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Are We There Yet?: It's All About the Foliage

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

I was driving down Route 7 in Williamstown on Thursday around 6 p.m. and my breath literally caught at the beauty of the stretch of road in front of Mount Greylock Regional High School.

I've always considered this to be one of the most beautiful half-miles in all the world, though I may be biased. Still, seeing the fading ray of the sun caressing the lovely fall foliage was awesome. So awesome that my daughter tried to take a picture through the car window. It didn't work, but I will always have it in my mind's eye.

This weekend in North Berkshire is all about the foliage. Starting tonight, Friday, Oct. 3, with the Fall Foliage Festival Children's parade and ending Sunday, Oct. 5, with the 1 p.m. main event parade, this weekend celebrates the natural beauty of the place we call home.

And the weather looks to cooperate today and Sunday, anyway.

The Children's Parade starts at 5:30 p.m. and marches from Main and Eagle Streets over the City Hall.  Children who want to participate should arrive by 5 p.m. at Main and Eagle streets. Categories for prizes are “Best Group Working Together” or “Best Overall Costumes” or “Most Imaginative Float." All three first place winners may participate in the Fall Foliage Festival Parade on Sunday. To be judged, entries must follow the theme of “Celebrating the adventure and culture over the 100 years of the Mohawk Trail.” All children may enter the parade even though they may wish not to compete. No child will be turned away.

There are also family friendly events on Saturday - the sixth annual dog parade at 10 a.m. starting from Veterans Memorial Park and the children's races and family fair from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Noel Field - but Mother Nature might be messing with these events. Still, it looks to be a lovely fall day for the main event on Sunday, which starts at 1 p.m. and marches up Route 8 and across Main Street before ending down Ashland Street.

Looking for some indoor family fun on Saturday? The Pittsfield Fire Department will be hosting an open house during Fire Prevention Week to promote "Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives!" Through these educational, family-oriented activities, which run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents can learn more about the importance of working smoke alarms and testing them monthly. The open house will be held at Pittsfield Fire Department Headquarters, 74 Columbus Ave. Activities include fire safety talks and activities, senior citizen fire safety, Emergency Medical Systems information, and CHILD Project retinal scans, a program that identifies and locates missing children through the use of iris identification biometric technology.

One more thing to mention: Before Sunday's parade, head over to Williamstown Elementary School for the annual PTO used clothing sale from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This sale features a large selection of clothes and lots of great winter gear; boots, pants, jackets, hat and mittens. As an added bonus, items will be half price from noon to 1 p.m. Looking for cheap winter gear for the kids? Look no further. Because while this weekend is about fall, winter can't be far behind.


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


Are We There Yet?: Fall Into A Beautiful Autumn Weekend

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

We're heading into the first weekend of fall, and it looks to be a gorgeous one. So this week I'm keeping all of my suggestions ones you can do outdoors. Because winter and cabin fever won't be too far behind.

There are two free events that run both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27 and 28, that are good choices for kids of all ages.

First in Williamstown is a local celebration of National Alpaca Farm Days at Sweet Brook Farm on Oblong Road (in south Williamstown, to be exact). From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, the public can meet and learn about alpacas and the beautiful fiber they provide during shearing each year.The Green Mountain Spinners and Weavers and the Stephentown, N.Y., Guilds will demonstrate their crafts, and visitors are welcome to try their hands at spinning and weaving. The Sweet Brook Farm store will be fully stocked with everything alpaca, from this season's newest alpaca yarn and knitting and crochet kits and tools, to fine alpaca apparel for men, women, and children, and alpaca toys. Maple syrup and maple products made on the farm will also be available for sale.  

The event is free. For more information, contact Beth Phelps at 413-884-4246 or visit sweetbrookfarm.com.

Heading south of the annual Apple Squeeze festival in Lenox. From 10 a.m to 5 p.m. both days, downtown Lenox will be teeming with entertainment, an apple chili challenge, a kids fair at Lilac Park, artists and crafters, and more. Visit lenox.org for details.

