free to Be You & Me – “My Dog is a Plumber”
  • David Weinstone – “Big Old Dog”
  • Ernie & Neal – “My Cat”
  • Lunch Money – “I Want A Dog”
  • Recess Monkey – “Fred (the Tabby Cat)”
  • Recess Monkey – “Pet Shark”
  • Steve Weeks – “Billy Bob’s Breakfast”
  • Frances England – “Blueberry Pancakes”
  • Bill Staines – “Little Brown Dog”
  • Gustafer Yellowgold – “Your Eel”

The Price of Missing Marbles

(c) Hilltown Families - 3rd Annual Mother's Day Pancake Breakfast (2007 - West Chesterfield)On Sunday we hosted our 3rd Annual Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast and spent a beautiful spring morning with other Hilltown families. The pancake breakfast is one of our signature community celebrations, and for several families this was their first pancake breakfast encounter. I’d say we’ve hosted around 20 community pancake breakfasts over the past several years, and between the changing seasons, growing kids and new families joining us, each one has offered its own unique experience.

While each breakfast might be unique, there remain a few constants. The smoke detectors go off, the floor in the living room becomes a sea of toys, Jim juices the oranges and some things inevitably break. Coffee mugs and old china have hit the floor. Art work has come crashing off the walls. Favorite toys have been dismembered. And somehow the preschoolers end up stripping down and running around in their underwear. Read More

“Night of Music” Scholarship Fundraiser on May 25th

The Fifth Annual “Night of Music” fundraiser for the Crane Memorial Scholarship will be held on Friday, May 25th at 7 p.m. in the Gateway Performing Arts Center in Huntington, MA. Students, faculty, alumni and staff will perform a variety of music including blues, folk and rock and roll. Read More

Concert & Jazz Bands, and Concert & Show Choirs Perform at Spring Concert

The Gateway Regional High School Music Department will hold their annual Spring Concert on Thursday, May 17th at 7 p.m. in Huntington, and will feature the concert band, concert choir, show choir, and jazz band.

This concert marks the unveiling of a newly commissioned piece “The Dam”, composed by Allen Bonde of Mount Holyoke College. Bonde will accompany the chorus and student fiddler Leland Martin for this piece. Read More


(c) Hilltown Families - Nerissa and Katryna Nields.

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

The Nields will be performing a special, private kids show in Northampton on June 10th. The performance is by invitation only. Now I know some of you are thinking, “How can I get on THAT guest list?” It’s easy. All it requires is a little creativity by your kids and a donation to Safe Passage. Read More

Hilltown Community Events at Yanner Park in Sandison

Friends of Yanner Park will hold a series of community events to raise money for its ongoing park development project. The all-volunteer organization plans to put a ball field, pavilion, playground, gardens and walking trails on 250 acres of land bequeathed to the town of Sandisfield by the late Jack Yanner.

This year’s events include:  Read More


A Mother’s Day Tribute
Several articles describe how Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) was founded by Anna Jarvis in tribute to her mother, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, for her tireless accomplishments and selfless humanitarian services as a mother. The articles include portraits, photos, the Birthplace Museum, the International Mother’s Day Shrine, the meaning of carnation symbols, and genealogical data of the Jarvis family. [LII 03]

Julia Ward Howe: The Woman Behind Mother’s Day
Video and transcript about Julia Ward Howe, “the author of the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ [who] began advocating for a mother’s day for peace in 1870.” Features an interview with an author of a Howe biography, and Julia Ward Howe’s 1870 Mother’s Day proclamation. From Democracy Now!, a daily radio and TV news program. [LII 06]

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Illustration (c) Sienna WildfieldThere are two types of folks that live in the Hilltowns, people that get little tiny red spots when bitten by a black fly, and folks that swell up with angry red welts. Actually, there’s a third type, folks that swell up and itch like crazy. No, make that four types. Add those that swell up, itch like crazy, AND are mosquito magnets. — Hmmm, now that I’m thinking about it, make that five. Those that swell up, itch like crazy, have mosquito magnetism PLUS a mental block on what poison ivy looks like. I’m the fifth type of Hilltowner, currently sporting welts from black flies, mosquitos and poison ivy, and will continue the fashion throughout most of the early summer.

The question is, “Is it worth it?” A resounding you bet! This morning I woke up to what I thought was a radio playing off in the distance. Upon closer attunement, I assessed it was a blend of the river and birds singing, giving rise to a lovely harmony. Spring in the Hilltowns can be a land of make believe, with little “fierce creatures” and all.

This coming week there are a number of opportunities to get outside and enjoy Spring, including a wildflower walk, a fly fishing clinic, ponding, plant sales… and opportunities to discover more about wildlife in the area, including black bears and falcons. Read on to discover more …

Read More


Illustration (c) Sienna Wildfield

Illustration credit: Sienna Wildfield

The Hilltown Spring Festival is a free event and will be happening on May 19th, 2007 in Cummington, MA. The festival’s roster is packed with non-stop entertainment, and will have a variety of arts & crafts and good food!


Among the musical groups to perform on two stages are Shakuzoba, a nine-member band with an “Afro-pop” influence; Old Folks at Home, a perennial crowd-pleasing duo; Radio Free Earth, specializing in cross-over “roots” music, and Malachite, a youthful Celtic rock band. Members of the Hilltown Alliance of Musicians (HAMS) will be on hand to play, the Select Chorus from Hampshire Regional High School will be among the school groups slated to perform and there will be plenty of surprises as well.

