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Are We There Yet?: Relax This Weekend
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:28AM / Friday August 08, 2014
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This weekend is the perfect weekend to kick back, relax, think about back to school, spend some unstructured outdoors and just ... breathe.

There are a few scheduled activities that might interest your family: Project Native in Great Barrington is holding its Family Fun Fest from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 9; the annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow will be held Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9 and 10, at Bowe Field in Adams; and Kaith Harris will lead a talk for children on bicycle safety at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, in the gymnasium at the Pittsfield YMCA. You can find details on all those in our calendar of events.

But a quiet mid-summer weekend with a great weather forecest - sunny and temperatures around 80 - just begs for some play time. We asked for people's favorite swimming holes on Facebook earlier this week, and we got three replies: Bellevue Falls in Adams, Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams and Fish Pond (formally known as Windsor Lake) in North Adams.

I will add two to the list: As a Pittsfield native, I love what the city has done with Onota Lake. The beach there is fantastic for kids, with plenty of nearby parking, a playground, bathrooms and a snack shack with awesome hot dogs. As a current Williamstown resident, I love Margaret Lindley Park, a no-frills kind of place but one that now has real bathrooms, thanks to the Williamstown Conservation Commission.

Post something for us here if you have any other places you like. Or if it's a nice quiet watering hole that you want to keep secret so it stays quiet, that's OK, too.

Maybe this is the weekend to head to the top of Mount Greylock and have a picnic lunch. Or maybe it's the weekend you just hang out in the hammock, savoring the peace before the craziness of a new school year begins.

Whatever you do, have fun!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Everything IS Awesome
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:03AM / Friday August 01, 2014
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Have you seen "The Lego Movie"?

I admit I was skeptical about it going into the theater and I did come out of the theater the first time I saw it thinking it was goofy but kind of fun. When it came out on DVD, we purchased it, and my daughter has since watched it at least 30 times, many of those in the car on her iPad. Which means I have HEARD "The Lego Movie" about 30 times, and I have to say, listening to it and instead of watching it has given me a new appreciation of the clever one-liners that are sprinkled throughout the movie. One of my favorites: The female lead (voiced by Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks, FYI) says to the bad guy: "He would rather die than turn it over." To which the meek and mild hero of the movie replies, "I would not rather he die."

Well, maybe you have to see it to really get how funny it is. Luckily, that's the movie being shown Friday night, Aug. 1, at one of my favorite events of the year: the kickoff celebration to the annual "Movies Under the Stars" series in the town of Adams. The gala opening, sponsored by Adams Community Bank, will take place on the lawn in front of the Town Hall starting at 6 p.m. and “The Lego Movie” will be featured at dusk. This event is free and open to the public. The rain date will be on Saturday, Aug. 2.

In conjunction with the movie is the 12th annual community appreciation event. Free hot dogs, popcorn, fried dough, soft drinks and other refreshments will be served. Kids of all ages will have a chance to catch some cash in the cash cube and participate in other games and giveaways. Face painting will be provided by Magic Brushes and balloon art by Bowie the Clown.

Make sure to bring a blanket or chairs for the movie, and prepare to be entertained.

Speaking of entertainment in Adams, remember that the Aggie Fair runs all weekend. I will be there Saturday morning, Aug. 2, as my daughter ends her reign as Aggie Fair Princess and crowns the new princess. Being the Aggie Fair Princess was highlighted by the ride in the convertible in the Fall Foliage Parade (oh, and the $50 prize money that just came - sweet!).

A trip to Adams not in the cards? How about Williamstown! This just in: St. John's Episcopal Church at 35 Park St. will host two Community Art Days,  where kids of all talents and ages will have the chance to create art. Art supplies of all kinds will be provided, but participants are asked to bring one donation (a stick of glue, a roll of ribbon, a tube of paint, a used picture frame, etc.), to add to the variety of materials available. Then, on Aug. 16, the art will be made available to the public at the St. John's Church "Kids Art for Kids" auction. A quilt raffle in conjunction will benefit the Northern Berkshire Early Intervention "Social Sprouts" program, a play group for children who have aged out of Early Intervention, but aren't old enough for school aged services. This unique group does not receive the same funding as Early Intervention, therefore, donations are needed to support this effort.

The Arts Days will be held Saturday, Aug. 2, and Wednesday, Aug. 6; come anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 413-458-8144 for more information.

And can you believe it's August already?



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Are We There Yet?: Book It To These Events
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:07AM / Thursday July 24, 2014
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I've got Pownal on my mind.

