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Are We There Yet?: Activities for the Whole Family

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires
The weather forecast for the weekend isn't great, but what's a little rain if you're in the river anyway? The annual Riverfest runs from 11 to 4 on Saturday.

Memorial Day kicks off summer, so what better way to kick off a new family events column here on iBerkshires.com than with holiday happenings?

Sure, there are parades ... lots of parades, and you can find a list of them here. But the region is teeming with other family-friendly activities this long weekend if you want to do something besides relax and grill some burgers.

Staying in North County, Saturday, May 25, brings one of my all-time favorite family events: Riverfest in Williamstown. I have been bringing my now-7-year-old to this since she was a toddler, and we have loved it every time. Every year is a little different, but in the past there has been a children's race, pony rides, a raft to climb around in, crafts and other fun activities, as well as the chance to actually ride a raft down the Hoosic. Best of all: kids under 10 are free! Adults pay $5 in advance and $8 at the gate at Cole Field; the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit hoorwa.org.

Heading south on Saturday, and staying with the outdoor theme, the city of Pittsfield is holding a youth fishing derby. Now, fishing is not my thing, and while my daughter always seems eager to participate in youth derbies, her lack of patience seems to get the best of her, too. (I say "too" because I have no patience for fishing, hence why it's "not my thing.") But if you have a kid who can sit still and doesn't mind the (potentially) delayed payoff of (potentially) catching a fish, head down to Wild Acres on South Mountain Road in Pittsfield from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to those who catch a tagged fish. Bait will be provided, and a limited amount of fishing poles will be available for use on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, contact Rebecca Tefft at 413-499-9370.

For those kids who can't sit still, harness that energy by having them run in a race. While no one expects the little ones to run a marathon, they are still invited to participate in the fourth annual Memorial Day Marathon Races at Tanglewood in Lenox on Saturday. The big event is billed as "the toughest marathon in the east," but kids 6 and under can run a .25-mile course and kids 7 to 10 can run a .5-mile loop, all on the grounds of Tanglewood. That doesn't sound so tough! All kids will receive medals, which should make moms and dads happy. The race starts at 9 a.m. and you can register your kids here. There is a $12 fee, but getting the kids some exercise? Priceless.

Moving on to Sunday, May 26, I am liking the looks of the Vintage Motorcar Festival at Chesterwood in Stockbridge. Not because I like antique cars, per se, but because the list of family-friendly activities at the festival is pretty impressive for a facility that, while beautiful, is not necessarily a place one would think about taking young children. But from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this day, bring them down!

First, up to 15 children between the ages of 8 and 16 can participate in Hagerty Insurance's Operation Ignite! Youth Judging Program. The idea is to let the kids vote and get them interested in the cars themselves. Register ahead of time to make sure your child is one of the 15 judges. Another way to get kids interested in cars is through the scavenger hunt, in which car owners will submit a photo of a detail of their car and kids 4 to 10 can hunt them down to win a prize. And new this year is that kids will be able to build their own vehicle out of Legos and race it against other kids. No one loses, and kids and their parents can get a complimentary picture taken with their creation and the digital photograph will be emailed to them. All of those kid-specific activities, on top of live music, food and, of course, the cars should make for a pretty fun day. Kids are admitted free; adults are $15. Plus, it's rain or shine.

And, of course, if you still have energy left on Monday, check out those parades — and take the chance to teach your kids about why we really celebrate Memorial Day. Happy holiday!

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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