Recreation

Register Now for the 2018 Hilltown Youth Theatre Summer Workshop

The Pioneer Valley is a hub for the creative arts. It’s a place where many musicians, artists, performers, and creatives come to gain inspiration for their work and to find an artistic community where they can thrive. This is not only true for adults, but for children and teens as well. There are many opportunities in the Valley for kids to follow their artistic intuitions and to gain experience working as a team to create something wonderful. One opportunity in particular is right here in Franklin County, specifically in Charlemont. Since 2010, the Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs has been running their Hilltown Youth Theatre Summer Workshop. Their mission is to build a supportive community for youth to develop personally and artistically and to train and collaborate on theatrical productions at a high level, therefore giving them an appreciation for hilltown life and a passion for the arts.

This program, for youth aged 10-18 years old, is an intensive arts experience for aspiring actors, musicians, dancers, and set designers. Guest artists and master teachers, direct participants to create performances which incorporate movement, puppets, mask making, voice work, circus arts, and work on large apparatus such as stilts, aerial fabrics, spools, flying trapeze, and more. At the end of the workshop, the performance takes to the streets, or rather the mountains for audiences to enjoy. This year’s production of Avatar: The Last Airbender will be hosted by Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont.

The 2018 Summer Workshop runs from July 16 to August 8, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. Registration is open now and financial assistance is available. No previous experience is necessary but the ideal candidates will be artists, musicians, athletes, or any other active creative types. For more information, visit their website here.

K9 Keg Pull at the Greenfield Winter Carnival | February 2nd - 4th

The 96th Annual Greenfield Winter Carnival is happening this weekend with fun events scheduled for the entire family. Here are just some of the events to look forward to, but check their website or Facebook page for a full listing of events.

Starting on Friday, browse the various live ice carvings on display throughout Downtown Greenfield. Then, vote for your favorite sculpture at the ballot box on Town Common. At 7:00 pm, look towards the sky for a fireworks show, being shot from Poet's Seat Tower. 

On Saturday at 10 am, runners will line up for the Sleigh Bell Run, a 4 mile scenic road race. Then at 2 pm, the bicyclists will come out for the Fatbike Group Ride, led by the local bike shop, Bicycle World.

On Sunday, enjoy Breakfast with Olaf at The 99 Restaurant. Then work off your meal with a Snowshoeing Trek, meeting at Highland Park at 10 am. 

Other events for the Winter Carnival will include youth basketball games, an art exhibit, face painting, photography contest, dancing, parade of lights, and so much more. 

Greenfield Winter Carnival Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont RealtorsYou will especially not want to miss the popular K9 Keg Pull starting Sunday at 1:00. Dogs of all sizes will be racing to pull kegs (empty ones, of course) across the finish line. The agents at Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont will be handing out this attractive bandana (photo left) being modeled by Millie! Stop by to say hello and pick one up for your furry friend. 

Ongoing events throughout the weekend will include sledding, outdoor ice skating, snowman village, snow sculpture contest, and marshmallow toasting by the warming fire.

Click here for more information about this weekend's events.

Greenfield Winter Carnival February 2-4

 

Colrain Artists Open Their Doors This Weekend!

Colrain, Massachusetts is a beautiful town in northern Franklin County, just below the Vermont line. The town draws many artists who seek inspiration from its natural beauty. There are so many artists, in fact that each year they all come together to host Crafts of Colrain Open Studio Tour. Grab a map and a friend and take a tour around Colrain this Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12.

18 artisans will open their doors to showcase their art and offer live viewings of their processes. Their crafts include woodwork, fiber art, metalwork, painting, pottery, and more. One particular artist whose work I always enjoy is Ruby Rice. She creates visionary healing arts ranging from pillows to wall hangings to notecards and more. Her sanctuary and gallery has the feel of a chapel and is meant to comfort and make guests feel at home.

For more information and to download a free map and schedule, visit www.craftsofcolrain.com.

Franklin County CiderDays Coming This Weekend!

Fall in New England is such a favored time of year; the bright colors of the foliage, a chill in the air, and of course, all things apple. Every fall on the first full weekend in November, I look forward to CiderDays, a Franklin County celebration of apples. Many of the events are free and range from workshops to talks to tastings to festivals with music and more. This weekend, November 3-5 marks the 23rd Annual CiderDays.

