Community

Compete, Volunteer, or Cheer at the Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon

This is an amazing time of year where Winter and Summer overlap in our area. You can be skiing in the mountains in the morning and biking on the roads or kayaking the rivers in the afternoon. This makes it the perfect time of year to hold a pentathlon, combining five outdoor activities into one event. The 8th Annual Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon is this Saturday, April 6, starting and finishing at Berkshire East Mountain Resort.

The race has five legs- a 4 mile trail run, 16 mile road bike, 2 mile river paddle, 2 mile obstacle course run, and finally a climb up Berkshire East to a ski/snowboard down to the finish line. Participate in the pentathlon on your own as a “Braveheart” or as part of a team of two or five people. There is a special category for family teams, as well! The pentathlon is a fun way to challenge yourself in a variety of sports in the same race. After the race, all participants are welcome to a free meal at Berkshire East and a free beer from Berkshire Brewing Company!

You can also be part of the fun as a volunteer! The Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon is still seeking volunteers to help time and monitor the course. Volunteers are crucial to making this event happen and receive a free T-shirt and meal to say thanks for their help. Sign up for a volunteer role here.

Of course, supporters are always needed to boost up the participants. Come out and cheer on the participants as they challenge themselves. There are several great viewing areas for different legs of the course. Check out the best places to spectate here. Participants will meet at 10:15 am and the race starts at 11:00 am.

For more information and to register for the Pentathlon, click here.

Good luck to all the racers!



 

Escape the Cold at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in South Deerfield

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory South DeerfieldDuring this time of year, in the middle of winter in New England, the cold can start to get to me a little bit. When that happens, I like to escape to an oasis from the cold in South Deerfield, Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. The conservatory is 8,000 square-feet and houses nearly 4,000 exotic and domestic butterflies. The butterflies can flutter among various tropical plants and flowers and small ponds which hold Japanese Carp, or Koi fish. If you’re lucky, a butterfly might even land on you! The best part is: they keep the conservatory at tropical temperatures, so you can enjoy the warmth, even when it’s wintry weather outside.

Magic Wings also has a gift shop to purchase some butterfly souvenirs, outdoor gardens for the warmer weather, and a food court. They offer the option to host events in their facilities, as well, such as weddings, birthday parties, meetings, or other private parties.

Magic Wings is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. The cost of admission is $16.00 for adults and $10.00 for children under 17. They also offer discounts for seniors and students. So if you need an escape from winter without taking a flight, just drive to Magic Wings in South Deerfield.

Click here to check out their website. 

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory South Deerfield MA     Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory South Deerfield

Staying Fit: Workout Centers in Franklin County

Was your new year’s resolution to get in shape? The middle of winter can be a tough time to get into a workout routine. The good news is Franklin County has many exercise facilities with a variety of offerings to tailor to your style. So you can stick to your New Years resolution this year!

YMCA in Greenfield

Whether you’re looking for a single or family membership, the YMCA can suit you. They offer different levels of membership and even daily passes if you’re not looking for a commitment. The Y is great for people who are looking to exercise in a variety of ways. They have a full workout room with machines and weights, a pool, a gym, plus they offer classes ranging from spin to aqua aerobics. There are plenty of programs for kids, as well, such as sports teams like gymnastics, and school-aged child care. 

Common Ground Fitness Center

Common Ground Fitness Center is perfect for adults who could use some support getting into and maintaining a healthy workout routine. While you can drop in and use the equipment at your own desire, they promote attendance of their group workout classes and use of personal trainers to help you keep coming. Common Ground offers high intensity workout classes such as TRX, PIYO, and boxing, as well as low-intensity ones like elasticize and yoga. Plus, their memberships are very affordable with tiered levels ranging from $30 to $70 a month.

