Recreation

Zoar Outdoor 5th Best Rafting Company in the US

zoar outdoor rafting deerfield riverRecently, Zoar Outdoor was named the 5th best rafting company in the nation by a USA Today readers’ poll. An expert panel chose 15 rafting companies around the country to vote from, and then readers voted, placing Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont at number 5. This is a great accomplishment, not only for Zoar, but for our area too. It shows how Franklin County is a place with top outdoor companies and natural attractions worth visiting.

Zoar offers a variety of activities on the Deerfield River. They have rafting trips for small children and first-timers on the river, to adrenaline junkies seeking a thrill. The float trip is a great way to experience the scenery and enjoy the river in a relaxed way. The Zoar Gap rafting trip is a nice way to experience more intermediate whitewater and the Dryway rafting trip is for those ready to paddle as a team and hit bigger features on the river. Guests can also experience the river from a kayak for an afternoon on the Guided River Kayaking tour or learn to whitewater kayak in one of their instructional clinics. Off the river, Zoar has tours on the first Zipline Canopy Tour in Massachusetts and rock climbing tours.

Two other outfitters also operate on the Deerfield and offer a great customer experience. Crabapple Whitewater offers rafting and inflatable kayak tours, and Berkshire East has their own whitewater rafting team, as well.

The Deerfield River is also enjoyed by fly fisherman. The river has a mix of wild and stocked trout. Due to the scheduled water releases, the water stays cold through the summer. However, the river requires a skilled navigator to maneuver around rocks and through sections of whitewater rapids. Fortunately, there are plenty of guide services operating on the Deerfield river, ready to show fishermen the best spots to find fish:

Deerfield River MassachusettsJonathan Bunker – http://squaretailanglers.com/

Mike Didonna – http://www.deerfieldflyshop.com/

Walt Geryk – http://neffguide.com/ma.html

Eric Halloran – https://fishtalefabricators.com/

Dan & Tom Harrison – http://www.harrisonanglers.com/

Chris Jackson – http://www.flyfishthedeerfield.com/

Brian Lynch – http://www.pheasanttailtours.com/

Overwatch Outpost, Charlie Ricko  – http://overwatch-outpost.com

The Deerfield River can also be enjoyed just as much from shore. There are several great swimming spots along the river. Shunpike rest area in Charlemont has a nice small beach and great rocks for lounging. The river is also relatively shallow in that spot, making it nice for wading out into the water (depending on the water release level). The Zoar Picnic Area in Charlemont is also a great spot for setting up a picnic. There are plenty of tables and camping grills to have a BBQ and hang by the river. 

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Sources: http://deerfieldrivertroutunlimited.com/local-fly-shops-and-guide-services/
http://franklincc.chambermaster.com/news/details/news-release-8-6-2019-30
https://www.flyfisherman.com/editorial/the-deerfield-river/151807

Photo Credit: Bob Story Photography

Local State Forests Worth Visiting in Franklin County

Living in Franklin County, Massachusetts, we don't have to go far to find pristine waters, gorgeous landscapes, and remote places to relax in nature. In fact, we don't even have to leave the county! Check out these local state forests which offer hiking, canoeing, fishing, camping, and more! 

Kenneth Dubuque State Forest PlainfieldKenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest

Located on West Hawley Road in Plainfield, Kenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest (pictured right) offers 35 miles of mixed-use trails. Hiking, mountain-biking, and snowmobiling are all permitted activities in the state forest, as long as you remain on the marked trails. You can also relax and fish at Hallockville Pond, where you will find the remains of an old mill. Other remains of the past include cellar holes from abandoned village of South Hawley and a rare fieldstone "beehive" charcoal kiln. More information here.

Catamount State Forest

Catamount State Forest is a part of the former village of Colrain, Catamount. Catamount was the site of the first schoolhouse to fly the United States Flag in 1812. Now, much of Catamount is public land, although part of it is private property so beware of no trespassing signs. The former roads of Catamount are no mostly accessible by foot, mountain bike, or snowmobile. Trails lead up to a beautiful pond, not suitable for swimming, but great for canoeing to its islands. More info here.

Erving State Forest

Erving State Forest is a beautiful forest and campground located on Route 2 in Erving. The park supports a variety of outdoor recreational activities. You can hike, bike, or snowmobile along the 8-miles of forest roads and trails, go boating, swimming, or fishing at the pristine Laurel Lake, and camp at the easily accessed campgrounds. Camping is $17/night for Massachusetts residents and $27/night for non-residents. Parking fees (only applicable Memorial Day through Labor Day) are $8/day for Massachusetts residents and $15/day for non-residents. More info here.

