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The Penny Social and Non-Profit Fair in Williams College's Lasell Gymnasium in December 2016. The event returns on Saturday after missing two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Penny Social, Non-Profit Fair Returns at Williamstown's Holiday Walk

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — After a two-year absence, one of Holiday Walk's signature attractions returns on Saturday.
The Penny Social and Non-Profit Fair once again will fill Williams College's Lasell Gymnasium with holiday cheer, merriment and a chance to try your luck.
"We are so happy we can resume having the Penny Social and Non-Profit Fair and all the things that go along with Holiday Walk," Williamstown Community Chest Executive Director Anna Singleton said this week.
The Community Chest, a charitable agency that supports non-profit organizations throughout North County, is the organizer of the Penny Social, which was canceled the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While much of Holiday Walk returned in 2021, the indoor fair remained on the shelf.
This year, it returns with financial support from Adams Community Bank and one nod to the ongoing pandemic. Due to the college's post-Thanksgiving holiday COVID protocols, attendees at Saturday afternoon's event will be required to wear face coverings.
Other than that, the event will look very similar to years past, Singleton said.
"We have the big raffle-type event which has dozens of prizes contributed by local businesses, organizations and individuals," she said. "And at the moment we have 14 or 15 non-profit organizations who are planning to be part of the fair.
"We can usually accommodate up to 20 non-profits, so there may be a few less. But there are also some newer ones who haven't come before."
Singleton said the Berkshire Humane Society, Williamstown Fire District and North Adams SteepleCats are among the new faces. And the fair will feature old favorites like the Williamstown chapter of the League of Women Voters, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, the Girl Scouts and Berkshire Family and Individual Resources.
"It's a nice mix of our member agencies and other organizations," Singleton said.
As for the raffle, attendees will be able to drop their tickets in buckets for a chance at prizes from contributors like the A-Frame Bakery, Chef's Hat, Grazie, the Clark Art Institute and the Williamstown Theatre Festival to name just a few.
Singleton said, as of Tuesday morning, donations were still coming in with more than 50 prizes ready to go.
The Penny Social comes smack in the middle of a jam-packed weekend of activities that compose Holiday Walk, a project of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.
The town will ease into things with two events on the schedule: a candlelight yoga session at Tasha Yoga at 5:45 on Friday evening and a jazz concert at the Clark auditorium at 6 p.m.
The candlelight yoga event will double as a benefit for local food pantries, which will have a strong presence throughout the three-day festival.
Throughout December, businesses on Spring Street will serve as collection points for weekly themed donation drives for the pantries. From Dec. 2-9, it's a non-perishable festive food drive, with donors asked to give items like brownie and cookie mixes, baking supplies and dried fruits. From Dec. 10-16, the focus will be on unwrapped toys, crafts, books and games. And from Dec. 17-23, the pantries are asking for donations of new mittens.
Saturday morning kicks off with a Breakfast with Santa in the Williams Inn ballroom from 8 to 11 a.m., or a "Run with the Reindeer" 5-kilometer fun run if sausage and St. Nicholas are not your thing.
Saturday is the busiest day of the weekend with a plethora of activities for all ages, from a screening of "Elf" at Images Cinema at 11 to Crafting for Kids from noon to 2 p.m. at the Log to live a capella music on the post office steps from 2 to 4 to horse-drawn carriage rides on Spring Street from 3:30 to 6 to a Christmas service of Lessons and Carols at Williams' Thompson Memorial Chapel at 4 and again at 7.
The centerpiece of the day is the annual Reindog Parade at 3 p.m. from Main Street to the bottom of Spring Street.
The fun continues Sunday at Williamstown Elementary School with a pancake breakfast to benefit the sixth-grade class from 9 a.m. to noon and a craft show from 9 to 4 p.m., free admission at the Clark from 1 to 4, and a second chance to see "Elf" for free at 1:15.
The full calendar for all three days is available on the Chamber's website.
While much of the fun is outdoors, many of the inside venues, like the Williams College Museum of Art, which hosts family art activities from 3 to 5 on Saturday, and the Penny Social and Non-Profit Fair, will have masks available for those who need them.
And the overwhelming majority of the events are free, but do not expect to go to the Penny Social without being tempted to buy a raffle ticket or two.
The event has been a successful fundraiser for the Community Chest, making about $4,000 each year in the most recent years leading up to the pandemic, Singleton said.
"We would love to equal or surpass that," she said. "We're so grateful to everyone who participates and buys those raffle tickets."
The event, of course, is about more than fund-raising.
"It's always been such a joy to see friends and neighbors we haven't seen for a while," Singleton said. "I think that will be especially true this year. It's just a nice, happy room that's supporting us and the other non-profits and enjoying the community we're in.
"There are so many benefits of offering that, and it's great we can be back indoors."

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Clark Presents Lecture on Artistic Concepts related to Trees

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 pm, the Clark Art Institute's Research and Academic Program hosts a talk by Research and Academic Program Fellow Jonathan Flatley on artistic concepts related to liking trees. The talk takes place in the Clark's auditorium and is free and open to the public. 
A reception in the Manton Research Center reading room at 5 pm precedes the program. 
According to a press release:
In his lecture, Flatley argues that liking (as distinct from love) is a feeling capable of motivating collective opposition to the ongoing, massive, catastrophic destruction of forests. He makes his case through an examination of two distinct projects: Richard Powers' novel The Overstory (2018) and Zoe Leonard's photographs of trees that have grown into, around, or through fences. These projects illuminate that the way to create collectives opposed to deforestation is through a liking for trees that leads to becoming like trees. This "likeness-creating liking" opens people to the strange specificity of arboreal being and to an entanglement with trees.
Jonathan Flatley is professor of English at Wayne State University in Detroit. His research concerns collective emotion as it takes shape in aesthetic forms, and he is the author of Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Harvard University Press, 2008), Like Andy Warhol (University of Chicago Press, 2017), and co-editor, with Jennifer Doyle and José Esteban Muñoz, of Pop Out: Queer Warhol (Duke University Press, 1996). He recently completed a new book titled Black Leninism: How Revolutionary Counter-Moods Are Made. At the Clark, Flatley is working on a book about liking and being like trees.
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