On Sunday, Sept. 28, head back to Williamstown for the Hopkins Forest Fall Festival. This event, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m., celebrates the changing of the seasons and the bounty of our wooded environments, and features music, apple butter and cider production, refreshments, a canopy walkway, an active honey bee hive, and children’s activities including a crafts table.

There will also be hands-on activities including traditional shake-splitting and a cross-cut saw competition.  The festival is free to the public and appropriate for all ages in the lovely forest, tucked off the beaten path but close to downtown Williamstown. You can find directions here.

Otherwise, get outside and pick some apples, rake some leaves and enjoy the weekend.


Are We There Yet?: Curiosity, By George!

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

I miss Curious George.

Let me explain. "Curious George" was the one cartoon on PBS my daughter watched regularly from the time she was a toddler pretty much up through first grade. Her first, second and third birthday parties were all George-themed. I loved the show and the monkey as much as she did ... maybe even more.

Last year, in second grade, she might stumble upon the show and watch it for a few minutes. We also made sure to catch the oh-so-cute George movie, "A Very Monkey Christmas," around the holidays. But this year, George is no longer a constant companion in our house.

And I miss him terribly. Every day, 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., George would fill our house with his innocent naughtiness, his zeal for discovery, his love of friendship and fun. So if my daughter doesn't want to go to "Curiosity Day" at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Saturday, Sept. 20, I just might go without her!

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, kids of all ages are invited (even 39!) are invited to come meet Curious George himself. There will also be snacks, crafts and all sorts of activities to encourage every child’s curiosity, including five different activity stations that will promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math as part of the Full STEAM Ahead programs coming soon to the Berkshire Athenaeum. This family event is free, and no registration is required but children under 10 must be accompanied at all times by an adult over 18 years of age. 

I wonder if adults over the age of 18 need to be accompanied by a child?

The other family events this weekend also seem to be centered on Saturday, including the "Miles for Moments" family fun day to raise money for and awareness of Moments House, which supports friends, neighbors and families living with a diagnosis of cancer. The event, to be held at Burbank Park on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, includes a 5K walk and run as well as a kids fun run at 11 a.m., followed by a full day of music, crafts and more through 5 p.m.

Also on Saturday is the highlight of the weekend-long celebration in Lee, Founders Day. The event does kick off Friday night with the "Taste of Lee" street fair, but the hometown parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. is an annual highlight - this year made all the more special by a visit by Ronald McDonald, who will be marching along with bands, firemen, clowns, veterans and Parade Grand Marshal Smitty Pignatelli. In addition to the parade, there are plenty of other activities for the kids and the whole family: see the complete schedule here.

Enjoy this last official weekend of summer!

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


Are We There Yet?: Late-Summer Outdoor Fun

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

Fall is in the air, folks, even if it's not on the calendar yet. Fall is my favorite time of year - not too hot, not too cold. So in that vein, I present four late-summer outdoor activities for this weekend, which except for the possibility of some showers on Saturday afternoon is supposed to be a good one.

Before the rain hits on Saturday, Sept. 13, head over to Williamstown for the Williamstown Community Chest's annual Fun Run. This community event consists of two races: 5K Run and a 1-mile Kid’s Run/ Family Walk. The Fun Run races are open to everyone, veteran runners or first-time runners, along with daily walkers or occasional walkers. Families with pets and strollers are also welcome to join the fun. Both race events begin at 10 a.m. at the Williamstown Youth Center, 66 School St. Sign-in and registration will begin at 9 a.m. The cost for the 5K race is $10 per runner and for the one-mile Walk/Run $10 per individual or per walking family. For additional information, call 413-458-2443 or visit williamstowncommunitychest.org.