Mohawk Trail State Forest

Also on Route 2/Mohawk Trail, but on the other side of Interstate 91, lies 6,000 acres of mountain ridges, gorges, and woods that compose the Mohawk Trail State Forest. Right along the Deerfield River, there are plenty of great swim spots and miles of river to canoe and kayak. Bring your own tent to camp or stay in one of their cabins. There are grills, a pavilion, and picnic areas on site. More information here.
 

Run, Bike, and Swim at the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon in Greenfield, Massachusetts

greenfield lightlife triathlonThis coming Sunday, August 4th, 2019 is the 36th annual Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon in Greenfield, Massachusetts, the longest running triathlon in New England! There is still time to register for the race - so come out and challenge yourself on this beautiful course. The course meanders through the back roads of Greenfield, passes through the Historic Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, and features swimming in the Green River. You can sign up as an individual or as a two or three person team. Find out more information on registration and fees at https://www.greenfield-triathlon.com/register.php. All proceeds from the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon benefit the Greenfield Recreation Department. Over the years, this triathlon has raised thousands of dollars to support programs and events for the community. 

After the race, there will be a celebratory lasagna lunch and awards ceremony. Awards go to the overall male and female winners, relay team finishers, and top finishers by age group. There are also two special awards - the Nook Burniske Award and the Patrick Bell Award. The Nook Burniske Award goes to somebody who embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and has contributed to the Greenfield Triathlon or Greenfield sports in a significant way. The Patrick Bell Award goes to the youngest finisher of the Greenfield Triathlon.

If participating in the triathlon is not for you, you can still be a part of the event by volunteering or spectating. The race runs on 80+ volunteers to fill jobs from serving food to site preparation to finish line assistant and more. Register to volunteer hereYou can also support the runners by cheering them on from the sidelines. There are several designated parking areas for spectators throughout the course and plenty of great spots to watch and cheer. For specific information on these locations, click here.

If the 2019 triathlon doesn’t seem feasible for you, consider participating next year. The triathlon has a training program for participants that goes for 7 weeks on Sundays from mid-June to the end of July. There is also a free one-day triathlon clinic to familiarize participants with the course and discuss best practices for preparing yourself for the race. It is also a great opportunity to meet other triathletes. 

Go to greenfield-triathlon.com for more information. Good luck to all the triathletes!

greenfield triathlon massachusetts bikinggreenfield triathlon massachusetts swimming

Photos from Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon / greenfield-triathlon.com 

 

Celebrate the River at Deerfield Riverfest!

The Deerfield River is a beautiful landmark of our area. It draws people from all around to take advantage of its majestic waters, abundance of fish, and relaxing shorelines. Celebrate the Deerfield River this weekend with Zoar Outdoor and American Whitewater at the Deerfield River Festival in Charlemont, MA. 

All weekend long, Friday, June 28 through Sunday, June 30, Zoar Outdoor is offering free mini clinics for paddlers with some experience, seeking to improve their skills. This is a great opportunity to connect with other canoeists and kayakers and to pick up some tips from the Zoar instructors. Various outdoor sales representatives will be hanging out too, showing different boats and gear. You can pre-register for the clinics at Zoaroutdoor.com/demofest.

Then, on Saturday night, there will be a big party at the Charlemont Fairgrounds in celebration and appreciation of the Deerfield River. Enjoy live music, beer, and food, while you bid on auction items to support American Whitewater, the primary advocate for protecting whitewater rivers throughout the United States. You can also watch raft guides compete in the raft guide olympics, a series of rafting themed competitive events. Pitch a tent and camp at the fairgrounds after the festival. 

More information at americanwhitewater.org.

zoar outdoor demofest deerfield river american whitewater

 

 

Be Transported to Medieval Times at the Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival

Joust Mutton Mead Medieval FestivalDo you want to be transported to medieval times? This weekend you can at the Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival in Montague, Massachusetts. Started in 2011, the Mutton and Mead Festival is a highly anticipated annual event, where medieval England comes alive in Western Massachusetts. Once a year, the fictitious Mutton and Mead Tavern hosts their town’s summer festival and festival goers are brought back to the 13th century.

Children and adults alike are bound to find something that intrigues them at the Mutton and Mead Festival. The schedule is filled with events for Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16 from 10 am to 6:30 pm. See the joust where brave knights on horseback compete on the field of honor. Play games of skill and shoot a round of archery. Meet medieval characters such as Robin Hood and Maiden Marion. Explore the enchanted forest. Plus, enjoy many more comedy, stunt, and Shakespeare acts. View the full lineup here.

Local vendors from around the valley will be there as well, selling artisanal crafts, costumes, art, body products, tarot card readings, and more. Come hungry because there will also be lots of food for sale, and of course ales and mead too. See the full list of vendors here.  

The Mutton and Mead Festival is a project by the Knighten Guild. For directions to the festival, to purchase tickets, and for more details, visit their website.

Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival Montague Mass

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!



 

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!

 

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.