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Sue Bush
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New England Holiday Traditions At Berkshire Museum

12:00AM / Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pittsfield –Sandy Oliver, food historian and author of Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century¸ will speak at the Berkshire Museum in downtown Pittsfield on Sun. Dec. 10 at 4 p.m..

Her talk, “Christmas in New England at Sea and Ashore,” will explore how New Englanders, after years of Puritan ways, finally learned to celebrate Christmas in the 19th century. She will discuss the holiday traditions of sailors and seafaring families and serve samples of treats such as plum pudding and nut brittles. The program is included with admission to the Festival of Trees By the Sea.

Oliver is founding editor of Food History News and has a regular food column in the Bangor Daily News, Maine Boats and Harbors magazine, and The Working Waterfront. She received the 1996 Jane Grigson Award for Scholarship in the Julia Child Cookbook Awards for Saltwater Foodways.

She is also author of the forthcoming The Food History of Colonial and Federal America and co-author of Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from the Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie. Oliver developed fireplace cookery at Mystic Seaport Museum in 1971. She is currently food history producer for the award winning podcast, EatFeed.

Following Oliver’s presentation, the Berkshire Beaux Arts Artists’ Soirees and Dinners will offer a 5 p.m. dinner in the Berkshire Museum aquarium. Dinner is $27 for adults; $14.50 for children under 10. Advance paid reservations are required for the dinner. For details and reservations on the dinner, contact Judith Lerner at 413-637-3315.

The Festival of Trees By the Sea is on view at the Berkshire Museum through December 31, 2006. Some 200 decorated trees fill the galleries for the Festival of Trees “By the Sea.”

Tree decorators — local businesses, organizations, and school children — have created trees inspired by the theme, from seaside resorts to pirates, from lobsters to mermaids. Nautical art, historical artifacts, and natural science specimens relating to the sea are on view, drawn from the Berkshire Museum’s extensive collection.

Highlights include a walk-in coral reef replica complete with coral specimens and a life-size model shark, and the “Maritime Legends Hall of Fame,” featuring real and fictional artifacts relating to pirates and other seafaring figures. The Festival of Trees is sponsored by Legacy Banks.

The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South St. on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield. The galleries are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays noon to 5 p.m..

Festival of Trees admission is $9 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 children ($5/$4/$3 members). For more information, contact the Berkshire Museum at 413-443-7171, ext. 10, or visit berkshiremuseum.org.

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