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Are We There Yet?: Science, Sand, Circus and Sales
By Rebecca Dravis On: 09:30AM / Friday July 12, 2013
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My 7-year-old daughter's pediatrician just advised us to avoid bubble baths for a while. I explained to him that her baths don't start out as bubble baths, in that I don't dump three capfuls of Mr. Bubble under running water. No, her baths turn into soapy affairs because I buy her cheap shampoo to do experiments with in the tub. It's pretty amazing what the child can come up with with a bottle of V05, a couple cups, an old bulb syringe from when she was a baby, an ice cube tray and some rubber bands.
 
"She's going to be a scientist!" her doctor said in amazement as I shared this with him.

Quite possibly, which is why I am thrilled to have an opportunity to let her experiments take shape someplace other than my bathroom. On Friday, July 12, the Berkshire Museum is hosting "WeeMuse: Night of Science" from 5 to 7 p.m. This free event, presented in partnership with TD Charitable Foundation, the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Sabic Innovative Plastics, will fill the museum with "Wacky, mystifying and fun science experiments," according to the museum's website. Kids can spend the evening walking on water, snacking on liquid nitrogen ice cream, making glow-in-the-dark slime, creating their own hover craft and more family-friendly experiments. Visit berkshiremuseum.org for details.
 
There is, of course, another event on Friday that allows kids to experiment, albeit with a different medium -- sand. That's right, it's time for the annual Eagle Street Beach event. Originated by artist Eric Rudd in 1999, the event will run from 3:30 to 6:30 and features more than 250,000 pounds of sand, donated by Specialty Minerals and delivered by the city, spread curb-to-curb down the entire length of Eagle Street in downtown North Adams. (The rain date is next Friday, July 19, so check the forecast and iBerkshires for updates, as the city will not run the event if there is a threat of rain, because really, who wants an Eagle Street mud party?) After the beach party the fourth annual Mexican Fiesta will follow at 7 p.m. I have to admit I liked this event better when it was a two-hour Wednesday afternoon affair just for kids, but either way, youngsters of all ages seem to have a good time sculpting and creating and competing.
 
If you're looking for some weekend entertainment for the kids, the Dalton Lions Club is having its annual circus fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14, at the American Legion Field on Route 9 in Dalton. The event features the Kelly Miller Circus, which has been around since 1938 and is the country's second-largest big top show. (That big top, FYI, has a seating capacity of 1,100 and is made of waterproof vinyl. The tent is 120 feet by 120 feet and is 40 feet high and is supported by more than a quarter of a mile of heavy gauge aluminum tubing as well as several miles of rope, steel cable and chain. Who knew?)
 
The circus is a fundraiser, so it's for a good cause, but if you have any concerns about the welfare of the animals, check out Kelly Miller's website, http://kellymillercircus.com/. There is some good information that may put your mind at ease and allow you to support the wonderful work the Lions Club does while giving the kids a thrill. Shows are 2 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Advance tickets are available prior to circus day at Big Y World Class Markets, the Dalton General Store, the Dalton CRA, Greenridge Variety, Val's Variety and Harry's Supermarket.
 
One more fundraiser (well, OK, two!) to mention: library book sales! There are two this weekend -- the Berkshire Atheneum in Pittsfield and the Stockbridge Library. Bring the kids and let them browse the children's sections while you stock up on some summer novels that you will find time to read -- honest! The Pittsfield sale is inside the library on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Stockbridge sale is under the big tent out front on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. I hit as many of these sales as I possibly can, hoping to find a John Irving book I haven't read yet but usually settling for a Dean Koontz or two or some of those soft-back British novels that I enjoy. These are two great sales, and keep a look out for the Lenox Library's sale in August. Happy reading!
 
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?: A Fourth to Remember
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:39AM / Thursday July 04, 2013
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There's family fun times two this Fourth of July in the Berkshires.

You have your choice of two parades: 10 a.m. in Pittsfield (starting at West Housatonic and South streets) and 11 a.m. in Williamstown (Southworth to Main to Spring streets).

You have your choice of two readings of the Declaration of Independence: 2 p.m. at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown (by the folks at Williamstown Theatre Festival) and 3 p.m. at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox (by company members).

And you have your choice of two baseball games followed by fireworks: 6:30 p.m. in North Adams (the SteepleCats at Joe Wolfe Field) and 7 p.m. in Pittsfield (the Suns at Wahconah Park).

But that's not all: You have three more days of Fourth of July weekend fun ... because we all know most of us are taking Friday off to have a nice long weekend with the family. I know I am, and I am ready to really kick off summer fun this weekend.

