What a great weekend to live in northern Berkshire County!
The Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival offers myriad fun opportunities for families, starting with the Children's Parade at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. Children should arrive at 5 p.m. in costume and then march to City Hall, where they will receive a ribbon just for participating.
Then there's the dog parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the corner of Eagle Street and Route 2, in which owners are encouraged to make costumes and enter their dogs into this parade. Also on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., is the Children's Fair and Road Race, located at the playground of Noel Field on Route 8. And Sunday, Oct. 6, of course, brings the main event: the 58th annual parade, which starts on Route 8 south of downtown North Adams and continues up Route 8 and across Main Street and then down Ashland Street. This year's theme is "Haunts, Legends and Ghost Stories" and is bound to be fun for the thousands of spectators of all ages who come out to watch this highlight of the fall season. For more information, visit the parade website.
But lest you think all of the action is in North County this weekend, here are a few more options for family fun this weekend, which as of this writing appears to be another good one, weather-wise. (Did I just jinx us?)
On Saturday and Sunday in Stockbridge, the Berkshire Botanical Garden is hosting its annual Harvest Festival. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., features live music, crafts showcasing local artisans, silent auction, plant sale, gigantic tag sales, farmers market showcasing the best of Berkshire-grown foods, and fall fun for kids. Parking is free and so is admission for children under 12; adults will pay $5.
Also on Saturday, the Pittsfield Fire Department will hold its open house, held annually in recognition of Fire Prevention Week, at its headquarters at 74 Columbus Ave. This free event will feature an opportunity to meet local firefighters and learn fire and life safety practices. There will be a display by County Ambulance as well as information about child-find retinal scan and TRIAD for Seniors offered by the Berkshire County sheriff's department. Pizza will be offered as a special bonus. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-448-9754.
And lastly, I have a special shout-out for another Saturday event, the Buddy Walk of the Berkshires. This event is sponsored by Berkshire County Arc and aims to create awareness about people with Down syndrome and to raise money for programming or other needs for children and adults.
This is a cause close to my heart, as I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors of BFAIR, another Berkshire County agency dedicated to helping people of all ages with development disabilities. And now this is a cause close to my daughter's heart, as one of the classmates in her second-grade class has Down syndrome and has rallied her class to walk with him. She has taken him up on the offer and will be proudly walking next to her own "buddy" on Saturday in this walk, which starts at Craneville Elementary School in Dalton, wends its way through Dalton and ends back at the school for a party. Registration is at 10 a.m. and the walk begins at 11 a.m.; visit the website for details.
Who says we need to wait until Columbus Day Weekend to enjoy fall fun? Get out there this weekend!
Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Richmond Bids Farewell to Building Inspector
By: Staff Reports On: 02:24PM / Thursday September 09, 2010
RICHMOND, Mass. — The town will be bidding a final farewell Friday to its building inspector, Walter S. Potash.
Potash died Sept. 1 at his Lee home at age 77. His funeral will be held on Friday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. at St. Peter's Church in Great Barrington. There were no calling hours scheduled.
The Pittsfield High School gradutate had owned A & P Builders during the 1970s. He'd been the inspector for Richmond for the past seven years and had also been a building inspector for Lanesborough and Monterey. He was a member of the Building Officials of Western Massachusetts.
Potash had worked for many years at the former GE in Pittsfield. He'd lived in Great Barrington before moving to Lee in 2002. He loved animals and nature, particularly feeding wildlife, so family has asked that contributions in his memory be made to the Berkshire Humane Society in care of Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford St., Pittsfield.
Staffing at the Richmond Town Hall will limited Friday morning because many employees will be attending the service. The town is arranging for an interim inspector until a permanent one can be appointed.
Bennie Madigan at the opening celebration for the Susan B. Anthony Museum in February.
Cheshire's own Bernice Madigan, better known as Aunt Bennie, will be featured in a segment of ABC World News on Thursday night, July 1.
Madigan, who will turn 111 on July 24, is the oldest citizen in Massachusetts and is listed 49th oldest in the world by The Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group, which tracks so-called "supercentenarians," or those age 110 and older.