Here are a few events happening this weekend that caught my attention:

On Friday from 6:30-8:00 pm, the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center will host “How to Taste Hard Cider.” Learn from cider educators Eric West and Nicole Leibon of Farnum Hill Ciders the thought process behind tasting and evaluating cider. Then, be guided through a tasting of various cider styles. The cost is $30/ticket and includes light hors d'oeuvre.

On Saturday, the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center will host free workshops, talks and tastings from beginner through advanced for cider makers, home orchardists and cider aficionados.

Then, on Sunday from 2:30-3:30 pm at the Deerfield Community Center in Historic Deerfield, learn how to make Spanish style cider (Sidra) from cidermakers Scott Heath (Tilted Shed, CA), Ryan Burk (Angry Orchard, NY), John Reynolds (Black Duck Cidery, NY), cidermaker/restauranteur Sam Fix (ANXO, Washington DC), and beverage director Brian Rutzen (The Northman, Chicago, IL). Join moderator Darlene Hayes for discussion and samples. Tickets are $30.

Plus, I am very excited about this year’s Cider Salon — the world's longest-running hard cider tasting. This year, the Salons will be held in a large tent in Unity Park, on the Connecticut River in Turners Falls, with more than 90 individual cider brands from across North America and Europe. There will be two sessions — 3:30 - 5:00 and 5:45 - 7:15. Tickets are $30 per session.

For more information, to purchase tickets, and to download the full schedule, visit ciderdays.org.

Don't Miss The Great Falls Festival (Pumpkinfest)!

On Saturday, October 21, 2017 the Great Falls Festival will fill Avenue A in Turners Falls from 2-9 pm. Formerly known as Pumpkinfest, the event organizers decided to change the name of the event to pay tribute to the village’s pre-colonial era name, the falls on the Connecticut River, and of course, the season.

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash for food and craft vendors who will set up booths along the street, or for tickets for the beer tent.

Show your Halloween spirit by wearing your costume and bring your own carved pumpkin to display. You can also decorate your own pumpkin for free from 2 to 6 pm.

Remember to bring your dancing shoes! There will be live music all event-long on either of the two music stages. Musical acts include Blue Prints of the Heart, Honey Badger, and Jimmy Just Quit, to name a few. Check out the live performances by the North County Line Dancers, Zumba Dancers, Fire Dancers, and more.

Easily avoid the hassle of parking near the event. There will be a free shuttle from Turners Falls High School from 2 to 10 pm.

For more information on the Great Falls Festival and a full schedule of events, go to www.facebook.com/greatfallsfestival.

One Long Weekend, Two Fabulous Festivals

This Columbus Weekend, the Pioneer Valley will host two popular festivals. On Saturday, October 7 through Monday, October 9, the Paradise City Arts Festival will take place at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton. Meanwhile, only 30 minutes Northwest of Northampton, Ashfield will host its Fall Festival on Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8 up and down Ashfield’s Main Street.

Founded by two artists 23 years ago, the Paradise City Arts Festival now fills up three buildings, an outdoor sculpture promenade, and a festival dining tent. Many artists apply to have a booth at the festival, but only some are selected to attend. Their works for sale range from wearable arts to furniture and home décor to fine art and sculpture. Under the dining tent, local food vendors bring flavors from around the world. Enjoy live music while you dine from The Jazz Divas, The O-Tones, and The Blend. Returning this year is the Silent Art Auction to benefit WGBY/57 public television.

The Ashfield Fall Festival also features arts and crafts exhibitors, but with more of a hometown feel. More than 50 exhibitors will line the Main Street in Ashfield. You can also pick up some locally grown and prepared foods, enjoy live music and dance, and participate in fall-themed games, like pumpkin bowling! Although the Ashfield Fall Festival has been around for almost 50 years, the purpose of it is still to celebrate Ashfield, showcase local business, fundraise, and provide opportunity for the town’s youth to practice creative, social, and business skills.

For more information on the Paradise City Arts festival go to https://festivals.paradisecityarts.com/shows/northampton-october-show

For more information on the Ashfield Fall Festival go to http://www.ashfieldfallfestival.org/.

Whatever you do, enjoy the weekend!

Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center Brings Good Music and Good Times to Greenfield, MA

Greenfield, the capital of Franklin County, is a vibrant arts community. With this year’s addition of Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, this statement has become even truer. Owned by Steven Goldsher, this popular new business is a restaurant, bar, and concert and event venue all in one. Locals and visitors alike have been drawn to this spot, located in the Arts Block building on the corner of Main St and Court Square in downtown Greenfield, for a full night out. You can come for a delicious meal and then stay for a night of dancing in the ballroom to a live band, or head downstairs to The Wheelhouse, the speak-easy style bar.