On Friday, July 5, the Movies Under the Stars summerlong family film series kicks off on the lawn of Adams Town Hall with a screening of the original alien movie, "E.T." The movies continue every Friday throughout the summer, starting at dusk, but this kickoff event features a family festival at 6 p.m. prior to the movie. The festival features games, crafts, free food and almost certainly the "cash cube," where people have 30 seconds to grab as much money as they can as it blows around their bodies. And if rains (and really, is it ever going to stop raining?) the whole thing will be moved to Saturday. Visit celebrateadams.com for all the details of this annual community celebration in Adams.

On Saturday, July 6, children can do a goblin sighting activity and build a fairy or elf house to bring home, weather permitting, at the Mason Library in Great Barrington. The event, which is appropriate for kids 7 and up (meaning my daughter will almost certainly want to go!), runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Register online at gblibraries.org.

Also on Saturday, July 6, bring back the 1970s (and introduce them to a new generation) with a "Grease" sing-along at 7 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. According to the website, "It's not compulsory to dress up but many people do and it really adds to the fun" — so bring out the leather jackets and muscle shirts. The sing-along features a 30-minute pre-film show during which the host leads participants through a vocal warm-up, prepares them for special moments throughout the film and judges the fancy dress competition. Everyone receives a free goody bag with special props for the "magic moments" that make the evening go with a bang. I've got chills ... they're multiplying ... Visit mahaiwe.org for details.

To wrap up the weekend on Sunday, July 7, is the kickoff of another fun summer series: Summer Sundays on Spring Street in Williamstown. Weather permitting, the street festival begins at 4 p.m. with activities, music and local artisons and crafters and ends with an outdoor screening of "Some Like it Hot" at Morgan Lawn, sponsored by Images Cinema (which will host the movie inside if it is raining).

Have a great holiday 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 rdravis@verizon.net.



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Three Berkshire Towns Listed As 'Dreamtowns' In Globe
By Andy McKeever On: 08:13AM / Thursday June 27, 2013
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The "Albany, N.Y., suburb of Lanesborough" is apparently a "dream town" to live in Massachusetts, according to The Boston Globe.

The Globe used an online tool asking users to list their priorities such as schools, movie theaters, restaurants, "hipsters" — which, from what we can tell, is dependent on the number of hybrid cars and Starbucks — crime rates, location and housing costs.

We agree that Lanesborough is pretty dreamy — beautiful lake and rollings hills, and a nice little school. Where else can you get rural living and a mall?

We're wondering, though, if The Globe writers used a map when they wrote their descriptions. Or perhaps Lanesborough really is a Capital District suburb, along with Hancock, Richmond and Williamstown. Does The Globe know something we don't?

In a way to promote its "dreamtown finder," The Globe used various levels for each category to derive 25 favorite towns. Lanesborough was listed because the town has "great schools (sic) and low housing costs" as well as having a "solid number of grocery stores." (We know of one).

And there is a low crime rate. But The Globe also warns that there are few "movie theaters." (Again, we know of one.)

Great Barrington also made the list. Great Barrington doesn't have the cachet of being an Albany suburb, but it has a lot of entertainment and "several dozen restaurants." There are also a lot of "historical items to be found in Great Barrington as the town first started out as a resort community."

Lenox also made the list because the town is "filled with wicked smart kids." (OK, they got something right.) And, if you didn't know, tourists flock to the area during the summer "including the Boston Symphony Orchestra." How exciting!

And, there were two movies filmed in Lenox.

While those three Berkshire towns were used as "dream towns," none of them apparently made a list The Globe did earlier this year of the top 10 places to in live in Massachusetts.

On that list, Savoy was the best location to live. Savoy has "one historical location and a park." Monterey was No. 2 in that last because it has "three historical locations and a couple of restaurants."

In conclusion, we don't know which town is the best in the Berkshires — let alone the state. But at least The Globe is recognizing some of our smaller towns so maybe some more people will come and see it for themselves.



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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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Are We There Yet?: Get Outdoors This Weekend
By Rebecca Dravis On: 02:01PM / Friday May 31, 2013
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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 swca32@gmail.com.

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 hollyallsports@gmail.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 rdravis@verizon.net.



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News Headlines
Letter: New Paths to Youth Nicotine Addiction
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College, Criminal Processes for Sexual Assault Cases Not in Conflict
Pittsfield Board Approves Expansion For Pediatric Devleopment Center
MCLA Women's Soccer Falls to Albertus Magnus
Larabee, Giorgi Honored With 'Frankie' Awards
Former Finance Director Returns to Williamstown as Pastor
Armory Takes Lead in Torchia Softball League Final
Legislative Q&A: State Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli
MCLA Women's Soccer Ties; Tennis, Volleyball, Men's Soccer Win

 




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