Madigan's niece Elaine Daniels was contacted by Boston Medical last week to see if the state's "superwoman" would be willing to be interviewed by the news program. Madigan has been a part of the Boston University School of Medicine's New England Centenarian Study, which is researching why some people live so long — and so well.
"She's used to all the interviews," said Daniels on Wednesday afternoon after alerting family and friends to Thursday's television appearance. Madigan, who is still active and alert, has been interviewed by local media and print publications, including iBerkshires, The Boston Globe and The Berkshire Eagle. She was recently interviewed for a feature in AARP Magazine and interviewed and filmed for the Center for Aging at the University of Chicago.
But the national television appearance had her a bit nervous, said Daniels. "She was worried her piano playing wouldn't be very good because she hasn't been playing much since being sick (recently). I told her not worry, they'd edit it."
A camera crew and an interviewer from Boston spent Wednesday afternoon at Madigan's home asking her about her life and to what she attributed her long life ("No kids, no stress" is her frequent rejoinder) and filmed her daily routine of walking, doing a puzzle, reading a paper and, of course, playing the piano.
Madigan will celebrate her 111th birthday with some 200 or so friends and relatives, many from her longtime home in Maryland. ABC World News airs at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 10.
Update: Madigan was featured in a story late in the broadcast about a new study by Boston University released Thursday that found 150 genetic variants particular to people age 100 older. Researchers believe clusters of these variants may indicate greater resistance, or delay, to the onset of age-related diseases. Madigan's been a participant in BU's aging study for a few years.
In the short video version of the story, the spotlight was stolen a bit by a younger woman of 104 in New Jersey who regularly drinks three glasses of beer and a shot of Black Label because "my doctor told me to." (News editors seem to love old people who drink and, especially, smoke cigars at advanced ages.)
Madigan and her niece, Elaine Daniels, are featured as the video cover on the ABC World News page; they're walking down the long driveway of Rolling Acres Farm. And Madigan talks a little and plays the piano - quite well, we might add. She had nothing to worry about.
We're having trouble loading the video but the link is here. We'll try to have it posted Friday.
The Champion Elm stands more than 100 feet high and may be the biggest elm in New England.
Submitted photo Third-grader Troy Massaconi looks up at the tree he's named 'King Elmer.'
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The state's biggest elm tree now has a name suited to its majestic appearance: King Elmer.
Alice Spatz, co-chairman of the Lanesborough Tree and Forest Committee announced on Monday that the winner of the Name the Champion Elm Contest is Troy Massaconi.
Troy is a pupil in Anna Mello's third-grade class at Lanesborough Elementary School. The school's two third-grade classes participated in an Arbor Day event to measure the tree at the bottom of Summer Street to see if it could size up as New England's biggest elm. The committee awarded a book about trees to both of the classes that participated.
Each class submitted several names each to the committee, with Troy's being selected as the best fitting name for a champion.
According to the committee, "Therefore, from hence forth, this mighty Elm will be known as 'King Elmer.'"
Susan Macksey, formerly of North Adams, sent us some photos of a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, better known as simply "The Wall."
This particular 250-foot-long traveling replica is called "The Wall That Heals." It was situated at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
She sent pictures of the names of five Northern Berkshire men that are engraved on the wall: Peter Foote of North Adams, Russell Roulier of Adams, Tristan Hayes and Francis Bissaillon of Williamstown, and Peter Cook, who is listed under North Adams but was actually from Clarksburg. The Clarksburg VFW Post is named for him.
"Last month, some friends and I rode down to Bethel Woods, N.Y. to see the "Wall That Heals" — the traveling Vietnam War Memorial," Macksey wrote us this weekend. "I'm sorry that they are a little late for Memorial Day but I hope you can use them for your website."
We told her we'd find a way to use them. After all, any day is Memorial Day. So here are the photos she sent:
From top left clockwise, Francis H. Bissaillon, Peter A. Cook, Peter W. Foote, Tristan W. Hayes and Russell R. Roulier, all casualties of the Vietnam War. For more information about Massachusetts names on the wall, click here.