I know, strange, right? It's a little town in the corner of Vermont. What's so special about Pownal?

This Saturday, July 26, the annual Pownal Valley Community Fair will be held behind the post office on Route 346, starting at 10 a.m. The fair features kids games, an exhibit hall, crafts and vendors, food for sale, horseshoe tournament and more. The day ends with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

But more personally, my daughter and I just finished reading Williamstown author Elizabeth Winthrop's "Counting on Grace," a book about a girl in the early 1900s who has to work in a cotton mill in North Pownal. The book is inspired by a photo taken by Lewis Hine, who is famous for documenting child workers for the National Child Labor Committee. We adored the book and now are looking forward to heading down to Adams to see "The Mill Children" exhibit at the new 5 Hoosac St. Gallery. The exhibit of Hines' photos, many taken in our own region, has been seen here before, but somehow I missed it. Reading "Grace" has inspired me to check it out when it opens in early August.

Speaking of books, another one of my daughter's favorites is the Magic Tree House series. So this week I'm skipping over a couple days and highlighting an event being held at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Tuesday, July 29, at 10 a.m. Author Mary Pope Osborne herself will present "A Visit from Mary Pope Osborne" in which she will discuss her inspiration for the series and answer some questions. This 45-minute family event is free.

We have a history with Mary Pope Osborne. When my daughter was 4, we saw the staged reading of Pope Osborne's version of "A Christmas Carol" at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, where we sat right in front of the author and got a book signed by her afterward. Last year, we attended a special performance at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, which was part of the Highland Street Foundation's Free Fun Friday series. My daughter was the one on stage singing along with Jack and Annie, of course. We just can't get enough of the Magic Tree House.

Oh, and speaking of Free Fun Fridays, please don't forget them this summer. Every Friday different venues across the state open their doors to families to experience different things for free. This Friday, July 25, no local venues are participating, but next Friday, Aug. 1, Hancock Shaker Village is free, as is this year's offering at the Mahaiwe: a celebration of the spirit of vaudeville and the early days of the Mahaiwe Theater featuring a Slapstick Symposium including silent movies and vaudevillian circus tricks as well as activities for children of all ages. The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For the complete schedule, click here.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Stay Empowered This Weekend
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:16AM / Thursday July 10, 2014
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So now that we have power up here in the Northern Berkshires — for now — let's take a look at this weekend.

Actually, let's start with Friday, July 11, and if the power goes out on this event, who cares? I'm talking about Eagle Street Beach Party in North Adams, and a lack of electricity might actually enhance this event by removing the music that's always way too loud on one end of the street.

But I digress. From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., kids are invited to come play in the more than 250,000 pounds of sand dumped on the street. There are games and contests, and the Eagle Street merchants always get in on the fun, too. The event is only held if there is no threat of rain; after all, who wants 250,000 pounds of mud? As of this writing in Thursday, Friday looks good to go, so head north and prepare to play!

On Saturday, July 12, get thee to a library ... where electricity is always helpful. In Otis, the library fair will be held from 10 to 3:30 (OK, it's actually NOT in the library, but on the church green, but this is Otis and it's all right there anyway). This event will feature more than 50 unique artists, craftsmen and clothes vendors selling their products. There will also be a book sale, bake sale, cookout and raffle prizes. All proceeds go toward new library computers, books, videos, and expanded library operating hours.

Staying in South County, the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic will hold a program called "Robots on the Run" from 2 to 4 p.m., presented by the Rhode Island Computer Museum. This workshop aims to explain basic circuits and instructions on how to build a simple robot. Kids 10 and up Will learn programmable electronics including how to make lights blink, motors run, sounds and more.

Back to North County, the Milne Library in Williamstown will host a program on Saturday called "Fire and Ice" at 1 p.m. As party of the "Fizz Boom Read" Summer Reading Program. Mad Science of New England will present this interactive science program about states of matter. Library programs are free.

Sunday, July 13, brings another fun outdoor activity: An Appalachian Trail Family Hike from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Great Barrington. This a special kid-friendly hike is geared at helping families enjoy hiking the Appalachian Trail. The 2-mile hike (round-trip) through ice gulch to the Tom Leonard Shelter will take families into one of Berkshire County’s most interesting trail sections. Kids will be able to explore a thru-hiker shelter, eat their lunch with an awesome view, and play games that help develop good trail skills. Parents will learn great tips for successful family trail days. For more information and to register, email info@gbtrails.org. Registration is required, group size is limited.