In its short life so far, Hawks and Reed has hosted some incredible artists. Lee “Scratch” Perry, ranked one of the 100 greatest artists of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004, and Subatomic Sound System performed with The Alchemystics for its grand re-opening in May. Past acts have included artists of styles ranging from Latin big band, to electronic, to swing, and everything in between. Some acts you won’t want to miss coming up this weekend include The Dead Collective on Saturday, September 30, and The Joe Belmont Experience on Sunday, October 1.

To stay updated on events and happenings at Hawks and Reed, visit their website, HawksandReed.com, or follow them on Facebook.

 

Kick Off Fall at the Old Deerfield Fall Arts & Crafts Festival

Looking for something fun to do for the first weekend of fall? The Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival is taking place this Saturday, September 23 from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, September 24 from 10 am to 4 pm. Held on the grounds surrounding Memorial Hall Museum, this festival features crafts of various mediums, including woodworking, jewelry, apparel, glass, and pottery. Over 140 vendors from all over the region will be present, each offering their own handmade creations.

Browsing and shopping won’t be the only activities to do there. Live music will fill the air on Saturday with back-to-back performances under the food tent. On Sunday, make puppets with Caravan Puppets and enjoy live puppet shows. Plus, all weekend long at the Children’s Activity Area, take part in free dinosaur-themed crafting activities.

The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association organizes the Old Deerfield Arts and Crafts Festival and provides the free craft activities. For more information on this wonderful event, visit Deerfield-craft.org. There you will find details on parking and shuttles, vendor listings, and you can even download a printable map. See you there rain or shine!

The Cummington Fair is This Weekend! Celebrating 149 Years!

Summer is winding down but there is still plenty of exciting summer events happening in the valley. Thursday, August 24th kicks off the 149th Cummington Fair, in Cummington, Massachusetts, which will run through Sunday, August 27th. The Fair was initiated in 1883 with the purpose of spreading agricultural knowledge. Today, the Fair holds true to this with a variety of farm-themed events, such as Horse & Ox Draws, various animal showmanships, and judging of livestock.

However, that is not all there is to see at the Cummington Fair! Each day there will be a motorized event, like the tractor pull and Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby. Live music will fill the air with country acts such as Jose Duddy and Truck Stop Troubadours. There will be over 50 vendors selling everything from food, to crafts, to agricultural products. Plus, entertainers such as Kenya Acrobats, Christopher the Magician, and Wayne from Maine will perform multiple times throughout the weekend.

Whether you are a resident of Cummington, or the Pioneer Valley, or you are travelling from surrounding areas, you won’t want to miss this huge event. Purchase your tickets ahead of time at cummingtonfair.com to receive a discount and save time waiting in line. Also visit their website for a full listing of events and other information such as directions, parking, and camping. Hope to see you at the Cummington Fair!

www.cummingtonfair.com

The Heath Fair Celebrates 100 Years

As a native of Heath, Massachusetts, I look forward to the Heath Fair every year. This community event, filled with music, food, and agricultural-inspired activities, truly emanates the spirit of the Town of Heath and the surrounding Hill Towns.  The 2017 Heath Fair, happening Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20, is extra special because it will be the 100th one!

In honor of this milestone, the organizers of this event, the Heath Agricultural Society, have added some new activities. On Saturday, there will be a zucchini race, where participants will decorate a zucchini, plug a set of wheels into it, and send it down the track in hopes it will cross the finish line first! Click here to see all the new added events for 2017, including a goat parade and a raffle for hot air balloon ride.

Traditional Heath Fair events are planned for this year, as well, such as the tractor pull, fireworks, horse draw, cattle pull, wagon rides, square dancing, and more. Live music will include performances by Small Change, Sweetback Sisters, and Patty Carpenter & the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band, to name a few. View the full schedule of events here.

On top of all the fun and excitement, it is the time spent as a community and the memories made each year that make this event so spectacular. The Heath Fair is just one of the many reasons that residents of Heath love their town.

For more information on The Heath Fair go to www.heathfair.org.

Photo: Heath Fair 100th Keepsake Print, Heath Fair at Twilight by Scott Prior: Purchase your own limited edition keepsake print and support the Heath Agricultural Society and the continuation of the Heath Fair. Click here for more information.