Riverside Fitness Studio

Sometimes, the best way to take control of your workout routine is by having a personal trainer, someone to hold you accountable for showing up. For those who live in West Franklin County, there is a great personal fitness studio right in Shelburne Falls - Riverside Fitness Studio. Personal Trainer Tim, has been in the fitness industry for over 6 years and has been holding his own steady workout routine for over 10. He offers one-on-one or one-on-two training sessions that give results. 

I hope this list is helpful in your start towards physical health and wellness this new year! Happy training!

 

How to Get Outside This Winter in Franklin County

We still have a few months until Spring, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay cooped up inside the house until then! Break through the cabin fever and head out to these local gems in Franklin County for outdoor adventuring in the snow.

Berkshire East

Berkshire East Mountain Resort has activities year round. But in the winter, it is the best local mountain, located right in Charlemont, MA! It is a great beginner mountain but has trails for those more advanced as well. They offer lessons for snowboarding and skiing and have high quality equipment rentals. You can also take a fun ride on a tube at their snow tubing park. Afterwards, warm up inside the Crazy Horse Bar and Grill for some good food and drinks.

Stump Sprouts

If sometimes you prefer a slower pace through the snow, then head over to Stump Sprouts Cross Country Ski Center, just up the road from Berkshire East in Hawley, MA. There you can cross country ski or snowshoe with beautiful expansive views of rural northwestern Massachusetts.

Northfield Mountain

For more great cross country adventuring with different views, check out Northfield Mountain Cross Country Ski Area. Located on Route 63 in Northfield, they have 25 miles of trails groomed for classical and freestyle skiing. There, you can rent skis and snowshoesand take a lesson with a ski instructor. They also have trailside warming huts and a cozy base area yurt. Visit them Wednesday through Sunday 9 am to 4:30 pm.

 

Visit shelburnefalls.com or franklincc.org for more ideas on how to stay active this winter!

 

Your Local Winter Farmers' Markets for the Pioneer Valley

Summertime in the valley means local farmers markets full of fresh produce, artisanal products, and handcrafted items. Just because the winter months are upon us doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to this wonderful part of living in the valley. Here are some local winter farmers’ markets where you can still get your farm fresh fix:

On one Saturday per month, the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market will pop up in Four Corners Elementary School. Check out this wonderful market on the following dates from 10 am to 1 pm: December 15, January 5, February 2, and March 2. Buy lots of goodies from local farm vendors such as Clarkdale Fruit Farm, Barberic Farm, and MycoTerra Farm. Plus a few other local favorites will be there too such as M&G Kettle Korn selling their delicious non-GMO kettle corn, Comida Latina selling delicious Latin cuisine, and Prospect Prints with their fun, hand-screened shirts. For a full list of vendors visit www.greenfieldfarmersmarket.com.

If you’re more of a once-a-week Farmers’ Market goer, head south to the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market, every Saturday until April 20th. Located at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street, this market is open from 9 am to 2 pm. The vendor list changes from week to week, but you can find the updated list at www.northamptonwintermarket.com. Some vendors you might find include Red Fire Farm, Holyoke Hummus Company, Bread Euphoria, and Winter Moon Roots. Plus, enjoy different events from week to week such as live music by local artists, storytimes, and craft workshops.

Happy Farmers’ Market-Going!

These Upcoming Events in Franklin County Are Sure to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

With Hanukkah already upon us and Christmas only a few weeks away, the holiday season is in full swing! Franklin County has lots of great holiday events coming up in the next few weeks, which are sure to bring our community lots of joy and cheer.

Coming up this Friday, December 7th, downtown Greenfield will be the place to be. Jingle Fest, coordinated by the Greenfield Business Association will feature all sorts of holiday merriment. From 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, shop around the Pop-Up Holiday Market in The Pushkin. Of course, Santa will make an appearance at Jingle Fest and will be welcoming visitors at Wilson’s Department Store from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Other exciting happenings include a tree-lighting at Veterans Mall, carolers, pop-up performances and more! Visit their facebook page for more information.

