Are We There Yet?: Fine Fall Offerings
Last weekend, we officially welcomed fall to the Berkshires, but this weekend features a few events that really usher in the season.
First up is the annual Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, which celebrates the bounty of the harvest with agricultural demonstrations, wagon rides, a farmers' market, family activities and more. The fair is free with regular admission of $18 for adults and $8 for children 13 to 17 (kids 12 and under with an adult are always free!) and runs both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Then there is the 34th annual Lenox Apple Squeeze & Harvest Festival, which transforms downtown Lenox into a giant seasonal street fair. The festival features food, rides, shopping, live music and family fun galore from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29. Lenox is one of the prettiest towns on the planet in the fall, so don't miss this opportunity to celebrate the season in style.
I may be partial, since I live in Williamstown, but if Lenox is ONE of the prettiest towns in the fall, I have to say that Williamstown is THE prettiest town in the fall. As hokey as it may sound, I catch my breath every time I drive along the stretch of Route 7 between South Williamstown and downtown Williamstown. On a clear day, now not only can you see Mount Greylock and its Veterans War Memorial Tower, but you can also see in the distance the wind turbines of the Hoosac Range. Leaving aside the politics and problems surrounding the turbines, I believe they make the long-distance view of this picture-perfect spot even better.
So what's in Williamstown this weekend, besides the lovely views? It's the annual Hopkins Forest Fall Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29. The celebration will take place within the forest, located at the junction of Northwest Hill Road and Bulkley Street. The event is free and will feature traditional woodworking demonstrations, music, apple butter and cider production, refreshments, a canopy walkway and children's activities. The forest is owned by Williams College, and this is one of the nice ways the college reaches out to the community.
Of course, these are all outdoor activities, and while crisp, cool and dry fall weather is always appreciated, I do have a fun family suggestion for Saturday, Sept. 28, should it rain.
Anyone who has been to Washington, D.C., knows that the Smithsonian Museums boast free admission, which is awesome and made my own recent trip to the Air and Space Museum even sweeter. Am I suggesting you head south this weekend? Not at all — free museum admission is coming to us! Smithsonian magazine is sponsoring Museum Day Live!, an annual event in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket - for free. (You can get the tickets emailed to you by going online to smithsonianmag.com.)
Here in the Berkshires, there are several options. In Massachusetts, Naumkeag in Stockbridge, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield and Chesterwood in Stockbridge are participating. Just north of the border in Vermont, the Bennington Battle Monument (which has an elevator up to what promises to be a gorgeous view this time of year), the Bennington Center for the Arts and the Bennington Museum are participating.
You can also stop by one of the Trustees of Reservations historic homes on Sunday for their annual Home Sweet Home open houses from 1 to 3.
So rain or shine, it's a great fall weekend for families. Enjoy!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Williams Tops With Forbes, Unigo
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — You know fall's around the corner when the inevitable lists of the best schools start appearing. And, inevitably, the Williams College is on them.
This month, Williams' selection as one of the "New Ivies" by college-rater Unigo.com comes on the heel's of its top ranking as America's best college by Forbes Magazine.
The private liberal arts institution, and the second-oldest college in the state after Harvard, has been a perennial top-lister in various "best of" lists, including U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings. Forbes ranked Williams as No. 4 last year; this year, it popped to the top, beating out archrival Amherst at No. 3.
Forbes ranks colleges on academics and students' experiences and achievements. Unigo.com's rankings are similar and it gleans all of its information directly from students. The site offers information to help collegebound students choose the right school. The list of "The New Ivies" is among the site's "10 for 10" that includes ranking for the 10 safest, best party, most intellectual and sports.
The information culled from some 30,000 respondents placed Williams among the New Ivies with Duke and Johns Hopkins for its low student-instructor ratio, communal atmosphere and emphasis on academic experience over grades.
|Williamstown is isolated. But the athletic, outdoorsy and social students don’t seem to mind spending time on campus together. 'We come here for the academics, and for one another.' That, in a nutshell, is Williams' largest selling point.|
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Williamstown Steeple on eBay
As you've probably already heard, the St. Raphael's steeple has been posted on eBay. The church's pride has structural issues and a decision was made to remove while the building and nearby rectory are transformed into affordable housing units.
There was the idea of simply setting it aside, like giant lawn ornament, but the commitee working with developer David Carver didn't warm to the idea. Thus, like so many tchotkes and oddities, the steeple found itself on eBay. Here's the link.
It's a great opportunity for a buying a "once in a lifetime" deal, says the description.
|Get ready ... because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are please to offer a real life part of Western New England history ... What a wonderful piece of architectural history to own ... pour a concrete slab and enjoy it for a lifetime.|
The minimum bid is $1,000 but with 39 hours to go, no one's bid on it. The auction ends on Aug 22 at 5:55:13 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, or 2:55:13 a.m. our time. The local pickup requirement would certainly lessen the number of (any?) interested buyers - it would be pretty pricey to ship since it weighs in at five to six tons. We found one freight calculator that came up with $3,500 to ship it to 90210 (since we figured someone in that ZIP could easily afford it).
The removal and loading on a flatbed are included, so that's a nice incentive. And where else can you get a church steeple like it? On the other hand, it's just the slate-covered spire and not the more architecturally interesting belfry beneath it.
If a steeple won't fit at your house but you're still looking for some Williamstown history, there's elements of the Kalker House still available at the ReStore in Springfield. The beautiful doorway taken from the home (demolished to make way for the Clark Art Institute's new entrance) can be picked up for $2,000. It's twice the price as the steeple but we're thinking a lot easier to get home.
Update: The auction ended Saturday night with no bids; we haven't seen it relisted.
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Names From the Traveling Wall
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.|
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Williams Student Dies in Avalanche
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A Williams College junior was killed when he and other students in the college's Williams-Exeter Programme were caught in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps on Sunday.
According to a letter to the Williams community by President Adam Falk, 20-year-old Henry Lo of Franklin Square, N.Y., fell to his death and his classmate Amy Nolan of Williamstown, also a junior, suffered a blow to her head while hiking near Kandersteg, south of the capital Bern.
|While walking yesterday, they were hit by an avalanche of snow, ice, and rocks. Henry Lo ’11 was swept to his death, and Amy Nolan ’11 suffered a blow to her head. Swiss rescuers responded quickly, retrieving Henry's body and taking Amy by helicopter to a hospital in Bern. We're told that she never lost consciousness. She was operated on yesterday, and the student who was allowed to visit her today reports that she was talking and smiling. Her parents, Cathy and Jim Nolan, professor of sociology, are now there with her.|
There were five other Williams students and two Oxford University students in the party. No one else was injured and the rest of the students were taken back to Oxford, where the program is based. Lo was a math and religion major whom his classmates described as gregarious, hard working, competitive and fun loving.
"At this profoundly sad moment our hearts are first with Henry's family for their sudden and devastating loss," wrote Falk. "No plans have yet been set for any services."
The Swiss Avalanche Institute says an average two dozen people die each year in avalanches there.
For Falk's full letter, click here.
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