Stay in Williamstown in the afternoon and head over to Bonnie Lea Farm at 511 North St. (Route 7) for an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Even if it's raining a little, a farm is still a neat place to visit. Guests can get details on lessons, the BLF Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Team and the adult lesson schedule, as well as meet the farm's horses, cows, goats, chickens, ducks - and this year’s foals. Don’t forget to wear your boots - especially if it's raining!

On Sunday, Sept. 14, rise with the chickens to help the dogs and cats. The Berkshire Humane Society will host “Woofstock,” the shelter’s annual dog walk, at Camp Russell in Richmond. The day kicks off with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. in a pavilion overlooking the lovely Richmond Pond. Registration for the walk is at 10 a.m. with the walk beginning at 11 a.m. Great prizes will be awarded to individual walkers and teams of walkers who collect the most pledges. Throughout the day, there also will be a full schedule of vendors, demonstrations, raffles, games and classes for dogs and their people, such as Musical Sits and Downs, Recall Races, Costume Contest, Best Tricks. Marki’s French Fries and Fried Dough will be providing delicious snacks as well as a bounce house for kids. For more information, call 413-447-7878, ext. 31, or visit berkshirehumane.org.

Wrapping up what hopefully will be a sunny Sunday is the Berkshire Food Festival on Main Street in North Adams from noon to 4 p.m. The event, one of the largest festivals of its kind in Berkshire County, features the cuisine of at least 20 restaurants, along with micro-brewed beer and wine tasting, an eclectic mix of live music and drawings for gift certificates from participating eateries. Come hungry, leave happy.

What more can you ask for in a weekend?

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



Are We There Yet?: Fun on the Weekends

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

Ah, is that a collective sigh of relief I hear that the kids are back in school?

My daughter started third grade, where they were told they will have nightly homework for the first time. Wow. Which means weekends are going to be the time to play now that weeknights will be spent doing somework (after Girl Scouts meetings and religious education and karate class and viola lessons, that is).

In the spirit of embracing weekends, this Saturday, Sept. 6, offers a chance to check out two gems in the Berkshires for free.

First, Berkshire County residents and people who work in Berkshire County are invited to visit Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox free of charge. The sanctuary grounds are open dawn to dusk, and the office and gift shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sanctuary offers a well-maintained and clearly marked seven-mile trail system that takes visitors around beaver ponds, through hardwood forest, and to the summit of Lenox Mountain. Pleasant Valley also offers an All Persons Trail that makes the sanctuary universally accessible. Special introductory half-price memberships will be available, and the gift shop (where members receive a 10 percent discount) will be open as well. Registration is not required, and even though the weather is not looking great, it's something to consider.

Alternatively, if your family is more into art and history, consider Family Day at Chesterwood, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chesterwood is the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost public sculptor Daniel Chester French, who sculpted the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Visitors are requested to enter the Barn Gallery for free admission stickers and site and exhibition guides. Chesterwood is located at 4 Williamsville Road. Along with free admission to the historic studio, residence and grounds, which feature woodland walks and formal perennial gardens, special activities for children and families throughout the day will include a clay modeling hands-on art activity and a self-guided scavenger hunt. Visitors are encouraged to bring picnics to enjoy on the grounds. Again, watch the weather.

If you'd rather stay inside on Saturday, it's the first Saturday of the month, so there's always the kids do-it-yourself workshop at Home Depot from 9 a.m. to noon and Bowey the Clown at the First Saturdays at the Spectrum in Lee at 11 a.m.

If the storm does blow through on Saturday, look for the sun to shine for a fun (and educational and delicious!) family festival on Sunday, Sept. 7. From noon to 5:30 p.m., the Festival of Sharing Roots is held at St. Joseph Church on North Street in Pittsfield. Booths representing seven international cuisines highlight the cultures that comprise the community. Entertainment on the stage will feature music and dance by local players. Kiddy Land, face painting and games will be fun for the family. Crafts and tagged items will be on sale starting at 9 a.m.

Stay cool, stay dry and stay busy!


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

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