If you still have a lot of holiday shopping left to do, you’ll definitely want to check out the Shutesbury Holiday Shop. For 7 years, the Shutesbury Holiday Shop has brought together an array of local artisans all from Shutesbury or the surrounding towns, to offer affordable, handmade gifts. There will be an assortment of jewelry, quilts, ornaments, woodcrafts, fiber art, artisanal food and much more. Plus, the Shutesbury Holiday Shop lasts for 3 days, starting Friday, December 7th, so there really is no excuse to not stop by and shop local for your holiday shopping. Click here for more information.

Turners Falls will host their annual holiday event on Friday, December 14th. It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls will bring together downtown businesses for a night of holiday cheer. Art exhibits, live music, restaurant specials, and holiday shopping are all part of this wonderful event. Plus, Santa will arrive at Spinner Park at 6:30 pm to collect notes of hope from event goers. Visit the Turners Falls River Culture website for more information.

I hope you enjoy some or all of these wonderful holiday events coming up in our local community. Happy holidays!

Support United Way of Franklin County at the 19th Annual Art & Leisure Auction

Join me for the 19th Annual Art & Leisure Auction to benefit United Way of Franklin County. The auction, to take place on Saturday, December 1 at Greenfield Community College, will feature a silent and live auction. Quality items have been donated by businesses and individuals around Franklin County. Bid on especially fine items in the live auction such as a $1000 gift card to Southwest Airlines, 4 pavilion Red Sox tickets, and a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard by private plane.

Arrive at 5:30 pm for the silent auction at and then stay for the live auction at 7:30 pm. Guest auctioneers Liz Fisk from WHAI 98.3/Bear Country 95.3 and Representative Paul Mark will lead the live auction. All activities will be held in the Cohn Family Dining Commons at GCC. Enjoy live music and food while you bid!

Tickets to the Annual Art & Leisure Auction are $35 per person or sponsor a table of 8 for $275. Click here to register now!

The mission of United Way is to improve the quality of life in our area through special focus on education, financial stability, and health. As a member of the board, I am proud to support the many ways that United Way benefits Franklin County and hope you will be too!


 

Moonlight Magic Kicks of the Holiday Season in Style in Shelburne Falls

This Friday, many shoppers will head to corporate stores across the country for Black Friday shopping. However, here in Franklin County, we like to do things differently by supporting our local businesses and kicking off the holiday season in style with Moonlight Magic.

This annual event known across the region will take place in the beautiful village of Shelburne Falls. The Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association has worked together with local businesses to put on this magnificent event. The village has already been beautifully decorated with holiday lights and garlands spiraling up the lamp posts along with pole tags with sponsors’ names showing their support. On the eve of Moonlight Magic, luminaria will line the streets directing event goers to various points of interest throughout the village.

Moonlight Magic is also one of the few times of the year where Bridge Street and Deerfield Ave will be shut down to traffic, allowing pedestrians to wander the streets, browsing vendor tents and businesses, which will stay open later for the event. Soon after sunset, the Parade of Lights will make its way down Conway Street, over the Iron Bridge and down Bridge Street. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be part of the parade, greeting shoppers and then ending at the Mason’s Lodge, for visits and photos. Throughout the event, there will also be various performances, including one of my favorites, the Ageless Waves of Rhythm, Shelburne Senior Center’s drumming group.

Moonlight Magic starts at 4 pm, giving you plenty of time to sleep in the day after Thanksgiving! Visit shelburnefalls.com for more information or pick up an event brochure the day of to find out what’s happening around the village.

It's Cold Outside: Fun Things To Do Indoors in Franklin County

As the days get shorter and darker, many of our favorite outdoor activities become less appealing. Fortunately, we live in an area with a variety of things to do, even when it’s dark and cold outside.

