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Are We There Yet?: Powwow Weekend, Zucchini Fest
By Rebecca Dravis On: 06:06PM / Thursday August 08, 2013
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If there is one event I have always wanted to attend during a Berkshire summer but never seemed to make it to, it's the West Stockbridge Zucchini Festival.

Don't get me wrong: I don't actually enjoy eating zucchini, though every summer some well-meaning friend presents me with a green giant from their garden and I am left pretending that I can come up with all sorts of tasty ways to eat it, even though inside I know that it will sit on my counter until it gets mushy and gross.

(But don't get me wrong here: I do understand the impulse to dole out excess produce, as I am the proud owner of half a dozen blueberry bushes that produce pounds and pounds of the fruit that, while tasty, can get old really fast.)

No, my desire to go to the Zucchini Festival is more about wanting to experience what seems like it would be a leap back in time to an old-fashioned family street fair filled with such silly games as zucchini car races and a best zucchini costume contest. What's not to love?

This year is the event's 10th annual, and it will be held from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, rain or shine, in "downtown" West Stockbridge, routes 41 and 102 and the center of town. This year the theme is "Fly Me to Zee Moon" and the event will feature Berkshire kids' favorites David Grover and Terry a la Berry during the day the drummers of The Berkshire Bateria later in the day. It is free, though some games have small fees for tickets. For info, visit weststockbridgetown.com. As I currently have nothing on my calendar for Saturday except cleaning my house, maybe this is the year I make it down. After all, the house will still be there and dirty on Sunday!

Alas, though, I do have something on my calendar for Sunday afternoon (a Girl Scout financial literacy program I am running for fourth- and fifth-grade girls that I will just quickly mention here, but email me if you want more details). If you are looking for something to do with the family on Sunday, you could try the second day of the eighth annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow, to be held at the Adams Aggie Fair fairgrounds off Route 8 in Adams on both Saturday and Sunday.

I actually attended this event its first year, in 2006, when rain forced it inside the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club. While it might not have been as majestic as it would have been had it been outside, you could really feel the drums beating deep inside your soul as they echoed off the walls of a gymnasium. I have not been back to the pow wow since as it has moved all around the region over the last six years, though my husband and daughter went together last year for a few hours. (I think I stayed home and cleaned the house. Must be my annual midsummer cleaning weekend, now that I think about it.)

The powwow runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and features traditional dancing, American Indian storytellers and vendors, traditional native foods such as fry bread, corn soup and buffalo, and performances by Arvel Bird, a Nammy Award-winning Native American violinist and flute player, and Danza Azteca, an Aztec dance group. Tickets are $7 for adults and kids under 10 are free; visit healingwinds.net for all the details.

And speaking of the Adams Aggie Fair ... I apparently am now royalty. As I mentioned last week, my daughter was competing in her last Adams Aggie Fair Princess contest, desperate to win the title this year, her third year of demonstrating how to milk a cow and sharing what she would like about living on a farm.

Thank you, Hancock Shaker Village, for the annual cow-milking lessons, and thank you, Aggie Fair people, for planting this seed in her mind: Her answer to the farm question this year was that she would have a place to keep the Shetland pony she said she wanted as a pet in response to the question of what animal she would she want if she could have any she wanted. Last year's answer to the living-on-a-farm question, by the way, was that she could have fresh eggs daily, which sounded good to me, better than the pony anyway. Of course, last year's answer to why she wanted to be the Aggie Fair princess — so she could wear a tiara — beat this year's answer: "So my parents can get into the Aggie Fair for free." Nice.

Despite that answer (or maybe because if it; she got a good laugh from the judges) she won the princess title this year ... leading some friends of ours who we ran into at the SteepleCats game on Monday night to say to me, "Does that mean you are now the queen?" Um, sure, though my daughter got the official tiara and the opportunity to ride in a convertible in the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade in October. I probably will have to walk behind. All hail the queen.

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 rdravis@verizon.net.



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Are We There Yet?: Strawberries Abound
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:47PM / Thursday June 20, 2013
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Last summer my daughter and I planted one tiny strawberry plant in our back yard. We dug out a small square space, put bricks around it so Daddy wouldn't run over it with the lawn mower, and hoped for the best.

One strawberry grew, the plant itself withered and we thought it was a lost cause. But then last week, much to our surprise, another solo strawberry had grown. One strawberry a year is not exactly what I had in mind when we planted it, but one is better than nothing, right?

If your family loves strawberries and all of the delicious ways to eat them as much as my family does, this is a good weekend for you.

If you read this before 5 p.m. Thursday, June 20, head north just above the border to the Pownal United Methodist Church, which will host its annual strawberry shortcake supper. The menu includes cold ham and roast beef, scalloped potatoes, jello salad and coleslaw, rolls, coffee, iced tea, or lemonade and homemade strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream. Tickets will be available at the door; the cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children 4 to 10 years, and free for children 3 years and younger.

On Saturday, June 22, Second Congregational Church, located on Route 43 in south Williamstown, will hold its annual Strawberry Festival. The event will feature homemade strawberry shortcake, lunch, a bake sale, a jewelry table, a plant sale, a tag sale, and a Chinese auction. My daughter and I have attended this festival in the past and I have to say the shortcakes are a sight to behold.

Right down the road at Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock, this weekend marks the annual Strawberry Pancake Weekend. From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday you can enjoy their locally grown strawberry treats and the kids can enjoy Ioka's Uncle Don’s Barnyard playground free for this weekend only as a customer appreciation celebration.

