Are We There Yet?: Animals Everywhere!
After a recent snowstorm, my husband beckoned our daughter to the front door and told her to look out on the front sidewalk. There, clear as day in the fresh snow, was a trail of animal prints.
Noelle was delighted, and we spent the next few minutes from the warmth of the house guessing what animal could have left those prints. It was a probably a cat, we decided, although we rarely see stray cats in our neighborhood. We do have woods behind our house so we regularly see rabbits and deer and a woodchuck every now and then.
Say what you want about winter and snowstorms and snow days from school (oh, joy!), but the opportunity fresh snow presents in seeing the wildlife around us is amazing. That's why this weekend I am recommending a family tracking day at Berkshire South Regional Community Center in Great Barrington.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, families with kids ages 6 and up are invited to join Flying Deer Nature Center instructors for a day of mystery, intrigue and family fun in the forest.
At the Family Track Detective Workshop, families will learn to identify common animal tracks and trails and embark on a journey that will hone their skills of awareness and observation. This day will be filled with fun and learning for everyone in the family.
Space is limited, so registration is required at berkshiresouth.org. The cost is $50 per adult/child pair, with $20 per additional family member, and there is a maximum of two children per adult. Saturday's weather looks to be cold but sunny, a perfect day for an educational hike through the woods!
If your kids would rather see some live animals -- not just their prints -- in an indoor setting, head on over to Berkshire Community College on Sunday, Feb. 9, for the 13th annual Not Your Average Dog Show. The family-oriented event, which is open to all dogs (not just purebreds), is free for both human and canine spectators. Donations are encouraged and will benefit students through the college’s annual fund. State Representative William Smitty Pignatelli will emcee the show and Gene Dellea, president of the BCC Foundation, will serve as ringmaster. Contests include Best Trick, Best Dressed, Best Smile and more.
The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For registration forms, event rules and regulations, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/dogshow or contact Ann at email@example.com or 4132362185.
One last note, looking a little past the weekend: For those Red Sox fans out there, the 2013 World Series trophy is coming to the Berkshires on Monday, Feb. 10. There will be public viewings from 1 to 2 p.m. at St. Mary's Elementary and Middle School in Lee, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill in North Adams (inside Greylock Bowl), and from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Infield, an indoor multi-sports complex located at 10 Lyman St. in Pittsfield.
Even with this snow and cold, let's remember our boys of summer!
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Are We There Yet?: Magic Tree Houses and Fair Princesses
My family was first introduced to Jack and Annie of the Magic Tree House series in a most unlikely way: Wendy's.
A few years ago, well before my 7-year-old could read, Wendy's gave away CDs of Mary Pope Osborne reading her popular series with their kids' meals. We scored "Good Morning Gorillas" and proceeded to listen to it in the car over and over — and over again.
Thus began her love affair with Magic Tree House. We attended a reading in Stockbridge a couple years ago of the Christmas book that Pope Osborne herself attended. We have purchased and borrowed from the library many of the other books, and they have sparked my daughter's imagination as well as questions about historical issues that the books address. (Try explaining to a kindergartner about slavery and the Civil War. Tricky!)
So we are thrilled to head south to Great Barrington to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center this Friday, Aug. 2, when the Highland Street Foundation's Free Fun Fridays brings Jack and Annie to life. (For those of you not familiar with Free Fun Fridays, click here for all the details for the rest of the summer, including many Berkshire sites.)
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event will feature arts and crafts, movement explorations, and Spanish-language activities offered for the entire family. In addition, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., there will be a 25-minute tribute to the magic of reading involving a captivating performance by Jack and Annie with lively audience participation and original songs. Having trouble getting your child to keep reading over the summer? Maybe this is something to jump-start the fun! Visit mahaiwe.org for details.
The rest of the weekend's family fun is packaged nicely up in Adams, where the 39th annual Adams Agricultural Fair at Bowe Field right off Route 8 will feature Battle of the Bands on Thursday at 6 p.m., dancing on Friday (6 p.m.), all-day events on Saturday starting at 10 a.m., and events kicking off at 11 a.m. Sunday, including the demolition derby at 2 p.m. For more info, visit adamsfair.com.
