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Weekend Outlook: Festivals, Caberets and Toy Shows

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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There are a variety of events this weekend in or near the Berkshires including an old toy show, a Queering Perspective Festival, Valentine's Day themed events, and more.
Editor's Pick 
Queering Perspectives Festival
'62 Center for Theatre and Dance, Williamstown
Dates: Feb. 9, 10, 22-24
Williams College's theater and dance center is hosting the festival to promote dialogue on sexualities, genders, bodies, races, ethnicities, abilities, and desires. It will interrogate conventional, culturally normative performance. 
The goal is to establish a platform dedicated to supporting individuals who are often marginalized or "othered," providing a space for experimental and subversive content. This platform intends to challenge conventional forms in order to foster innovative research and artistic production.
More information here.
Healing Dirt Activations
Mass MoCA, North Adams 
Time: During Gallery Hours 
The new moon is believed by many to be a time of rebirth. On each day of the new moon the museum invites visitors to use the "In a new light (Healing Dirt)" as part of the "Like Magic" exhibit.
With the new moon upon us this Friday, visitors have access to the chapel-like space to utilize charcoal earth on parts of their body that need healing. More information and all the activation dates here.
Bring Your Own Vinyl Night 
Hot Plate Brewing Co., Pittsfield
Time: 7 p.m.
DJ Pup Daddy will be performing some of his favorite albums and encourages the community to bring their own. 
More information here
S'mores and More Wildlife Hike 
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Lenox
Time: 2 to 5 p.m. 
Indulge in a combination of gooey marshmallow, graham cracker, and chocolate as you and your family hike and watch the local wildlife. Participants will learn about animal tracks 
Tickets range from $10 to $18. Registration is required. Information here
Four Sticks Performance 
The Egremont Barn, Great Barrington
Time: 7:30 p.m. 
Led Zeppelin Tribute band Four Sticks will be performing some of the rock and roll band's hits. Information here
AJY Fund 10-Year Anniversary Celebration
3 West Events at Norad Mill, North Adams
Time: 6 to 10 p.m. 
The non-profit, AYJ Fund, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of helping children with cancer. The free celebration features appetizers, desserts, wine pull, and a silent auction. Space is limited; registration is required. Information here
Spaghetti Dinner
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, North Adams
Time: 4 to 7 p.m. 
The community is welcome to join St. Stanislaus Kostka School's eighth grade families for a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for the students' trip to Washington, D.C.
Dinner will also includes meatballs, salad and a garlic knot. Takeout is available. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $9 for children 12 and under. 
The event features raffles, 50/50 raffle and a bake sale. Drinks are available by donation. Information here
Old Toy Show
238 West Main St., Bennington, Vt.
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Vendors across six states will be selling collectable toys including trains, matchbox, hot wheels, model kits, action figures, Barbies, and more filling more than 70 tables at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church.
Admission is $4. There will be a 50/50 raffle and food available. Information here
Ghost Tours with Robert Oakes
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, Lenox 
Time: 8 to 10 p.m. 
Author of "Ghosts of the Berkshires" Robert Oakes is leading a tour through the historic estate while sharing stories of the hauntings. Participants must be 12 years or older.
Reservations are strongly suggested; walk-ins accommodated if space allows. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 413-637-3206. More information here
Public Ice Skating 
Boys and Girls Club, Pittsfield 
Time: 3 to 4:30 p.m. 
The first 100 people through the door during the public skate at the Boys & Girls Club will receive free admission for skating as well as free skate rentals. More information here
February Contra Dance
First Congregational Church, Williamstown
Time: 7:30 p.m.
North Berkshire Community Dance is hosting a dance in the church's community hall on Main Street with caller Liz Nelson. No experience necessary but arrive by 7:30 for an introductory lesson. Live music by Cider Mountain. 
Admission is pay-what-you-can, $12-$20 suggested. More information here
Cabin Fever Stories
Mount Greylock State Reservation, Lanesborough,
Time: 1 to 2:30 p.m. 
Sit by a cozy hearth fire at the Visitors Center for 90 minutes of Mount Greylock tales like "The Wild Man of the Hills," "The Mysterious Spirit Woman of Pratt Hill," "The Wayard Moose Named Bill," and the legendary ghost of Old Coot. The free event includes complementary hot cocoa. More information here
Valentine's Day At The Clark
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Time: 2 to 4 p.m. 
During this free event, craft a Valentine's Day card for a loved one while incorporating captivating visuals from the Clark's collection. The crafting station is on the lower level of the Clark Center. Information here
Animal Support Projects: Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras
Benson's Pet Center, Pittsfield
Time: noon to 3 p.m. 
Benson's Pet Center will be providing people a photo op with their furry babies this Sunday from noon until 3 p.m. 
For a $10 donation, pet parents can bring home a 4-by-6 inch framed keepsake. This month's participants can choose between a Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras theme. More information here
Valentine Concert & Tea 
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, Lenox 
Time:  3:30 to 5 p.m.
Visit the museum for an afternoon of music and tea. Singer Sherri James Buxton and pianist Bob Shepherd will perform American songbook, Broadway and cabaret hits. Tea will follow. Tickets range from $35 to $45. More information here.
Big Game Sunday Pancake Breakfast
Lanesborough Fire Department
Time: 8 to 11 p.m. 
The Lanesborough Firemens Association will be having a pancake breakfast including sausage, juice, coffee, and tea. 
Tickets cost $12 for ages 12 and older, children between the age of 6 and 11 are $8, ages 5 and under eat free. Information here
Multiple Days
Mill City Productions 'Fight or Flight'
Studio 9, the Porches, North Adams
Time: Friday, Saturday, 7 to 9; Sunday, 2 p.m.
MCP's cabaret returns for a new season at Studio 9 with pop, rock, folk, country, showtunes and more with 16 performers from around the Northeast. The theme of the songs are about standing our ground and fighting, or flying off to something better.
Tickets are $15 for adults & $10 for students/seniors, and are available for purchase at the door. More information here
Ej Hill's Brake Run Helix Concludes 
Mass MoCA, North Adams
The contemporary museum's "Brake Run Helix" exhibit concludes on Feb. 11. The installation is a rideable sculpture in the museum's 100-yard-long Building 5 gallery which examines "how those from marginalized backgrounds explore joy and play."
More information on the exhibit here. Check out our video here

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How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.


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