If you don't like strawberries — and I have to be honest: I prefer the shortcake and whipped cream myself — you can still have a sweet weekend with your family. A lot of the libraries are kicking off their summer reading programs this weekend, and my best bet is to head to Cheshire to learn about geocaching. At 10 a.m. Saturday, June 22, Kathy Gwozdz will talk about how geocaching works and then take participants on a hunt down Depot Street.

Also on Saturday, June 22, the "Science for Kids" series at Dorothy Amos Park in Pittsfield kicks off from 10 to noon. This free event invites kids to learn about water and the environment and why keeping our parks clean is important. All ages are invited.

On Sunday, June 23, I'm going to give a quick shout-out for an event I am helping to plan as part of my "day job" working for the Girl Scouts: A Daisy Girl Scout Day for girls entering kindergarten and first grade in the fall. Two sessions will be held, 11:30 to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, where girls can come learn about being a Daisy Girl Scout, complete with crafts, games and snacks. The program is free.

Also on Sunday, June 23, the Piston Poppers will hold their second annual car show at Eastover in Lenox from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectators cost $5; all proceeds of car entry fees will benefit HospiceCare in the Berkshires.

Spring is officially turning to summer this weekend, so stay tuned to this column for all the fun your family can have in the Berkshires this summer!

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 rdravis@verizon.net.
 



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EPA Postpones Housatonic River Update
By: Nichole Dupont On: 05:37PM / Tuesday January 25, 2011
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Update: The meeting for Wednesday night has been canceled because of weather concerns, also known as snow. The EPA says it is rescheduling and we'll post the new time as soon as possible.

LENOX, Mass. — Just a reminder to concerned citizens, sportsmen, environmentalists and anyone else whose life will be impacted by the Housatonic River cleanup (namely all of us), that there is a meeting Wednesday night, Jan. 26, at 5:30 at the Lenox Town Hall auditorium.

The EPA Housatonic River Citizens Coordinating Council, which includes representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, GE, the state Department of Environmental Protection and local environmentalists and officials will meet to discuss the status of the Rest of the River Project.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide updates since the last meeting in October on several proposed projects surrounding the PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, dumped into the river by GE. These options include dredging the river to remove PCBs, proposed dump sites for PCBs, dredging and destroying PCBs using a new bacteria technology and letting the river remain as is, to name a few.

While several area organizations, including Berkshire Creative and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau are advocating for the "low-impact solution" that does not involve extensive dredging, still other groups, especially environmentalists, are demanding that the river be completely dredged and the PCBs removed and destroyed.
 
All opinions and suggestions are welcome as the EPA plans to move forward soon. In addition to this meeting, the EPA will continue to take public input and suggestions regarding GE's plan for Phase II of the cleanup until Jan. 31. To submit comments, you can visit the EPA website or e-mail Susan Svirsky, project manager for the EPA Rest of the River.



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Lanesborough Elm Given Lofty Name
By: Staff Reports On: 06:13PM / Tuesday June 22, 2010
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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.'"
 

 

 



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Be on the Lookout for Invasive Species
By: Staff Reports On: 09:57AM / Wednesday June 02, 2010
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The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), wants boaters to know that they should "check to be sure they aren't giving a free ride to non-native aquatic plants or animals." According to MassWildlife's June newsletter, boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, anchors, bait buckets, live wells, swimming and diving gear, and other aquatic equipment can transport aquatic, exotic invasive species between water bodies.

Once established, invasive species can choke waterways, foul intake and discharge structures, lower lakefront property values, impede boating, swimming and fishing, and reduce biodiversity by crowding out native fish, insects, other animals and plants. After they've settled in their new homes, it's nearly impossible to eradicate them.

Last July, invasive zebra mussels were discovered in in Laurel Lake in Lee and Lenox, prompting the City of Pittsfield to coordinate a boat-ramp monitoring program, in an effort to prevent the spread of zebra mussels into its water bodies.

Zebra mussels are small 1-2" D-shaped mussels with alternating light and dark bands. They have a microscopic larval stage and can travel undetected in bait buckets, live wells and cooling water. According to Mass Wildlife, there are no known methods of control for zebra mussels once they've invaded a water body. To prevent an introduction of zebra mussels, boaters must empty all bait buckets, live wells and cooling water on dry land away from the shore.

This year, the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) wants to make boaters aware of new procedures that must be followed for any watercraft to be launched at Berkshire waterbodies determined to be at high or moderate risk for zebra mussel colonization. Anyone launching watercraft at Ashmere Lake, Cheshire Reservoir, Housatonic River, Lake Buel, Lake Garfield, Lake Mansfield, Laurel Lake, Onota Lake, Plunkett Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Prospect Lake, Richmond Pond, Shaw Pond, and Stockbridge Bowl must fill out a Clean Boat Certification Form. The form is available at the boat ramp kiosks, or you can find it here.

For more information on preventing the spread of invasive non-native plants and other organisms, click here.

If you see a zebra mussel in a Massachusetts waterway, report it to Tom Flannery at tom.flannery@state.ma.us, call 617- 626-1250 or visit www.mass.gov/lakesandponds for fact sheets. DCR is seeking volunteers for its Weed Watchers Program; more information can be found here.

(Launching requirements are different in central Massachusetts; click here to find out more  or call the Quabbin Visitors Center at 413- 323-7221).



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