My personal connection with this extremely kid-friendly event is the Adams Aggie Fair Princess Contest, which my daughter entered at age 5 and then again at age 6, losing both years to 7-year-olds. Now that she is 7 this year, this is her last chance, and my fingers are crossed that this will be the year. A true ham who loves to be on stage, she has been amazing both years, answering the questions in a loud, clear, confident voice — all the while looking amazingly cute, if I do say so myself! The princess (and prince, though that competition is usually less fierce, as sometimes only a couple boys enter) will be crowned Saturday at 11 a.m.
Find more county fairs around the region here.
It's hard to believe we are in August already, and while the back to school items are back on the shelves, there is still plenty of time for summer fun!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wag .. or Watch ... the Dog
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Humane Society's new monthly television talk show, "Purr, Wag, Adopt ... with the Berkshire Humane Society" debuted on Tuesday on Pittsfield Community Television.
The 30-minute show, which is scheduled to run on Tuesdays at 4:30 and 8:30 p.m and Wednesdays at 4:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Channel 16 is hosted by Executive Director John Perrault.
"This is something that we've wanted to do for a long time," Perrault said in a phone interview. "Our hope is that you'll learn something new every time you tune in. We'll be addressing current events issues, basic pet health and behavioral health plus we'll be highlighting animals available for adoption."
Different pet themes such as Adopt-a-Bunny and Prevent-a-Litter will be the focus of each new episode as will individual pets in need of good homes.
"We want to bring more awareness to people about the animal situation and, of course, we'd like to promote more adoptions," Perrault said. "People want to do the right thing with their pets but in this economy many can't afford it. Last year, we served more than 700 families from our food bank. That's not including our satellite locations. We're not going to hide behind this."
Since 1992, the BHS has placed more than 16,000 animals into new homes. While it has had no trouble bringing awareness to the younger generation of school-aged pet owners, Perrault said it is time to reach the "the grown-ups" and the best medium for this is television.
"This is definitely going to reach more adults," he said. "We hope to be able to air the show on CTSB and other local stations as well. We want to stay relevant."
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Pet Food Pantry Seeks Donations
The cupboard is bare again at the Adams Friends of Animals' Pet Food Pantry. The year-old group of volunteers has been providing pet food to families in distress in cooperation with the Berkshire Humane Society.
Board member Roy Thompson said the pantry serves up to a dozen pet owners each week, helping them ensure the four-legged members of their families are fed properly.
But the donations have dropped off even as the need has increased; people on fixed incomes or those out of work are having trouble caring for their pets.
"We run out every week now and when we get it, we get it in small doses," said Thompson of food donations. "We use to give it out every 30 days, now we're considering 60 days."
People can drop off food at 64 Summer St., the Berkshire Visitors Center or at the transfer station, where Thompson works part time.
"What we're finding out from the Berkshire Humane Society is a lot of people are turning in their animals because they don't have the money for food," he said. "They say they don't have time but it comes down to money."
Too often, people don't realize the costs associated with having a pet, said Thompson, especially dogs. "I have a TV show (on Northern Berkshire Community Television) and I tell them, 'don't take an animal unless you can do it.' It's sad, it really is."
Those in need of food can pick it up at 64 Summer St. or at the Berkshire Humane Society on Barker Road in Pittsfield.
For more information about the Adams Friends of Animals can be found here.
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Town of Adams: Don't Forget to License Your Dog
ADAMS, Mass. — The Town Clerk's office wants to remind residents that it's time to license your dog.
All puppies age 3 months and older must be licensed, and all dogs over the age of 6 months must have an active rabies vaccination in effect in order to get a license. The town will not issue a license without proof that the dog has received a rabies shot.
Licenses for non-spayed or non-neutered dogs are $20 each; the cost for spayed or neutered dogs is $8 each.
If your dog is newly spayed or neutered, bring a statement from your veterinarian, and you'll be eligible to receive the lower-priced license.
Licenses not purchased by June 15 are subject to a $10 late fee in addition to the cost of the license. To purchase a license, visit the clerk's office at 8 Park St.
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