Read More

Listen to Podcast:


Hilltown Family Variety Show
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM
Northampton, MA
May 8th, 2007 @ 7pm

New Podcasts ♦ Archived PodcastsSubscribe to Podcast
Radio ♦ FacebookTwitter



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Self-Defense & Martial Arts for Hilltown Girls

A free self-defense & martial arts class for girls ages 5-12 is being offered by Sisters Ink and the Worthington Health Center. This free class is being offered to all hilltown residents and will be held at the Cummington Community House on Friday, May 11th from 4-5:30pm.

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Illustration (c) Sienna WildfieldCFC Silent Auction Fundraiser in Cummington

The Cummington Family Center will be having their 2nd Annual Silent Auction this Saturday, May 12th, at the Cummington Community House on Main Street in Cummington. Bidding begins at 5:30pm and goes to 7:30pm.

There will be live music by pianist David Bartley, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and free childcare. Tickets are $10 and are available at Elmer’s, Bread Euphoria and the Old Creamery Grocery. RSVP for childcare in advance by call Amy at 413.634.5362.


What’s on the auction block? Many generous hilltown artisans and businesses have made donations for this fundraiser, including:

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National Pet Week (May 6th – 12th)

(c) Hilltown Families - Lightening & the Westfield River Bend in West ChesterfieldFor over 25 year our family pets have been celebrated with a national week of observation, instituted with three goals in mind:

  1. Promote responsible pet ownership
  2. Celebrate our connections with our pets
  3. Bring awareness of veterinarian practices

To follow are several on-line resources for families that offer lesson plans, curricula, activity sheets, information on pet health, and interactive games.

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Hilltown Spring Festival – May 19th, 2007

Sassy Mamas & Papas Sing Out
at HF Spring Social & House Concert

Marla BB & Michael Dunning - Hilltown Families House ConcertSeeing Marla BB perform at the Iron Horse last year in Northampton was great. Having her perform in her hometown of West Chesterfield, at the base of Smith Mountain with the Westfield River rushing by … now that rocked! Performing with the talented accoustic Jazz bass player, Michael Dunning, this Blues & Jazz duo brought style and class to an intimate family community social.

Families gathered for home cooked food & dessert beforehand, cooking salmon on the grill, sampling one another’s potluck dishes and sharing organic gourmet pizza donated by Bread Euphoria.

As the music began, children snuggled up under wool blankets, joining their parents on the lawn for a sunset performance. The sky turned pink and orange as the sun set behind Smith Mountain on a cool spring evening, and Marla called out to all the “Sassy Mamas” and “Sassy Papas” to join in and sing. Click here to see video.

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Look for Flying Carp on Boy’s Day

Introduction to this Japanese holiday celebrated on May 5, known as Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day). “To call it ‘Children’s Day’ is a modern attempt to be inclusive, but most Japanese still consider it Boy’s Day.” Includes a description about how this day is celebrated, such as the hoisting of large paper koi (carp) with one koi for each son in the family. From the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. [LII]

May 5th @ 11am – JAPANESE CHILDREN’S DAY – Day of Japanese-themed family activities from 11am-4pm at the Springfield Museum in Springfield. 413.263.6800 [Families] ($)

A Saturday Early Evening
Blues & Jazz House Concert & Potluck Social
for Hilltown Families & Friends

Hilltown Families are invited to join Blues Singer, Marla BB & acoustic Jazz Bass Player, Michael Dunning for a House Concert and potluck social in West Chesterfield on Saturday, May 5th @ 5:30pm. Come celebrate Cinco de Mayo & get to know other HF families & friends.

  • Potluck social @ 5:30pm.
  • Live music @ 7pm.
  • Coffee, tea & dessert will be offered. BYOB.
  • The hat will be passed for donations to the musicians.
  • To RSVP, email Sienna at, or call 413-296-0187 for directions.
  • Presented by Hilltown Families & eAglebird Records.

Cinco de Mayo

Resources for party and activity ideas for celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Includes crafts (maracas and Mexican flag), recipes (guacamole and tortilla soup), and activity pages. Also includes quick facts and history about this holiday that “is the anniversary of a battle that took place between the Mexicans and the French in 1862” and is “mainly observed in the state capital of Puebla” and in the U.S. From the Kaboose Family Network. [LII]

May Flowers

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Hilltown Family Variety Show podcast this week. There are four shows available for download, and well worth a listen. New shows are uploaded every Tuesday evening. Tie it all together with our weekly HFVS post here on Hilltown Families for links, resources and commentary. If you have a favorite song or band you’d like to share with us, post it below in our comment box.

And now for a look ahead … there are a gazillion things happening over the weekend, including a May Day celebration. You’ll wish there were two or three of you so you could attend several with your family. During the week are a couple of workshops worth checking out too.

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Shelburne Fall’s Trolley Museum

The Shelburne Fall’s Trolley Museum 2007 season is underway – with rides, attractions and fun for the entire family. And as a special thank you to Mom’s, Mother’s can ride for free on Mother’s Day, May 13th !

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Wesak (Buddha Day) – First Full Moon in May

“Wesak or Vesak, also known as Buddha Day, celebrates the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death. It is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. In Japanese Buddhism, 8th April marks the birth of the Buddha, 8th December his enlightenment and 15th February his death.”

Discusses Wesak traditions and activities, Buddhist beliefs, suggested classroom activities, and links to related sites. From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) site with learning resources for home and school. (LII)

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