I learned a valuable lesson last week with my new family events column here at iBerkshires.com: Always offer an indoor suggestion in case the weekend is a washout, like last weekend.
So with that in mind, my first pick for this weekend is something indoors. On Friday, May 31, at 6:15 p.m. at the Mason Library on Main Street in Great Barrington, "Monsters Inc." will be shown. If you haven't seen it, it's a fun flick for kids of all ages about a place called Monstropolis that is powered by the screams of human children. And watching it now will prepare the family for the prequel coming out this summer, "Monsters University," in theaters on June 21. The screening is free and kids can wear their pajamas if they want.
Moving north — and moving outdoors — is the fifth annual Fred B. Windover Memorial youth fishing derby for children ages 4 to 11 from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 1. The free derby is sponsored by the South Williamstown Community Association and is held at Wendling Farm on Oblong Road (just off the Five Corners intersection of Routes 7 and 43 in South Williamstown). I did suggest the Pittsfield fishing derby in my column last week, and for those of you who opted not to sit in the pouring rain, consider this a second chance to introduce the kids to the joys of fishing. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also up north on Saturday morning is the second annual 5K trail Race/Take sponsored by Youth Center Inc. and Adams Friends of Animals. The race and walk will begin and end at the Russell Field portion of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams and is for families and their pets. There is a fee to participate — $35 for the 5-kilometer run, $15 for walk — but the money will benefit programming at the Youth Center and scholarships for Northern Berkshire students in a veterinary field. After the race, activities will include food, raffles, bounce house, face painting, tennis games/instruction, youth obstacle course and games. For more information, call the Youth Center at 413-743-3550.
In the central/southern part of the county on Saturday, a free spring guided hike to support National Trails Day will begin at 10 a.m. at Berkshire Naturals/Outdoors, located at 12 Housatonic St. in Lenox. Hikers will receive a bottle of spring water and hike through the village into the popular Kennedy Park, led by Holly Brouker and associates. The walk will end at the Overlook with a campfire and marshmallow roasting, because who says you can't have a campfire in the morning? For details, email email@example.com or 413-281-2028.
And if it does rain on Saturday, here's a shout-out to a tried and true (albeit corporate) event: the monthly Kids Workshops at Home Depot. A friend introduced me to these last summer, and I have tried to bring my daughter every month to build everything from a bird feeder to a fire truck. The workshops are great for 5- to 12-year-olds, and they teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety and at the same time they help to instill a sense of accomplishment. In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin for every project. The workshops run from about 9 to noon; in our area there is a Home Depot at Berkshire Crossing in Pittsfield and another just north of the border on Northside Drive in Bennington, Vt.
Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday, June 2, you can stay inside with the Berkshire International Film Festival's annual Kids Shorts screening at 10 a.m. Flicks include "Diversity," an instructive cartoon that teaches important lessons of life, like how to do the happy dance, and "Balloon Moon," in which a cardboard boy and his ladybug friend set sail into a deep blue moonlit sea and have a dream adventure. It's all free and held at the lovely Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Castle Street in Great Barrington.
And if you want to end the weekend outside? Head up — as in, up to Mount Greylock. While I saw that the reservation had to be closed and evacuated last weekend because four inches of snow fell (gulp), it's a reasonable assumption that this will be a better weekend. At the Bascom Lodge at the summit, celebrating 75 years this year, check out the traditional Irish music of Dublin Porter at 6 p.m. and watch the kids dance the evening away on top of Berkshire County.
Stay dry — and entertained. The season is just heating up!
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.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Berkshires have been a magnet for those seeking to enjoy the simple things in life, from the Shakers and their aesthetic frugality to the "masters of the universe" who built gilded mansions in its bucolic setting.
While sharing little in common, both groups sought renewal in both spirit and body with the land.
So it's no surprise that documentarian Pamela Boll selected the region for her new film, which will follow the latest seekers of land and spirit: a crop of local farmers working to connect people with the land and the region's growing industry in yoga and wellness.
Berkshire Film & Media Commission reports that the Oscar-winning documentarian will be in the county over the next few months researching the simplification of live and true happiness in "A Small, Good Thing."
Boll, who won an Academy Award in 2004 as co-executive producer of "Born Into Brothels," will be filming in Lenox, Great Barrington and Lee.
She told the film commission her latest film will be about "chucking the big life and pursuing what makes you truly happy."
"We will be filming Tim Durrin working at Kripalu and riding his bike around the area; Mark Gerow teaching a yoga class in Lenox and spending time with his family; Jen and Peter Salinetti at Woven Roots Farm in Lee; Sean Stanton at North Plain and Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington; and Dominic Palumbo at Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield."
Congratulations to the city of Pittsfield for winning the Massachusetts Cultural Council Mayor's Art Challenge. The three-minute video of "The Art of Revitalizing a City" will be showcased at the State House this coming February at the Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honors in arts and culture.
The awards are presented every two years and, in 2009, the city was recognized as the state's most Creative Community for its efforts in using arts and culture to advance its goals as a vital community.
Pittsfield was one of 16 videos entered in the contest and features Mayor James M. Ruberto talking about the city's revitalization from a booth in Dottie's Coffee Lounge. The video's racked up more than 2,700 views to date and garnered 219 "likes" on YouTube. That seems a small amount, but voters had to have a YouTube account to vote. It still outpaced the larger cities of Lowell and Melrose (both with 186) and Haverhill (132). See all 16 videos here.
These four top vote-getters were reviewed by a panel at MCC and Pittsfield declared the winner.
Berkshire County's other city, North Adams, also vied in the challenge but couldn't come up with enough votes for the final. Featuring North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, the Steeple City's video picked up 72 likes and more than a 1,000 views. See that one below.
The Pittsfield video will be also be shown next year to the U.S. Conference of Mayors as part of the Americans for the Arts annual presentation. The video was created by Jennibeth Gomez, and AmeriCorps-VISTA intern in the city's Office of Cultural Development.
Some 130 volunteers thus far have been involved in the carving and painting of carousel figures, fundraising and designing for the project. The first finished horse, "Kali," was unveiled in March.
The panel design phase involves the creation of 28 panels, 14 of which will form the upper border of the carousel; the other 14 panels will be placed in the upper center of the ride and below smaller panels surrounding the ride's operating mechanism.
The committee seeks "realistically historic" scenic depictions from the Berkshires' Gilded Age, painted with a palette that is true to the color of the subject. For examples, guidelines and other information, click here.
The application deadline is Monday, Nov. 22; Reviews and selections by the committee will be completed by the end of the year, and artists will be asked to complete paintings by June 1, 2011.
The Pittsfield 4th of July Parade Committee is looking for a local artist to create the annual parade poster.
The theme for 2011 is "Pittsfield — 250 Years, Past, Present, Future"
Please send Pittsfield Parade a sketch of your idea for the 2011 poster by Nov. 1, 2010 at email@example.com. The artist will be notified by Dec. 1.
Finished poster must be in acrylics on 18-inch by 24-inch jessoed masonite, and must be submitted by March 1, 2011.
There is a $500 award, and the poster becomes the property of the Pittsfield Parade Committee to use as a fundraiser.