Candle Villages

With the holiday season fast approaching, Yankee Candle Village and The Shoppes at Kringle Candle, are both packed with great gifts, holiday decorations, and holiday-themed events. Starting now through December 23, you can have photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Yankee Candle Village, located in South Deerfield. Then, meander through the various shops and eateries, which spans over 90,000 square feet.

At Kringle Candle in Bernardston, there is plenty to see and do, as well. Pick out your favorite scent of their brand of candle, Country Candle. Visit the Shoppes at Kringle Candle to find unique gifts, home decor, toys, gourmet foods, and more. Then, sit down for a nice meal at The Farm Table, a gourmet restaurant which serves brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Galleries

Now is a great time to check out the many local artist galleries in Franklin County. Shelburne Falls boasts several great artists shops and galleries, including Salmon Falls Gallery, which sells Josh Simpson glass planets, amongst other local works of art. The Shelburne Arts Co-op, which is run by local artists, is constantly rotating the works for sale, and features different exhibits monthly. Also, in Shelburne Falls, you can find beautiful handcrafted art in Ann Brauer Quilt Studio, Wandering Moon, A Heart for Art, and more.

If you find yourself in Greenfield, take a walk through the Greenfield Gallery, a boutique art gallery featuring fine art and collectibles. You will also find great local works of art at Artspace Community Arts Center, a non profit educational and creative space or people of all ages. Their gallery shows off the works of local artists and has rotating exhibits. Down the road in Montague, is Sawmill River Arts Gallery, a quaint gallery on the Sawmill River, by the waterfall and next to the Montague Book Mill.

Bowling and The Movies

Of course, there’s always the classic favorite way to spend time indoors - bowling and the movies! In Franklin County, you can still support local businesses while you do. In Erving, visit the French King Bowling Center, or go to the second oldest bowling alley in the country, the Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley! This alley uses duck pins and you keep your own score. Around the corner from the bowling alley in Shelburne Falls is Memorial Hall, where Pothole Pictures has some great films lined up over the next few months, including Julie and Julia, Ratatouille, and Babette’s Feast. Arrive early for some live music before the film starts. For new releases, go to the Greenfield Garden Cinemas in Greenfield.

So, although it is getting colder and the days are getting shorter, remember there is still plenty to do and ways to get out of the house and enjoy all Franklin County has to offer!

 

Historic Deerfield Hosts Fun Fall and Holiday Events for All

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to head over to Historic Deerfield. They have a variety of upcoming events and demonstrations that are great for the whole family and for the cold weather. Located in South Deerfield, Mass, Historic Deerfield is an outdoor museum that exhibits life and culture of early New England and the Connecticut River Valley.

Every weekend, there is something exciting to do at Historic Deerfield. This weekend and next (November 10-11 and November 17-18), their Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration will be all about pie. Come and learn about savory and sweet pies, a fall/winter treat since early New England. While you’re there, you can also check out the hands-on workshop about brooms. Learn about brooms and broom making, try sweeping with a handmade broom and even make your own whisk broom to take home. You can drop in to this workshop, titled A Clean Sweep, any time between 12 and 4:30 pm and entry is included with the price of admission.

Later on this month, Historic Deerfield has even more awesome events planned. On Friday, November 23 from 10 am to 4 pm, see live historic trade demonstrations by local artists. Learn about redware pottery with Stephen Earp and paper marbling with Regina St. John from Chena River Marblers. There will also be a lot of great events for the holidays in late November/early December, such as wreath making, gift making, horse drawn wagon rides, and make your own hot chocolate mix.

But that’s not all there is to do at Historic Deerfield. Go any time of the year and take a tour through twelve preserved antique houses dating from 1730 to 1850 with authentic furniture, art, textiles, and other original decorative pieces on display. You can also view exciting exhibits at the Flynt Center for Early New England Life and do some research of your own at the Henry N. Flynt Library, which has over 21,000 volumes on the history and culture of the region.

For the calendar of events and more information on Historic Deerfield, visit their website.