Power or no power, our beautiful Berkshire Hills can still be hiked. Maybe next time the power goes out we all need to remember that there are plenty of ways to have downtime when you can't power up.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Summer Is Here
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:07PM / Thursday June 19, 2014
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Summer is officially here on Saturday, even if it feels like we didn't have much of a spring. Up here in my corner of the Berkshires, school is still in session for another week, which means I'm not in the "oh my God it's summer what do I do with the kids" mode for another week. Is a shorter summer a good thing or a bad thing? Only time will tell.

But there are some fun ways to embrace the beginning of summer this weekend, most of them in Great Barrington on Saturday morning, June 21 ... so if you're ambitious, try to hit them all!

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Great Barrington Fair Grounds, Berkshire Co-op Market is throwing a family fun bash at the Great Barrington Farmers Market to celebrate the beginning of summer. The farmers market will run as usual with 25-plus vendors and a selection of vegetables, cheese, meats and more. The Co-op will be adding family fun activities to the event to bolster the fun.  There will be a mini Bio Blitz, hosted by Greenagers, a nonprofit working to help young people engage with their environment. The Blitz is a fun list of nature related games and scavenger hunts for kids.  There will also be a non-toxic tie dye table for all ages (some whites will be provided, but bringing your own is recommended), a local farmers market raffle, a silent auction of products from around town and a used clothing pop up shop.  All proceeds will benefit Greenagers, The Farmers Market and The Fair Grounds. For more information, visit www.berkshire.coop or call 413-528-9697.

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, Project Native will host a Bug and Butterfly Safari, weather permitting. With nets, bug boxes, magnifying glasses and field guides at the ready, participants will leave a on safari to find eggs, caterpillars and butterflies to relocate into the Butterfly House. Participants will learn to identify host plants, tricks for finding eggs/caterpillars and ecologically harvest food for caterpillars in the Butterfly House.  All ages are welcome to participate and it is free.

At 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., The Zoo in Forest Park returns to the Mason Library for another what promises to be a spectacular show. Families will learn about the zoo animals and get to pet them. There are limited spots available; there will be two shows and families must register for either 11:45 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. at gblibraries.org. All ages are welcome.

Of course, Saturday is the first day of summer, so it's a perfect day for ice cream. (Although really, what day is a BAD day for ice cream?) From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Wild Oats Market in Williamstown will hold an Ice Cream Social to benefit the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition’s Mass in Motion program, which is currently overseeing the North Adams Mayor’s Fitness Challenge. The Fitness Challenge, which began May 5 and continues to July 11,  is a 10-week program that challenges residents of the North Adams and surrounding communities to improve their overall health by setting and meeting doable fitness goals. There will be a face painter for kids of all ages, and a spin art machine for children to make unique and colorful artwork. The price per sundae is $5 for adults; and $3 for children 12 and under. While it may seem counterintuitive to serve ice cream for a fitness program, one of my favorite things about this program (we have an iBerkshires team in the challenge, though I have to admit the record-keeping is not going very well) is that it rewards for good behavior but does not punish for bad behavior. Love that positive reinforcement! And anyway, Amanda Chilson, coordinator for the Mass in Motion, will be there to share her tips on how to get fit and stay fit, while still enjoying an ice cream sundae or two along the way. Because life would be awfully dull without ice cream.

One quick event on Sunday, June 22, to mention: From 3 to 6 p.m., Egremont Village Inn (formerly Weathervane Inn) will host "The Family Show (Story #1)" featuring Lizzie West’s “Legend of the Golden Thread,” with special guests Sauerkraut Seth, Killington Bird Man, percussionist Baba Buffalo and more. The afternoon includes a 45-minute interactive performance with live music, outdoor fun and mask-making. The event is free. For more information, call 413-528-9580 or go to www.egremontvillageinn.com.

 

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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News Headlines
Williamstown CPC Fails in Bid to Lower Cable Mills Bond
State, Transportation Officials See Opportunity in Amtrak
Outdoor Life Honors BNRC with 2014 Open Country Award
Adams Community Bank Employees Donate Over $22,000
MCLA Named A Best Value For Public Colleges
Berkshire Museum Now Accepting BerkShares
Pittsfield Historical Commission Sets 2015 Priorities
Battalion Drops One-Goal Decision in Western Pa.
Pittsfield Weighs Construction Manager Model For New Taconic
Backstop Repairs Drain Last of Pittsfield's Bossidy Funds

 




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